The Kawasaki W800 is a retro-classic emulation of its predecessor from the 1960s. It caters to the truest enthusiasts and they need appropriate tires.
Finding tires that fit this emulated classic icon may be tougher than you think because the rim and tire size from the 1960s touring bikes are somewhat different today. However, we have a solution.
The best tires for a Kawasaki W800 for any touring situation, both off-road and on, include;
- Pirelli Sport Demon
- Pirelli Night Dragon
- Pirelli Phantom SportsComp
- Michelin Scorcher 31
- Michelin Road Classic
- Continental Road Attack 3
- Bridgestone Battlax BT46 Sport
- Dunlop Trailmax Mission
You should know that the Kawasaki W800 needs a particular set of tires due to the nature of its design, and understanding that and allowing for minor adjustments in width and aspect ratio will allow you to choose the optimal tires. Only the ones I cover here will prove to be what you are certainly looking for.
I've always been an avid admirer of vintage bikes, and the W800 is so distinguishing that I've been searching far and wide on forums and manufacturer sites, asking the advice of long-time veterans which the best tires would be because I'm considering getting one. Here they are.
1. Pirelli Sport Demon
Pirelli is synonymous with manufacturing quality tires and can boast about it with them having almost 150 years in the business and three spots on this list. You'd think that their talents for tires may lay only within the scope of racing and offroad, but that is simply not true.
Let's start by introducing you to the Pirelli Sport Demon, considered an "X-ply" tire for your touring motorcycle. This model specifically features what's known as a multi-radius profile and a chicane-style (sine-wave groove) tread pattern for both the front and rear tires.
Pirelli asserts and actively promotes the fact that due to this profile and tread pattern, wet and dry surfaces are no match for their excellent traction and reduced mileage wear. These feats are accomplished because the tread allows for more contact via the mid-line patch and actively channels water away from it. This effectively enhances both the traction in wet conditions and tread life.
Pirelli seems to have gotten it right because multiple 5-star (out of 5) reviews on CycleGear confirm that their traction is superb, and one even boasts the tires still have tread left with over 70,000 miles on the clock and still more to go. Hailed as an all-performance tire, they stay sticky (to the road) in wet conditions and warm up quickly, meaning you get sufficient traction minutes into your ride.
Additionally, the multi-radius profile offers astonishing contour allowing for quick changes in any direction with ease of steering. This is compounded by the tread of the tire wrapping around the sidewall to a large degree, making it possible to lean into corners, more so.
The structure of the tires is top notch sporting a highly resistant carcass and offering a tremendous load absorption capacity making for a comfortable ride. This makes breaking a pleasure even without the need for ABS brakes, tracking stays straight, and there is no tendency toward skipping even in the hardest braking situations.
Take note that Pirelli makes the Sport Demon tire in various sizes, and you are specifically looking at a 100/90-19 for the front tire and a 130/18-18 for the rear as this is standard size, and additionally, this size will apply to the following tires that I will cover with the exception of a few.
I never covered the best aspect of this tire: the price. Typically, you will be able to find them on either CycleGear or Revzilla for around $196, which is its full price. However, they frequently discount them at 25% off, and it's first come, first serve, meaning both suppliers run out of stock quickly.
The rear tire costs slightly more at around $205 for the full retail price both from CycleGear and Revzilla, but these tires are as popular as the front, and with their discounted price of 25%, you have to keep an eye out for when stock becomes available.
2. Pirelli Night Dragon
Suppose you are looking for a one-of-a-kind custom cruising tire with that signature Perilli sporty feel, offering additional power transmitted to the ground due to an 8% increase in contact area over many other tire models. In that case, you have to look no further.
Introducing the Pirelli Night Dragons that are next on the list and rightfully named because of their EPT (Enhanced Patch Technology) that offers you that extra power, traction, and control.
Even though the Kawasaki W800 is a 773cc 4-stroke engine that delivers 47 hp and 44 pounds of torque, these tires were designed for the latest and most modern V-twin engines meaning they are built durable and tough. As such, the mileage on these tires is incredible.
Pirelli offers the GT version of these tires, allowing for even more increased mileage, but don't get too excited because they don't come in a suitable size that will fit the front wheel of your W800. Therefore, make sure you stick to the 100/90-19 57H TL for the front tire.
When it comes to the rear tire, you are looking at the 180/55R18 74W TL, which is the standard version and then the 180/55B18 80H TL for the GT version. Consider that the shocks on the shocks on the rear wheel for the W800 are situated quite far away from the wheel. As such, you do have the option to put on a wider tire, but it should still be 18 inches.
Opting for one of these rear tire versions, the bike will hold even more firmly on the road, allowing you to lean in and easily take tight corners.
Getting back to what makes these tires great besides the fantastic traction and amazing design, they are built from "custom structure" materials, as Pirelli says. The result is comfortable and easy steering due to this structure being robustly resistant yet not too rigid, allowing it to be flexible and deformable but not elastic.
Consider that these tires by the Italian manufacturer were designed all the way back in 2008 and still hold up today as some of the best out there due to Pirelli taking a tiered approach in this tire design. This simply means they wanted to create a tire that had wet-weather performance, good construction, and fast warm-up times with the ultimate goal of having the utmost grip between the tire and the road.
This is affirmed by the sterling reviews that can be seen on both Revzilla and Cyclegear, with 70% of customers giving it a 5-star review. Amazon reviews paint a similar picture, with the GT series getting 5 out of 5 stars with over 500 reviews.
The price point for these is pretty much on point, with the Sport Demon coming in at $140 with a discount of 22%. Expect to pay $180 for the full retail price on both CycelGear and Rexzilla for these.
However, the rear tire tells a different story, with the full retail price being $327, but luckily enough, a 20% discount is given on both sites. This means you can pick them up for $262 when stock is available because, as with the Pirelli Sport Demon, these fly off the shelf like hotcakes.
If you are looking at the GT version, you are going to have to dig deeper into your waller cause this rear tire is $289 with an 18% discount. The full retail price is a whopping $351. Alas, the price won't matter if there is no stock because these are as popular as the previous Pirellis.
3. Pirelli Phantom SportsComp
For our last Pirelli entry, we are looking at the Phantom SportsComp. Consider that this is, in fact, a sports tire developed for road use. However, we are taking a look at only the rear tire, which is the 130/70 R18 63H. Why is this tire on the list?
The reason is that this specific tire offers what others can not in terms of a rear tire, and if it had a suitable tire that fitted the front, it would also be in here. It offers a vintage look, featuring a "classic" tread but is designed with the utmost performance in mind due to the technology and compounds it incorporates that medium and high-performance bikes require.
If you need a tire that holds fast in wet conditions because perhaps you live in an area with high rainfall, which is a major concern for you, then this is the rear tire you need on your W800.
Starting with the tread, its wavy longitudinal patterns encourage the fastest water drainage in any wet situation and outperforms most rear tires in these conditions because of it.
Then the precision design in its radial carcass structure that is made of light and resistant Rayon provides this tire the ability to have a uniform contact area at various inclination angles. This allows for incredible corner entries with easy handling on any route in wet conditions. Additionally, the rounded contour shape allows the bike and rider to easily anticipate and change directions when needed, effectively making the handling a dream.
This is further compounded with the radial carcass having a steel belt situated at 0 degrees, increasing stability and further giving the utmost feeling of control.
CycleGear and Revzilla reviewers give this tire a 5 out of 5 stars for its grip and wet traction. The only consideration you will need to account for is that this tire is soft, so it won't last as long in terms of mileage compared to the rest on the list. However, if you constantly ride in wet conditions, that won't be a problem, and this tire is the best choice by far.
Better yet, this tire's price point is not that bad, considering the benefits. You can pick it up from either CycleGear or Revzilla with a 24% discount most of the time for $160, with its full retail price being $211.
4. Michelin Scorcher 31
It's not surprising that next on the list are Michelin tires. Michelin, as with Pirelli, makes incredible tires, and this is evident with them being the tire sponsor for the MotoGP since 2016. Their touring tires are no different, with three models coming in on this list.
First up is the Michelin Scorcher 31, and conversely to the Pirelli Phantom SportsComp, this is a front tire. This Michelin tire was originally designed for Harley Davidson motorcycles, but the 100/90B19 57H sits no other way but perfectly on a Kawasaki W800 and adds performance to boot.
If you have to pair this tire with the Pirelli Phantom SportsComp, then wet conditions will feel as if you were riding on a scorching hot track. This is thanks to Michelin's multi-rubber blend that this tire is made of, giving it outstanding traction in the rain, but that is not all.
The high-quality hyper-functional material used to create this tire, known as Aramid fiber, is used in the aviation sector due to it being super lightweight and resistant. Then with the added Amplified Density Technology (ADT) that makes up the carcass.
Thanks to the multi-rubber blend, the Aramid fiber, and the ADT creating a stiffer carcass, the bike is responsive and easy to handle, providing maximum stability and incredible cornering performance at high speeds, especially in wet conditions. An additional benefit is that this tire is made to last with long, even tread wear.
There are a ton of reviews on GearCycle and Revzilla, giving this tire an overall 5 out of 5 stars and nothing less than a 4.7 out of 5 for grip, wet traction, likely to purchase again and bang for your buck.
The price for this front tire is the highest on the list compared to the previous models, with it being $184 at a 26% discount on Revzilla. Full retail will see that you pay $250. Luckily enough, this tire is underrated and not many riders know of its amazing performance and quality, so there is typically stock available.
5. Michelin Road Classic
The next Michelin tire is a set featuring both one for the rear and one for the front that, without any doubt, are noteworthy for this list, with one reason being that they achieve 50% more grip in the wet than the previous generation.
Michelin boasts that these tires make the most of your classic bike (in this case, a retro style model which emulates a classic bike) using modern technology and fun fact; they are approved on iconic motorcycle models.
The 50% more grip in wet conditions is achieved by combining a 26% void ratio and a compound mix that incorporates SRT (Silica Rain Technology). This is a mouthful, but it simply means that silica is integrated into the tread tire compound, improving grip in much cooler temperatures and especially in wet conditions. This process that is specific to these tires effectively adds these benefits without compromising the tread life.
If you think that 50% better grip in the wet is quite impressive, how about 50% more cornering stability and 40% additional straight-line stability than its predecessor? These tires have that as well, and it is thanks to Michelin's bias-belted technology and its bias casing. Two crown piles support the bias casing, and this is how these extreme performance increases are generated.
If you are wondering why these tires are not higher up on the list, it's because all the tires in here are so phenomenal that they run in no specific order. Your situation, preference, and wallet will probably be the determining factor governing your choice when it comes to picking which you will get.
Regarding the front tire, you are looking at the 100/90B19 57V TL; for the rear, it will be 130/80B18 66V TL. With great features comes a hefty price tag; in that regard, these are the second most expensive tires (pair) on our list, yet they are still as popular as the rest. This sadly means you will be hard-pressed to find stock on CycleGear, Revzilla and Amazon unless you keep an eye out.
The front tire retails for $249 no matter where you look, but CycleGear and Revzilla, in true fashion, provide a 21% discount in most cases bringing the total down to $197.
The rear tire is a tad cheaper, coming in at $221 for the full retail price, but with a 20% discount, you can pick them up for $177. It should go without saying that if you intend to purchase these tires, you should opt to purchase the pair for the stylish looks and optimal benefits.
6. Continental Road Attack 3
What good would a list be without it offering handmade tires from Germany that offer superb traction in wet conditions and great tread life in terms of mileage? The Continental Road attack 3 fills this spot perfectly as an allround tire made with the highest standards with touring in mind.
The optimized compound and performance-oriented tread design give these tires the ability for quick water evacuation (better drainage) and outstanding wet grip capabilities. The grip is intensified thanks to temperature-controlled curing during the manufacturing process of these tires.
Continental boasts this tire to have "EasyHandling" technology. In layman's terms, it means the tires provide the best linear handling even in situations where there are nominal gyroscopic forces.
These tires even have "TractionSkin," which puts a virtually complete end to tire break-ins. This is basically a new and revolutionary micro tread surface that is created due to mold coating technology.
If all that is still not good enough to get your attention, how about it having awards? MOTORRAD tested this tire in 2017 in a touring competition. It ranked number 1 on country roads and 2nd in wet conditions. Overall it took first place with MOTORRAD giving the purchasing recommendation repeatedly.
The only factor to take into consideration is that the front tire option will be a 110/80R19 59V, which means it will be ever so slightly wider than the stock OEM (Original Manufacturers Equipment) tires. However, 5mm on each side of your W800 for the front wheel should pose no problem.
The rear wheel fits perfectly, and you are looking at 130/80R18 66V in this situation. Did I mention that these tires have a 5 out of 5-star overall review from almost 70 customers on both CycleGear and RevZilla? In terms of grip, wet traction, likely to purchase again, tread life, and bang for your buck, this tire does not score below 4.
Both CycleGear and Revzilla give a massive discount of 34% on these tires, bringing them down to $177 from the massively enormous full retail price of $268 for the front tire. The rear tire has an even bigger discount of 36% from both dealers, allowing you to grab them at $192 from a staggering $300. Technically, if you consider the discounted price and not the full retail, then the Michelin Road Classics take the second spot for the most expensive tires by $5 over these.
However, if you have to pay the full retail price for both, you are looking at over $550, making them the most expensive. Luckily enough, there seems to always be a surplus of these tires, making them always in stock and typically at a discount.
7. Bridgestone Battlax BT46 Sport
Bridgestone makes this list with an upgraded version of their iconic BT45 tire. Using some of the latest and fanciest technology (which I will detail in a moment), this tire is the definitive allround true touring experience dedicated to making long rides and winding roads a pleasure to be on.
Let's start with its "Silica Rich EX" single compound composition that is featured in the rear tire only. By severely increasing the amount of silica in these tires compared to their conventional Silica Rich compound, the back tire offers way more performance in wet conditions.
In addition to that, the rear tire features RC Polymer construction technology and a NanoPro-Tech-controlled microstructure. In essence, the polymer improves the wear resistance of the tires due to the NanoPro-Tech molecular design.
Typically polymer and silica are not compatible with one another, but Bridgestone found a way to promote the affinity between them in the manufacturing process, drastically increasing the performance of both.
The distribution of the silica within the RC Polymer construction method greatly improves the tire tread's flexibility, allowing the rear tire to have the utmost surface contact with the road. Then thanks to molecular friction being reduced due to NanoPro-Tech molecular design, rolling resistance is improved, and fuel economy is boosted.
Sporting a vintage feel with a modern design, the only reason not to consider these tires is that they typically don't go on sale very often, and if they do, it's only for about a 2% saving. This technically makes these tires the most expensive on our list due to you having to pay almost the full retail price for them. As such, you will usually find plenty of stock available from CycleGear and Revzilla.
With a 2% discount on both the front and rear tires, you are still looking at spending approximately $450. The 100/90-19 57V front tire will set you back $227, while the 130/70-18 63H for the rear will cost $216.
8. Dunlop Trailmax Mission
Last on our list (but remember it's in no specific order) are a set of tires offering premium performance and built for a true adventure, enabling you to tackle a wide variety of terrain.
If you live in an area where you encounter some dirt roads more often than not or your touring adventures take you along a similar path, then these tires should be considered over all others.
Dunlop spent two years in development to bring us this tire that features the most aggressive tread pattern with a staggered-step design and possesses a step-down quality allowing for rigidity in the contact patch, essentially promoting handling and stability.
Off-road wet conditions are no match for the Trailmax, thanks to their excessively deep grooves that provide sharp, biting edges for maximum grip in the wettest of off-road conditions.
Moreover, going off-road can be a nightmare in some cases with rocks and jagged terrain; however, the wrap-around lugs on the tire's edge help to protect against this and offer additional traction. You then have wrap-around tread blocks reaching higher up on the sidewall, effectively increasing the puncture resistance as well as the traction.
Additionally, Dunlop's new compound that makes up these tires is perfectly balanced to deliver off-road and road performance along with extended tread mileage.
These tires have the most overall 5 out of 5-star reviews on both CycleGear and RevZilla, with over 110 satisfied customers. The best thing about these tires is not that they offer great off-road capabilities but that they are reasonably priced. More importantly, there is typically plenty of stock, and getting a pair for your off-road touring adventure shouldn't pose a problem.
Considering the front tire (that is a 100/90-19 57T TL) will set you back a mere $127 with a 27% discount from CycleGear and Revzilla, the rear (a 130/90-18 69T TL) will only cost $145 with a 28% discount. The full retail price for the rear is usually $200 and then expect the front to be $175.