How much Do Motorcycle Tires Cost?
It's already well-established that motorcycle tires count as consumables, and they're actually among the most expensive expenses associated with owning and riding a motorcycle. And it's a regular expense, regardless of how many miles you put under your rubber — eventually, it will wear out.
But as pricey as they are, getting a new set of tires isn't just about the set itself. You have to account for shipping and packaging, and mounting expenses. So, it's safe to say that motorcycle tires significantly vary in price due to various aspects.
Generally speaking, a set of motorcycle tires can range anywhere from $60 to $650 per tire. Admittedly, front tires are less expensive than the rear ones by 5-25%. With that said, a set of good tires can range anywhere from $250 to $400. The overall cost of motorcycle tires depends on three factors:
- Type of motorcycle tires
- New vs. used
- Installation costs
For now, let's break down each factor and explain how it affects the overall price.
Type of Motorcycle Tires
The price of motorcycle tires generally depends on the tire type, in addition to other elements. Touring and Harley tires are generally the most expensive and can go up to $650 per tire. Dirtbike and Supermoto types are usually the most accessible tires ranging between $40 and $100. Dual Sports and Street tires usually fall between these two types, featuring a $150-$300 price tag.
Here's the average cost of tires per type:
- Dirt bike — $25 - $340
- Racing and track tires — $50 - $480
- Scooter tires — $25 – $300
- Vintage tires — $30 – $300
- Touring $35 – $650
- Sport tires — $45 – $450
- Harley tires — $30 – $650
- Supermoto — $90 – $240
- Dual Sport — $30 - $380
The type of the tire also determines its longevity, with racing and track tires being the least durable. Touring tires, on the other hand, always go the extra mile — pun fully intended. The truth is that bike tires are more likely to be replaced more often than car tires. Even the top-rated bike tire could theoretically last for up to 25,000 miles, given the right conditions.
With that said, most motorcycle tires have to be replaced every 3,000 – 12,000 miles, depending on the type, road conditions, and driving style. The rear wears down faster than the front since the majority of power transfers through the rear tire. Of course, a misaligned wheel, insufficient tire pressure, and excessive driving could also make the front wear out faster.
On some bikes, the rear simply wears out quicker, and in some cases, you can get double the mileage from the front tire compared to the rear. The good news is that you don't have to replace the whole pair. Truthfully, tire manufacturers did make their product to work in tandem and deliver the highest possible performance.
But sometimes you can get away with replacing just the rear or the one that was damaged. The best possible approach to mixing the new and old tires is to have the old ones inspected by a tire specialist. They could make a judgment call based on experience, on whether you should replace both tires or just one.
New vs. Used Motorcycle Tires
Image the following scenario: somebody bought a set of tires, mounted them on their bike, took them for a few spins, and ended up not liking how they performed. So, they decided to sell them for cheap, just to recuperate some of the spent money.
Those situations rarely happen, but in the off-chance that you find a pair of barely used tires at a bargain price, by all means, take them. You can fit the rear one if it wears out significantly faster than the front tire and save some money in the long run. However, it's best if you take the set to a tire specialist for evaluation.
Most likely, the price of a used set would be somewhere around $20 - $100, and while they seemingly cost less, that's not actually the case. With used motorcycle tires, you get what you paid for, and in exchange for a few dollars shaved off the asking price, you're likely to get tires with a few thousand miles shaved off as well.
Used tires are rarely worth the cost, especially when there are plenty of new tires of great quality with an accessible price tag. Mounting used tires that weren't checked by a tire specialist isn't advisable, and it's considered a safety risk.
Installing a new set of tires is completely free — if you know how to DIY It. However, some tire manufacturers only acknowledge the coverage of your warranty if the tires were installed by a dealership or a shop. This also applies to tires you bought online or from a third-party seller.
Most dealerships and bike and car repair shops will be happy to sign on the warranty for any set, as long as they get to install them. The cost of having your tires mounted ranges between $45 - $80 per wheel across the entire industry. If you bought the tires directly from the leadership, you're likely to pay for mounting separately.
Keep the aforementioned prices in mind, as some shops run by less-honest repair and tire specialists may try to quote you much more — don't be scammed. Of course, you can significantly reduce these costs by taking off the wheels yourself and taking them to have the tires replaced.
It's actually highly recommended that you have your tires mounted by a reputable shop, as they'll also balance the wheels with a special balancing machine. This is a very important step since it only takes a small difference in weight to cause vibrations and reduce the lifespan of your tires. In fact, many dealerships and shop balance the wheels for free provided that they've mounted the tires.
Some would even offer a discount or won't even charge for the change of tires if you bought the set from them, just to remain competitive. Many riders opt to just ride to the dealership or a repair shop and have their tires done by a professional. It's the most convenient solution but also the priciest.
Why Motorcycle Tires Cost So Much
The exact price of the tire set — shipping and mounting excluded — depends on the quality and the size of the tire. Considering the aforementioned numbers, $600 for a set seems a bit excessive. But is it really so?
Well, as previously stated, the tires are exceptionally important, and considering the forces they have to deal with, they're handling quite a challenge. So, those eye-water price tags aren't without good reason. There are three factors that determine the price of a tire set:
- Engineering costs
- Material costs
- Market size
Let's explain each one.
Engineering a good set of motorcycle tires involves plenty of precise calculations that involve combining different chemicals with rubber compounds and curing them at specific temperatures. This results in a set of tires that does more than just protect your bike's rims and give you traction on the road; a good combination can improve the performance of your bike and mean the difference between a safe ride and a potentially fatal situation.
However, each set goes through multiple dynamic tests that check for wear, heat build-up, and various other performance metrics on a wide variety of surfaces in various conditions. And if the results aren't satisfactory, the whole design goes back to the drawing board and starts again.
Tires are made of rubber, but only up to 30% of the compound is actually natural rubber that gets mixed up with various other substances that enhance its physical and chemical properties. This prevents the rubber from deforming under pressure, thus making tires more durable. Sourcing said materials and producing the right compounds takes even more effort and thus costs more money.
The motorcycle tires market is generally smaller but more versatile market when compared to car tires. This means that manufacturers have to keep the price of their best tires high to cover the initial costs of doing business. There's also brand effect as well, and paying a higher price usually equals to a better-quality product.
What to Consider When Buying a New Set?
As stated above, the motorcycle tire market is small but versatile, so it pays to know what to look for when selecting a new set of tires. There are several factors you'd want to consider when deciding on the most appropriate set for your bike and riding style.
The pattern shape is extremely important, and you'll probably choose one with fewer and shallower grooves if you love riding on the dry track or tarmac. You'll need a tread pattern with more substantial grooves that will effectively eliminate water so you don't lose grip if you want to drive about town or if you regularly commute in rainy weather. Off-roading obviously calls for a loose-knobbed tire with a blocky, deep tread, like Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Tires, that will remove the loose dirt and gravel.
Radial and Bias Ply
Motorcycle radial tires contain steel treads that are 90 degrees away from the tread's centerline. They are sturdy and quite grippy, but they wear and tear more quickly. Bias-ply tires are constructed using nylon belts that are angled between 30 and 45 degrees from the centerline. The latter is generally better for smoother riding or hauling heavy things. Dunlop Elite 4 Tires actually come in both bias and radial form, so riders can choose their preference.
Tube Vs. Tubeless
Traditional tube tires are generally more affordable, but tubeless tires generally offer better performance and handling, and this cost more.
Tires are made using single-compound rubber or dual-compound rubber. The former offers better grip at lower angles, but the latter is more flexible, which adds more longevity without compromising grip.
For less than $100, you can get a good commuter or street tire. They last between three and five hundred miles before needing to be replaced and are excellent for daily driving on flat and smooth highways. The majority of premium motorcycle tires cost between $120 and $250 and offer reliable traction and great handling. Expect to pay more than $250 for each tire if you want the best performance, exceptional grip, or a comfortable ride on off-road tracks.
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