Once in a while, someone asks "What tires do I need to use on my bike? Any suggestions?" Then all hell breaks loose, because everyone has different preferences where it concerns tires.
First of all, your rims are 1,85 front, 1,85 rear for pre-72 bikes and 1,85 front, 2,15 rear post-72. Diameter of the wheels is 19 inch front, 18 inch rear.
The original tires were either Continental or Metzeler, and came in the sizes 3,25-19 front and 4,00-18 rear.
A quick word on speed and load indices: http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-tires/tire-data.htm.
Most people feel it is important to have the exact right size tires, which means the inch measures and not the closest metric equivalent. A fatter front tire will make the bike handle like a truck. The difference with a proper 3,25 is night and day. A fatter rear tire may rub the swingarm unless a wider top-hat spacer is used, and is in any case a bear to get past the brake drum. Be aware of the fact that tire sizes will vary between manufacturers, even if the designation is the same. There will also be a difference between TT and TL tires. You have to use tubes, also in TL tires on our rims, but generally the TT tires, if available, will be a bit narrower. Use a TT when they have one. Interesting article in this respect at http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-tires/sizes.htm
Don’t buy cheap tires. You get what you pay for, and a tire is what keeps your face off the asphalt. If you have to make an emergency brake manoeuvre, the difference between a Bridgestone and a Cheng-shin can make the difference between a metre to spare and a bent fork... or a lot, lot worse. Keep that in mind. Now we will go down the list again and add some general comments about the various tires listed. These come from a website from which I have shamelessly stolen them, alas, I’ve lost the URL and cannot find it anymore. Thank you, whoever you are !
5 United tire mega-thread on Yahoo.
Thanks goes to Eldon Brown for the idea and setting this off.
Avon specs the “Roadriders” for the /5. 3.25-19 54V front at 2,30 bar or 33 psi. Interestingly, they spec it at 2,00 bar / 29 psi for the R75/5 only (?) 4.00-18 64V rear at 2,50 bar or 36psi Some other tires (“tyres”) that Avon has, but does NOT spec for the /5: “Roadrunners” AM20 in 325-19 54H front and AM21 400-18 64H rear, these were *previously* spec-ed for /5’s One could use, as a very sticky sports tire, the AM18 “Supervenom” REAR tire in 100/90 57V 19 on the FRONT and combine it with a Bridgestone BT45 rear. I know of no-one who tried that on a BMW. Also possible for the front is AM 41 “Venom” 100/90-19 57H, also available with white walls – no matching whitewall rear tire though. This would probably look a little ridiculous. In their classic range, Avon has the “Speedmaster” AM6 front in 3.25-19-TT 57S, in combination with the “Safety Mileage MKII” AM7 in 4.00-18 TT 65S.
325-19 54H AM20 front at 2,30 bar or 33 psi (“Roadrunners”) 400-18 64H AM21 rear at 2,50 bar or 36psi (“Roadrunners”) Avon's bias-ply general purpose tyre. It's an excellent cruiser or touring tyre. Dry and wet traction are very good, and the progressive profile of the front gives excellent straight-line stability with a linear profile once leaned over. First tire choice of Mark Weiss. Brett "Boocephus" Mitchell opines about Avons: Is it just me or do Road Runners only last a few thou? I only have 10K miles on my new speedometer and I know I've gone though 2 or 3 rear Avons. They are nice and sticky, but they get squared off in what seems like no time. I am probably one of the only non- overinflators on the list. I target for about 34, but I don't put any in until it gets below 30. Phil Marx : I've had no good luck with the Avons, even sent pics of the tread cracks to Avon and they sent replacement tires. Big deal, I'd rather not have tires that split. Phil also adds that the 325-19 and 400-18 sizes are hard to get in the US, and thinks that most of these axperiences have been with the (nearly) equivalent front Avon Roadrunner AM 20, 100/90x19 and rear Avon Roadrunner AM 21 110/90x18. On top of that the 100/90-19 AM20 seems no longer available, and is substituted by the100/90-19 Venom X Another Philip : My first Avon (AM21) ran 10414 miles. It had some cracking but not near as bad as Phil's. The second Avon ran 9244 with no cracking. I installed a new front (AM20) with my first Avon rear and used it for both the listed rear tires (21903 miles). My current Avon rear has 6322 and still looks great. Super Venom (AM20/AM18) Without doubt, this is the finest bias-ply sport tyre available. The straightline stability combined with linear profile once the bike leans (also shared with the Roadrunner) makes it an excellent choice to combine with a harder-wearing rear. Like the Roadrunner, it also works very well indeed with tyres from other manufacturers. The downside of the Super Venom is that the AM18 rear wears quickly, and squares off easily. While unquestionably superb for sport riding, this has drawbacks for bikes that are used for other purposes. In those cases, I suggest combining the Super Venom AM20 front with a harder-wearing rear, such as the dual-compound Bridgestone BT45 rear. Some narrow sizes of the Super Venom rear can also be fitted on the front. I would personally choose an AM20 front over an AM18 every time, because of the former's profile, but there are some sizes the AM20 does not cover. In that case, an AM18 front is a good sport choice. On the “Venom”, snurt1958 says that it served pretty well. We have no opinions yet on the currently spec-ed “Roadriders”, or the “Speedmaster/Safety Mileage MKII” combination. Experiences welcome.
Bridgestone used to spec different tires in the USA and Europe - right now, they don’t spec any tires for the airheads in Europe anymore. There are available sizes though, even though their website is completely messed up and it is impossible to get actual availability, ratings and sizes of these tires: 100/90-19 for the front : Battlax BT-45 Exedra G701 If you feel like riding through mud a lot : Trailwing 101 Then there are a lot of OEM tires of different bikes which are probably impossible to get anyway. 110/90-18 for the rear : Battlax BT-45 There used to be Battlax BT-45 available in inch-sizes, but due to the website not working properly it is impossible to verify whether these are still being sold – this was their former recommendation for BMW airheads: 3,25-19 54H TL BT-45F front at 2,5 bar or 35 psi 4,00-18 64H TT BT-45R rear at 2,8 bar 38,5 psi In the USA Bridgestone still specs the Spitfire for /5 (unavailable in Europe): http://www.motorcycle-karttires.com 100/90-19 Spitfire S11 57H front 110/90-18 Spitfire S11 61H rear Of course the BT-45 is also available in the US. 100/90-19 BW TL 57V for the front (or TT 57H, which I suspect to be the same tire) 110/90-18 BW TL 61H for the rear
100/90-19 Spitfire S11 front 110/90-18 Spitfire S11 rear If the price is right, this is a good choice. It's a dual-compound tyre, with harder rubber in the centre of the tread for longer life droning down the highway, and a relatively softer compound on the edges of the tyre. Unlike the BT45, however, the "softer" does not mean it's up to sport riding, just that it gives better traction than one would expect for a tyre that lasts reasonably long. It's a decent general-purpose tyre, a good choice for commuters or those with a tight budget. Paul Sotrop likes these better than Conti’s and less than Dunlop 491’s. Someone else says : For me, the Bridgestone Spitfire has been an outstanding tire. It's a dual compound tire, meaning the rubber in the center of the tire is a slightly harder compound, and the rubber on the shoulders is a slightly softer compound. I've yet to run into any trouble with these tires, and I've got probably about 4,000 miles on them. There's plenty of tread left. They're very reasonably priced as well, about $80 per tire from Dennis Kirk. Lyman Robertson says : I use Bridgestone S11 I have good service from them usually up to 20,000 rear and about 2x as long front, wet, dry, hot, cold, doesn't matter twisties, straight away up hills down My R90/6 and current /5. Second best tire for Nick Grear, behind Michelin 50e and before Dunlop K491. Pricing (Front $50.97) and (Rear $57.97) They seem to last 11.000 to 14.000 + miles. 3,25-19 54H TL BT-45F front at 2,5 bar or 35 psi 4,00-18 64H TT BT-45R rear at 2,8 bar 38,5 psi (or some equivalent sized Battlaxes ...) Battlax BT45 This tyre is available in both H- and V-rated versions; aside from the speed rating and range of sizes, there's no perceivable difference between the BT45H and BT45V. The rear has a dual tread compound construction that combines a harder central band, to resist squaring off and for longer life, with a softer, stickier compound on the edges. This is a superb tyre. This is the model with which Bridgestone introduced their new silica-rich compound, and thus took an enormous leap in wet traction. Also, the dual tread compound works exactly as described -- it wears well in normal riding, while the outer edges stick very well. It's even capable of hard track use -- I've used it that way on both ends of the weight range, a track-prepped Yamaha RD400 and a Moto Guzzi California 1100i. There is no question that a pair of BT45's is one of the best bias-ply sets you can buy. If your bike is easy on front tyre wear, though, and the sizes work out, using a BT45 rear with an Avon Super Venom front is an unbeatable combination. The Avon adds excellent highway stablity, confidence- inspiring profile, and ultra-sticky traction, while the BT45 wears well and sticks very well in the corners. The Avon, designed to work well with a wide range of rears (note that Avon themselves say you can combine it with other manufacturers' products), lives up to its promise; while Bridgestone has finally perfected the dual-compound rear. Cris is still using these, and happy with performance and mileage. He gets 10.000 km from the rear, 20.000 km from the front (that’s 6/12000 mi). Performance is just fine. When worn out, the bike has more of a tendency to wobble, that disappears with new tires. Properly tightening my steering head bearings cured that.
They scream and howl in corners according to Lawrence Hogarth. It may be safer not to use them. Your life probably is worth more to you than the $40 difference per tire with a proper one.
Jonathan Burdsall writes:
Some folks have reported that they are happy with them, I think they are way too easy to please. Aside from my own experience years ago, which was not a particularly good one, my son put a set of them and then Kendas on his Kawasucki. I had warned him about going from his dunlops to the chinese tires so he played with them a bit. He found that both break loose much earlier in both acceleration and braking. The later being much more disturbing than the former. He also found that the bike felt a bit kludgier in corners, with the backend feeling looser than with the dunlops.
Refreshingly, Conti has a working fitment guide ... They suggest for the /5 : 3,25-19 54H TL TK22RC front 4,00-18 64H TL TK44RC rear These were formerly called “Supertwin” Alternatively they give : 3,25-19 54 H TT RB2 front 4,00-18 64 S/H TT K112 rear “An economic, all-weather tyre combination”, OEM on our BMW’s Or else : 3.25-19 54 H/V TL TKH 23 front 110/90-18 61H TT/TL TKH 24 rear They mention better wear and a damping layer in the front tire that would prevent handlebar wobble. Pressure specs from Conti for all tires are 2.1 bar for front, 2.3 bar for rear.
Someone says : Conti still cranks out the RB2/K112 & Blitz tires in the right sizes but I wouldn't consider either a sport tire. Paul Sotrop says : period appropriate Continental tires. They wore out quickly at about 3000-4000 miles, were scary in wet weather, and terrifying on metal-grate bridges. Philip Rose says : I am still partial to the original Conti Twins. The RB2 front and the K112 Rear. Continental is still making these tires and they fit correctly, look correct and still give great performance K112 was stocked by Bondo back when Dunlop K81’s could still be bought. Kim says : my /5 Continental Super Twin (TK22 /TK44) used to require 40 to 46 psi to feel right. Ian Hamilton had an issue with the TK44 rubbing his rear shaft drive when just mounted. No-one seems to have used the new TKH23 TKH24 combination.
Dunlop stopped spec-ing tires for the /5 as well. Some fit though – D404 Front 100/90-19 62H D404 Rear 110/90-18 61H 491 Elite II MM90-19 Front at 2.3 bar or 33 psi (former pressure recommendation) 110/90 B18 rear at 2,55 bar or 36 psi (former pressure recommendation) The 491 Elite was replaced by the Elite 3 –from the website, the 491 seems to be still available though. Elite 3 MM90-19 front will fit There is no fitting Elite3 rear tire. Other front tires : D401 Cruiser at 100/90-19 57H Front F24 100/90-19 TT 57S Front Or : F11 100/90-19 57H Front (at 2,3 bar or 32psi – former pressure recommendation) K627 110/90-18 rear (at 2,55 bar or 36psi – former pressure recommendation) Or : K70 3.25-19TT 54P front K70 4.00 18 64S rear The K591 has been taken out of the assortment, and has been replaced by GT501 Sport Bias. However, the front K591 only is still available as a front tire for Harleys in 100/90-19 51V You can try and put these on, but the rear tire will be too big. This can be solved by using a spacer on the rear wheel with BMW part nr 36 31 2 301 737, which is 10.7mm wide instead of 9.2 and hopefully makes the tire clear the swingarm. GT501 100/90-19 57V GT501 120/90-18 65V no pressure specs here.
491 Elite II MM90-19 front at 2,3 bar or 32 psi 491 Elite II 110/90 B18 rear at 2,55 bar or 36 psi The 491 sets the standard for bias-ply touring tyres. It is an excellent choice for touring and cruising bikes alike. With the demise of the Avon Elan series, it becomes the undisputed leader for tread life under load. For a touring tyre, it performs very well in wet and dry. The profile is particularly well suited to cruisers -- the less rounded profile of the rear when compared to other brands can give the effect of extra ground clearance. Harley-Davidson riders swear by these much like BMW riders swear by Metzelers, and for good reason. They're excellent tyres. It is not entirely certain they are still available at the moment though. Everyone on 5united seems to love the high mileage you get out of these tires. They do, however, not seem too sticky. Someone mentioned bouncing his butt off the pavement three times, without mentioning however *which* Dunlop tires he did that on. We have no opinions so far of anyone that used either the Elite 3 front, D401 Cruiser at 100/90-19 57H Front, F24 100/90-19 TT 57S Front, F11 100/90-19 57H Front K627 110/90-18 rear, K70 3.25-19TT 54P front or K70 4.00 18 64S rear According to list comments, the F11 front last a looong time. (13.000+ miles) GT501 100/90-19 57V GT501 120/90-18 65V This is a replacement for the well-respected K591. It fills the same niche, that of a bias-ply performance tyre, but with an updated compound and tread pattern. I have not had much experience of these tyres -- first- or second-hand -- and so I'm not sure how they perform. I see no reason, however, to doubt that they're a good tyre. No list opinions on these.
WF910 Front in 100/90-19-57H will fit, as will RS310 and 320 GS11 3,25 H19 4PR front and 4,00 H18 4PR rear are a matched pair. Mark Weiss writes : An often overlooked tire brand is IRC. They are cheap tires that are surprisingly decent. For most street use you would never know the difference between IRCs and Metzlers.
Challenger sport touring 100/90H-19 6PR 57H TL front 110/90H-18 6PR 61H TL rear Cuiser sport 100/90H-19 6PR 57H TL front Kruz 100/90H-19 4PR TL front
Larry is happy with his Kenda Cruiser on the front -8000 mi, plenty of tread left. Bill Rice had stability issues with a Kenda Challenger on the back matched with a Michelin Macadam on the front. A 120/90 Kenda challenger does not fit according to Charles Schiff.
Classic M6011 Front (no fitting rear) 100/90-19 57H/TL 100/90-19 WW 57H/TL Promaxx M6102 Front 100/90-19 57H/TL M6103 Rear 110/90-18 61H/TL Touring M6011 Front (no fitting rear) MM90-19 61H/TL V1 M6002 Front 100/90 V19 57V/TL rear 120/90 V18 65V/TL *may* fit with wider spacer
Metzeler has a number of choices – again, they do not officially recommend any tires anymore for the /5. Tires that fit : Lasertec front: 3.25 - 19 M/C 54H TL 3.25 - 19 M/C 54V TL 100/90 - 19 M/C 57H TL 100/90 - 19 M/C 57V TL Lasertec Rear: 4.00 - 18 M/C 64V TL 110/90 - 18 M/C 61H TL ME88 Marathon rear (recommended for later airheads – wider spacer needed !): 120/90 B 18 71H REINF TL Front is Me880 100/90 - 19 M/C 57H TL Or in whitewall (no matching rear) : 100/90 - 19 M/C 57S Also available : Tourance 100/90 - 19 M/C 57H for the front, no matching rear. Previously spec-ed as “alternative” by Metzeler and still available : 3,25-19 54S TL ME11 Perfect front at 2,2 bar or 31 psi 4,00-18 64H TL ME77 Perfect rear at 2,3 bar or 33 psi
4,00-18 64S TL ME77 rear at 2,3 bar or 33 psi 3,25-19 54S TL ME11 Perfect front at 2,2 bar or 31 psi Lasertec (former Me33) Me88/880 Tourance Me77 Perfect Sporttouring / Allround Generic standard tyres. The list wisdom says that Me11/Me77 combination is squirelly on rain grooves. The Lasertec front had one list member rubbing the tire against the fender bracket bolt heads and had to use spacer to slightly raise the front fender. The information below is about the Me33/99, which has changed into the Lasertec. It may not apply any longer. ME33/99 is the third favourite of Mark Weiss, behind the Avon roadrunners and the Dunlop 591 (now GT501 which doesn’t fit anymore) Kim says his Metzeler ME33 Lazer requires 38 to 42 psi to feel right Charlie Baker says : (old threads) Metzeler ME33 'Lazer's' (front) & ME99A 'Perfect' ( rear) have had the same pattern for 30+ years. I like the front for handling, but they tend to cup rapidly on our weathered roads, & the rear is ok, but I prefer the Dunlop 491's ( I have 19K on mine,vs 4-7k for the Metz) Someone else says : My over-priced, shit mileage (barely 3500) Metzler ME99 is over-priced and shit mileage (barely 3500). I like the ME33, it ran well with it's original ME99 rear and the Conti Blitz's I replaced it with. Still someone else adds : ME33 follows grooves
Michelin recommends only one thing: the Macadam 50E/50 50E 3,25-19-54H TT/TL on the front at 2,2 bar or 31 psi 50 4,00-18-64H TT/TL on the rear at 2,4 bar or 35 psi The Anakee front tire will fit, as will the A39/M39 and M45 rears
Here we have to be careful, as Michelin seems to have made a lot of changes to their 50/50E/50H/50S line in these past few years. The comment you read may not be applicable to the Macadam tires they sell right now. I've had good experience with Michelin Macadam 50s. Michelin tubes worked fine too. Michelin recently updated the front tire to the Macadam 50H which is supposed to limit cupping of the front tire, a problem not unique to Michelin on BMWs and one which I've not experienced with my Macadam 50. I don't think you can go wrong with these tires and they're fairly priced, too. I will heartily second Phil's recommendation of the Macadams but I would advise using the 50E on the front. Both my wife & I have had the 50 cup badly on our bikes & I believe it was replaced by the 50E last year so any 50s are old stock. I'm a happy Macadam rider - 25,000+ on my SWB 75/5 with just one front and three rear tires. First choice of Nick Grear, before Bridgestone S11 and Dunlop K491 (Front $62.97) and (Rear $76.97)
Pirellis are made by the same company that makes Metzelers, and in general there's a fairly direct product comparison between the product lines; one big difference is that the comparable Metzeler is usually the cheaper of the two. Brent and Mihai have Pirelli’s on their bikes, but they may not be any of the models listed above ... comments welcome. Pirelli also stopped recommending tires for the /5. Some still fit. Scorpion MT90 front on/off road 100/90 - 19 M/C 57H TL Sport Demon 100/90 - 19 M/C 57V TL front 110/90 - 18 M/C 61H TL rear City Demons (their former recommendation) have been taken out of the assortment in the correct size, however, some still fit (more or less). 90/90 - 19 M/C 52S front 4.00 - 18 M/C 64S rear 100/90 - 18 M/C 56S TL rear MT66 Route (front only) 100/90 - 19 57H TL 100/90 - 19 M/C 57S
"Toaster Tan" writes:
Try the Shinko SR712. I’m a big fan of Shinko for quality and mileage. They get high customer ratings as well.