Scooter tires are just like little motorcycle tires, right? WRONG! Scooter are their own class of vehicle, and they have their own special types of tires to go with them. Learn all about scooter tires, and how to pick a set that will be perfect for you, in this Scooter Tire Buyer’s Guide.
You ride a scooter and, while you’re still part of the two-wheeled family, you know that your ride is in a category of its own – and so are its tires. Scooter tires may look just like smaller versions of motorcycle tires, but it’s not that simple; scooters have a unique purpose, and tires for scooters are engineered and built specifically with that in mind.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about scooter tires, from how to figure out the size you need, to explaining the difference between different types of tires, to making recommendations of the best tire for you based on your needs, riding style, and budget. Let’s get started!
Step One: Know Your Tires
In order to get new tires for your trusty scoot, you’ll need to start by knowing what kind of tires are currently on it. Scooter tires range from ten to sixteen inches in height, and they come in varying widths, heights, and construction types. With all those choices available, figuring out what kind of tires you have mounted on your scooter now will be your first step.
Luckily, everything you need to know about your tires is printed right on their sides. Now you may find yourself panicking as you think of the obscure foreign language of numbers and codes that’s printed on your tire’s sidewalls – if that sounds like you, no problem! For a quick and simple explanation of how to read your tires, check out our helpful infographic, What to Look For When Buying Motorcycle Tires (the codes work the same way for both scooter and motorcycle tires.)
Once you know the size of your wheels, you can check out which tire manufacturers actually make tires in that size. Tire manufacturers rarely make a tire in every size for scooters, so your options will be limited. We recommend looking for your size with your preferred manufacturer first. You might get lucky and find that they carry your size.
You will also want to note whether or not your scooter requires a different tire for its front and rear tires. Some scooters have a specific size which needs two different tires, and putting a front tire on a rear wheel can cause your scooter to be unstable and unsafe. Most scooter tires, however, are made for both the front and the rear, and are interchangeable.
Finding the Right Scooter Tire
Once you’ve determined what size tires you need on both your front and rear wheels, it’s time to start narrowing your search down based on the characteristics you’re looking for.
Bias-ply vs. Radial Tires
First, an important distinction needs to be made, between the two different types of tires: bias-ply, and radials.
Bias-ply tires are built on a design that’s been around for over a century. The carcass of a bias-ply is made of layers of fabric wrapped over each other in a criss-cross pattern. The multiple layers flex and create a cushioning effect, which makes bias-ply tires comfortable to ride on and good at handling heavy loads. On the down side, they have more rolling resistance, less control at high speeds, and retain more heat.
Radials are a more modern variety of tire, with a carcass made of stiff cords that go straight across the tread, with belts of steel, polyester, or aramid fibers criss-crossing atop them. Radials tend to be stiffer, allowing better high speed performance, longer tread life, and more precise handling, but the down side is usually a stiffer ride.
Here’s the thing: even though you’ll hear a lot more talk about radial in the motorcycle and automotive world, you’ll find that the majority of the most popular scooter tires are in fact bias-plys. Bias-ply tires are very popular for scooters due to their more comfortable ride, and a better ability to soak up the potholes and bumps that affect scooters more with their smaller wheels.
Even though radials excel at high-speed-performance and sharp handling, that’s not really the kind of riding scooters are meant for. So while radials are much more popular for motorcycles, you’ll find that most scooter riders actually prefer bias-ply tires, and there are many more bias-ply options than radials when shopping for your scooter.
The Perfect Tire for Every Scooter
Now that you know what size tire you need, and know the difference between the types of different tire constructions, its time to narrow down your search to the tire characteristics that will work best for you. Below you’ll find all of our most popular scooter tires, with information about what kind of scooter each one is best suited for.
1) Kenda K329 Scooter Tire
The Kenda K329 is a bias-ply scooter tire for the budget minded rider that is looking for a good balance between mileage, wet-weather performance, and great value. The K329 has a performance-style tread pattern that will be grippy on the concrete and asphalt of the urban jungle. The K329 only comes in 10-inch sizes, but it has an excellent 4.9 rating, and is our top-selling scooter tire.
The Kenda K329 Scooter Tire
2) Michelin Power Pure SC Scooter Tire
The Michelin Power Pure SC, like it’s motorcycle counterpart, is built with pure performance in mind. It is a little pricier than the budget-minded Kendas, but worth it if top quality and excellent wet and dry performance are what you’re after. The Power Pure SC comes in several sizes for 12 through 15-inch wheels in both radial and bias-ply varieties, and has an excellent 4.8 star rating.
Michelin Power Pure SC Scooter Tire
3) Michelin City Grip Scooter Tire
Like its name suggests, the Michelin City Grip tire is made to maintain predictable traction in all the different conditions city life will throw at you. Deep shoulder sipes maximize wet grip, while a slick center maintains solid rubber contact for precise control in all weather conditions. The City Grip is a bias-ply tire made in sizes from 11 through 16 inches, and is designed for medium- to large-displacement scooters.
The Michelin City Grip Scooter Tire
4) Pirelli SL26 Scooter Tire
The Pirelli SL26 is a great tire for smaller 50-125cc scooters, and comes in sizes from 10 to 13 inches. They have a modern, sport-oriented tread pattern with the look of a high-performance motorcycle tire, and are designed to give superb handling, a high level of grip, and excellent wet-weather performance.
The Pirelli SL26 Scooter Tire
5) Kenda K413 Scooter Tire
The 4-ply Kenda K413 is another great budget-minded offering from Kenda, but this one comes in 10- through 13-inch sizes instead of just 10-inches like the K329. has a race-inspired tread pattern that looks the business, but comes at great price that will leave your wallet happy.
The Kenda K413
6) Metzeler Feelfree OEM Replacement Scooter Tire
An easy choice for anyone happy with their stock tires but in need of a replacement, Metzeler’s Feelfree sport touring scooter tires have a tread pattern based on the successful Z6 motorcycle sport touring tire. They are the perfect premium tire for today’s scooters, providing even wear and solid performance. The Feelfrees come in several sizes from 13 to 16 inches, in both bias-ply and radial versions.
Metzeler Feelfree OEM Replacement Scooter Tire
7) Pirelli Diablo Scooter Tire
The Pirelli Diablo Scooter Tire is a performance-oriented tire that has great wet handling and dry grip, while limiting road noise. The Diablo’s high-performance tread compound is imported directly from Pirelli’s excellent sport touring tires, which results in more mileage and regular wear. The sporty-looking Pirelli Diablos come in multiple sizes ranging from 12 to 16 inches.
The Pirelli Diablo Scooter Tire
8) Michelin S1 Scooter Tire
The high-quality Michelin S1 is reliable and long-lasting, with a high-performance directional tread designed for durability and great handling. It features a reinforced crown with additional casing material on top of two carcass plies to resist premature wear. The S1 is for smaller scooters, coming in only ten-inch sizes, but it gets excellent reviews with a 4.9 star rating.
The Michelin S1 Scooter Tire
9) Avon AM63 Viper Stryke Scooter Tire
The bias-ply Avon AM63 Viper Stryke is Engineered for bigger scooters capable of speeds up to 100 mph, and typically used to commute long distances (though it performs equally as well on smaller engine scooters.) The AM63 provides a high level of performance and sure-footed handling, and comes in numerous sizes from 12 to 16 inches.
Avon AM63 Viper Stryke Scooter Tire
10) Shinko SR007 Scooter Tire
No tire guide would be complete without Shinkos, which have taken the motorcycle market by storm the last few years with surprisingly great performance at a low price. Bringing the same philosophy to scooter tires, the Shinko SR007 is a highly-rated tire that works great for all smaller scooters, covering several sizes from 10 to 12 inches that all come in at under $40.
The Shinko SR007 Scooter Tire
Maintaining Your Scooter Tires
In order to properly maintain your scooter’s tires, it’s important to give them a quick inspection before you put them under you. First, check the tread wear on your tires. Many scooter tires will have a tread indicator that will tell you when your tread has gotten too low and you should invest in new tires.
But if your tires don’t have tread wear indicators, how are you supposed to know when to replace them? The proper way is to use a tread gauge that will give you the exact measurement of your tread. Once your tires have gotten down to about 1/32nd of an inch (0.8 millimeters) you need to go shopping.
If you don’t want to buy a tread gauge, you can use this trick instead. Grab a penny from that change jar you keep telling yourself you’ll take to the bank to cash in. You can use this penny to measure your tread. Flip the penny upside down and place it in the divot in your tread. If all of Mr. Lincoln’s hair is showing, you need new tires. If some of his hair is covered up, you’re still good to go.
You may think that if you don’t really ride all that much, your tires aren’t getting worn and don’t need to be replaced. Unfortunately, just like the milk in your fridge, tires have an expiration date. Because rubber hardens, cracks, and loses its grip over time, it’s recommended that you replace your tires every five years, even if they still have a significant amount of tread left.
In order to be able to tell when your scooter’s tires were made, there should be four numbers stamped on the sidewall of the tire. These numbers indicate the week of the year and the year that the tire was made. So if your tire reads 2412, your tire was made in the 24th week of the year 2012.
Once a week, you should also check your scooter’s tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is probably the single most important factor in making your tires work properly and last a long time; but unfortunately, it’s also probably the most overlooked. Underinflated tires will flex excessively, overheat faster, get damaged more easily, and can ruin your handling and fuel economy, while overinflated tires will cause uneven and premature wear and create a harsh ride.
In order to check your tire pressure, grab a pressure gauge, like this Motion Pro Professional Tire Pressure Gauge to check your tire pressure accurately. Check your scooter owners manual, and inflate your tire to the level suggested for your bike. (Note: don’t inflate to the max level indicated on the side of the tire; this is because any given tire will fit a wide range of scooters, and the max level for that tire might not be what’s best for your specific scooter.)
In addition, you should also always check your tire pressure when the tire is cold, and your scooter hasn’t been ridden for at least half an hour, because the air inside a heated up tire expands as it gets hotter. Measuring your tire while it is warm will give you a higher reading than normal, and letting any air out to match what you think it should be will end up underinflating your tire.
If you find that your tires are losing pressure faster than normal, or that one tire is losing more air than the other, you’ll want to check your valve stems to make sure they’re not damaged and leaking air. If you don’t find any problems with the valves, you might have a crack or puncture in your tire that’s seeping air slowly; if that’s the case, be sure to replace or repair your tires before riding on them again.
If you like to ride with a passenger, you’ll also want to check the load capacity of your tires. With two passengers on a scooter, the overall load on the tires can get up to 700 pounds or more, which is a lot to ask from a little 12 or 13 inch tire! Make sure you are aware of the load capacity of your scooter and it’s tires, and don’t overload them.