Best Tires for Harley Softail: Top 10 Reviews & Choosing Tips

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2018 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM 107Hi! This time I’d like to share my knowledge about the best tires for Harley Softail. I’ve been riding H-D motorcycles since I got my license, and Softail is one of my favorites as it combines a retro design with reserved modern lines that make it incredibly stylish and universal.

As a keen owner of several Harleys, I’ve tested a variety of tires by different manufacturers. My experience in the garage and on the road helped me to figure out what companies make the best Harley tires overall and which of them are most suitable for Softail, Cruiser, Touring, and other models.

Product
Top Pick
Bridgestone Excedra G850 Cruiser Rear Motorcycle Tire...
Budget Choice
Continental ContiMotion Sport/Touring Motorcycle Tire Rear...
Premium Choice
Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55ZR-17...
Prime
-
-
-
Pros
Excellent grip on the dry and wet road.
Stable steel-belt construction.
Race-type treads.
Top Pick
Product
Bridgestone Excedra G850 Cruiser Rear Motorcycle Tire...
Price
Prime
-
Pros
Excellent grip on the dry and wet road.
My preview
Budget Choice
Product
Continental ContiMotion Sport/Touring Motorcycle Tire Rear...
Price
Prime
-
Pros
Stable steel-belt construction.
My preview
Premium Choice
Product
Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55ZR-17...
Price
Prime
-
Pros
Race-type treads.
My preview

Once I’ve tried to find a comprehensive guide on this topic to share with a friend as I felt too tired to explain it by myself that day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one on the first 5 pages. I used different queries but didn’t find what I needed.

That’s why I’ve decided to write such a comprehensive guide based on my knowledge. At last, I finished it, so here it is. Below are detailed cruiser motorcycle tire reviews of the 10 best models as well as a concise guide on how to choose the right one. Read well and ask questions if needed.

Top Harley Tires Reviews: Top 10 Picks

In this section, I want to introduce the 10 most reliable HD motorcycle tires that I’ve ever tested and offered to my customers. Read the specifications attentively to match the model with your needs and check out the links to figure out current prices and availability. Each review includes such important info as size, construction, materials, durability, and speed rating.

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1. Michelin Scorcher 31 Rear Motorcycle Tire 160 – Best Rear Cruiser Motorcycle Tires for Deuce FXSTDSE 2003

Michelin Scorcher 31 Harley-Davidson Rear Motorcycle Tire...
  • Cruise with confidence innovative rubber compounds, incorporating know-how derived from Michelin's decades of road-racing experience, provide remarkable grip on both wet and dry roads.
  • Exceptional comfort and handling the supple casing design and profile of MICHELIN Scorcher "31" tires promote rock-solid handling on winding roads.
  • Long mileage Michelin carbon black-enriched rubber compounds promote excellent durability without compromising performance.
Michelin is one of the leaders in the tire manufacturing industry. The company has been one of the most advanced racing and touring tire suppliers for 131 years already. It’s a brand you can trust as they provide excellent quality and US-based customer support.

This Scorcher 31 160 rear tire for H-D Softail Deuce FXSTDSE 2003 is designed for convenient cruising. It’s made of a durable carbon black-enriched compound that guarantees long mileage without performance limitations. The tire offers excellent cornering and solid control on all speeds. This tire provides an excellent grip on both dry summer and wet, cold winter roads.

The tire has a unique tread design with straight lines and angled grooves. A good sign is that the tire wears out evenly all over the contact area. It means that you will avoid under and over-inflation in the future. But how long does it live? Due to the high quality, you can use it to ride around 8,500 miles or 5 years. Although it’s a general rule for all moto tires, not all brands can their tires can survive this long. My experience proved that Scorcher 31 could live even longer.

This tire is a good choice for sporty-style riders as it provides excellent grip independently from road conditions and weather so that you can be confident on both hot, dry Nevada highways and the cold roads of Minnesota.

Aside from the motorcycle I mentioned in the subtitle, you can install these tires on Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce FXSTD/I made in 2000-2007 and a wide range of other models that you can find in the description provided by the manufacturer.

This tire is great as it was designed particularly for H-D motorcycles. It offers a perfect balance of traction, grip, stability, and other qualities that you wait from Michelin tires. The only disadvantage is that you will probably need an extension kit to achieve the needed clearance.


PROS:
  • Meticulously designed for H-D;
  • Excellent grip independently from conditions;
  • No control change in different temperatures;
  • Wears-off evenly;
  • Up to 5 years of great performance.
CONS:
  • It usually requires an extension kit.

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2. Dunlop American Elite Front Tire MH90-21 – Best Tires for Heritage Softail Front Wheel

Dunlop American Elite Front Motorcycle Tire MH90-21 (54H)...
  • Only replacement motorcycle tire for Harley-Davidson motorcycles which is designed in America, tested in America and made in America.
  • All new Dunlop American Elite replacement tire line ensures that industry-leading Dunlop Tires will be on your Harley-Davidson motorcycles for years to come.
  • Dunlop's decades-long engineering experience with Harley-Davidson motorcycles is the foundation for the all-new American Elite line of replacement tires.
  • All-new tread design provides even tread wear and quiet operation in all conditions wet and dry.
  • Sidewall design proudly features the American Elite name and made in the USA logo.
Dunlop is a famous racing tire manufacturer, so you may expect their tires to be durable and applicable for sporty riding styles. Their tires are usually the top competitors of Michelin products, so it’s important to consider the difference. I tell you about it in the buyer’s guide section at the bottom. These tires are fully made in the USA.

An MH90-21 front tire is an excellent option for most Softail Harleys, including Heritage Softail. In my opinion, it offers the best handling characteristics for this motorcycle. The manufacturer suggests this model as a cruising solution, and I cannot disagree. This from tire has a speed rating of 208 km (H) and an enhanced multi-tread tire compound that boosts longevity and mileage. It’s a bit noisier than the Michelin’s compound, but also can potentially serve longer.

The diameter of the tire is 21”, while the width is 80. This means that you can install it on the vast majority of Softail motorcycles, including CVO Softail Springer FXSTSSE 2007 and Heritage Softail suggested by the manufacturer. I cannot say that this tire has serious advantages or drawbacks compared to the Michelin alternative. Both offer superior quality, but the feel is a bit different.


PROS:
  • Made and tested in the US;
  • Universal 80 width;
  • 208 km (H) speed rating;
  • Excellent handling;
  • Extra-longevity tread technology.
CONS:
  • Can be a bit noisy sometimes.

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3. Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Rear Tire – Longest Lasting Cruiser Motorcycle Tire

Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Rear Tire (180/55-18)
  • High mileage tire for V-twin cruisers and heavy touring motorcycles.
  • The ME 888 Marathon Ultra - also known as the "Triple Eight" - does not replace the established ME 880, it merely provides a supplement for riders who value high mileage.
  • Ultra-high mileage.
  • Outstanding tread life (up to 50% more mileage) Metzeler combined with performance and handling.
  • Custom designed for touring bikes.
Metzeler is a company with over 120 years of experience in the motorcycle industry. The company is historically based in Germany and keeps producing tires on German factories to provide the highest quality possible.

ME888 Marathon Ultra Rear Tire is one of the best options for touring motorcycles, including your H-D Softail model. It’s important to consider that this tire is also one of the widest available options for touring Softails and always requires an extension kit or a compatible spacer to provide the required ⅛” clearance. You can either order a 180 or a 200 edition, depending on your liking. The width also affects the speed rating. Both

Due to the patented cross-tread design, this tire offers around 50% more mileage than average city tires. I’d not recommend violating the rule of thumb and replace these tires not often enough anyway. My experience shows that 5-6 years or 9-11 thousand miles are guaranteed. One of my friends used these so long because he forgot to replace them on time. When he came to my garage, the treads were still good enough for safe touring.


PROS:
  • German quality tires;
  • Great value for touring;
  • 180 and 200 editions;
  • For both light and heavy touring.
CONS:
  • It always requires an extension kit.

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4. Bridgestone Excedra G850 Cruiser Rear Tire – Top Rated Motorcycle Tires for Cruisers

Bridgestone Excedra G850 Cruiser Rear Motorcycle Tire...
  • Performance radials designed for high performance cruisers, offer solid performance and high mileage
  • Silica enriched compound offers exceptional level of grip on both wet and dry surfaces
  • Kevlar mono-spiral belt construction offer high speed stability and improved shock absorption
  • Applications for V-Rod, Mean Streak, Roadstar Warrior and VTX1800
  • 200/50ZR17 Size utilizes steel belt in place of kevlar
Bridgestone is a Japanese tire manufacturer with headquarters in Belgium. The company has been one of the leading motorsport tire suppliers for 90 years already. The founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, has been a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame since 2006.

Excedra G850 is a high-quality rear cruising tire that’s designed to deal with heavy cruisers by Harley Davidson and other manufacturers. This model has a radial tubeless construction and a black sidewall.

Altogether, these features provide extended mileage for long and regular journeys. If you ride your Softail around the city more often, then you will enjoy the patented silica-enriched compound. The material offers excellent grip on both wet and dry surfaces without significant extra wear-off. It also may reduce the stopping time of your bike, depending on its weight. For better stability on top speeds and extra shock absorption, the construction includes a kevlar spiral belt.

Before installing the tire, mind that it’s 180 wide and 25.8” in diameter, so your machine should be prepared for that. Not all Softail models can be adjusted for this pair, so be attentive with your measurements. It’s not a universal fit, but definitely a worthy tire with excellent user rating.


PROS:
  • Patented silica-enriched compound;
  • Excellent grip on the dry and wet road;
  • Kevlar mono-spiral belt for improved shock absorption;
  • High mileage.
CONS:
  • Limited Softail compatibility.

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5. Avon Tire Cobra Chrome Front – One of The Best Tires for Harley Touring & Cruising

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Avon Tire Cobra Chrome Front Tire (120/70-21)
  • The Avon Cobra Chrome offers premium performance and a stylish Cobra themed design.
  • Unique Tire Design with Detailed Aesthetic Features - Bespoke snake skin appearance and embossed Cobra head logo.
  • Excellent Wet Braking and Stability - Enhanced compounds and new construction deliver improved stopping distances in wet braking tests.
  • High Stability in All Conditions Delivering Precise Feel and Tire Feedback - Avon's latest tech pattern and advanced construction produces over a 5% larger tire footprint compare to Avon Cobra.
  • Tire Specifications:Load / speed rating: 68V.Recommended rim (inches): 3.50.Rim size min / max (inches): 2.75 - 3.75.Outer width (inches/mm): 5.0 / 120.Outer diameter (inches/mm): 28.0 / 709.Tread depth (mm): 5.0.Note: Reinforced.
Avon tires have been highly competitive on the worldwide motorcycle market since 1904. This British company is famous for producing virtually all types of motorcycle tires for the majority of brands. Avon Cobra has been a popular tire model for several years. In 2019, the Avon updated it to Cobra Chrome by the Australian subsidiary, Pro Accessories. While the previous generation was excellent, the new one is even better.

Cobra Chrome front tire is a 120mm unit with V speed rating and 21’’ rim diameter. Compared to the previous Cobra design, this one has a 5% larger tire footprint. Due to this, you will experience a better grip and precise cornering feel. Actually, these tires are great not only for cruising but for intense circuit racing as well. One of my clients is using them on his enlightened Street Rod for racing, and he’s totally satisfied with the precision.

If you want the tire for your heavier cruising Softail, you will benefit too. The construction is strengthened with Aramid belts concentrated in the middle for slower wear-off. Due to this, the tire can take a constant load of 660lbs. Nevertheless, the contact area remains soft enough for smooth lean-over deformations.

The traditional central grove was removed and replaced with a more sporty chevron-like tread that boosts your agility on the road. All that being said, you can assume that this tire is a good choice for a more aggressive driving style. The downside of excellent control is lower mileage and a bit faulty wet weather grip because of the central grove abandonment.


PROS:
  • Excellent for cruising and racing;
  • Sporty precision;
  • Fast stopping on a wet track;
  • Superb cornering.
CONS:
  • A bit reduced average mileage (depends on your style).

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6. Continental ContiMotion Sport/Touring Motorcycle Rear – Best for Price-Conscious

Continental ContiMotion Sport/Touring Motorcycle Tire Rear...
  • Brand new concept radial for the entry level market
  • Safe and reliable feedback on both dry and wet roads
  • Value for money mileage due to new formulated polymers in the compound
  • 0° Steel-belt construction on the rear for excellent stability and ride comfort
Continental is a leading German tire manufacturer that sells some of the most cost-efficient tires. Due to this, the company conquers new markets every year and remains the best-selling Europe tire supplier and #4 supplier in the US.

ContiMotion series costs a bit less than the majority of top-quality options for Harley-Davidson. However, Michelin and Dunlop’s quality and features are on a similar level as the best tires. This tire is designed for the entry-level and average cruising loads. The construction is strengthened with steel belts that provide satisfying stability of high speeds and soft feel on corners.

This 180mm/17’’-rim tire has a W speed rating. Along with universal weather capabilities, these characteristics make it a good choice for street bikes and cruiser / touring Softail Harleys. If you’re not a sporty rider or you ride occasionally, this tire will please you with durability and control. If you need something closer to sports performance, look for other models.


PROS:
  • Cost-efficient model;
  • Stable steel-belt construction;
  • Good cornering;
  • Reliable for cruising.
CONS:
  • Not for aggressive riding style;
  • Not very high mileage.

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7. Michelin Scorcher 11 Rear 240/40R-18 (79V) – Best Wide Tire for Softail Breakout

Michelin Scorcher 11 Harley-Davidson Rear Motorcycle Tire...
  • Original equipment on these Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with approved fitments for additional model years: Sportster SuperLow, V-Rod Muscle and V-Rod Night Rod Special.
  • Excellent tread life derived from Michelin's championship-winning race tires, newly developed rubber compounds combine durability and high performance.
  • Precise handling the latest generation of Michelin radial technology allows for easy maneuverability and impressive agility.
You already know that the Scorcher series by Michelin is a top option for your cruising needs. Scorcher 11 Rear 240 is much wider than the previous Scorcher model on my listing. Due to this aspect, combined with the original compound’s excellent grip, the 240 model provides extremely stable performance even at the top speed. It also improves your motorcycle’s agility on the highway due to the larger and a bit softer contact patch.

Scorcher 11 is a modification of a professional racing tire optimized for civil usage and higher mileage. I recommend you try it if you ride a CVO Softail Breakout, or you’re ready to adjust your bike for the 240mm rim width. As for me, the result is really worth it, but it’s not the easiest way.


PROS:
  • Boosted durability;
  • Superior agility of high speeds;
  • Polymer rubber compounds;
  • Fast water evacuation through deep treads.
CONS:
  • Too large for the majority of Softails.

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8. Dunlop Harley-Davidson D402 Rear – Best Whitewall Front Tire for Softail

Dunlop D402 Rear Motorcycle Tire MU85B-16 (77H) Wide White...
  • The D402 is the only tire approved by Harley-Davidson for its touring bikes.
  • Built with a three-ply polyester casing with two fiberglass belts, the D402 offers greater load-carrying capacity and stability.
  • Computer-optimized tread profile with offset center groove improves rider confidence over rain grooves and steel-grated bridges, while reducing cupping for even wear.
D402 by Dunlop is a Harley-approved touring tire for Softail and other H-D motorcycles of similar configuration. It features a unique tread design that combines classic Dunlop tread pattern with mini-treads for additional grip on the highway.

The pattern was computer-optimized to let you achieve the most predictable and reliable handling. The higher number of grids also helps to disperse water to the edges faster and strengthen the grip on wet roads.

The construction is strengthened by heavy-duty fiberglass belts built-into a 3-ply polyester casing. As a result, the tire can handle heavy loads during long rides without wearing off too fast. It’s also a stylish solution if your Softail looks good with white tire walls. This 130/70-18 front tire can become your best touring partner for years. If you don’t like the white walls, you can order the same model with black and slimmer white walls.


PROS:
  • 3 coloring options;
  • Amazing grip and durability for touring;
  • Computer-optimized treads;
  • Feels great on the wet road.
CONS:
  • White walls are not for everyone.

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9. Shinko 777 Front Tire – Whitewall – Excellent Heavy-Duty Cruiser Tires

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Shinko 777 Front Tire - Whitewall (120/70-21 Reinforced)
  • Specifically designed for cruiser machines and is available in a multitude of sizes to fit many V-twin and metric cruiser models.Higher mileage and load capacity.Tread compound designed for a great combination of traction and mileage.Directional tread pat
  • (Heavy Duty) version with reinforced carcass available in select sizes.H-rated tubeless, 4-ply rated.DOT approved.Whitewall version.Tire Specifications:Load / speed index: 68H.Recommended rim (inches): 3.50.Overall diameter (inches): 27.60.Overall width (
Shinko has been a leading Japanese bicycle tire manufacturer since 1946. In 1998, the company purchased Yokohama Rubber Co. Now the company has a powerful motorcycle tire manufacturing base in South Korea.

Shinko 777 is a tire designed specifically for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and offers excellent cruising capabilities. The 120/70-21 Reinforced model that I tested features heavy-duty construction with Aramid belts and has a V speed rating and 68H load index. It can deal with heavy-load cruising without any problems.

The only issue that you may face is the yellowness of the whitewall. If you cannot clean the yellow tint off the tire, I recommend you get an SOS Pad or white shoe polish if SOS doesn’t help. The manufacturer also offers special whitewall paint, but it’s more expensive and must be applied very carefully. The tire looks badass for its price, so I don’t think it’s too bad. Overall, it’s a nice tire for the price. Use it for all cruising needs and enjoy smooth speeding and predictable handling.


PROS:
  • Excellent handling on wet and dry road;
  • Reinforced construction;
  • For heavy-load cruising;
  • Cost-effective model.
CONS:
  • The whitewall may get yellow quite early.

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10. Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Rear 180/55ZR-17 – Best for Race-Like Handling

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55ZR-17...
  • Bi-compound with wide side soft stripe offering full grip starting from mid lean angle.
  • Large footprint area for improved adherence.
  • High performance Silica compounds create a wide range of 'operative temperature' for optimal grip in all conditions.
  • WSBK derived profile produces race-like handling and fast going into lean.
  • Flash' racing tread pattern generates uniform wear and performace consistency.
Pirelli Tires has over 100 years of experience in manufacturing motorcycle and car tires for top racing leagues, including Formula 1. The company has a dedicated factory for the US internal market, so it provides excellent quality for reasonable prices (as cross-Atlantic shipping isn’t required).

Diablo Rosso 3 rear tire is a premium-quality item that’s made with elite motorsport in mind. The tire is made of a high-quality silica compound that offers racing-level grip in any conditions, including cold rainy days. Due to the WSBK profile, you can go into lean quickly and safely. The softer Bi-compound stripe on the side adds grip when you go into mid lean or lower.

Choose this tire if you want a more sporty feeling with ultra-precise cornering and convenience for high-speed maneuvers. The only downside of a strong-grip Pirelli tire is a bit faster wear-off compared to classic cruising tires.


PROS:
  • Racing precision;
  • Extra grip on the sides for leaning;
  • Race-type treads;
  • Wide range of operative temperatures.
CONS:
  • Wears off a bit faster than cruising designs.

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How to Choose The Best Tires for Harley Davidson Softail

2018 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM

The tires on your Softail, similarly to any other bike, are amongst the most important components as they’re responsible for the smoothness of the ride, the time needed for full stopping, the noise levels, and more. Below are the most important things that you should consider choosing the right tires for your precious Softail.

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Size

The standard width of a Softail tire is 130, but many owners install wider rare tires. Depending on your Softail model, the rare tire width can be extended up to 180. To make sure that you can do it safely, you should check out the clearance from the bet to the tire you want to install. It must be at least ⅛”. If the tire is larger than 150, you’ll probably need an extension kit or a spacer. It’s also important to remember that some brands offer different width under the same number. For instance, Dunlop’s rare 150 can appear to be wider than Metzler 150. Use a conversion chart to be precise.

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Construction: Tubes vs. Tubeless

Tires with tubes are needed to maintain proper pressure if you have rims with spokes. If your motorcycle has rims without spokes (usually stock rims), you’d better get tuneless belted tires. Avoid using unproven sealing kits as it’s not worth the risk.

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Material

The vast majority of modern tires are made of roughly 70% synthetic rubber and 30% of carbon black combined with a variety of chemicals that define characteristics of the product. Every brand offers a more or less unique compound. You should look for the one that can provide your Softail with the best longevity, touring capabilities, shortest stopping time, easiest cornering, and other benefits.

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Michelin vs. Dunlop motorcycle tires

Michelin is famous for inventing radial tires back in 1948. The company has improved it a lot since then. It offers a superior-quality tire compound with a longevity guarantee. The only drawback is that they can be noisy from time to time. This mainly depends on the weather. That’s it. I haven’t faced any problems with Michelin tires over the years, so I can recommend them not only for Softail but for any other Harley model.

Dunlop is another manufacturer with over 100 years of experience in making motorcycle and racing tires. The key feature of their tires is a patented dog-bone tread. They use a softer tire compound than Michelin to achieve a smoother, quieter ride and better cornering, but the drawback of this feature is a faster wear-off.

If you want to find tires that are quiet, smooth, heavy-duty, and corner well, you’d better get one set for summer and one for the winter season. Otherwise, you will notice drawbacks from time to time, depending on the conditions.

Both manufacturers are amongst deserved leaders of the market and offer some of the best motorcycle tires, so you should decide which one is the best for your particular demands. Read the reviews above attentively to make the right choice.

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Conclusion

2018 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL

Have you read attentively? I hope so! Now you’re ready to make a well-considered choice and order a pair of the best tires on the market. It seems that I included everything you should know. Do you have some questions? If it happens that you still have questions, use the comments section to ask me a question.

I will try to reply as soon as possible. I’ll also be happy to see comments about your experience of using either the models from my listing of tires for Harley Davidson Softail or from your collection. For more tips and reviews, stay tuned to YourMotoBro.com!

Bruce was born in Atlanta. He started riding motorcycles when he was 10 and has been passionate about them since. Bruce says he feels absolute freedom when he’s on two wheels. He prefers riding his bike slowly and smoothly along a country road and hardly ever enjoys wildly speedy rides. With a strong Ducati Multistrada 1200 in the current stable, Bruce enjoys his super powerful, comfortable and easy rides. Ducati Diavel is the beast he’s currently dreaming about...

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