What Are The Capabilities Of The Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic?
The touring Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic is a flagship model of Harley introduced in 1989 and updated over the years for long-distance touring focusing on comfort and performance.
The Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic boasts a V-twin, 1,868 cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine that produces 91 HP and 118 lb-ft of torque. The beast has a 6-speed transmission with a top speed of 110 MPH.
The Ultra Classic is equipped with a large windshield, large comfortable saddle, top case, and side pannier storage as well as GPS navigation, cruise control, and a luxury stereo system.
What Are The Best Motorcycle Tires For The Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic?
Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT: Best Tire for Inclement Road Conditions
According to Riders Domain, Pilot Road 4 GT tires are “juggernauts” in the field of best grip tires and despite its expensive price are the best tires for inclement road conditions. It’s a unique tire that offers the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic multiple compound zones throughout the tire.
The Pilot Road 4 features a unique tread pattern with deep, wide grooves that help to channel water away from the tire's surface. The grooves are arranged in a zig-zag pattern that maximizes the amount of water that can be evacuated from the contact patch while still providing good traction on dry roads for the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.
Michelin's XST+ siping technology is also used in the Pilot Road 4. This involves using small cuts in the rubber that are angled in different directions to create a more stable contact patch reducing the risk of hydroplaning on a wet road surface.
The rubber compound used in the Pilot Road 4 is specifically formulated with silica to provide maximum flexibility and grip in wet weather. Silica is a naturally occurring mineral composed of silicon and oxygen (SiO2) and can be synthesized in a laboratory through a variety of chemical reactions to produce the material in motorcycle tires so that the tire grips wet roads in damp conditions.
The Pilot Road 4 also features a multi-compound composition called 2CT Technology. Different areas of the tread have different rubber compounds; for example, the center of the tread has a harder compound for increased durability while the shoulders of the tire have a softer compound for improved grip in corners. Front and rear tires have different compound zones as well.
The front and rear tire differs in that the rear tire has a flatter profile and a dual-compound tread pattern that is optimized for traction and stability under hard acceleration and cornering while the front tire uses a single-compound rubber that provides a balance of grip and durability across a wide range of conditions.
The front tire uses a more flexible casing material that provides a comfortable ride and precise steering response. The rear tire uses a stiffer casing material that provides improved stability and durability under heavy loads and high speeds.
- 110/70R17 54H TL
- 110/80R18 58V TL
- 120/60ZR17 55W TL
- 120/70ZR17 58W TL
- 120/70ZR18 59W TL
- 120/70ZR19 60W TL
- 120/90ZR17 64W TL
- 140/70R17 66H TL
- 150/70R17 69V TL
- 150/70R18 70V TL
- 160/60ZR17 69W TL
- 170/60ZR17 72W TL
- 180/55ZR17 73W TL
- 190/50ZR17 73W TL
- 190/55ZR17 75W TL
- 200/50ZR17 75W TL
- 240/45ZR17 82W TL
Continental Road Attack 3 GT: The Best Tire for Pure Speed
Like the Pilot Road 4s, Continental Road Attack 3 GT has MultiGrip Technology in which the center compound has a Shore A hardness of 65 and the shoulder compound has a Shore A hardness of 55. These high-speed cruiser tires provide a balance of durability, stability, and grip when tearing down the track on your Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.
The Road Attack 3 GT has TractionSkin Technology meaning that the tread surface is micro-roughened by lasers to create a "tacky" surface that provides maximum grip. This technology also eliminates the need for a break-in period allowing the tire to perform at its best as soon as they are installed on your Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.
The Road Attack 3 GT uses a zero-degree steel belt construction for maximum stability and uniformity. The belt package is made up of a single layer of aramid fibers and two layers of steel cord giving the tire incredible strength and durability as it heats up down the track.
The Road Attack 3 GT is designed specifically for sport-touring bikes to fly down the track at ultra-high speeds. With a speed rating of "W," these motorcycle tires are tested for a velocity of 168 mph. Of course, to reach that speed on your Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic it will take several expensive upgrades.
Going this fast with standard motorcycle tires could mean disaster as the structural integrity of the tire material can degrade when the tire and road generate heat causing it to lose its shape and balance. As motorcycle tires deform they can create a bubble in the tire’s sidewall and a blowout is imminent.
- 120/60ZR17 M/C 55W TL
- 120/70ZR17 M/C 58W TL
- 120/70ZR18 M/C 59W TL
- 120/70ZR19 M/C 60W TL
- 150/70ZR17 M/C 69W TL
- 160/60ZR17 M/C 69W TL
- 170/60ZR17 M/C 72W TL
- 180/55ZR17 M/C 73W TL
- 190/50ZR17 M/C 73W TL
- 190/55ZR17 M/C 75W TL
- 200/55ZR17 M/C 78W TL
- 240/45ZR17 M/C 82W TL
Dunlop Elite 4: The Best tire for Comfort
Dunlop Elite 4 - Shaped for Comfort
For long-distance touring on your Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, the Dunlop Elite 4 is manufactured with a more rounded profile than other Dunlop tires from the Dunlop tire company. This shape provides a larger contact patch with the road improving stability and handling. The rounded shape also helps to distribute the rider’s weight more evenly across the tire, reducing stress on specific areas and providing an exceptional ride quality for all heavier Harley Davidson models.
Dunlop Elite 4 - Constructed for Comfort
The construction of the Elite 4 also plays a significant role in its comfort. These Dunlop tires feature a multi-tread compound with a stiffened carcass that improves stability and handling while also providing a smoother ride.
The tire's carcass is made up of a combination of nylon and polyester providing excellent strength and durability while at the same time, the sidewalls are designed to be more flexible than other Dunlops so that they absorb more shocks and vibrations from the road for fantastic comfort when touring multiple states at a time.
Even the tread pattern of the Elite 4 cruiser tires helps to improve its comfort. The tire's tread design reduces road noise and provides a smoother ride for touring riders.
The Michelin Commander III: The Best Tire for Durability
Ultra Classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles are meant for mileage which means trading in tires quite a bit. Michelin Commander III tires feature a belt-and-ply construction that includes a high-strength, single-ply of aramid fiber commonly used in ballistic protection. The aramid fiber helps to provide excellent stability, durability, and longevity for this tire while also reducing weight.
The sidewalls of the Michelin Commander III tire are made of a high-density, polyamide cord material, which provides excellent durability and resistance to damage making it perfect for those looking for heavy cruiser tires.
The Michelin Commander III tire features a unique tread pattern that is designed to provide excellent grip and to provide long tread life. The tread pattern includes large tread blocks that maximize durability and stability.
The Michelin Commander III tire is estimated to last 25,000 – 30,000 miles depending on riding style, road conditions, and maintenance. For those aggressively riding and racing, the mileage will be significantly less.
- 100/90B19 57H TL
- 120/70ZR19 60W TL
- 120/70R21 68V TL
- 130/60B19 61H TL
- 130/60R21 63H TL
- 130/70B18 63H TL
- 130/70R18 63H TL
- 130/80B17 65H TL
- 140/75R17 67V TL
- 150/80B16 77H TL
- 160/70B17 79V TL
- 130/90B16 73H TL
- 130/90B16 73H TT
- 130/90-16 67H TT
- 140/90B15 76H TL
- 140/90B16 77H TL
- 150/80B16 77H TL
- 150/80R16 77H TL
- 160/70B17 79V TL
- 170/70B16 75H TL
- 180/55ZR18 80W TL
- 180/65B16 81H TL
- 180/70B15 76H TL
- 200/55ZR17 78W TL
The Dunlop D402: The Best Tire for Aesthetics
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but most agree that less is more especially for Harley motorcycles. Instead of a flashy design that distracts from the overall chromed-out bling of the Ultra Classic Harley-Davidson, the Dunlop D402 is understated making a great backdrop for what the eye should be drawn to: the classic lines and style of a legendary motorcycle.
Classic Black Sidewall
The Dunlop D402 features a classic black sidewall that complements the look of many Ultra Classic Harley models. The black sidewall can provide a sleek and steady appearance that blends well with the overall aesthetic of the motorcycle.
The Dunlop D402 features the iconic Harley-Davidson logo on the sidewall which I find unique and a major draw. If people put it on their bodies as a tattoo, it’s just as cool on your tire and gives the bike a cohesive look that is very appealing.
The Pirelli Night Dragon: Best Overall Tire
My overall best tire of choice for Ultra Classic Harley Davidson motorcycles is the Pirelli Night Dragon and not just for its bad-ass name. You’ll find this tire on almost every top ten list for most Harley-Davidson models and compete well against traditional cruiser tires. Night Dragons could compete with every tire mentioned thus far for best in class.
The Pirelli Night Dragon two-ply polyester carcass is designed to provide excellent rigid stability, control, and durability. The carcass is made with high-strength materials that are engineered to withstand the rigors of long-distance touring.
Pirelli Night Dragon tires feature a single-layer, zero-degree steel belt that is designed to provide excellent stability, handling, and control. It is made up of steel cords that run perpendicular to the tire's tread, forming a continuous loop around the tire.
The cords are laid out in a way that creates a flat surface across the entire tread area of the tire with no angle or curvature to the cords which creates a more stable platform and reduces tire squirm, bulges, and deformation. This also improves traction with a larger contact patch.
Pirelli Night Dragon tires have reinforced sidewalls made from a proprietary mix of high-strength rubber designed for added support and stability. The sidewalls are resistant to abrasion, punctures, and impacts. The compound is also designed to resist cracking and weathering, ensuring the sidewalls will look good for the life of the tire.
The Night Dragon tread has been designed to produce less noise than other motorcycle tires and is incredibly smooth, reducing rider fatigue and increasing comfort during long rides. The tread pattern is designed to provide excellent traction on both wet weather and dry surfaces thanks to its unique combination of grooves, sipes, and blocks.
The Pirelli Night Dragon doesn’t compromise durability for grip. The multi-compound rubber is built to last and is resistant to wear even when subjected to heavy use over long distances. Pirelli provides a limited treadwear warranty covering up to one year or 10,000 miles. With proper maintenance and standard riding many forums suggest a tire that lasts up to 20,000.
The Night Dragon really shines in the area of performance. When bombing down the highway or weaving in and out of surface street traffic or rumbling up rural roads, the grip, feel, and performance feels incredibly stable.
The tire provides neutral steering with excellent feedback and easy turn-in holding its line with confidence. For long distances, the comfort is satisfying mile after mile isolating rough pavement and taking on small potholes or pebbles with ease.
- 1770500 MT90B-16 72H TL
- 1772500 100/90-19 57H TL
- 1770400 MH90-21 54H TL
- 1772700 140/70B-18 REINFTL 73H
- 1770600 MT90B-16 74H TL
- 1772800 130/90-16 REINFTL 73H
- 1772600 150/80-16 REINFTL 77H
- 1770700 MU85B-16 TL 77H
- 1772900 150/70B-18 REINFTL 76H
- 1773000 180/60B-17 REINFTL 81H
About THE AUTHOR
Benjamin Rathbun has been hooked on motorcycles since 1987 when he bought his first bike, a 1973 Honda CBR450 for $300. Since then he has been through countless bikes and continued his two-wheeled hobby passing it down to his 21-year-old son who rides with him on the weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Benjamin believes that nothing clears the mind faster than flying 26 inches above the asphalt on his Harley-Davison.Read More About Benjamin Rathbun