The Best Tires for Street-Going Sportbikes

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The Best Tires for Street-Going Sportbikes

As much as many of us would like to get out and ride tracks and canyons all day, we have jobs to get to, and errands to run. Many who choose a sportbike as their primary motorcycle need tires with fantastic grip in both wet and dry conditions, that are also stable at all lean angles, and will reward us with a reasonable amount of tire life. Read on to find out which street-going sportbike tires are right for you.

Many riders may be tempted by the siren song of track tires, allowing them to reap the full advantages of massive traction all the time, right? Wrong. Here is a refresher…

Jason Pridmore of Star Motorcycle School told us: “Even on the track, 90 percent of riders would be better off on street tires.” This is because street tires warm up faster and won’t drop below their operating temperature at lower speeds. The compounds they’re made of are meant to heat cycle often without ill effect, while those track tires will be spent after just a few uses, leaving you with hard, unsafe tires in a very short amount of time.  We already knew that, right? So, buying the right set of street tires will leave you confident on the track, and safe on the street.

Michelin Pilot Road 3
Michelin Pilot Road 3

Michelin Pilot Road 3

If you travel long distances, this tire is well worth looking into. Excellent water clearance allows this sport-touring tire to respond well in wet and dry thanks to Michelin’s X-Sipe Technology. 2CT dual compound technology ensures confident grip in hard cornering, and long tire life for those highway or freeway blasts. A great tire for those in the Pacific Northwest, and riders looking for a versatile, long-living tire that still inspires confidence in the twisties.

Pirelli Rosso Corsa
Pirelli Rosso Corsa

Pirelli Rosso Corsa

Bi-compound technology and a unique profile ensures a uniform contact patch and manageable tread life whether you’re out on the track or just sport touring on your CBR600RR. Clever siping means that the tire delivers slick performance in the dry, and still works well in the wet. The Rosso Corsa leaves the very edge of the tire slick to ensure maximum contact at full-lean. If you’re stacking up miles and want excellent grip and confidence, this tire with World Superbike DNA might do the trick.

Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact
Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact

Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact

Metzeler uses its Interact 5 zone tension technology in this tire, providing progressive amounts of grip as lean angles increase. Combining that with a silica compound developed to provide excellent contact in wet and dry scenarios makes this tire a keeper. Water ejection is still excellent with the pi-shaped siping, making this road tire: precise, engaging and with good mileage to match.

Dunlop Q3
Dunlop Q3

Dunlop Q3
The Q3 takes its racing heritage seriously. Carbon reinforced sidewalls improve rigidity when turning at high speeds, longer sipes than the outgoing Q2 improve dry and wet traction, and the Q3 doesn’t cost any more than its predecessors either. Like the other tires in our collection, the Q3 features a dual-compound; slightly harder in the middle to mitigate excessive wear, softer on the outside to really stick where it counts. The coolest part? These tires are made in the U.S.

If a sport bike is your daily ride, what kind of tires are you using?

  • bat flag

    I rode the Trans-lab with Pilot Road 3s on a Honda 599 this summer, including long days of deep gravel, loose dirt from road construction, and even a little bit of messing around on beach sand. They aren’t made for that kind of thing, but I made it through with a little self-control to keep speeds low.

  • Clint Keener

    I can only run the Rosso Corsas on my Streetfighter 848, because of the weird size. I have 7,200 miles on them so far.

    • Gordon Pull

      Don’t believe that. I have an SF848 as well and have ran 190/55′s with no issues. I don’t use DTC but even with it on, it still worked just fine. 7200 is pretty good for those tires though. I was lucky to get 5500 out of mine.

    • Sir Wadsalot

      My SV1K & 1125R eat Corsas in 3 to 5 thousand miles. If you’re getting 7 plus out of them, you best stop complaining and enjoy it!

  • Brian

    I am currently running Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interact O Specs….very happy with their performance in the different conditions I have been on them with.
    that being said, I had an instructor at a riding school I went to tell me very point blank matter of factly that most street tires nowadays are capable of much more than most people are willing to subject them to. The technology in the compounds and everything about tires now is such, that you will more than likely find the point that you chicken out before you find the point that the tire can’t handle it anymore when it comes to most riding on the street.

  • tbowdre

    Just got a set of Q3s and ran them all day at chuckwalla raceway. Really nice tires, heat up fast and felt really stable on my BUELL 1125R. The Q2′s I had before these lasted pretty long in the canyons and on few commutes… maybe 4000 miles?

    • Sir Wadsalot

      I can’t believe they reccomended the Corsa as a daily use tire. I love Pirellis but it’s a 4000 mile tire, at best. Fantastic for trackdays but not for commuters. Keep us updated on your Q3 mileage, if it can beat 7 or 8 K (Diablo Strada/Angel) on my 1125R I’ll try it!

    • Steve Williams

      I went through my Q3s in 2500 miles. No track days, just fun German roads. Already have more miles on my Pilot Power 3s and still going strong.

  • Ryan

    Just replaced my rear with a Michelin PR3, fantastic in all conditions, particularly through the twisties… Planning on matching the front come summer.

    • Bellaert Jeffrey

      Drove around with the pilot road 2 and switcht the front tyre recently to the pilot road 3 because of winter. Very happy with it especially in rain (live in Belgium average days of rain a year: 200). The tyre dealer did say that they wear out quicker than the PR2, but time will show…

  • Justin McClintock

    If you’re really just hitting up the road and not the track, the PR2s and PR3s are it. All the grip anybody could ever need for street use, and better life than just about anything else on the road.

  • Fresh Mint

    BT016′s or whatever they’re replaced with are also awesome street tires that I’ve been able to use up to a middle-pack B level at the track.

    • Ryan Deckard

      Man, I just burned a set of these up in 2k on my supermoto. Front and rear sides are smocked. 2 sm kart track days and a trip to the dragon, damn near wore through the sides.

  • Jonathan Ward

    I’ve gone through two sets of Michelin PR3 tyres on my Yamaha Fazer and I can honestly say that I haven’t used anything better. Long life, good grip levels in wet weather and when cornering. My only complaint is that I can feel slightly less grip when braking quickly in a straight line when dry. Nothing massive, though.

    • Scott Otte

      How many miles are you getting on a rear?

      • Ty Brookhart

        yes, do tell

        • Jonathan Ward

          I will tell! Around 15000 miles p/tyre :-)

          • Ty Brookhart

            nice, because i got just 4,800 on the Pilot Power….

            • Jonathan Ward

              Those are super sticky sports tyres, yes? Dual compound Makes a big difference. When I ran Dunlop Sportmax Qualifiers the best I could manage was a wimpish 4000 miles too.

              • Ty Brookhart

                They are and yeah, to be expected, kinda. but I got almost 7 out of the Pirelli Daiblo Rosso 2s… anyway, tires and bikes. it never gets old.

          • Scott Otte

            Thanks! That’s pretty good. I might have to get a set next time I need tires.

  • David

    q3s all the way :)

  • Ty Brookhart

    I just put the Pilot Road 3 on my Speed Triple this morning…

  • Jeromy

    What about Michelin Pilot Power 2CT? I guess they are not on the list since the pilot roads are. But I always get stuck between picking a pilot road or a power pilot… Any body know what the difference in riding characteristics is? I have had both, but I can’t tell the difference.

    • SniperSmitty

      I have Pilot Power 2CTs on my CBR SuperSport. They have exactly 3,687 miles on them and are nowhere near wearing out. Excellent in the rain and even better in the dry. When I’m leaned over in a long sweeper, I’m on rails. Feels very well planted to the road. They are crowned high, then slope drastically to the shoulder. This gives you a nice large contact patch when leaned over. As far as the difference between PR3s goes, I’d say that the PR3s are more for sport touring, whereas the PP 2CTs are better for aggressive street riding andcan be ridden right onto the track.Revzilla has the best price anywhere and ships fast. Buy the Pilot Power 2CTs. You will be very happy!!! Especially leaned over. Good Luck and keep the dirty side down.

      • Alex DeSantiago

        I agree. I ride a Hayabusa. Been bouncing from Pilot 2ct’s and Dunlops, last year I had the Pilot Power 3′s installed, with my 2Ct’s there was no chicken strip at all, with the PP3′s I could not get rid of them. Seems like the PP3′s were a much rounder profile, which took me to full lean (even having to tuck my knee inside) and still had 1 wear bar untouched. Im a Michelin rider, only drawback, 2CT’s and PP3′s don’t last very long on heavy bike (2 back to 1 front) . All of the above was street riding, no track.

  • Aaron

    Pilot Power

  • Brandon Mussman

    Just got the Q3′s put on yesterday. Havent had time to put them through the paces but much better than the squared off tires i replaced…

  • Mark D

    For small displacement bikes, Michelin just came out with radial tires that actually fit the narrow wheels of bikes like the Ninja 300 and CBR250r, the Pilot street radials. Even an actually 130 section rear! Radial tires for everybody!

    • runnermatt

      Yeah, so now riders of the Ninja 250/300 and CBR250R have two radial street tire choices. The Michelin “Pilot Street” and Pirelli “Diablo Rosso II”. Both available in 110/70-17 front and 140/70-17 rear. The question is which one should one purchase.

      I know RideApart doesn’t generally do comparisons of bikes, but how about a tire comparison?

    • Piglet2010

      Now I know what I can put on the Bonnie when the stock tires wear out.

    • Jesse

      Sweet. Might have to use thee instead of Bridgestone spitfires on the old GS450

  • Kr Tong

    Im pretty sure a sticky street tire will still outperform a heavily irrigated sport touring tire in the wet.

    • Stuki

      Rubber compounds perform their best in a fairly narrow range of temperatures. Optimizing a tire for the kind of high temps reached by a powerful, aggressively ridden bike on a dry track, does it no favors at the temp it reaches during a common street ride, particularly in the wet. Conversely, a Pilot Road 3 would get slick and slimey and worn out real quick on a track ridden liter bike under a fast rider.

      • Kr Tong

        A “Sticky tire” doesn’t just refer to non-dot tires. It just means a tire that’s literally sticky. I was thinking of power pures, S20′s, dunlop Q2′s or Q3.

    • Sir Wadsalot

      It’s got nothing to do with the “stickey” compound, it’s the lands and grooves in the tread pattern. The more track oriented, the more land, or “slick” area. The more touring oriented, the more gooove area, to channel out water. That’s all the grooves do. More grooves also create more heat with the constant biting of the road. If it wasn’t for the need to channel rain water out, everything would be slick all the time.

      • Kr Tong

        It’s got everything to do with sticky compound. There’s a lot more to performance tires than just touring tires without so many rain grooves.

  • Jon

    Just ordered a set of Plot Power 3′s for my Triumph Sprint. Had a set of PR2′s for the last 10,000+ miles . which were fantastic! Now that I don’t tour much anymore, and mostly use my bike for weekend rides in the twisties, I opted for the sportier tire. Let’s see how they do!

  • Gerardo Astroball

    Rosso Corsas ARE awesome, has anyone tested them back to back to the Q3′s?? If so .. any comments..?

    • Aaron L

      Pirelli RC was my track tire/race tire on my 07 ZX6- very stable at the edge, only really started to overheat after about 15 HARD laps. I have Q3s on now, and they slide noticeably more, but the slide is just a warning that you’re close to going off. No such notice with the RCs- I vote dunlop.

  • Kin Ta

    I wish I didn’t buy the bridgestone S20 when they first came out. The rear tire grips well on the track after a warm up lap but the life of the tire is going to be very short. It already has started squaring in the middle where the “hard” compound is suppose to be and it hasn’t been 3000 miles.

    • Kr Tong

      I had some takeoffs that lasted about 3500. Triangled them pretty well. Maybe save em for the track if you dont have enough twisties in your diet.

  • Slacker

    I’m using the PR3′s now… good life on them, but it’s a little… sketchy towards the end of the wear life. Just felt a little weird and the wear doesn’t look too predictable. Overall, good tire for the money. Through the corners it did alright but I still felt a little less comfortable than on my Pilot Road 2′s.

  • fred g

    Can’t agree with the Metzlers = No feel. Road 3 are great when cold. Rosso’s are tops for grip. Looking foward to trying the Q3

  • Piglet2010

    Any suggestion for a pre-gen Ninjette? The Pirelli Diablo Scooter tires on mine have almost no wet traction (maybe due to being 3½ years old)?

    • runnermatt

      Michelin’s new “Pilot Power” and Pirelli’s “Diablo Rosso II’s” fit the current generation Ninjette. I didn’t take the time to see if there is a tire size difference in order to give a quick reply.

      • Piglet2010

        The pre-gen has 16-inch wheels, the current Ninjette uses 17-inch wheels.

        • runnermatt

          Okay, makes sense now. Could you upgrade the wheels to the current 17′s?

          • Piglet2010

            Not without much modification (on a bike I paid $2,200 for), and who know how the handling would end up? The nice thing about the 16-inch narrow tires is the bike turns in so much better than even a super-sport.


    Rosso Corsa rear lasted exactly 5000 miles on a hard-ridden Street Triple R. Front is still fine. Fantastic tires, the grip and bite and feel is just insane. Though I will say it would be nice if they could wear out in 6k increments to conform with the service schedule. ;)

  • Hooligan

    I have PR’s on my Street Triple R. I’ve kept a PR2 on the front, but a PR3 on the rear. In my mind this is a very good combination for “enthusiastic”all year riding in England. In all kinds of weather and on all kind of roads from gravel farm tracks to swooping twisties. The rear is a couple of hundred miles away from replacement. I get 8k out of a rear PR3 the same as a PR2, 10 -11k out of the front. The rear is a bit squared off now so does not roll into the corners as it should. But otherwise very happy with them.

    • Sir Wadsalot

      That’s how I generally roll. Corsas up front, Rosso or Strada/Angel out back. Works out well for 72/25 commuting/scratching.

  • Speedo007

    I’ve used Michelin PR2s on most of my bikes because they grip in the cold, wet, dry, heat and last for ever. But since I do a lot of highway to get to the nice roads, the handling would suffer towards the end of the tires life. So I went and tried the Continental Road Attacks 2. Pretty much the same great characteristics, but lasted half the millage (6000km instead of 12000km on the rear of an MT-01). Now I have a Monster with Pirelli Diablo II and the grip is just fantastic and so is handling, but at 5500km the wires were visible in the middle of the rear tire, be careful the last few miles of tire evaporate during the blink of an eye. Now I replaced it with a Pirelli Angel ST, if they dont live up to my expectations Im going back to Michelin PR2s, PR3s, or soon to be launched PR4s…

  • KeithB

    Using PR2s on the NT 650 Hawk and PR3s on the FJR1300.
    Couldn’t be happier!

    • E Brown

      Interesting! My NT650 will need a new rear next season and the Hawk GT forum is AWOL, so good to hear a suggestion…

  • Mariofz1

    If you want tires that last on the street, use sport touring tires and keep them at the pressure recommended by whatever brand of bike you are riding. The tires that come stock on full on sportbikes, usually last 4000 miles or less with an agresive rider, regardless of brand. Tire technology has evolved by leaps and bounds over the last decade, so don’t be afraid to use them on your sportbike
    Currently, I am running Pirelli Angel GTs….4000 miles so far and still have plenty of tire..Tires on my FZ1, first generation, last an average of 10,000 miles a set

  • Peter Negru

    I bought a set of q2′s. The day they arrived on my doorstep, the q3′s had been released. i was annoyed