There are essentially 3 types of tyre for Adventure bikes:
Enduro tyres, sometimes known as Off-Road Adventure tyres, (think nice and knobbly tyres that look like they’re ready to scale the side of a hill).
Then there are Adventure tyres, which are rugged-looking Sports Touring tyres with visible tread blocks, giving them a slight off-road capability.
Finally there are Sports Touring tyres, which are essentially the same tyres as you’d get for any other bike, just available in Adventure-bike wheel rim sizes.
We all know the chunky tread blocks look the best but for the vast majority of Adventure-bike riders, who never stray off-road, a Sports Touring tyre is the best bet.
For those who do a bit of green-lane bothering or who like the image of rugged-looking tyres, then Adventure tyres are the way to go.
For those who use the roads to get to the off-road sections and then go and get completely lost, then an Enduro tyre is the best bet as it’s the only one that will give you good traction on loose surfaces.
Choose Your Tyre Type
How to choose the right tyres for you
An Adventure bike looks better with knobbly tyres but it won’t ride as well as an Adventure bike fitted with Sports Touring tyres.
Fortunately all the tyre manufacturers make versions of their Sports Touring rubber in Adventure-bike wheel rim sizes, so you don’t have to compromise and ride your Adventure bike on the road with knobbly tyres that wander in a straight line and wear out a lot faster than a conventional tyre.
If you do a little bit of green-laning then an Adventure tyre makes sense but if 99% of your riding is on the road, a Sports Touring tyre is a better bet. You could always get the best of both world and buy a second set of rims and fit them with Enduro tyres, so you have a properly capable tyre for when the going gets loose and a decent tyre for the road.
Adventure motorcycle tyre chooser chart
If you’re not sure of the best tyre for your Dual Sport motorcycle, then check out the chart below. We’ve put some common scenarios in the table to help you get a better idea of the category of tyre that you’ll get on with.
|Riding Scenario||Recommended Tyre Type|
|I only ride my Adventure bike on the road.||We’d go for a Sports Touring tyre as it’ll have a fast warm-up, long life and more grip than an Adventure tyre on the road and the ride quality will be better.|
|I mainly ride on the road but I do spend the odd day on trails or green lanes throughout the year.||Unless you’re really skilled when it comes to trail riding, we’d go for an Adventure tyre over a Sports Touring tyre. The tread pattern will help the bike find grip, while the ride quality on paved roads won’t be too badly affected.|
|A considerable amount of my time on the bike is spent on green lanes or riding trails.||You’re best off with an Enduro tyre. While they have a poor ride quality on normal roads, they are brilliant on loose surfaces. They’re not amazing on the road in the wet either and in dry conditions on the normal road, they’ll deteriorate quickly as the chunky tread blocks will generate a lot of heat.|
Best Sports Touring Tyre
A Sports Touring tyre is a great choice on an Adventure bike. Despite what many think, it’s in no way a compromise. If the vast majority of your riding is on the road, no matter whether you’re on a Ducati Multistrada, a BMW GS or a Triumph Tiger, you’ll be best off on a Sport Touring tyre. They warm up quickly, offer long tyre life and great all-weather grip. They’re a great option for fast-road riders too.
It’s only when you deviate from road riding that you should, in my opinion, consider a different type of tyre. If you’re doing lots of trail riding, then you either need a smaller-engined trail bike, with enduro tyres or you need to fit trail-capable tyres to your big Adv bike.
The best choice for real-world riding
If you ride an Adventure bike but hardly ever stray off-road then the Scorpion Trail 2 is the tyre you need. I’ve ridden on 20+ different tyres on Adventure bikes and, for me, the Scorpion Trail 2 is the best tyre in terms of feel, grip and feedback on the road. It’ll make your Adventure bike handle like a sportsbike and if you’re riding on the odd light gravel trail, they’ll be fine.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running a Sports Touring tyre: From a BMW R1200GS, to an Aprilia Caponord, a Ducati Multistrada 950 or a Suzuki V-Strom 1000.
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Commuting into work or heading out for a Sunday ride with a mission to find the area’s best fry-up.
Other great tyres in the Adventure Sports Touring category
Sports Touring is a hotly contested category with every manufacturer producing at least one model, if not two. Most Sports Touring tyres are available in Adventure-bike rim sizes and some will even slightly amend the tread pattern to give the tyre a rugged look.
After something a little stickier? Arguably one of the biggest adventures you could have on your Adventure bike is to head to your favourite race circuit and do a trackday.
If this sounds like just the thing you’ve been meaning to do, then Dunlop have a tyre for you. The Dunlop SportSmart TT is a trackday tyre, available in Adventure-bike wheel sizes. Sticker than a slug coated in treacle, the SportSmart TT will give you the grip you need to bag some impressive lap times and cling onto superbikes.
Just watch out for when your centrestand digs in as your suspension compresses through the Craner Curves…
Best Adventure Tyre
Let’s be honest, 99% of Adventure bikes never go off-road. So while a knobbly tyre looks the business, it won’t necessarily give you the confidence you could have – or the ride quality you’d like – compared to if you were on a Sports Touring tyre.
These knobbly-looking Dual Sport tyres are a good compromise; they have ‘Adventure bike’ looks with performance close to a road-only tyre and they can do a little bit of trail riding too.
They’re essentially exactly the same as a Sports Touring tyre in terms of their carcass and construction but the Dual Sports have a more pronounced ‘off-road’ tread pattern.
The tread pattern isn’t just about rugged looks; they’ll find grip where there is none, especially on loose surfaces and green lanes but they won’t be as good on the road as a Sports Touring tyre. So it goes back to being honest about your riding and the conditions you ride in.
If you’re doing proper off-roading on your Adventure bike, then of course you’ll need a proper off-road tyre but for most Adventure motorcycle riders, a Sports Touring or Touring tyre in a rim size to suit your Adventure bike is the best tyre choice.
In this Adventure category, we’re recommending a tyre for people who ride off-road as well as on. If you only ride on the road on your Adventure bike, see the Sports Touring section.
Combining great performance with good looks
Primarily aimed at road riding, the Michelin Anakee Adventure is a brilliantly stable tyre, with plenty of edge grip and wet weather performance. They have a fast-warm up and thanks to the rounded tread blocks, they corner well and have no excess vibration at speed. They are a favourite of many adventure-bike riders who are 90% focused on the road but have the occasional desire for some green-lane action.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running an Adventure tyre: Honda Africa Twin, KTM 790 Adventure, BMW R1200GS Adventure, Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Taking on narrow farm roads in Wales or the Yorkshire moors, eyeing up green lanes or enjoying a well earned pub lunch.
Other great tyres in the Adventure category
Continental TKC70 and new TKC70 Rocks rear
Best Enduro Tyre
If you’re planning a holiday where you’ll be spending a large amount of your time on trails or unpaved roads, then you’ll need a proper off-road tyre.
It won’t have the same road-holding ability as a road-focused Adventure tyre but it’ll give you far superior grip on loose surfaces, allowing the bike to dig into the surface and not just skate across the top of it.
If you only ride a few miles of trails every year, then you’re better off with an Adventure tyre, rather than an Enduro.
If you mainly ride on the road but you do a bit of trail riding, then you could always get a second pair of rims and fit Sports Touring tyres for the road miles and Enduro tyres for the muddy stuff.
It’s good enough for the BMW Off-Road School!
A road legal Enduro tyre that’ll give you the purchase you need to tackle almost anything. The all-new Karoo 4, launched in 2021, is the tyre used at former Paris-Dakar rider Simon Pavey’s BMW Off-Road School to haul the big 1250GS models around the tough Welsh landscape. Not the best choice for pure road riders but not too shabby on the tarmac either.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running an Enduro tyre: KTM 450 Rally, BMW F850GS Adventure, Yamaha Tenere 700
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Connecting up their hydration pack and checking their luggage straps before heading off into the wild.
Other great tyres in the Enduro category
If you want the gnarliest tyres for your off-road exploits, then checkout the tyres below:
Motorcycle tyre load index chart
A motorcycle tyre’s load index is a numerical code that corresponds to the maximum weight a tyre can support. In order to determine the load index you require, take the gross single axle load of your bike (see your owner’s manual). If it is, say, 340kg then each tyre needs a load index with a minimum load of 170kg, in this case 46. As two tyres that can carry 170kg each will safely carry 340kg.
Motorcycle tyre speed rating chart
Every motorcycle tyre has a speed rating. It is a single letter found after the load rating which is a single number. For example 67H or 55P.
The letter is a maximum speed rating, which indicates the maximum speed the tyre can safely reach, with the maximum load when the maximum listed inflation pressure is used.
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
Symbol, Max Speed (mph)
(V), more than 149mph
(W), more than 169mph
ZR, more than 149mph
Adventure motorcycle tyre questions
What’s a knobbly tyre like on the road?
Not great. If you’ve never ridden on one before, it’ll feel like you have a flat tyre. At motorways speeds the bike will gently wander from side to side and if you overheat them (which is easy on a motorway stretch) you can literally tear the tread blocks off.
What’s the tyre life of a knobbly on the road?
You’d be lucky to get 1,500 miles from a rear.
Can you green lane on road tyres?
Yes and no. If you try it on Sports Touring tyres on anything looser than a light bit of dry gravel you’ll find the front won’t get any purchase. In the wet it’ll be lethal. Mud? Forget it.
Can you run tubeless tyres on spoked rims?
Certain rims are designed so that you can run tubeless tyres on the bike. KTM use a rubber liner that goes over the spoke heads making what looks like a Tube type wheel actually be able to run a tubeless tyre. BMW have designed most of their spoked wheels so that the spokes run to the outer edge of the rim (unlike normal spoked rims that have holes in the middle) this means the wheel is incredibly rigid whilst also being tubeless, clever Germans. Strangely Honda’s awesome CRF1000 Africa Twin comes with tube-type wheels. If you want to run tubeless tyres you need to fork out a few grand on new rims. Must be purely a cost saving exercise from those nifty engineers from the land of the rising sun.
When you change your tyre do you need to change the inner tube?
Ideally, yes. However some riders like to watch the pennies. The issue with re-using your inner tube is that if it does get a puncture it’s a hassle (and costly) to get the tyre off and replace it. So for the sake of £10 to a new inner tube, you might as well replace it. Your tyre shop will be able to advise you on the condition of yours if you would prefer not to buy a new one.
Can you repair an inner tube?
You can but it’s not worth it. The risk of the repair failing isn’t worth the hassle. Most long-distance adventurers carry spare inner tubes rather than puncture repair kits.
What tyres do they use on Dakar bikes?
Various but mainly the same big block tyres you can buy from any motorcycle tyre specialist.
Are Enduro tyres road legal?
Not all of them are. If they have the FIM stamp on the sidewall they are.
Motorcycle tyre FAQs
What Is The Legal Requirement For Tyre Tread Depth?
Here in the UK, the legal requirement is that the tyre tread depth be no less than 1.0mm around the circumference of the middle three quarters of the tyre.
Once your tyre reaches this limit, it must be replaced. It is advisable though, to replace tyres before they reach their legal limit, as their ability to provide traction will be heavily compromised.
Many organisations and companies advise changing at 2.5mm tread depth because at lower than this tread depth, you will notice a decline in your motorbike’s handling ability and stopping distance.
Riding around on tyres with a lower tread depth also makes you more susceptible to punctures, nasty loose nails and other damage to the tyres as they are wearing paper thin.
Do they make motorcycle run-flat tyres?
In the car world, run-flat tyres have been the mainstay for over a decade. Can you believe that the first ‘run flat tyre’ was introduced by Michelin in 1934? It was designed for military use and also for armoured bank vehicles to lower their risk of being successfully hijacked.
Back in the real world, run-flats are a common fitment to modern cars. Due to the way a motorcycle tyre needs to work, the development of a true run-flat motorcycle tyre has yet to hit the mainstream. A good alternative is to use a tyre sealant like Slime, which will prevent a tyre from immediately deflating if you get a puncture or a screw or nail in your tyre.
Do I need to scrub new tyres in?
You always had to scrub your tyres in but have modern methods of tyre production removed the need to do this?
In short no. However it’s less about the release agent used to get the tyre out of the mould. That used to be an issue and it could mean the tyre surface wouldn’t grip well until it was worn away.
However a tyre still needs bedding in for the first few miles. During the fitting process the bead undergoes enormous forces and the first few miles allows it to properly seat on the rim. Going steady for the first few miles also allows the steel belt and aramid fibres to settle-down and start working properly.
How should I store my bike if it’s not being ridden
Your tyres will lose pressure over time. If you’re storing your bike for a month or more, it pays to keep it on paddock stands rather than sat on its tyre on the sidestand.
As the tyre loses pressure, it will deform and can form a flat spot, especially if the floor it is on reaches near-zero temperatures. It can cause this part of the tyre to become brittle.
If you don’t have paddock stands, then pump the tyres up to their maximum pressures and as silly as it sounds, roll the bike onto some carpet to keep the tyres from being subjected to extremely cold conact.
How long do tyres last?
All tyres will have a production date on the sidewall. From the moment they’re manufacturered, they’re guaranteed for 5 years but they will last around 10 years. So if you fit a pair that are unused but four years old, you’ve got around 6 years of usable life in them. If you don’t get through them in that time, perhaps take up a new hobby?
To see when your tyres were made look for the final four numbers after the DOT code. The first two numbers designate the week of the year and the second are the year. So a tyre with the code 3419 was made in the thirty-fourth week of 2019.
Thanks to the following who helped us research and write this guide to the best motorcycle tyres:
All good advice in this article ..good to have a sensible easy and informed choice,rather than too much technical terminology.
Nice simple breakdown, for a not very simple problem. I would NOT use an ‘Adventure Tyre’ for anything except road riding and very careful riding on well-groomed gravel roads. In my (humble) opinion they do not offer any more ‘off-road’ grip than a touring tyre. The tread is shallow and the gaps between blocks tiny – I can’t see this helping at all. – Just my thoughts. As riders we REALLY do need something in between a full enduro tyre and a touring tyre. – I haven’t seen many that could comfortably be described this way. MOTOZ GPS is getting close and Mitas E07+ looks like it might be straddling the fence – I haven’t tried either though and keep hearing conflicting reports (It also depends hugely on the climate where you live).