As the days get shorter and the cold weather begins to creep in, it’s time to prepare for winter. That’s why we’ve looked at some of the best winter motorcycle tyres, designed to take on even the harshest of winter roads.
According to the Met Office, it’s important to thoroughly check your pipes, weatherproof your home, and get yourself a flu jab to prepare for the winter months ahead. Of course, if you’re a bike owner, that’s not all you need to do to prepare; you need to think about your tyres too.
Is your motorcycle ready for the winter weather?
Constructed for colder weather, winter tyres are specifically designed for these colder months. As such, they’re made with increased grip and traction in mind. And when temperatures drop, good grip and traction are paramount to keep your motorcycle going.
Riding a motorcycle during winter on a dry sunny day can be an extremely pleasant experience. On those days that winter riding can be enjoyed, make sure that you and your bike are prepared.
Motorcycle tyres for those winter months
Here in the UK, we rarely get the kind of weather that legally requires winter tyres. However, other countries across the globe have different requirements so, if you’re planning to ride abroad in winter, always check to make sure your bike is road-legal.
That said, winter tyres are fantastic for providing extra grip and traction, so they’re definitely worthwhile; look out for tyres rated ‘M+S’. The ‘M’ and the ‘S’ stand for ‘Mud’ and, you guessed it, ‘Snow’. And even if you don’t see much of the white stuff, there’s certainly an abundance of mud, especially for those bikers who enjoy long countryside rides.
However, many of the tyres on our list offer great all-round weather performance.
After all, British weather is nothing if not unpredictable.
We’ve rounded up some of the best motorcycle tyres to suit the season and all budgets across the two-wheeled spectrum. So, whichever type of winter tyre you decide on, make sure you know exactly how to look after them. Why not take a look at our motorcycle tyre guide for some great tips and advice? In the meantime, these tyres can tackle anything those cold winter roads can throw at you:
Continental TKC Rocks
A favourite brand among many riders, Continental have developed the TKC Rocks for improved traction and enhanced wet weather performance. And it has agile handling on both country and city roads, making it ideal for commutes or weekend getaways.
These tyres also make use of silica technology to help navigate winter roads. Silica has long been used in tyres due to its excellent tear resistance. Unsurprisingly, it is often used in heavy duty tyre treads and on larger vehicles such as buses, because its compounds reduce lag without losing out on traction. An excellent feature for a motorcycle winter tyre!
Michelin Pilot Power 2CT
If you’re a thrillseeker who likes to test your limits at circuits up and down the country then these tyres are for you. Originally, 2CT technology was developed for MotoGP racing. As a result, this tyre can tackle both the road and the track. And if you fancy yourself as a bit of a weekend sports bike rider, then these tyres are relatively affordable too.
Because of their affinity for track use, they have a fast warm-up time with optimal traction and braking. The main section of the Michelin Pilot Power 2CT tyre is made from a much harder compound. And it’s this which affords it the longevity and durability that makes it so cost effective.
In contrast to the centre, these tyre edges are built from a softer composition for increased grip when taking corners. Again, this means they are suitable for all weather conditions, both wet and dry.
Overall, this is definitely a tyre for the sportier riders out there, especially given their high level of all-round performance.
Metzeler ROADTEC 01 SE
This sport touring tyre is ideal for riders seeking adventure, or anyone who doesn’t want to worry about a sudden downpour. These are wet weather performance tyres, featuring a tread design that offers consistent water drainage. Of course, this makes it a great tyre for riding in ideal weather conditions as well.
In addition, Metzeler ROADTEC™ Z6 tyres also perform well in terms of precise corner entry and lean angles. In other words, these tyres will ensure a smooth ride. A technically-driven tyre, it is responsive and has excellent contact feeling too - even in wet weather. As such you can feel even more confident on the road during those cold, crisp winter days.
Similar to the Continental TKC Rocks, these tyres utilise silica technology. As a result, they have excellent tear resistance and traction properties. Perfect for those who want to ride longer and ride further.
Dunlop RoadSmart lll
Whether you’re riding long-haul or on a demanding road, these tyres have the traction and grip you need. This rigorously tested tyre was part of an independent wet weather handling test conducted by Germany’s highly-respected Motorrad magazine.
According to Motorrad, the Dunlop RoadSmart III can be “steered neatly and neutrally through a thicket of curves”. Making this a great tyre for riders travelling longer distances or those traversing winding roads.
And if you’re fed up at having to purchase new tyres every 4,000 miles, these tyres might be your solution. This is because they maintain optimum performance for 40% longer compared to their predecessor, the RoadSmart II. And this makes riding in wet weather less of a challenge too, as you can take corners seamlessly and with confidence.
A tyre that handles turns and corners well, a quality often associated with Bridgestone. And it’s easy to see why. The T31 has excellent wet weather performance, with improved braking and grip, allowing riders to push their limits safely.
Their durability will ensure you get good mileage out of these tyres too. Similar to the Michelin Pilot Power 2CT, this tyre has a dual compound design, blending hard and soft compositions. With the harder rubber in the centre improving wear and the softer edges ensuring increased grip. In addition, these are gran turismo (GT) tyres, meaning they have optimal stability and solidity.
And because these are specialist GT tyres, the T31 is reinforced and sportier than most. As a result, they are well suited to heavier bike models. Thus, those riders with larger, heavier sports tourers will find they make for a more agile ride.
Kenda K784 Big Block
This is an adventure bike tyre that can compete with even the biggest brands like Continental. Suitable for both on- and off-road, Kenda’s K784 Big Blocks offer riders versatile performance at relatively low cost.
And these tyres handle well on wet tarmac, making them suitable for those rainy seasons and winter months. However this is hardly surprising, given that they were built to perform on even the roughest of terrains (including dirt, mud and even sand). They are also puncture resistant due to their bias-belt casing and, true to their name, their large tread blocks give them excellent wear.
These tyres can handle high speeds too, making them great for more experienced riders who love to stretch and test their limits.
Avon is one of the most established and oldest tyre brands out there. Dating as far back as 1904, they make tyres for both road use and the road track.
The Trailrider is an all-weather tyre built specifically for adventure riders.
Again, like the Metzeler ROADTEC™ or Continental TKC Rocks, this tyre is made with a silica compound. This ensures it retains grip and handles well in wet weather conditions. It has 3D sipes that help it perform on wet roads, helping it effortlessly cut through water on road surfaces. Perfect if you want to prepare yourself for unexpected turns in the British weather.
And because it has a wider soft contact area, sliding risks are minimised.
With its mixed-compound treads, this tyre’s durability and longevity makes it an affordable choice for the more financially minded riders.
Pirelli Snowcontrol Serie lll
The Snowcontrol is a high-performing winter tyre due to its unique tread pattern. Its sipe is optimised to allow for independent movement of tread bricks, offering both good traction and stability.
As is to be expected from a winter tyre, it boasts excellent wet and snow weather performance. It uses a rubber compound with bead geometry to offer improved overall handling on all road surfaces and maintain effective braking in cold conditions.
Due to its increased traction and sipe, it’s equipped to deal with less than favourable weather conditions. And with the word ‘Snow’ in its name, it should come as no surprise that these tyres can maintain traction on slippery roads, able to perform on both fresh and melting snow.
You might not need this kind of tyre in the UK, but it’s ideal if you plan on any motorcycle trips abroad this winter. Plus, a little extra grip and traction is never a bad thing.
Time to Hit that Cold Open Road
Whatever your winter tyre choice, make the most of the winter sun and enjoy those crisp morning rides. You may have found the ideal tyres for your own bike in this list. But make sure you’re thinking about more than just rubber.
Check out our ultimate guide to prepping your motorcycle or scooter for the winter months ahead; because there’s nothing worse than feeling cold and wet. And having the wrong kit or being ill-prepared for the season will leave you feeling miserable to boot.