As you might suspect, there’s no single answer as to how long do motorcycle tires last. The amount of mileage you can expect to get out of a single tire depends on several factors - from the construction of the tire to the type of riding you do, to the weight and power of the motorcycle you ride.
In this article we will dive into what sort of mileage you can expect to get from the most popular types of tires on the market, as well as how long you can expect motorcycles tire to last in storage.
General Motorcycle Tire Overview
Every motorcycle tire comes with a recommended pressure from the manufacturer which is designed to give the optimal balance of performance and longevity.
Any departure from the recommended standard pressure can adversely affect the life of your tire. But that doesn’t mean that you should never play around with your tire pressures to find the best setting to suit your riding.
The tire pressure you’ll find listed on the sidewall is the maximum pressure recommended by the manufacturer and is intended to be used in conjunction with the maximum load rating for the motorcycle – which you’ll find in your owner’s manual and often printed on a tag somewhere around the swingarm as well.
However, many sport and off-road/dual-sport tires will benefit enormously by dropping a few pounds of pressure before being taken into situations that require higher grip, like tight canyon roads, race tracks, or dirt trails.
They’ll wear down faster due to the lower pressures (which generate higher temperatures), but they’ll also give you the performance you need for the type of riding you’re doing, which – in cases like these two – it is probably your main reason for purchasing them in the first place.
On the other end of the spectrum, tires on heavier bikes that do long stretches on the interstate will benefit from running closer to the maximum pressure listed on the tire, especially if you’re carrying extra weight like a passenger and touring luggage.
Cruiser and Touring Motorcycle Tires
Wondering how long cruiser motorcycle tires last or touring tires? Tires built for use on big cruisers and touring bikes are intended to withstand both the heavy weight of these machines and the long miles they’re built to ride.
That means that they have sturdier sidewalls and deeper tread, which both play a role in extending the reliable life of the tire.
When well maintained and used with the recommended tire pressure, many cruiser and touring tires have been known to last well beyond the 10k mile mark, with some touring owners claiming to have gotten over 12k miles out of the rear and even more out of the front tires of modern sport touring rubber like the Michelin Pilot Road 5.
Of course, if you’re prone to riding at a more aggressive pace, say on a sport-oriented touring machine like KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure, that number could easily be cut in half depending on how often you like to tempt fate by grabbing a handful of throttle on its 1,301cc engine.
Dual-Sport and Off-Road Tires
Dual-sport tires can be a mixed bag in terms of longevity, depending on the compound of their rubber and how aggressive the knobs on the tire are.
The Continental TKC80, for instance, is widely considered to be one of the best performing dual-sport tires on the market, but it also has a reputation for being completely roasted before the 5k mile mark.
Other less-aggressive tread options like the Metzler Tourance have been known to get over 10k miles on the rear tire on a mixture of paved and unpaid roads.
Choosing a dual-sport tire, like many other performance-oriented tires, is always going to be a trade-off between longevity, performance, and price. Pick two, as they say.
Sport and Performance Tires
Without a doubt, sport and hyper-sport tires have the shortest lifespan of any tire on the market.
They’re manufactured with the softest compounds on the market to provide the maximum grip possible in high-speed turns and hard braking, so mileage is often an afterthought at best.
But when only the best will do for performance (and safety), you don’t really have a whole lot of options.
Many sport tire manufacturers have adopted “dual-compound” technology on tires like the Dunlop Q3+, using a longer-wearing rubber in the center of the tire for highway duty and a super-soft compound on the sides for extra grip when the motorcycle is leaned over.
Still, you shouldn’t expect to get more than around three thousand miles out of any hardcore performance tire. Although the front tire will often outlast the rear, most riders choose to replace both at the same time for safety’s sake.
How Long Do Motorcycle Tires Last in Storage?
Good news for folks with a set or two of tires living in their garage, motorcycle tires benefit from an exceptionally long shelf life.
As long as they’re kept out of the sun, extreme heat, and weather, motorcycle tires should last a decent amount of time without sacrificing performance or safety.
That being said, they don’t last forever.
Manufacturers stamp a standardized “date code” onto the sidewall of every tire they sell to let the buyer know just how long a tire sat in storage before it was installed.
This is a four-digit number found on your sidewall, with the first two digits signifying the week a tire was manufactured, and the second two digits identifying the year.
So, for example, if the four-digit code on your tire is “0720,” your tire was born sometime in early February of 2020.
As a general rule of thumb, no tire should be used longer than 10 years from the date it was made and should spend no more than five of those years on your bike before being replaced.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play into how long motorcycle tires last.
The common thread that all motorcycle tires share, regardless of what you ride and how you ride it, is that they don’t last nearly as long as their four-wheeled counterparts.
Regularly replacing tires is an inevitable part of motorcycle ownership. Take advantage of this fact by trying out different brands and tread patterns each time you swap out a set and you’ll find your sweet spot between value and performance in no time.
Check out our other motorcycle blog posts for more expert tips!