Pity the poor fool who’s got nothing to do for a week or two but roll around on his motorcycle – no job, no cares, no particular place to be. And if you’re fortunate enough to have all those things working in your favor, chances are you’re carrying around quite a bit of loot in the saddlebags and trunk of your Goldwing, Ultra Glide or big BMW K-bike – possibly even an accomplice. What you want on all of those bikes are tires that stick to the pavement, wet or dry, upright or dragging peg, carry a heavy load safely, and preferably wear like iron. Is that too much to ask?
Avon Cobra AV72/AV71 – $186-$423
Lots of touring riders report getting more than 20,000 miles out of a set of these British-built tires (the front is AV71), which come in sizes to fit everything from a V-Rod, to a Triumph Rocket III, to Goldwing and super-wide custom bike applications. Special construction is designed for heavy loads, with excellent stability. They have a cool snakeskin design embossed in the sidewalls, and are available in whitewall.
Bridgestone G709/704 Exedra Goldwing – $248-$324
When I think touring, I think Goldwing, and when I think Goldwing, I think of the tires Honda has been shipping them with since 2012. The latest GL1800 handles like something an 800-pound motorcycle has no right to handle like, and even guys who use all that bike’s torque all the time report getting around 10,000 miles out of one of these rear Bridgestones, much more out of a front. Many GW riders like these so much they go right back to a fresh pair of Exedras time after time.
Continental Conti Tour – $125-$252
Conti is another fine German brand, a company that builds everything from tires to electronic sensors, like the IMUs that now control high-end sportbikes. The Conti Tours, though, are all about slightly more sedate touring on big American-style cruisers, though they’re also available in fitments for Gold Wings and heavy BMW tourers. “Mileage Plus Technology” and that solid tread around the rear’s centerline are designed to significantly extend these tires’ lifespan.
Dunlop Elite 4/American Elite – $170-$375
Dunlop’s best touring tires would be its Elite 4, available in all kinds of sizes to fit hundreds of heavyweight bikes and cruisers including the afore-mentioned GoldWing. And its American Elite is optimized for big American V-Twins. Multi Tread tech in the rear, meaning a harder center and softer sides, are said to provide high mileage and great grip, and Dunlop’s proud of the fact that these tires wear evenly from new to almost used-up. That computer-designed tread pattern is also superb for channeling water away and maintaining traction in the wet.
Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra – $152-$534
High-tech rubber from the Germans for all heavy touring rigs and big cruisers. Naturally, these are claimed to offer excellent water dispersal, with a deep tread pattern for excellent wet-weather handling along with an
Excellent, even-wearing lifespan. These are also engineered for a quiet, comfortable ride, and if you feel the need, they’re available in a wide whitewall.
Michelin Commander 2 – $175-$379
Another high-tech looking and functioning tire from the continent, these use Michelin’s Amplified Density Tech to give your machine premium handling and responsiveness, wet or dry – also great stability even at high speeds. The main claim to fame, though, is longevity: Michelin says 25,000 miles per rear Commander is doable, and many online testimonials back that up: 25k and then some, in many cases.
Pirelli Angel GT 2 – $208-$316
All the sporty touring riders who loved the Angel GT should be even happier now that the new GT 2 has just arrived. Key features, says Pirelli, include high mileage, sporty handling and grip combined with fantastic wet behavior. “Innovative variable cord end count over tire section and high-silica compounds combined with a new tread pattern design – derived from World Superbike ‘intermediate’ race tires – set the benchmark for performance and optimize the effect of electronic rider aids.”
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