Different people want their two-wheelers to do different things. While some users require their humble steed to ferry them to the nearby grocery store to fetch their daily supplies, others want to scorch the racetrack and post the fastest lap times possible. Similarly, while some people use their motorcycles to commute to work, focusing primarily on fuel efficiency and comfort, others use their machines to travel across the length and breadth of the country and require their machines to be big, powerful, and rugged. That's precisely why we have such a wide variety of two-wheeler segments and sub-segments. Just one type of tyre cannot cater to such a wide variety of requirements. Tyre makers, therefore, create specialised tyres to be used in various categories of motorcycles to offer the best durability, efficiency, performance, and strength. In this detailed article, we will look at all the different varieties of tyres available for other classes of motorcycles and what makes them suitable for the job.
These are the tyres that most everyday motorcycles come equipped with. Focusing primarily on durability and reliability, these tyres aren't the grippiest but come at a very reasonable price and last very long. For most of your commuting needs, these tyres are just fine. They can also handle the occasional intercity trip as long as you don't wish to use them too aggressively around corners or in too wet or slippery conditions. These tyres are generally made of inexpensive hard or medium compound rubber, which can cater to most of the requirements of a typical low-powered motorcycle. As long as you don’t have any extreme or specialised needs, these tyres should finely serve you.
Dual Sport or ADV Tyres
While most motorcycles spend over 90 per cent of their time on the blacktop, some are meant to take the rough with the smooth. As they are often known, adventure or dual-sport motorcycles should take tarmac and uneven, unpaved surfaces into their stride. Designed for riders who love venturing into the unknown and often travel long distances, these motorcycles are big, powerful and rugged. Such motorcycles often come fitted with dual-sport or ADV tyres, sometimes known as all-terrain tyres. These tyres offer decent grip on the road while also delivering resilience and grip over rough, gravelly, muddy or rocky surfaces thanks to the block tread pattern on their surface.
Based on the user’s requirement, these tyres' on or off-road bias can be different. For example, a motorcycle that is expected to spend most of the time on the road, with occasional off-roading, can be had with a 70:30 on-road/off-road bias, and vice versa. Similarly, motorcycles meant to spend an equal amount of time on and off the tar can have a 50:50 tendency.
Touring motorcycles are generally heavy, as they are sturdily built to take the rider's weight and pillion along with all their luggage. Heavy cruiser motorcycles are an example of what a touring motorcycle appears like. TheseTouring tyres are often heavy and come with deep, unique tread patterns which offer them the capability to dispel water effectively. tyres come with a reinforced sidewall to last long, as touring motorcycles are meant to log very high mileage to handle the additional weight. While the durability is good, the grip is not compromised either, as these motorcycles are generally fitted with powerful engines, demanding the tyres to offer good traction.
Sport / Performance Tyres
These tyres offer the highest possible grip and performance in dry conditions for most street-legal motorcycles. These tyres are made with high quality, soft compound rubber, which focuses relentlessly on maximum grip and weight savings to keep the unsprung weight of the motorcycle low. Top tier performance motorcycles, dishing out crazy amounts of power and oriented towards aggressive use, often come equipped with this tyres class. The soft compound rubber on these tyres means that they wear out quickly and frequently replace them. The tread lines on these tyres are not very pronounced, so they are not very good at dispersing water. There are unique variations of these sports tyres for wet weather conditions, which come with deeper and specialised tread patterns to dispel water more effectively and offer optimum grip.
Sport Touring Tyres
A variation of the touring genre is Sport touring, where supersport motorcycles are somewhat sobered down with a comfier riding position, cushier suspension, less aggressive engine, some seating space for a pillion and in some cases, provision for fastening luggage for long-distance touring. These motorcycles are still very sporty but can allow the rider to travel long distances without exerting too much pressure on his anatomy. The tyre industry has sport touring tyres as a solution for such motorcycles. These tyres are a mix of sport and touring tyres, where they offer the performance and grip close to sport tyres and enhanced durability and ruggedness. While good sports or performance tyres provide excellent grip around bends, they wear quickly. Sport touring tyres generally feature a more complex compound in the spine for enhanced life and relatively softer sides for perfect grip around corners. In addition to sport-tourers, streetfighters and other sportbikes often use these tyres to offer a good mix of durability, good handling, and traction.
Off-road tyres are designed for motorcycles meant to spend a vast majority of their lives off the tar. They are ideal for using rough surfaces and unpaved terrains comprising mud, gravel, dirt or sand. These tyres are built tough, with reinforced sidewalls to minimise the chances of a puncture. Unlike biased road tyres, which don't have very deep treads, these have very pronounced knob-like protrusions on their surfaces which help them dig deep into loose surfaces and allow the motorcycle to propel itself forward. The hard compound rubber also helps the projections protect themselves from being cut when they contact rough surfaces. Even with their rugged construction, these tyres aren’t meant to be used on the tar and wear out quickly when used on the road. This is especially true for high-performance off-road tyres, which tend to lose their tread even more rapidly on tar. For this reason, serious off-roaders often load their dirt bikes in trucks and transport them to the off-road location rather than riding them.
Racing Tyres / Slicks
While not offered on road-going motorcycles, these tyres provide the ultimate grip and are used exclusively for professional motorcycle racing. Racing tyres are made with the highest quality soft compound rubber, offering incredible grip, allowing racers to lean their motorcycles to physics-defying angles. These tyres mostly don’t have any tread lines as they are focused on maximising the contact patch at all times. Racing tyres are specifically designed to offer fantastic grip at high temperatures, as aggressive track use tends to push the tyre temperatures up quickly. The ultra-soft compound rubber on these tyres tends to wear out very quickly, and they don’t generally last for more than a race or two.