Motorcycle Tire Buying Guide for Harley® Owners
There are a lot of reasons the tires on your bike are important. They’re literally the only place your bike makes connection with the road, so if they’re not in good shape, you’re not safe. They affect how your motorcycle handles. Whether you grip or slip depends on what you choose and how you maintain it.
If you’ve owned your bike for any length of time, you know bike tires just don’t last as long as car tires. They’re an ongoing expense, and not one you can skip. Some riders want high mileage, stability and support for a heavy cruiser. Others are looking for aggressive performance. The amount of variation between tire types and manufacturers sometimes creates confusion. So let’s talk about what you need to know and how to find the right motorcycle tires for your Harley.
Motorcycle Tire 101
Choosing the best motorcycle tire, buying new tires when it’s time and finding the best value for the money is all about understanding how you ride and what type of tire works best for your bike. Start with learning the basic lingo.
Motorcycle Tire Vocabulary
- Tread – The grooves in your tire provide traction and allow your tire to flex and adapt. They signal when it’s time for a replacement and add visual appeal. Some tread patterns are better for pavement, some are for off-road etc.
- Bias ply – This type of tire has layers of rubber plies that overlap each other. They typically yield a softer ride and can carry a heavier load.
- Radial tires – Sidewalls and tread function independently. They have stiffer construction and tend to last longer.
- Carcass – The rubber and body beneath your tread
- Bead – This is where the tire connects to your wheel.
- Sidewall – The side of the tire, the area between the tread and the bead. Measurements like height, profile or aspect ratio come from the sidewall.
The Traction/ Mileage Tradeoff
So in a perfect world, you could get cheap motorcycle tires that stick like magic on every curve and last for as long as you own your bike. Unfortunately, that’s not where we operate. Instead, there’s a tradeoff when it comes to better tire longevity and traction, so each rider does sort of a balancing act between what’s most important.
Tires for aggressive riding and cornering are designed to grip, and to handle the heat. But when you ride that way, the rubber wears down faster. The tires grip by putting as much rubber on the ground as possible, and more exposure means more wear. Touring and cruiser bike tires are designed for longer rides and heavier weight. You get more mileage out of your set, but your bike doesn’t handle the same as one with sportbike tires.
How Often to Replace Motorcycle Tires on Harley®
Here are the signs it’s time to get new tires for your Harley:
- Your tire is flat
- The sidewall has been punctured
- The same tires have been on your bike for more than a decade
- Rubber is cracking from weather or UV breakdown
- Your tread is less than 2/32 of an inch deep at any point around your tire (we can measure for you)
- One section is beginning to wear unevenly
- There’s cupping or scalping along the length of the tread
- Your ride feels choppy or your tires seem to grip less
- You know you need tires soon and your local Harley shop has a great promotion
How to Choose Motorcycle Tires for Harley®
Most people know the numbers on the side of their motorcycle tires tell what type of replacement they need, but they feel frustrated when they try to make sense of that reading. That’s because there are two systems for sizing motorcycle tires (three if your bike is really, really old). To figure out what your bike uses, go take a photo of your sidewall and come back.
Now click Book a Service. We’ll ask you to put in basic info about what you ride. In the field where it says “Your Inquiry,” type in those letters and numbers and let us know you’re checking on your replacement options. We’ll get in touch about what tires would be a good fit.
Making New Tires Last Longer
Cut your motorcycle tire replacement cost by following these tips:
- Break them in correctly – Keep your speed down for the first 100 miles you ride on dry pavement. Vary your riding, taking curvy roads so the break-in happens evenly.
- Check inflation obsessively – Correctly inflated tires wear like they’re supposed to. Under or over inflation makes tires wear out faster.
- Use a stand if it’s going to be parked a while – That way you won’t develop flat spots. If you don’t have a stand, shift it around a little every week or so.
- Don’t apply crap that makes your tires shiny – It wears them out faster
Buying Motorcycle Tires – Finding the Best Price for Value
Dallas Harley-Davidson® has the best motorcycle prices in the state. This month get tire packages as low as $299 installed. Click here to find out more.