Motorcycle Forums » Harley Davidson

Best Tires for General Riding

  • April 10, 2009 3:42 AM PDT

    Oh NO, a girl in the "Garage"...


    I was just curious as to what everyone thinks is the best brand tire for general riding on a Harley Davidson Softail.  I have always gone back to the Harley dealer, but they seem too expensive.  But when I called the local motorcycle shop, they asked me what brand tire I wanted. I guess I didn't realize you could actually choose a brand, I thought they were just Harley Davidson tires.



    • 5374 posts
    April 10, 2009 5:13 AM PDT

    Hi SST,

    You are welcome in our gargage any time.

    I have tried just about every manufacturer of motorcycle tire available, and have now gone back to the standard Dunlop that comes with the bike.  You should be able to get these tires at a lower cost from your local motorcycle shop.  You can get them with or without the Harley Davidson written on the side.

    I have always run the Dunlop D402 (comes stock on most Harley touring bikes), which has the best load carrying ability.  I am going to try the new D407 on my next change. they say it has everything the D402 has with an improved thread pattern.

    You can compare the different Dunlop Motorcycle Tires here


    Just for reference, here is what I thought about each of the different tires I have tried.

    Dunlop - Best all round value. These tires are just soft enough to give the average rider all the traction they need, and the thread pattern works pretty well on wet pavement.  The tires are not so soft that they wear out too fast, so economically they will save you money in the long run.

    Metzeler - To me these had a little better performance.  They are softer then the Dunlop which gives them a little more grip in the turns, but they wear out much faster because they are soft...especially on a Harley which has a lot of low end tourque and wears back tires faster then many other bikes.  If you are not scraping your floorboards going into turns, then the diference in cost is probably not worth it to you.

    Avon - Did not like these tires at all.  Very splippery on wet pavement and did not last at all.

    • Moderator
    • 13194 posts
    April 10, 2009 7:10 AM PDT
    Personally I have always used (except once) stock tires when replacing and always from the dealer, or a local shop who buys tires from the dealer. Once I ordered tires from the internet and had them installed. Three months later the sidewalls were seriously cracking. So much that I replaced them as soon as I noticed the cracks. Those tires were most likely old expired tires (read the article at the website link given) and that is why so cheap. There has been many reports about tire codes and auto tire dealers selling old tires. Go to, there is very good info there.

    In my opinion...
    Be wary about bargains!
  • May 2, 2009 1:32 PM PDT
    Lucky & Rex, Thanks for all the input.

    Think I am going to stick with the stock tires.
    • 844 posts
    May 11, 2009 6:36 AM PDT
    Got to agree with Lucky and Rex on this.  The best tires for a Harley are the ones that Harley-Davidson puts on at the factory, and you should either buy them from the Harley Davidson dealer or a quality shop that sells enough to always have fresh tires in stock.

    I had the same problem as Rex.  I bought a set of Harley Dunlops for my bike from an out of the way little shop (saved myself a whopping $52 on two tires).  After about a month I had to put air in every few days.  The rubber was so dried out from sitting on the shelf in the shop's wharehouse, that both tires leaked.  Ever since that I have purchased all of my tires from the Harley Dealer and have had no problems.
  • July 30, 2009 5:14 AM PDT
    Got to jump in as a shop owner. Not all non Harley Davidson dealers sell bad or old tires. We sell a lot of tires at our shop and have never had a complaint. Just use common sense. If you go to a shop and you are always the only bike there, but yet they have 200 tires on the rack, yeah they may be old. We stock maybe 10 - 15 tires max (depending on the season) and turn over that inventory in a week or two.

    Just like any service, go to a shop you either know or was recommended by a friend.

    As for the tires themselves, can't beat the Dunlops for all around performance, life and value.
    • Moderator
    • 1350 posts
    October 20, 2009 9:01 AM PDT
    Personally I love my AVON VENOM'S......... I have found them to be a great tire all around. A little on the pricey side. The handing of my Road King was greatly improved compared to the stock H-D tires. Stiffer sidewall,softer tread compound grabs the road great in cold, hot or rain.. Less slippery by far on the crosswalk paint.
  • October 20, 2009 11:14 AM PDT
    Guess when someone from WA tells us they work good in rain, we can take it he has experience
  • October 20, 2009 5:59 PM PDT
    I ride on Kendas.  They are durable, handle good and hang in there for over 10K each time and are much less than the Big Brand Tires.
  • October 21, 2009 9:45 AM PDT
    Metzlers only on mine,they seem to hold up just fine,at least just as good as the stockers,but the handling is phenomenal.
  • November 22, 2009 12:29 AM PST
    Dunlops on the wife's King. Metzlers on the Pounder. When I had my King and EG, I ran nothing but Continental Conti-Tours. Awsome tire.
  • November 29, 2009 10:33 AM PST
    I am running metzler right now the dunlops just didnt seem to hold up as well never could get the miles outof them.
    the metzlers seem to be holding up better with a few extar miles on them
    • 1510 posts
    December 22, 2009 1:52 PM PST
  • December 23, 2009 5:01 AM PST
    Have never run anything except Dunlops, so I have nothing to compare to. But they have always worked great for me and lasted well, so if it ain't broke, why fix it.
  • December 23, 2009 5:55 AM PST
    I had Dunlops on my Valkyrie and I felt every little crack in the road. I switched to AVON Venom R's and almost doubled my mileage, not to mention the grip on dry or wet roads were awesome. Makes the Valkyrie handle like it's 200 pounds lighter. I did see that Dunlop has changed it's tread design to almost match the Avon's and the reviews seem pretty good from what I've been reading. Just my opinon.... :-) Stay safe.....
    • 1781 posts
    December 23, 2009 5:58 AM PST
    METZLER's for my Dragon
    • 119 posts
    December 23, 2009 6:02 AM PST
    Alway's ran Dunlops. Tried Metzlers this spring, like them.
    I was at Rapid City H-D for the ralley, Dunlop had people walking around checking what brand tire's people had on their bikes, 90% of the bikes had Dunlops. For that day.
    Dunlops are the only union made American tire.
  • January 12, 2010 3:10 PM PST
    Switched to Dunlop Elite 3's on the Electra Difference like night and day on the Handling of the Stock 402's .. Run Metz on my Sporty for more fun in the twisties.. Mileage is not as good as Dunlops but the handling is worth it ..
  • g
    January 12, 2010 9:42 PM PST
    dunlops are good and sticky ,but dont last long ,i only get about 2000miles on my rear with a dunlop ,ive got parelis now they last a bit longer ,but are more expensive ,again ,dunlops are good for us racer guys but dont get much miles out of them ,id say other tyres do take a bit longer to heat up thow .
  • January 14, 2010 3:13 PM PST
    Not sure what you are doing with the tires unless extreme braking or burnouts .. Had 10,000 on the stock 402's when replaced them with the Elite 3's and still had lots of tread wear left...
  • January 14, 2010 4:53 PM PST
    Metzlers- love the handling and the looks. it prolly is not as big a deal on a softtail, but i know, and so have some of the other guys i ride with, it takes out alot of that "back side wobble" in the corners you get from the touring bikes..

  • g
    January 14, 2010 10:20 PM PST
    JaysonFL wrote...
    Not sure what you are doing with the tires unless extreme braking or burnouts .. Had 10,000 on the stock 402's when replaced them with the Elite 3's and still had lots of tread wear left...

    kind o bike u ride ?? im flat out when we go out for a blast ,id say the roads are more twisty over wee us ,no joke i get 3000 at the very most out of a rear tyre ,and about 5000-6000 with the front , go throw about 3-4 rear's in one summer ,2 front .in a good summer .
  • g
    January 14, 2010 10:23 PM PST
    metzlers are like pram tyres ,had them on last summer ,never liked them ,its pareli that make them .
  • January 14, 2010 10:39 PM PST
    i see there are alot of different opinions on tire types here. i guess it all depends on what you ride (sport bike or cruiser) and the type of riding you do (mild to aggressive). Sounds like a trial and error kinda thing, find something that works good for you then stick with it i guess..
    • 1781 posts
    January 14, 2010 11:32 PM PST
    I'm with Rick71 on this one all the way.

    Night Dragon