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Sportbike Tires Reviews
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Sportbike Tires Reviews

This FAQ buying guide will give the new sportbike rider some tips on buying their next set of sportbike tires or skins. Choosing a sportbike tire is like choosing the oil to use in your bike. It's another tire thread boys and girls.

We read reviews and pour over technical information. We look at other rider's tires at meet spots.We look at tires on other bikes at breaks during group rides. We're looking for "chicken strips", aren't we mates? We talk about tires and parts with our riding buddies. Then we try stuff until we see what works for us. Well, that usually works for me.

What's So Special About Sportbike Tires?

There's really nothing special about sportbike tires. You will notice they seem to be a little more expensive. Hypersport tires are designed to have better grip when leaned over in a corner. They are designed to operate safely at higher sustained speeds. They are generally lighter in weight. Sportbike tires are not generally designed to last very long. High grip equals low tread life. Tire engineers haven't figured this out yet, or they're keeping this a secret from us.

Should I Replace My OEM Tires or Buy Aftermarket?

Aftermarket is almost always better for the sportbike rider. The exception would be high end tires that come on some of the more expensive sporttbikes. At present the Supercorsa SPs are OEM equipment on the RSV4 Factory, the Panigale, the 675R and a few other exotics. These Pirellis are really the best tires available for a race replica hyper bike. The Metzeler Racetech K3s found on the S1kRR are a top of the line tire also. Metzeler in Germany is actually a division of the Italian company Pirelli.

The Pirelli Supercorsa SP is shown in the photo. This is the state of the art for hyper sport street tires at present.

Tip: If you happen to buy a 5 year old bike in absolutely perfect condition with only 500 miles on the odometer, consider replacing those OEM tires right away! The tires may now be showing some signs of dry-rotting. The tires maybe hard and slippery when cornering aggressively. You might crash. Please ride with caution until you change out the tires.

Are Speed Ratings Important?

I always check the manufacturer's speed ratings for my next tire purchase. I'm looking for at least a "W". All the hyper sport tires are designed for at least a sustained speed of 150 MPH. Some are designed for 168 MPH or even higher. Do you really spend much time at 170 MPH on the street? Most of the peeps I ride with don't. Only occasionally over very short distances do we exceed 180 MPH. If aerial radar tracks a bike at that speed, the bike will be impounded and the fines will be in the thousands. Don't get caught, brother.

Can I Buy Wider Tires for My Bike?

Some riders have had success with a 190 wide tire on a 600cc supersport bike. I don't think it's a good idea unless you are buying wider rims. Do your research and make your choice. If you want to go to the expense of installing a real wide tire like a 300, go right ahead. You may want to stretch and lower the bike too. Your bike will now corner like a barge. If you are into show bikes, the 300 kit makes sense. Keep all your OEM parts. You may want to change the bike back to stock when it comes time to sell.

Why Is My Rear Tire Wearing Out So Fast?

This is quite normal for an aggressive sport bike rider. Rear tire tread life is an issue we have to deal with. Here are a few reasons why the tire doesn't last:

  • Hard Acceleration
  • Hard Braking or locking up the rear brake
  • Running lower tire pressures than is recommended by the manufacturer
  • Constantly using heavy engine braking to slow the bike from high speeds
  • Riding 2-up all the time
  • Spinning up the rear tire at corner exits
  • Drag Racing

Tip: You might consider buying a sport touring tire instead of the hyper sport tire for the rear. The sport touring tread is designed to last much longer. You'll find these tires to have excellent wet traction too. Just don't expect track day handling with the sport touring tire.

Do I Have to Replace My Front Tire When I Buy a New Rear Tire?

You don't have to. Think this through to yourself though. You can usually get double the tread life on the front tire than the back tire. Say you'll get 3,000 on the rear so you should get 6,000 on the front. That's all well and good, right?

But, a new matched set of tires is going to make your bike feel like new. You will feel this for yourself. A new front only costs around a hundred bucks. Wouldn't you really have the piece of mind knowing you have a completely new set of tires, rather than having an old front on the bike? It's up to you. Tires are the 2nd most important system on the bike. Only brakes are more important.

Which Brand Should I Buy?

This depends on how you ride your bike. If you are a drag racer, consider buying Shinkos. The brand is a little cheaper than the rest. The tire is a little heavier and has a different rubber compound. Shinkos do well at slightly lower pressures used in drag racing. Shinkos aren't recommended for "twisty" riders. Many of us non-drag racers rely on the larger motorcycle tire manufacturer names:

  • Michelin
  • Pirelli
  • Dunlop
  • Metzeler
  • Continental
  • Avon

Tip: Buy a set of Michelins for your first replacement set. This is the choice for many new sportbike riders. They are excellent tires. The tread seems to last just a little longer. Michelins turn in quickly. Your bike may exhibit that "feels like it's on rails" feeling. You can find killer deals online for Michelins. I've been on most of the big name brands. They're all good. I happen to prefer Pirellis.

You will be buying 2 to 4 sets of tires every year if you ride your bike at least every weekend. They didn't tell you that when you signed up for this sport, did they? Every time you need tires, try a new tire manufacturer. This is the only way you'll know for yourself. Eventually, you'll find your tire brand.

How Much Should I Spend on Tires?

This is a tough one. Once you've decided on which tires to buy, start searching online for the best price. You'll find prices all over the place. Research the vendor also. Don't buy from from someone with bad reviews or no reviews at all.

If you have some bike stands and the ability to remove your wheels from your bike, then take your wheels/tires over to a cycle gear or another bike retailer. You may find the best out the door tire prices there.

If you just ride your bike over to the dealer where you bought the bike and say, "Please change my tires out.", you may soon get a bill for $500.00. That's a ton of money for most of us to change out a set of tires.

Realistically, if you do some of the work yourself in changing out your tires, you could buy a new front and rear tire set at internet prices for about $275.00. Mounting and balancing for another $60.00 is a good ballpark figure. So a new set of skins will cost you about $335.

That figure could swing as much as a hundred bucks either way. Let's face it. Your first replacement set is going to cost you a little more until you get more experience at this stuff. We all go through the learning curve. It's part of the sport.

DOT Race Tires for the Street?

I've tried this. I went out and spent almost 5 bills for some Dragon Supercorsa Pros awhile back. I found that the race tires take a long time to warm up. Once they are hot they are fantastic. The rear lasted me about 2,000 miles. That's maybe a little less than my normal rear tire tread life of 2,300 miles. DOT race tires are really a waste on the street. Unless you are on a "no limits" ride in the canyons, you will never get the tires hot enough to really start working. Save the race tires for the track.

What About Using Race Takeoffs?

I've seen this occasionally at sportbike meet spots. Road racers will wear out the sides of their race tires at the track. The middle tread portion almost looks new. The track riders then sell these takeoffs on ebay for cheap prices. If you're on a really tight budget, you might consider some takeoffs.

I personally wouldn't use them. Remember race tires are only designed for a certain number of heat cycles before the rubber tends to harden. Plan on mounting takeoffs as a short term solution. Save some cash for some new hypersport tires from your chosen manufacturer.


Well, we just scratched the surface on purchasing your first set of sportbike tires. Tire preferences are very subjective. Just go out and buy something from a reputable company and mount em up. WOW! What a difference a new set of skins makes. Note: Take it easy on those new tires for the first 25 miles. New tire smell is a wonderful thing.

Street Talk

Thanks Shawn. I'm working on it.

  about 1 decade ago

Very informative article. get a site up and start selling this stuff!

  about 1 decade ago
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