What to Look for When Choosing Motorcycle Tyres

4 Aug by EMAM Team

What to Look for When Choosing Motorcycle Tyres

When you’re ready to replace the tyres on your motorcycle, you want to be sure you’re selecting the right tyres not just for your bike, but for your riding style as well. Generally speaking, there are four designations for the various types of motorcycle tyres available today:

– Cruiser
– Street
– Dual-sport/ADV
– Dirt

If you know the kind of riding you want to do, then it’s just as simple as matching the riding style with the right tyre. Second to this, determining the correct size of the tyres you select is your next task.

Size it Right

Motorcycle tyre sizing is typically done in one of three ways: Alphanumeric, Standard Inch, and Metric. Granting this, the most popular industry standard is metric, which is what the default should be for most motorcycle tyre suppliers. In fact, if you look at the sidewall of the tyres that are currently on your motorcycle, you should see the measurements listed, in metric, in raised lettering. They should read something like this:

120/70 ZR 17 (or similar)

In this case, 120 is the tyre width in millimeters, 70 is the aspect ratio, Z is the speed rating, R indicates radial construction, and 17 is the rim diameter in inches.

Tyre width can also be described as ‘section width’, and it’s a technical measurement of the tread on the tire. This is almost always indicated with a three-digit number, like the one listed above.

Aspect ratio is simply a measurement of a tyre’s width as a percentage of its height. The higher this number is, the taller the tyre is going to be. In general, it’s best to use a tyre with the same aspect ratio as the tyre that is being replaced.

The rim diameter is just a measurement of the rim from one lip to the other.

The speed rating can be slightly confusing, as motorcycle tyre manufacturers can sometimes use their own designations for this. But, for the most part, a single letter from J-Z indicates the speed that the tyre is rated for.

There is also a tyre specification known as a ‘load index’, which is just a weight bearing rating for the tyre. Check with the manufacturer of the tyre you are considering to determine if the load rating for your tyres is appropriate for the weight you will be placing on them.

Other Considerations

When most motorcycle tyres are manufactured, they’re built using one of two methods: bias-ply, or radial. Bias-ply tyres are more durable and may last longer than radial tyres, but at the expense of grip. Radial tyres, on the other hand, are stiffer and offer premium traction, but they’re likely going to wear down faster.

If you ever have a question about what tyre is best for your bike and riding style, never hesitate to contact the manufacturer of your bike, or just call the experts at Essendon Motorcycles & Mowers on (03) 9351 0055. We’re experts when it comes to motorcycle tyres, and we’re always happy to help, always.

Stay safe, and good riding!


Essendon Motorcycles & Mowers is a company devoted to keeping motorcycles on the open road and your grass gardens neat and tidy.