Best Motorcycle Winter Tires

January 3, 2024
By Michael Padway
large Motorcycle Winter Tires MLF

When it comes to riding a motorcycle in the winter, having the right tires can make all the difference. The cold weather and slippery road conditions can be challenging for even the most experienced rider, so it’s important to make sure your motorcycle is equipped with tires that can handle the harsh conditions. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best motorcycle tires for winter riding. Whether you’re commuting to work or taking a long trip through the mountains, these tires will help you stay safe and in control on the road.

Motorcycle Tires vs. Car Tires

Even the hardiest of riders, for whom cold temperatures are no deterrent to taking their motorbikes out for winter ride, have second thoughts about riding in snow and ice. Motorcycle winter tires may be just the thing you need to extend your riding season.

Car tires specifically designed and made for use in cold and wintry weather conditions have been available for decades particularly in areas of the country where heavy snowfalls and icy roads are common during winter months. In contrast, motorcycle owners have generally been limited in their choice to all-season tires designed for use in the cold weather on wet roads, slush-covered roads or when encountering muddy conditions, such as when riding on trails or on dirt roads.

We’ve done some research to find motorcycle winter tires that can improve the control and stability that you need when riding during typical winter weather. One of the difficulties in finding a tire for use when riding a motorcycle is that tire makers focus on making snow tires for  cars, SUVs and other types of motor vehicles more than motorcycles. 

Although the selection of snow tires specifically designed for motorcycles may be more limited, there are still options available in the form of winter tires and all-season tires that can improve your riding experience during the colder months. Our recommendations can assist you in selecting a tire that allows you to extend your riding season.

Motorcycles and Snow

You probably already realize that just as the jacket, gloves and other gear that you wear at other times of the year may not keep you warm enough when riding during the cold temperatures of winter, the tires that keep you going in the summer may not be suitable for the winter. Just as there is specialized gear to wear in the winter, manufacturers have winter tires for motorcycle riding that perform differently than the tires you may now have on your motorbike.

Tire manufacturers use different rubber compounds to make winter tires than the ones used to make the tires you ride on during the summer. The rubber generally used in tires typically delivers optimal grip and performance when they are warm. The rubber compounds used for winter tires have been developed to perform well at lower operating temperatures than the compounds used for summer or warm-weather tires to improve performance and motorcycle safety.

Another difference between the typical tire that comes mounted on a motorcycle when you take delivery and a winter tire is the design of the tread. By redesigning the tread of the standard motorcycle tire, manufacturers were able to create an all-season tire that delivered better traction in mud, snow and wet-road conditions. 

By taking the tread design beyond the all-season tire, manufacturers came up with a tire specifically made for snow conditions. A tire made specifically for snow and mud conditions will have the “M/S” or “M&S” code on the sidewall. M&S tires must meet the tread requirements developed for use in snow and mud that were established by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.  

At this point you may be wondering whether you really need to switch to all-season or winter tires. The following are a few of the challenges you face when you decide to continue riding instead of winterizing your motorcycle and storing it: 

  • Frigid temperatures take a toll on your tires. Contraction due to below freezing temperatures and expansion as the temperatures rise or the tires warm up when riding can cause the rubber to wear out faster than usual.
  • Winter riding conditions require you to be more focused and exercise greater care than at other times of the year. A wet patch of asphalt that you would ride over without a worry in July could be a patch of black ice in January that causes you to lose control and crash.
  • Ice, snow, and potholes are common winter hazards that may cause you to shift from scanning the road ahead to focusing on the road surface immediately in front of you. Focusing your vision on what is close to your motorcycle prevents you from spotting hazards soon enough to take the action needed to avoid them.
  • Cold tires are rigid and lack the flexibility needed to grip the road, which is essential to maintaining control when navigating through curves or when making quick stops. The rubber of winter tires responds better in frigid temperatures.
  • Cold weather causes tire pressure to change. Tire pressure may be lower in cold weather, so you need to check it with a tire gauge more often than you may do during other times of the year. An underinflated tire makes a motorcycle less stable.

Of course, motorcycle snow tires and all-season tires have tread designed to increase traction. This is essential when you run into an unexpected snow storm or a dirt road that has turned into a muddy mess.

Motorcycle Winter Tires: Our Picks

Before diving into our choices for motorcycle winter tires, keep in mind that riding through a blizzard or immediately after a heavy snowfall before the roads have been plowed and sanded is not something that we recommend doing no matter what type of motorcycle you ride or the brand or type of tires that are mounted on your wheels. All-season tires, and even tires rated for snow and mud, have their limitations particularly when operated on an ice-covered roadway. 

Checking the weather forecast before riding is a good habit at any time of the year, but it is essential during the winter months in order to avoid riding into a snowstorm or on roads covered with ice thanks to frigid overnight temperatures. It may be better to wait a few hours to let snowplows or the warmth of the sun make the roads safer for travelers rather than risk riding in deep snow or on ice.

The following are our recommendations for motorcycle winter tires:

Avon AV84 / AV85 Trekrider Tires

If you split your riding time between traveling on paved roadways and off-road adventures on a small to mid-size sport bike, then you should consider switching to these tires. Made of a dual-rubber compound that combines traction with durability, the Trekrider has a tread designed to improve performance in muddy conditions or loose gravel as well as at highway speeds.

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Bridgestone Battlax T31 Sport Touring Tires

Bridgestone promotes the T31 as providing enhanced performance when riding in wet-weather conditions with a rear tire compound offering more flexibility. Available for bikes ranging from sport to heavy-weight models.

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Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross Scrambler AX41S Tires

A sport-touring tire made for durability and performance in wet and dry conditions. The AX41S offers exceptional grip that gives a smooth ride on pavement and features a tread design to provide traction during an occasional off-road experience.

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Continental Road Attack 3 Tires

An all-season tire that performs well in all weather conditions from the hottest and driest days of summer to the coldest and wettest days of winter. The Road Attack 3 comes with complimentary roadside assistance for three years.

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Continental TKC 70 Tires

This tire combines durability with all-weather performance that does equally well for the occasional trail run as it does on paved roads. The manufacturer calls them the ideal tire for motorbikes with larger, more powerful engines. The rubber compound used to make this tire allows it to warm up quickly on cold mornings and provide outstanding performance in wet-weather conditions.

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Dunlop Roadsmart 3 Tires

Outstanding wet-weather performance, a durable tread, and easier handling are only a few of the features built into this tire. Designed for a wide-range of motorcycle types from sport bikes to large, touring models.

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Dunlop Mutant Tires

This versatile tire is suitable for a sport bike, heavy cruiser, and even an adventure or ADV machine with sport-tire stability and handling combined with the durability of a touring tire. Its aggressive tread design makes it the perfect tire for all road and weather conditions that a rider may encounter on the commute to work and school or a trip around the globe.

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Heidenau K37 Dual Sport Tires

Rated for speeds up to 93 mph, the K37 has an off-road style packed with modern technology and rubber compounds to make it the perfect choice for classic military motorbikes and the rugged Russian-made Ural motorcycles. This specialty tire was originally made for use on sidecars, so it may not fit all bikes.

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Heidenau K58 Scooter Tires

Scooter owners will like these all-season tires that feature a tread pattern to make them perfectly suited for wet-road conditions. The K58 offers durability and ease of handling.

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Heidenau K60 Tires

If you are looking for an off-road tire that works equally as well on pavement, then the K60 may be the tire for you. Its treat-block design offers superior performance when confronting sandy, muddy, or wet conditions.

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Heidenau K60 Scout Cold Climate Tires

Its upgraded tread design and rubber compound provide stability and traction both on the road and off in wet conditions. The rubber compound used in this dual-sport tire provides outstanding cold-weather performance in wet or dry conditions, which could make it the right sport bike snow tires for your winter riding.

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Heidenau K66S 4-Season Snow Scooter Tires

An upgraded tread construction gives you an ideal tire for all-season riding. It features enhanced traction and braking under the wettest riding conditions. Equally as important is the rubber compound that makes this a tire you can depend on to give you many miles of use.

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Kenda Motorcycle Tires K784 Big Block Motorcycle Tires

If you want a tire that can overcome sand, dirt, and mud while also giving you a smooth ride on pavement, the K784 delivers. This dual-sport, 60% on-road and 40% off-road tire has a tough casing structure built to be puncture resistant.

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Metzeler Karoo Street Tires

The Karoo Street tire is made for comfort and stability on pavement and features a wide and solid contact area giving you better control and stopping ability on both wet and dry payment. Although built for paved roads, this adapts quite easily to the occasional off-road excursion with a tread pattern to ensure a sure-footed grip when stopping and enhanced traction that works well with ABS systems.

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Metzeler Roadtec 01 Tires

A touring tire made for enhanced performance on wet roads. Its superior chemical grip is the result of a silica compound, but it also has an enhanced mechanical grip thanks to its tread pattern. These tires work well on wet surfaces with a tread that drains water to increase stopping ability.

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Michelin Anakee Adventure Motorcycle Tires

If you want an adventure tire with outstanding off-road performance that is equally capable of taking on the wettest pavement, this tire may be for you. Silica tread compounds increase grip on wet roads while also providing the handling that you need whether riding off-road or on.

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Michelin Anakee Wild Motorcycle Tires

These tires are designed and built to take on even the most difficult off-road terrain and conditions. It also offers stability and comfort when your travels take you onto paved roads.

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Mitas MC32 Winter Scooter Tires

Snow, slush, ice, and frigid temperatures are no match for the MC32. Its special rubber compound and tread design increase handling capability and traction in all weather conditions.

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Pirelli Angel GT Tires

A dual-compound tire that gives you enhanced performance and handling capabilities and excellent braking even on wet road surfaces. The perfect long-mileage tire for sports bikes because it delivers the grip and traction riders need and expect from their tires.

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Shinko SR 733 / 734 / 735 Tires

Touring and cruiser owners will be equally pleased with this 4-ply tire that delivers the grip needed for cornering without sacrificing the miles you can expect to get out of it.

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The limited types of motorcycle snow tires specifically made for riding in deep snow could be because riding a two-wheeled vehicle in deep snow or on icy roads is dangerous, which may be why so many owners store their motorcycles over the winter months instead of riding them. However, there are enough days during the winter when heavy snowfalls do not create safety issues that you can use for riding.

The right gloves, jacket, footwear and other warm weather gear will keep you protected from the cold and keep you dry. Equipping your motorcycle with a set of all-season tires from our list of recommendations of the best winter motorcycle tires ensures that you have the traction and stopping ability needed to meet the challenges of winter riding.

Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

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