Adventure Motorcycle Tyres
For many motorcycle enthusiasts, the open road is rewarding in itself, but it’s off-road riding which delivers the real fulfilment. And as any rider knows, the demands of off-road adventuring are entirely different from those you encounter in more sedate terrains. Motorcycling is commonly divided into three categories: Road, Soft Road and Off Road. For standard road riding, your motorcycle will leave the forecourt fully equipped, but to tackle more challenging conditions, you’re going to need tyres that are up to the task.
What Are Adventure Motorcycle Tyres?
There are many designs available from all the major brands and many of the less well-known ones. They have all been created to cope with the pressures and stresses of adventure motorcycling both off-road and on tarmac surfaces such as race tracks. Each design is optimised to combine performance, safety and comfort. They have also been made with efficiency in mind, so will have the resilience to deliver high mileage and will also provide exceptional grip and control on both wet and dry surfaces.
Adventure tyres fall into three broad groups. The closest to the tyres you would use in normal circumstances for commuting or pleasure are Sports Touring tyres. Essentially there is little difference between these and standard tyres except that they are manufactured to be compatible with the wheel rim sizes of adventure motorcycles.
The second group is Adventure tyres. These represent a significant step up from the Sports Touring variety. They look as if you mean business, with highly visible tread blocks that distinguish them from ordinary tyres although despite their robust ruggedness, their off-road capability is limited.
Top of the performance range are Enduro tyres, which are also commonly described as Off-Road Adventure tyres. These are the kind that will take you virtually anywhere across any terrain, tackling the roughest ground and the steepest inclines. When people imagine off-roading, this is what they picture.
How to Choose the Best Adventure Motorcycle Tyres for Your Usage
As you would imagine, the decisive factor in choosing the best tyres is the relative extremes of the places where you intend to ride. Any adventure motorcycle looks better if it has tyres that look as if you mean business but the chunkier types aren’t always the most practical. If you use them on smooth roads, the very properties that qualify them for harsher conditions could make them harder to control and subject them to pressures that will cause them to wear out much more quickly. If this is likely to be a problem for you then Sports Touring tyres are the answer. You can easily find these to fit Adventure-motorcycle wheel sizes, eliminating the need to compromise on performance and durability.
Although aesthetically the chunkier blocks of tread seem preferable because they make a clear statement of your intent, if your adventuring is likely to be confined to moderate surfaces rather than off-road environments, then Sports Touring tyres will be the best choice. Sports Touring tyres also tend to warm up quickly and are designed to stand up well to the wear and tear of normal road use. Their superior road grip makes for a better quality of ride. Fast-road riders who rarely venture into green laning or trail riding will find them ideal.
If your plans are a little more ambitious, you might go in for pursuits like green laning and if you also like the heightened appearance of more rugged tyres then Adventure tyres will be most suitable. They are particularly recommended for riders whose experience and skills in trail riding are limited. Their tread patterns will give you a very satisfactory grip but without badly compromising your on-road riding. However, it’s important to get the balance right – if the amount of time you spend green laning is minimal compared to normal road use then Sports Touring tyres will work out better for you.
However, if your plans include heavy-duty off-roading and you need to get to locations by using the roads, then you should look at Enduro tyres. They’ll get you to your destination safely but once you leave the road they really come into their own, providing superb traction on loose, treacherous surfaces. Although you will find that the quality of the ride on normal roads with Enduro tyres is relatively poor, they are ideal for riders who spend most of their time on green lanes and riding trails.
The Best of All Worlds
In an ideal world, you’d equip yourself with an alternative set of rims, one fitted with Enduro tyres and the other with Sports Touring tyres, enabling you to switch between the two capabilities. This may sound like a costly plan but it all depends on how much you value convenience and flexibility.
Adventure Motorcycle Tyre Load Index
It’s important to ensure you have the correct tyre load index. This is a rating that tells you the maximum weight a tyre can safely support. The tyre load when multiplied by two needs to cover the gross single axle load of the motorcycle. You’ll find the load index number on the sidewall of your tyre.
Adventure Motorcycle Tyre Speed Index
The sidewalls of tyres carry a wealth of information about the properties of the tyre. Along with the load index, the speed index is extremely important. While the load index uses numbers, the speed index ratings are represented by letters. Each letter denotes the maximum speed that a tyre can safely sustain under loads specified in the load index and based on the prevailing road conditions as specified by the manufacturer. Your tyres should have the same rating, not only for the sake of safety and performance but because mismatched tyres can invalidate your insurance.
The rating applies to the maximum rather than cruising speed, and assumes the tyre is in good condition and inflated to the correct pressure.
The speed rating of adventure motorcycle tyres is usually VR while those designed for routine road use tend to be rated ZR.
Speed Symbol / Max Speed (mph)
L / 75
P / 93
S / 112
T / 118
H / 130
V / 149
(V) / > 149 @ 85% of the load rating
W / 169
(W) / > 161 @ 85% of the load rating
ZR / 149
Getting your motorcycle ready to perform in the conditions you expect and to the level you require is of course essential for your safety and the energy efficiency of your motorcycle. More than this, it is the only way to guarantee that your riding experience meets your expectations, whether on tarmac, green lanes or fully off-road.
The information provided here is intended as a guide to explain the different options and the comparative suitability of the three categories of adventure motorcycle tyre. For a more detailed assessment of your needs and to determine the best solution you may wish to talk with our expert who can answer any questions that are not covered here.