Types of two wheeler tyres explained

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types of two wheeler tyres explained
9 December 2023

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Long story short: What shoes are for our legs is what tyres are for a motorcycle. Tyres are a crucial element that only comes in contact with tarmac while riding.

Two-wheeler tyres are one of the significant components that bring huge safety aspects to the bike. It is the only element that comes in contact with the road. Simple as that. So without proper tyres, motorcycle braking efficiency and grip will not be excellent and pose safety threats to the rider. Times have changed, and most bike riders nowadays are conscious of the same, but only a certain percentage is fully aware of the same. Several people in India are hesitant to change worn tyres in their motorcycles due to cost factors. But that is the last thing to do in India, where uneven roads and several unexpected circumstances are standard daily. So please always give priority to safety above money. In this article, we will discuss types of tyres based on the material construction, based on usage conditions and some technical things and doubts related to tyres.

Types of bike tyres based on the material construction

Tube tyres

Tube tyres have four main components: tire, tube, rim and valve. These tyres are the first on the market. But their market share is rapidly declining due to safety issues compared to other tyre types. The safety issue is that when a puncture occurs, air escapes rapidly, resulting in a loss of balance and control for the motorcycle.

Tubeless tyres

In the case of tubeless tyres, the tube is integral within the tyre. It is not a separate component and hence negates puncture issues. An open valve in the tube tyre is replaced with a sealed type. If a minute puncture occurs in these tyres rate of air loss is very slow, and it is safe for the rider.

Checkout the comparison between tube tyres and tubeless tyres in the chart given below

Tube tyres vs tubeless tyres comparison chart

Bias-ply tyres

The above tyres are the two main types. In bias ply tyres, cords made of fabric such as nylon, rayon or polyester run across the tyre in alternating layers. Bias ply tyres have advantages in bearing heavy loads due to thick sidewall. Still, they have disadvantages like poor heat dissipation, bad contact patch, unstable feel at high speeds, and stiff response over uneven surfaces. So, as a result, they are not recommended for off-road.

Radial tyres

Radial tyres resolve most problems posed by bias ply tyres. These tyres are the most expensive and are never recommended for bikes carrying heavy loads like two pillions with excess luggage. However, there has been a massive leap in technological advancements in tubeless tyres, gradually ironing out existing issues.

Checkout the comparison between bias ply tyres and radial tyres in the chart given below

Bias ply vs Radial tyres comparison chart

Types of two-wheeler tyres based on usage conditions

There are mainly four types, and they are

  1. Standard street tyres
  2. Dual sport tyres
  3. Street sport / Touring sport
  4. Racing slicks / Competition Tyres

From the name itself, you can recognise in which conditions they are meant to be used, and the user must choose tyres accordingly.

Which motorcycle tyre type is the best one?

It all depends upon the user’s preference. We recommend tubeless tyres instead of tube tyres as tubeless tyres offer more safety. In all other tyre options, it all depends on road type and riding environment.

Which one is better, the bias ply tyre or the radial tyre?

It purely depends upon ride conditions and user preferences.

Is tyre size an essential factor when choosing tyres?

Yes, skinny tyres offer more mileage and longevity and are less expensive. At the same time, wider tyres bring in more traction and grip and improve handling at the expense of mileage drop and less longevity. Always stick to the tyre size mentioned in the owner’s manual; otherwise, it will affect the whole performance and ergonomics of the motorcycle.

What is a compound in tyres, and what are the different types?

The compound is the material type used to make the entire tyre. There are two types hard and soft. Hard compound tyres are used mainly among on-road and off-road motorcycles as they provide consistent performance over all road types. In contrast, soft compound tyres are mainly used on race tracks where the performance requirement is very high and requires a vast amount of grip.

What is the tread pattern in motorcycle tyres?

Tread refers to the rubber surface on the tyre that makes contact with the road. A tread pattern is the tyre design comprising channels and grooves to dissipate water away from the contact patch. Without a tread pattern, a tyre cannot be used in wet conditions and are prone to excess slipping and loss of control. Tyre tread patterns differ among tyre types used for various road conditions.

When should we replace two wheeler tyres?

Tyre change is mandatory after five years from the date of purchase, even if the tyres have not been ridden for specified kilometres. The Tyre code on the sidewall specifies which year the tyre is manufactured. If you do not know how to read this, check out this article.The most long-lasting tyres are the standard street tyres, and the least lasting one is the Competition tyres.

Another essential factor you need to consider for replacing tyres is tread wear. Check for the tread gap depth; if it is very low, it’s time to change the tyre. In some tyres, If the curved surface of the tyre wears out up to the TWI (Tyre Wear Indicator) )mark (present in some tyres), it is time for you to change it. Uneven tread wear is also an indicator for the replacement of tyres. There are several types of tread wear like cupping, scalping etc.; whatever the tread wear is, replace the tyre as soon as possible.

Bulges in tyres and sidewall cracks are other factors that you need to check out. These conditions do not occur in most motorcycles and are rare. Sidewall cracks occur due to non-usage of tyres, parking under direct sunlight, environmental conditions etc.


Here in this article, we have discussed types of two wheeler tyres based upon different criteria and questions and answers related to the same. If you have any other doubts or queries related to the same topic, email us at bikeleague2017@gmail.com.

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