11 Tire Upgrades For The Harley-Davidson Sportster

Choosing the right on- and off-road rubber for your Milwaukee machine.

No one in their right mind would disagree that the Sportster is one of The Motor Company's most popular models—maybe ever—and not many would question its versatility either. That's because history is on this machine's side. The Sportster has been produced continuously for more than 60 years, and in that time it's made a mark in any segment of motorcycling you can think of: Hill climber, drag racer, land-speed racer, ice racing bike, roadracer, flat-tracker—even as a beginner bike. You name it and the Sportster has been there and done that.

And people continue to exploit the Sporty's do-it-all capabilities to this day. Sometimes all it takes is a different set of tires to transform the bike's performance, appearance, or intent, and suddenly you (and the bike) are in an entirely new mindset. A quick-change dual sport? Done. A badass speedster? Check. See all our suggestions below for different styles and types of rubber to fuel your various journeys on the Sporty.

Dunlop D402 Blackwall Front Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Dunlop D402 Blackwall Front Motorcycle TireAmazon
Dunlop D402 Blackwall Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Dunlop D402 Blackwall Rear Motorcycle Tire If you’re looking for a touring tire that carries the official approval of Harley-Davidson, look no further than Dunlop’s D402.Amazon

That’s right—the Dunlop D402 is the approved Harley-Davidson touring tire, so if your bike came with anything else, you can’t go wrong by going back to the original factory recommendation. The D402 has been engineered and tested in tandem with H-D in order to deliver maximum performance. Three-ply polyester casing with two fiberglass belts optimize stability for long-distance touring, while rain and off-center grooves in the tread enhance confidence in all weather and road conditions. If you’re looking for appearance options, the D402 is available in black, single white bar, and wide white sidewalls. All come with the official H-D emblem on the sidewall, which might very well be the most reassuring sight you can see on a hunk of rubber.

Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Front Motorcycle Tires
Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Front Motorcycle TireAmazon
Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Rear Motorcycle Tire Metzeler’s ME888 Marathon Ultra tire boasts advanced performance to carry you across the country with buttery smooth handling and stability.Amazon

Available in both black- and whitewall, Metzeler’s ME888 Marathon Ultra tires are perfect for riders who plan to take their Sportster on extended rides this summer. Metzeler tire designers have utilized a “flat and wide” geometry pattern when developing the tire, which ultimately results in reduced tire fatigue and overall wear. Even if you pass through some rainfall, the tires will be up to the task due to a tread pattern that promotes better propulsion through water. Got a larger-diameter front wheel? No problem, these are available from 16 inches up to 26 inches.

Pirelli Angel GT Motorcycle Front Tire on white background.
Pirelli Angel GT Motorcycle Front TireAmazon
Pirelli Angel GT Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Pirelli Angel GT Rear Motorcycle Tire For those wanting a tire with excellent long-range qualities along with killer street performance—Pirelli Angel GTs are a no-brainer.Amazon

Categorized as a sport-touring tire, Pirelli’s Angel GT not only features excellent safety and stability ratings along with high-mileage durability, but also has an edgier attitude that makes it more appealing for those who ride a bit more aggressively. Take this tire on a long trip, throughout the city all week long, or out on the weekend for a day’s worth of corner carving—it can do it all. Wet conditions are also no problem for the Angel GT, making it essential rolling gear all year long.

Continental ContiTour TL Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Continental ContiTour TL Motorcycle Tire Long-range durability offered in a variety of styles and sizes is what you’ll get with Continental’s ContiTour.Continental

Continental’s ContiTour TL tire performs so well, you’d swear it was made specially for your custom Sportster. The ContiTour TL has been designed to fit a wide style of bikes and riding styles, handles easily, and features Continental’s MileagePlus Technology to extend mileage without skimping on high-end handling. The tread pattern has been optimized for the best water drainage possible, with the latest silica compound integrated in the construction for the safest ride in wet conditions. Grab a modern tire that is just as reliable and dependable as your trusty Sporty.

Bridgestone Battlax BT-023 Sport Front Motorcycle Tires on white background.
Bridgestone Battlax BT-023 Sport Front Motorcycle TiresAmazon
Bridgestone Battlax BT-023 Sport Rear Motorcycle Tires on white background.
Bridgestone Battlax BT-023 Sport Rear Motorcycle Tires Bridgestone’s Battlax BT-023 blurs the line between a touring and sport performance tire.Amazon

Bridgestone’s Battlax BT-023 represents a new generation of sport-touring motorcycle tires. It gives riders a stable feel on the highway while being able to carve corners and cut its way through twisties with ease, just like a typical sport tire would. In wet or dry conditions, the Battlax is ready to take on and conquer the open road with steering precision and high-speed cornering abilities all without losing one ounce of stability. A new tread pattern and rubber compound will deliver a strong grip on the asphalt at all times, while giving you high-mileage longevity for many trips ahead.

Off-Road-Capable Tires

Bridgestone Trail Wing TW101 Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Bridgestone Trail Wing TW101 Motorcycle Tire Ideal for dual-sport applications, Bridgestone’s TW101 tire is a long wearing, four-ply tire that features self-cleaning tread blocks for superior traction in off-road situations.Bridgestone

Planning to spend some time on muddy or loose terrain? Then you’ll want to run with a tire just like the Bridgestone Trail Wing TW101. It features a specialized dimpled tread pattern with many facets that all combine to create impressive traction during off-road use. Unique front and rear combinations also make for ideal on-road use with excellent balance and long-wearing durability. Enjoy both worlds of riding with one tire.

Avon Trailrider AV53 Front Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires on white background.
Avon Trailrider AV53 (Front) Dual Sport Motorcycle TiresAmazon
Avon Trailrider AV54 (Rear) Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires on white background.
Avon Trailrider AV54 (Rear) Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires Avon’s front and rear Trailrider tires are tough but reliable for both on-/off-road use.Amazon

With multi-compound treads to prolong tire life and promote the best road contact possible, Avon’s Trailrider tire will take your Sportster everywhere the roads lead and beyond. A rich silica compound gives the tire superior wet grip, and interlocking three-dimensional points hidden in the sipes improve stability and traction in all conditions. The Trailrider is rated to perform at 90 percent on road and 10 percent off road, which is realistic use for a good deal of riders who are going for a dual sport look while mostly sticking to paved roads. When the time does come to hit the dirt, these tires will prove they can hold their own off the grid as well.

Continental TKC 70 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Continental TKC 70 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tire With a rating that’s nearly equal parts on and off road, Continental’s TKC 70 tire is ready to take on just about any terrain you could throw at it.Continental

With the TKC70 tire positioned for 60 percent on road and 40 percent off road, it is one of the few equally rated dual sport tires out there. A unique tread block pattern allows this tire to remain quiet yet impressively stable on paved ground, while still more than capable atop off-road terrain. RainGrip technology features a new compound that creates killer grip in wet-weather conditions, as well as a very short warm-up phase for optimal traction. If you demand a tire that is equally balanced for reliable performance on both the street and trails, Continental’s TKC 70 just might be the perfect selection for your Sportster.

Michelin Scorcher 11 Front Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Michelin Scorcher 11 Front Motorcycle TireAmazon
Michelin Scorcher 11 Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Michelin Scorcher 11 Rear Motorcycle Tire A Harley-Davidson-approved tire with a semi-slick tread pattern and excellent tread life.Amazon

Not very many tires can boast that they carry an official approval from H-D, but the Michelin Scorcher 11 has been used as original equipment for an impressive lineup of motorcycles. The slick tread design allows for maximum contact and adhesion on dry roads, and the optimized tread pattern sends water flying, gaining the Scorcher 11 much praise in wet conditions as well. If you’re thinking this tire looks more like a sport tire than something from an OE, you’re exactly right. The design of the Scorcher 11 has been derived from Michelin’s championship-winning race tires, but aside from excellent speed ratings, a newly developed rubber compound allows this tire to offer durability, maneuverability, and agility that will keep you happy to hit the throttle in all road conditions.

Pirelli Night Dragon GT Front Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Pirelli Night Dragon GT Front Motorcycle TireAmazon
Pirelli Night Dragon GT Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Pirelli Night Dragon GT Rear Motorcycle Tire With its impressive road-holding qualities, Pirelli’s Night Dragon GT was made for high-performance Harley-Davidson motorcycles.Amazon

The Night Dragon GT tire is the ideal choice for riders who want a high-performing tire with exceptional road grip and high-mileage life expectancy far above “standard” tires (up to 20 percent more than its predecessor). Pirelli has optimized the Night Dragon GT tire for modern V-twin engines that create more power and higher torque output. EPT technology better utilizes the contact patch on the road, which provides the rider increased stability at higher speeds and fast acceleration.

Dunlop Elite 4 Front Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Dunlop Elite 4 Front Motorcycle TireAmazon
Dunlop Elite 4 Rear Motorcycle Tire on white background.
Dunlop Elite 4 Rear Motorcycle Tire Sacrificing long-distance wear for high performance is not an option for Dunlop’s Elite 4 tire.Amazon

The common misconception of high-performance tires not having an extended life on the road has been put to rest with Dunlop’s Elite tire line. The Elite 4 establishes its durability with a multi-tread compound technology that gives it long-wear properties. A lateral-grip compound on each shoulder increases handling abilities, even when leaning into corners at higher speeds. A new tread pattern assists in providing class-leading performance in wet conditions, making the Elite 4 a great gripping tire in nearly any road condition imaginable.