The Best Harley Davidson Replacement Tires

by Susan Dorling
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Since 1984, Harley-Davidson has equipped its motorcycles with Dunlop tires. The Dunlop D401 Elite S/T, D402 Touring, K591 compound tires and D205 are standard on 1991-to-2011 Harley-Davidson models from Softails to the V-Rod. The best replacement tires for Harley-Davidson motorcycles are premium tires by Dunlop, Pirelli, Metzeler, Avon and Michelin. Each has its own characteristics to meet the unique demands of riders. Consider your riding style, where you are riding and how far you travel, before purchasing tires. The only thing aftermarket tires should always have in common is that they be new -- never buy used tires to cut costs.

Dunlop Tires

The Dunlop GT501 tire features bias-ply construction and a radial-style tread pattern. This tire creates a larger contact patch for increased cornering confidence. A deep center tread depth provides superior wear and enhanced water clearance. This tire is V-rated for speeds up to 149 miles per hour.

The Dunlop Elite 3 (E3) is a long-distance tire with excellent wet-pavement performance. The long-wearing tread rolls effortlessly and safely through rain grooves, steel bridge decks and tar stripes. This tire is available in a wide range of sizes, including a wide 250-series rear radial for wide-tire applications.

Pirelli Tires

The famous Italian-manufactured Pirelli Night Dragon tire is a premium tire for riders demanding superior traction and performance. Offering controlled grip in all situations, the tire's front tread cuts through water, while the grooves of the rear treads disperse it. The Night Dragon is tubeless and available in a variety of sizes.

Metzeler Tires

Metzeler ME 880 tires are for touring and high mileage. With the ability to handle more load capacity over long road trips, the ME 880 features a computer-designed tread pattern that provides uniform wear and low noise. The front tire has a rounded profile for smooth, neutral steering. The rear tire has a flatter tread with a larger contact patch for optimal traction and better mileage. Manufactured in Germany, the Metzeler ME 880 tire is available in blackwall, narrow whitewall and wide whitewall in a variety of sizes.

Avon Tires

According to Gary Stadey, a Harley-Davidson rider for over 50 years who currently owns a Heritage Softail Classic, Avon Gangster Am/9 tires have met his requirements perfectly. He switched his Dunlops for Gangster wide whitewalls and discovered an exceptional riding experience -- with increased grip over the stock Dunlops. The Gangsters are known as directional tires, and some riders complain that they wander, following every crack in the road; others, like Stadey, are happy with them. One thing everyone agrees upon is how cool the Gangster tire looks. Its 2-3/4-inch wide-whitewall enhances the overall profile of any retro-styled cruiser or touring motorcycle. The Avon Gangster is a universal tire and fits on both the front and rear.

Another option from the U.K. tire manufacturer is the Cobra tire with stylized tread design developed to balance the needs of rapid water dispersal with stability and long wear. Aesthetically, the Cobra features a snakeskin-like sidewall to complement the Cobra logo. The innovative Cobra tire can be adapted for a variety of custom wheel applications.

Michelin Tires

Zigzag lateral grooves on the Michelin Commander tire move water away from the contact patch and maximize braking and acceleration. Designed to withstand the tire-punishing torque of the mighty Harley-Davidson V-Twin, the Commander tire delivers a smooth ride with stable handling. Both the Commander and Macadam 50 tubeless blackwalls by Michelin are approved by Harley-Davidson for OEM replacement.

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