Motorcycle Tyre Brands
It’s impossible to over-estimate the importance of tyres to the performance and safety of a motorcycle. They are the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road, which means if they are in poor condition, incorrectly inflated or incompatible, they could be illegal at best and profoundly dangerous at worst. A rider can’t accelerate, brake, steer or corner in safety if the contact between tyre and surface is flawed. Not only do motorcycle tyres need to be maintained above the legal minimum standard, but they also need to be the right tyres for the motorbike and the best models the rider can afford.
There’s a lot of debate amongst enthusiasts over favourite brands of tyre and if you eavesdrop on a motorcycle club discussion, you’ll hear some very heated opposing views. At Southam Tyres, we believe in providing the widest possible choice which is why we stock thousands of tyres from leading manufacturers such as Pirelli, Michelin, Metzeler, Dunlop and Bridgestone. In addition to our extensive motorcycle range, we also supply niche segments including scooter, adventure bikes and 125s. While we never claim there is a right choice of tyre, every model we sell is an exceptional one. In most cases, we can supply and fit from stock on the same day or next day, getting you quickly back on the road in safety.
Understanding Your Tyre
The services of a reliable, experienced mechanic are indispensable to the motorcyclist. Most riders, however knowledgeable they are, will never be able to match professional expertise, nor should they need to. However, given the paramount importance of tyres to their safety, it is well worth being familiar with the features, specifications and codes that will help them understand their tyre and how it works.
The wall of the tyre is its largest part. It is the area of thick rubber which extends from the wheel rim to the tread and is the source of a tyre’s lateral stability. It is wide and flat, which makes it the ideal place to display the various codes that explain all the key specifications of the tyre. Here is a breakdown of what these codes mean.
This is the measurement between the inner and outer sidewalls given in millimetres. The actual width and this nominal width might be slightly different but not to any significant extent.
This figure measures the height of the tyre in relation to its width. For example, a tyre which is 120mm wide and 84mm from ground to wheel rim has an aspect ratio of 70%.
On a sports bike, this code usually consists of letters and numbers. You might see ‘ZR’ for example, in which the Z relates to the tyre speed index (Z is a rating above 149mph or 240 km/h). The R tells you that the tyre is a radial model as opposed to cross-ply construction. These letters will be followed by numbers: for example, 17 means the tyre’s diameter is 17 inches. If you see the letters M/C following the diameter measurement, this indicates that the tyre is designed for a motorbike. It’s noticeable that imperial and metric measures are used side by side, but as this has become the de facto practice, there is unlikely to be any change in the standard for the foreseeable future.
Finally, you will see numbers and a letter or two in brackets. The numbers identify the maximum load which the tyre can safely carry when properly inflated. There is a long list of load index values available on many websites or at your local garage. 58, for example, equates to a load-bearing capacity of not more than 236kg.
The letter which follows the load index numbers tells you the maximum speed at which the tyre can safely travel, fully inflated and carrying the maximum load. Again, there is an easily accessible table that gives all the speed rating values. For example, ‘W’ denotes a maximum speed of 270km/h.
When choosing tyres, it’s important to use the load index and speed rating in conjunction with the specifications of the motorcycle to avoid a mismatch that could compromise performance and safety.
This is probably the best-known feature of a tyre, largely because there are frequent reminders on websites and in garage waiting rooms. The trick of using a credit card to measure tread depth makes it easy to appreciate the issue, and some breakdown service membership cards even carry a hatch mark to measure the legal minimum.
The tread is that part of the tyre which is in contact with the road. It is the softest part, providing grip and cushioning. The pattern of the tread and the compound used varies from tyre to tyre, but every design is created to maximise safety, performance and road handling. The minimum depth that the law demands is 1.6mm but it is recommended that tyres should be replaced once the tread has worn down to 3mm.
These are the parts of the tyre which form an airtight seal between the wheel rim and the tyre. They are made from very strong braided steel which is coated in rubber. If a bead fails, it can cause the tyre to blow out.
This is the rounded area where the tread and sidewall meet. It plays an important role when a rider needs to lean the bike in a manoeuvre such as cornering, since it then takes most of the pressure.
Made of steel or aramid, these are placed across the tyre between the tread and plies (see below) to keep the plies in place, to help the tread remain in contact with the road, to provide puncture resistance and to increase the rigidity of the tyre.
These are the layers of compound that form the skeleton of the tyre, usually woven cords coated in rubber. They provide the necessary flexibility for safe riding without being overly elastic.
The Tyres Range
Known for single-handedly preventing the demise of sidecar racing, Avon also dominates classic racing and is increasing its influence in modern solo road racing. The company has been manufacturing motorcycle tyres for well over 100 years and supports motorbike racing at all levels from international events to grassroots club racing.
As a manufacturer of premium motorcycle and scooter tyres, Bridgestone makes products that are OEM fit for the majority of motorbike manufacturers. Their range includes the Battlax series, the Trail Wing and VO2 slicks for use on track days.
Founded in 1871, 15 years before the invention of the automobile, Continental can claim to be a major part of the history of tyre design and production. Not only are they one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tyres, but their sports touring range has won several industry awards.
Serving the motorcycle and automobile industry since 1888, Dunlop is virtually synonymous with motorsport. Every one of the 18 rider and lap records achieved at the TT were set by riders using Dunlop tyres. The company is the official supplier to the Moto2 and Moto3 world championships.
Founded in Germany in 1863 and owned by Pirelli since 1986, the Metzeler brand is known for its exceptional touring tyres but they also produce a varied and high-quality range of sports and track tyres as well as the Tourance range which is perennially popular with adventure tourers.
Another iconic brand, Michelin manufactures tyres for all kinds of two-wheelers from scooters to superbikes. Their Pilot Road series is a world-class range, and their Anakee range is the first choice for many adventure-bike riders. Michelin is the official supplier to MotoGP.
Founded in Milan in 1872, Pirelli expanded across many industry sectors before returning to its roots in the 21st century as a pure tyre manufacturer. It has deep roots in motorsport, but also produces the Scorpion Trail tyre for adventure bikes and the award-winning Angel GT2 touring tyre.
Most riders use their motorbikes for normal daily journeys, commutes and occasional leisure journeys. At Southam Tyres, we stock thousands of tyres for every make and model of motorbike, offering the very best road performance.
The terrains faced by off-road riders can vary enormously between soft, hard and medium, so we provide participants in off-roading with access to an extensive range of tyres for every environment and occasion.
Scooter and Moped tyres
We stock a wide variety of tyres for smaller machines from 50cc upwards, each of them designed to the highest specifications for safe, comfortable urban riding.
Cruiser and Touring tyres
For riders who take their long-distance journeys seriously, we stock a comprehensive range of motorbike tyres for the larger touring and cruising bikes. Our tyres are guaranteed for reliability, longevity, safety, road-handling and fuel-efficiency, mile after mile after mile.
Track Day tyres
The circuit is a unique environment in which riders need tyres with very particular track day properties. At Southam Tyres, our choice of track day tyres has something for every rider, with the latest in tyre technology guaranteeing the very best track day experience.
We offer a service to motorcycle riders that is second to none. With one of the largest and most varied selections of tyres available from one supplier, we are the destination of choice for riders whatever their interests and aspirations. Extensive stocks and unrivalled expertise make us your ideal partner in optimising your motorcycle, however you plan to ride it. All we need is your bike’s tyre size so we advise on the best tyres for your preferred pursuit.