Traction is everything on a motorcycle, but when wet weather hits, traction is the first thing to go. But motorcycles can get surprisingly good traction on wet roads – pros even race superbikes in the rain – but the key is having a tire with a tread pattern made to slice through water and keep you planted! Here’s our pro guide to the very best motorcycle tires for wet weather.
1) Michelin Pilot Road 4
Types of riding: Multiple variations (for sport, sport touring, and adventure)
The Michelin Pilot Road 4
In every area of motorcycle tire performance, there is usually one tire that stands out as the absolute best in that category. In terms of wet weather performance, there are definitely a number of tires that work well – but simply no tire can match the Michelin Pilot Road 4. If traction and performance on wet roads is a high priority to you, this winter motorcycle tire should be first on your list, and the only debate after that is which one comes in second.
The Pilot Road 4 is the latest iteration of Michelin’s Pilot Road touring tire lineup, and has been engineered from inception to give exceptional traction in wet conditions (in particular, while braking.) The complex tread pattern with long, deep grooves and horizontal XST+ siping creates multiple channels to evacuate water while accelerating, braking, or leaning through corners, and the advanced silica-charged rubber compound enhances grip in all road and temperature conditions (even down to the low 20s!)
The Michelin Pilot Road 4 was completely purpose-built to handle wet roads better than any other street tire out there.
But this tire isn’t just good at riding in the rain – it’s also an exceptional touring tire in general, and a great value with a 20% increase in tread life compared to it’s predecessor, the Pilot Road 3. And if that wasn’t good enough, this remarkable tire comes in three distinct variants: the Pilot Road 4, for sport and sport touring bikes, the Pilot Road 4 GT, for heavy touring bikes, and the Pilot Road 4 Trail, for large adventure bikes!
2) Metzeler Roadtec 01
The Metzeler Roadtec 01
The Metzeler Roadtec 01 tires represent a big leap forward in the touring tire segment, with enhancements in every area that is important to touring riders – tread life, comfort, compatibility with various motorcycles, and of course, wet weather traction.
The wet traction, of course, comes from the tread pattern that features a complex pattern of deep, cross-hatched grooves made to channel water away from the tire that extend all the way to the sidewalls. When designing the Roadtec 01, Metzeler engineers specifically focused on low friction surfaces (such as city streets, worn tarmac, and low temperature environments) when a bike’s traction is most compromised and designed both the tread pattern and the degree of carcass flex to optimize for it.
In addition, the RoadTec 01 is a multi-compound tire, designed not only for a great balance between tread life and grip, but also for seamless transition between the two compounds while cornering, in both wet and dry conditions.
3) Continental Road Attack 3
The Continental Road Attack 3
The Continental Road Attack 3 is the latest iteration of Continentals Road Attack series for touring motorcycles, and features a series of enhancements to help this tire perform just as well when it’s hot and dry as when it’s cold and wet – everywhere your touring bike will take you!
The Road Attack 3 has a completely revised, performance-oriented tread pattern with deep grooves for faster drainage in wet conditions. In addition, Continental reformulated the tire compound for extra grip in on wet roads.
One thing that tends to get short shrift with motorcycle tires with respect to traction is break-in time. All tires are created in molds, and in order to allow the tire to release from the mold when it is finished, the molds are lubricated with release agents – and residues of these lubricants do remain on your tires when new, causing slick new tires to require a “break-in time” for about the first 100 miles. To combat this, Continental created a new manufacturing process that uses “skins” instead of lubricants to release tires from molds, making break-in on these tires virtually non-existent!
4) Dunlop American Elite
The Dunlop American Elite
The second generation Dunlop American Elite is the only replacement tire for Harley-Davidsons that is completely designed, tested, and manufactured all here in America. This great not only for the patriotic component – because they are designed here for American bikes, they are made to take into account the kinds of bikes we ride, and the conditions where we ride them, including cold and wet weather.
The American Elite is a purpose-built tire for American heavy cruisers, which is primarily important because the construction of the tire itself has to be sturdy enough to handle the massive weight and torque forces these bikes produce. But beyond that, wet weather performance is critical, which is why the American Elite features dual compound construction with a tread pattern that is made to ride smoothly and quietly in dry conditions, but also excel in channeling water away in the wet.
The American Elite is an exceptional cruiser tire all around, and it’s even available in both narrow and wide whitewall variants to suit your unique style!
5) Bridgestone Battlax T30 Evo
Category: Sport & Sport Touring
The Bridgestone Battlax T30 Evo
The Bridgestone Battlax T30 EVO is an evolution of Bridgestone’s sport and sport touring line, with a series of enhancements designed to deliver more traction and control. In particular, Bridgestone engineers focused on improving wet traction with the T30 EVO, using a combination of re-engineered, silica-rich rubber compounds and a redesigned tread pattern.
But it doesn’t stop there. Bridgestone also revised the entire carcass profile to provide smoother corner transitions, incorporated a dual compound into the rear, and even used data analysis from their MotoGP program to create an all-new front compound that gives improved performance over a wider range of operating temperatures. And for you guys on big touring bikes who want sport touring performance, Bridgestone also makes the T30 EVO GT in 5 sizes, just for heavyweight tourers!
6) Continental Legend
The Continental Legend
It’s often tough to find a whitewall motorcycle tire that incorporates modern-day tire technology, because the very nature of a whitewall is to have an old-school look. More often than not, tire manufacturers cut the corner of tire development in this segment, and just crank out the same old tires they’ve been making for decades with words like “traditional” or “vintage” in the description.
This tire is different. The Continental Legend is a tire with the benefits of current, modern day tire technology, just wrapped in a classic looking package. The reinforced carcass is built solidly to handle the weight of old school styled heavy cruisers, but the MileagePlus compound gives excellent life, while the groove pattern is optimized to quickly disperse water for solid handling and control, even in wet weather.
7) Pirelli Angel GT
Category: Sport & Sport Touring
The Pirelli Angel GT
Pirelli is a brand known for high-performance sport tires, but with the Pirelli Angel GT, they have demonstrated that they can build a great tire for all-weather performance too. With sport-oriented construction for fun, and a tread pattern and compound engineered for wet-weather confidence, the Pirelli Angel GT has become a top choice for many sport touring riders who lean more toward the “sport.”
The Pirelli Angel GT’s claim to fame is its long tread life combined with the feel of a grippy sport tire, which is perfect for the high-horsepower bikes that make up today’s sport touring market. The dual compound design enhances grip when leaned over without sacrificing cruising mileage, and the unique tread pattern sheds water away from the tires path for supreme wet weather traction. If you fall on the sporty side of “sport touring,” or ride a true sport bike but want a tire that won’t get skittish in a little water, the Angel GT was made just for you!