We can’t stress enough the importance of having the right rubber wrapped around your wheels for different conditions. For cars it’s at least helpful, but with motorcycles, the need for proper tire performance is paramount; if one motorcycle wheel loses grip, you don’t have another three keep you upright. This is why having a set of rain tires is one of the best investments a rider can make.
What’s more, motorcycle rain tires work as moderate all-season shoes, functioning well as both cold-weather tires and decent summer tires. Since motorcycles work on significantly smaller contact patches than cars, standard motorcycle tires make up the difference with minimal tread patterns. This is why summer performance tires for motorcycles are nearly slick; though they give you optimal grip on dry asphalt, low-tread tires can be deadly up against a puddle. Aquaplaning and losing balance and control of your bike is every rider’s worst nightmare. So, if you live anywhere that sees heavy rain — ever — it’s time you invest in a set of properly treaded tires and pump some of that water out of the way.
Michelin Pilot Road 4
Best All-Round: The Pilot Road 4 is the gold standard when it comes to rain tires. Its tread pattern is second to none when it comes to pumping away water, and a dual-compound rubber construction pulls double duty extending the life of the tire on longer rides while still providing grip in the turns. If you commute on a sport or sport standard, the Pilot Road 4 is a no-brainer. There’s also the more stiffly constructed Pilot Road 4 GT and Pilot Road 4 Trail for heavier touring bikes and fully loaded ADV bikes, respectively.
Metzeler Tourance EXP
Best Light Off-Road: Places like the Pacific Northwest, where some light off-roading is almost certain and rain is guaranteed, an adventure touring bike is a must-have. The Metzeler Tourance Next’s tread pattern allows for comfortable on-road riding in all conditions, but still provides traction on fine gravel and tame fire-service roads.
Pirelli Angel GT
Best Street-legal Performance for Sportbikes: The silica content and aggressive tread pattern of the Pirelli Angel GT means that both straight-line and cornering performance aren’t compromised in wet or dry conditions. Specially designed longitudinal steel belting also helps to disperse heat in dry conditions while keeping the rubber soft for when the skies open up.
Bridgestone Exedra Max
Best Heavy Cruiser Tire: For bigger cruisers a stiff, durable tire is a necessity to take on heavy loads and V-twin torque day in, day out. But on longer rides where a proper tread and soft tire compound is needed, the Exedra Max fills the gap. Since the majority of long-distance cruises are spent on the center of the tire, the Exedra Max tread pattern provides straight-line stability in dry conditions, but pumps away standing water for when those conditions make a turn for the worse.
Continental Ultra TKV11/12
Best Option for Older Bikes: Just because you have a classic bike doesn’t mean your tires should have equally outdated technology. But that’s not to say you have to make sacrifices and opt for a modern look that’s out of place on your “experienced” ride. The Continental Ultra TKV11/12 marries a classic-style tread pattern with modern performance in wet and dry conditions.
Michelin Power Rain
MotoGP Approved: Mother Nature is never one to cooperate, making a storm all too likely on the one day you scheduled three months in advance to hit your favorite track and drag a knee. The Michelin Power Rain tire is the best antidote for those rainy-day blues. It’s the same level of tire that MotoGP uses when the rain rolls in. If that’s not a shining endorsement, nothing is.