Published: 24 July 2023
Updated: 22 January 2024
The best sports-touring tyres have evolved almost magical abilities. They have reserves of dry grip you’ll never use on the road, warm up in a flash, and load you with confidence in the rain. The result is that they last longer than any other type of tyre.
There versatility also means they can be used on naked bikes, tourers, adventure bikes, sportsbikes and everything in between. Unless you ride off-road, do lots of trackdays, or are a dedicated Sunday morning headbanger, using any anything else is just burning rubber (and cash) for nothing more than pub bragging rights.
But what are the best sports-touring tyres? To find out, we’ve assembled the latest generation from each of the major brands for a back-to-back test on a typical sports-tourer, represented here by the wildly popular Suzuki GSX-S1000GT (read our review).
Best Deals at a Glance
Save 30% on Michelin Road 6 Motorcycle Tyre – £101.00 (was £144.29)
Save 35% on Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE Motorcycle Tyre Package – £270.00 (was £412.86)
Save 30% on Bridgestone Battlax BT-023 Motorcycle Tyre – £76.00 (was £108.56)
Save 44% on Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart IV Motorcycle Tyre – £95.20 (was £167.15)
Save 39% on Pirelli Diablo Motorcycle Tyre Package – £161.00 (was £263.33)
Save 26% on Metzeler Sportec M9 RR Motorcycle Tyre Package – £273.00 (was £367.14)
The best sports-touring tyres at a glance:
The weather for our test remained consistently cold and wet all day – the perfect hunting ground for this type of tyre.
Best sports-touring tyres
Best in the test
Price: £270 (was £412.86)
Read our full Metzeler Roadtec SE 01 review.
- Grip from cold
- Incredible wet weather performance
- Slightly unsettled by bumpy, fast corners
Best for feedback
Price: £209 (was £381.43) per pair
Read our full Pirelli Angel GT2 review.
- Improves handling
- Good in the wet
- Old tyre, possibly due an update
Best for neutrality
Price: £230 (was £328.57)
The Michelin Road 6 is the latest in a long line of well-regarded sports-touring tyres from the French firm. Good performance from a much-loved tyre. They make bikes feel nimble and lighter than they are and have decent ride. If you’re cautious in deep water they have a lot to offer and promise excellent dry-road performance, too.
- Make bikes feel nimble and light
- Great in damp conditions
- Don’t warm up quickly in the wet
Joint 4th with Dunlop Roadsmart IV
The Bridgestone T32 is standard equipment on a lot of middleweight motorcycles due to its all-round versatility. The T32 is a very decent tyre with great wet grip, especially from the front. A decent all-rounder, it scores well for confidence and should work really well on a wide variety of machines. We’re impressed.
- Great in the wet
- Inspires confidence
Joint 4th with Bridgestone T32
Price: £245 (was £350) per pair
Read our full Dunlop Roadsmart IV review.
- Good on slower steering bikes
- Take some getting used to
Better than OE
Price: £137 – £188 per tyre depending on fitment
Although they’re last in this test, they’re still a much better bet than most of the rubber fitted as OE to Japanese bikes. Way better than the OE Dunlops fitted to the GSX-S, they’re still a reasonable set of sports-touring tyres to buy. They offer good dry performance, too.
What’s always interesting in a blind, back-to-back tyre comparison test like this isn’t how grip varies between manufacturers, because there’s little in it, but it’s how the tyres ‘talk’ to you.
We’ve seen how these new generation of the best sports-touring tyres all have superb wet weather grip, warm-up fast and will be a huge improvement over just about any ‘Original Equipment’ tyre that your bike comes with from a dealer. So, if you’re a fan of a particular brand, fit any of these and you’ll probably be very happy with your choice.
The feel and confidence each tyre brings to the rider under braking, acceleration and cornering changes depending how you ride.
But the performance of one set of tyres stood out as being head-and-shoulders better than the rest for both of us. Metzler’s Roadtec 01 SE filled us with confidence in all conditions and delivered a ride as close as it’s possible to get to turning wet roads dry beneath your wheels.
It’s the best sports-touring tyre money can buy, which basically means it’s the best tyre you can buy.
How we tested these tyres
This was a blind test. At no point did Michael or Matt know which tyres they were on. Both rode our set route; Matt taking the first stint, with an emphasis on warm-up time and stability, while Michael focused on ride quality and grip.
Each gave marks for steering, confidence, stability, ride quality and feel. We also measured operating temperature and usable tread depth. The hardness of the centre section of each was measured on the HA scale where 100 represents a fully solid object. Conditions were wet and 12-14°C. We used the recommended cold pressures.
A 28-mile test route taking in fast, flowing A-roads, bumpy B-roads, a motorway stint, plus urban riding over a variety of coarse and polished surfaces.
We chose a Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT, Britain’s best-selling sports-tourer because its OE Dunlop RoadSport 2 tyres are merely OK and therefore there is much room for improvement. The bike was set on Mode B at all times, with minimal traction control intervention.
Support and prices provided by www.mobile-bike-tyres.co.uk. Prices include fitting, but will vary between different suppliers.
Things to keep in mind
The best sports-touring tyres walk the line between sportiness, longevity, wet-weather performance and dry feel. This means that all sports-touring tyres involve an element of compromise.
– Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.