Types of Motorcycle Tires for Riding on Gravel
Motorcycles tires that can be ridden on gravel are known as dual-purpose tires. These tires can be ridden on paved roads as well as gravel, dirt, and sands and offer good off-roading abilities.
These motorcycle tires are for people who spend most of their time on streets and highways and only occasionally go off-road.
80/20 and 70/30
These tires are again designed for motorcycles that stay mostly on the road, but can hold their own on gravel trails. However, they are hardly the best tires for off-roading.
If you often do off-roading, these tires may be a good investment. They can also be used on highways, though they may be slightly less responsive when it comes to corners.
These tires offer equally good performance both on and off-road. If you don’t know which tires you should get for your motorcycle, these are a good bet.
These tires give you good performance off-road and have good stability at high speed. They also perform well on streets and highways.
30/70 and 20/80
These tires are primarily engineered for use on gravel trails and other off-road conditions. Their performance on the street is still high but they are the better choice if you like to let loose on less demanding trails.
These tires are made specifically for off-roading though they can still be legally used on streets. However, since they sacrifice some handling and precision on highways, I do not recommend them to be used during long-distance trips.
Benefits of Motorcycle Tires for Gravel
If you use your car every day, whether it is dropping your kids to school or going on a cross-country drive, ribbed tires can serve you well. These tires consist of multiple ribs — raised sections of the tire’s tread pattern — which make direct contact with the road and hence result in better traction and handle load pressure better than smoother tires.
As a car enthusiast myself, I am always on the look for tires that offer optimal functionality, speed, and safety while driving. Many of the ribbed tires I have tried have been tested for wet and/or snowy driving conditions as well.
Superior Performance on Gravel: These tires are specifically designed to perform well on off-road conditions, which means they deliver good traction and predictable handling over unstable, rocky, and other non-smooth surfaces.
Versatility: Most of us don’t have the budget to buy two separate pairs of tires or motorcycles for on-road and off-road. Most dual-purpose tires offer you the freedom to hit the trails and still be able to ride to the supermarket.
Cost-effectiveness: These tires have similar price tags as regular motorcycle tires and they also offer better fuel efficiency. They are also more affordable than buying two separate sets of tires or two different motorcycles.
Safety: When it comes to riding on loose gravel and other off-road conditions, your safety is paramount. These tires allow you to have peace of mind when riding on different surfaces.
Best Motorcycle Tires for Gravel: Reviews & Recommendation for 2022
Here are my top picks:
Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR
Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR is a well-rounded 50/50 tire that is perfect for adventure riding. It offers an amazing grip on the road and has a long life span. The tires come with knob designs that work well on gravel, dirt, and some kind of sand to deliver excellent corner-carving performance.
The tire treads are made of silica compounds that ensure excellent handling in wet and cold conditions and prevent hydroplaning. The rounded, thinner profile of the tires also supports good handling on twisty and turning roads without sacrificing grip.
- Works great on gravel and dirt
- Excellent corner-carving ability when off-roading
- Silica compound ensures stability in cold and wet conditions
- Lasts a long time
- Not for hard-core off-roading
- A bit expensive
Michelin Anakee Adventure
Michelin Anakee Adventure offers improved balance to motorcycles both on and off the roads than the previous versions. The tires are designed with more advanced technologies, including its proprietary Bridge Block Technology™ in the rear tires that offer more road stability.
The tires have a heavily grooved geometric tread pattern that offers uncompromising off-road traction. The tires handle wet and cold conditions well and last longer as well.
- Proprietary technology ensures stability when off-roading
- Grooved geometric pattern ensures a sacrificing grip
- Handle wet and cold surfaces well
- Last longer
- Price is near the higher end of the spectrum
Dunlop Trailmax Mission
Dunlop Trailmax Mission tires are one of the best 50/50 adventure tires available. The tire has a knobby and aggressive tread pattern that offers impressive off-road performance and ensures a good grip on gravel and hard terrain. The tires have wrap-around tread blocks on the edge that protect the tires from getting punctured on hard rocks and improve traction on gravel paths. The tread blocks also enhance the contact patch after the first contact with sandy terrain that allows the motorcycle to keep moving forward.
The Trailmax Mission has a reputation for lasting forever and in my experience, it doesn’t disappoint. The company says the rear tire can give you an impressive 8000 miles, which is twice as much as some other tires on the list.
- Tread life is 8000 miles but can go up to 10,000 miles easily
- Ensures a good grip on gravel and another off-road terrain
- Staggered tread blocks offer excellent bite on sandy ground
- Directs water away from the tires to prevent skidding in wet conditions
- Struggles in snow
Heidenau K60 Scout
Heidenau K60 Scout offers commendable performance both on-road and off-road. The tires are made of a high rubber content with a robust compound and are equipped with belted construction which protects from impact and gives the tires a long life.
The tires have a subtler design than most other tires designed for riding on gravel. It is also T-classified for 118mph speed which means it performs very well on roads as well. Depending on the size of the tire, the chunky tread design may be slightly different but all of them will offer you excellent stability and traction off-road.
- Excellent traction on both gravel and tarmac
- Tires are tubeless and very easy to handle
- Approved by the US Department of Transportation
- Comes in various sizes
- Not a hard-core off-roading tire
- Not a very lean-friendly option as treads are on the center section of the tire
- The construction is quite thick so it can be a bit challenging to place it on the rim.
Mitas E-07+ is the successor of the impressive Mitas E-07 and has improved load-taking capacity. The Plus in the name indicates that these tires are designed for heavier adventure motorcycles and come with an aspect ratio of 70 and load index of 69, meaning improved stability.
The aggressive chevron pattern on the thread delivers versatility by allowing the tires to dig into gravel, mud, sand, and snow and to repel water. The slight change in the tread pattern has improved its performance both on-road and off-road.
I recommend you buy the Dakar version if you want tires with a harder compound or the standard tires if you expect to do more wet riding.
- Commendable performance both on and off-road
- Very versatile and rides well on gravel, mud, water, and snow
- More pneumatic performance is excellent for bigger motorcycles
- Does not perform very well in extreme conditions
Continental Twinduro TKC80
Continental Twinduro TKC80 is a 60/40 tire that is famous for its block-pattern knobs that offer excellent off-roading performance while its street-tire profile ensures good riding on tarmacs as well. The tire is specifically engineered to offer equal performance on various surfaces and performs fairly well on slush, thanks to its wide-apart knobs. The chunky tread pattern also offers you greater control on gravel and dirt and allows improved traction and increased braking distance on a wide range of loose to hard-packed surfaces.
The tires are made of a softer compound that offers a more comfortable experience.
- Impressive tires that perform well on a range of loose and hard-packed surfaces
- Has a self-cleaning tread pattern that ensures low maintenance
- Good value for money
- Do not have as long a life as other tires on our list
- Emits road noise
Bridgestone Trail Wing TW34
Bridgestone Trail Wing TW34 is a 4-ply tube tire that is designed to perform well in both dry and wet conditions because of its cutting-edge staggered unidirectional tread pattern. The chunky knobby treads have been constructed to the sidewall to create a powerful gripping edge and excellent stability when making corners. The tread block design is self-cleaning which allows you to easily maneuver through loose gravel or muddy terrain and keep your tires light and hence balanced. The tread blocks are big enough that they redirect water quickly for increased wet performance on the road.
The tires are P-rated for speed and are excellent alternatives for stock tire models found in older Yamaha TW200 models.
- Allow easy maneuvering on loose gravel and mud
- Self-cleaning treads keep tires light
- Repel water to prevent hydroplaning
- Has a good grip when accelerating and improved braking
- A bit noisy on roads and tarmacs
- The size may be too large to use on bicycles that are not Yamaha models
Kenda K784 Big Block
Kenda K784 Big Block is a 60/40 tire that is constructed to easily take you from the tarmac to the gravel trails. The tire offers superior puncture resistance and has a flexible tubeless design. Although the rear tires do not last very long, Kenda K784 offers performance that is similar to more expensive gravel tires. The rectangular big block tread pattern delivers excellent handling even during acceleration on heavy bikes and offers amazing grip on gravel, street, and rugged surfaces.
Kenda K784 is an excellent option if you are looking for an off-road tire that inspires confidence.
- Puncture resistant tire
- Commendable traction both on-road and off-road
- Excellent balance and handling at high speed
- Good value for money
- The rear tires do not have very long and may max out in just two years
- Does not perform well on very wet or muddy surfaces
Factors to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Tires for Gravel
If this is your first time buying motorcycle tires for gravel, you should understand some key factors:
Tread Pattern: Tread patterns determine grip and handling and are used to ride on loose terrain, mud, and even water and snow.
Tread Depth: The tread depth allows your tire to tread across soft surfaces. The deeper the tread, the easier it is to tread across surfaces where you can get stuck.
Knob Size: The knobs or blocks that make the tread pattern determine how much of the tire comes in contact with the terrain. Big knobs mean a smooth and flat surface will be in contact with a bigger section of the tire at any given time. Smaller-sized, closely packed knobs provide a bigger but uneven surface area.
Roadworthiness: The thing with dual-purpose tires is that they are good for both on-road and off-road use. When buying the tires, make sure you understand what purpose they are for, what surfaces they can maneuver, and whether they are street legal.
On-road to Off-road Ratio: To buy the best type of tires, you need to first figure out what type of riding you will be doing. If you spend very little time on gravel trails, then there is no point in throwing out money for tires that have excellent off-road characteristics but are not as precise or responsive. If you are unsure what to buy, your best bet is to buy a 50/50 tire.
About THE AUTHOR
Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.Read More About Russ Crowley