What Type of Tire Should You Choose For Your Cruiser?

Cruisers can use more than just cruiser tires

Tire types for cruisers
There's a whole lot of tire types to choose from, but which would be better for your cruiser?Photography by Dean Groover

Purpose-built cruiser tires are relatively new on the tire rack at your dealer. Until now, there was a variety of tires designed specifically for other applications that were then pressed into service on cruisers. Some of these may still be the best choice for your application.

Sport tires: Designed for maximum traction when leaned over, these tires have soft, sticky tread compounds and short lives. Their excellent traction serves only in a braking mode on a typical cruiser, which lacks the cornering clearance or power to utilize it in other situations. However, they still find favor from riders who like their looks or want to give their machines a performance flavor. The expense and short life make this a poor choice for the vast majority of cruiser owners.

Economy tires: These are at the opposite end of the spectrum from sport tires. Low-cost, low-tech, modest in terms of traction and not particularly durable, these are not tires for enthusiasts—unless you just need something to get home and the tire you want isn't available. Even if the price looks tempting, consider that a shorter life may mean that you must pay for mounting another pair sooner.

Touring tires: Although these high-mileage tires are not inexpensive, their impressively long lifespans can make them a great buy, particularly if you travel far or frequently on your bike. Under some combinations of bike and rider, a rear tire can deliver 20,000 miles. We frequently recommend these tires which, despite their tough tread compounds, typically give better wet and dry traction than the OE cruiser tires.

Sport-touring tires: This compromise of cornering grip and traveling mileage may be worthwhile on a cruiser with significant cornering clearance. But most cruisers will get all the traction they need from a high-mileage or cruiser tire.

For the vast majority of cruiser owners, cruiser tires or touring tires are the best balance of price and usable performance. Style and the availability of a tire in the size you need are also major considerations. A few riders will find that the OE tire is the only real choice. In some cases, like the Honda Valkyrie with its radials, you have very few choices. But, even if there is only one offering from the aftermarket—such as the Bridgestone sold for the Valkyrie—our experience is that it will usually give better performance (sometimes at a lower price) than the OE tire. That's the case with the Valkyrie.