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I'm looking to get new tires on my motorcycle and picked out different brands for front and rear. Both are radial tires. I didn't think this was a problem until a friend mentioned it to be a terrible idea.

Is buying a rear tire of a different brand than the front a bad idea if buying them at the same time?

  • What type of bike? (Scooter/dirt/road/sport/race) What type of riding? (Commuting/touring/racing). What conditions? Always wet/dry/hot/cold/gravel/tar – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 19 '16 at 7:00
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    I understand how My Bike is relevant to my situation but this is more of a general question. The best answer would explain why what you're looking to clarify matters. I have a 2009 sfv650 that I commute on during the week in a warm dry place and occasionally ride some twisty roads a little out of the city – user23102 Oct 19 '16 at 17:18
  • So given the info above I would say brand will make zero difference. If you had answered dirt/adventure bike there is a lot more room for variation. In an extreme case you could have road tyre in the front and an MX tyre on the year or vice versa. An MX rear would be terrible on the road, and the road would be terrible off road. Again this more about type of tyre, not brand. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 19 '16 at 21:59
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Different brands shouldnt be a problem at all. I've had different brands and patterns on all my bikes. Currently my KTM (640 Adventure) has a Dunlop 606 front and Mitas E07 rear.

I choose different brands and patterns based upon the performance and life I want. Im happy to accept a shorter life for better grip in the front and longer life with less grip on the rear. Thats just my preference.

Edit: Adventure riding is a mix of on and off road. I have a road biased rear which lasts longer but has less grip on gravel/dirt/clay.

On a road bike I would say it would make sense that they are a similar type so they have comparible levels of grip in the wet.

More importantly as the owner/rider you need to be comfortable and familiar with how the tyres behave in different conditions.

Unless you're riding at the extreme limit of your tyres (ie racing) I doubt brands will make any difference at all.

Matching tyres on a car are more significant because under severe braking different brand/patterns with different levels if grip can make the car pull left or right. On a bike that is not a consideration.

To illustrate the counter point with a ridiculous extreme: you could have completely mismatched tyres from the same manufacturer. Would the brand matter?

To reiterate my point. You need the right TYPE of tyre for your bike and the riding you do, that suits your riding style and preferences.

If you put an expensive high performance tyre on one end and cheap rubbish on the other and have an accident. Dont blame the brand. Blame your self for expecting cheap rubbish tyres to behave like a high performance tyre.

  • Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more and think this is largely ridiculous conjecture. Different tires will have different heating and slipping behavior. Stating that you don't need as much traction in the rear? I really question how much you ride since this tells me you've never had your back tire kick out in a hard lean. – justinm410 Oct 21 '16 at 17:30
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    I think 40+ bikes and 30+ years of real world riding experience on and off road qualifies my reply as more than ridiculous conjecture. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 21 '16 at 19:29
  • Oh yeah? I've watch no fewer than 43 motorcycle crash compilations on YouTube. Don't mind me. I'll go calm down. – justinm410 Oct 21 '16 at 19:32
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    Caused by different brands? – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 21 '16 at 19:33
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    Reposted to remove typos. Yes i have had tyres slide.( I do a lot of adventure riding. Sliding on dirt/gravel is common) If you are sliding because you are riding hard on cold tyres then (in my opinion) either youre at fault for exceeding the ability of the tyres you have chosen, or it is was an unsuitable tyre full stop. This has nothing to do with the BRAND of tyre on the other end of the bike as per OPs question. If this was about tyre selection thats a different matter. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 21 '16 at 22:46
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Front tires and rear tires, even from the same manufacturers, are very different from each other in tread pattern and width. On the other hand, the diameters are probably close to the same. As long as the diameters of the different brand are close, there is no problem if you get quality tires.

Keep in mind that some brands are purely that -- brands, not necessarily manufacturers. The name brands: Pirelli, Michelin, Bridgestone, to name a few, invest a lot of time and money into design and quality control for their own labels. While those same plants might be contracted for other brands, those companies are not necessarily going to perform the same level of quality control. When you get automobile tires, you have no idea whether your set of 4 came from the same plant unless you force the dealer to look at the codes on the tires.

The motorcycle tire market is a fraction the size of the automobile market, so the # of manufacturing plants of motorcycle tires is much smaller and less subject to variation. When you buy common brand moto tires, there's likely a common plant. And if you're looking for tires that are on sale, you shouldn't have a problem finding front and rear tires of the same brand.

It shouldn't be a problem to have different brands, but why do it, unless you're going Dark Side (aka, putting a small car tire on the rear ... yikes!!!)

  • Putting a car tire on would be like trying to wear seat belts on a motorcycle - double yikes! – spicetraders Oct 21 '16 at 19:34
  • There is a whole group of riders who use car tires on the back. that's why I capitalized Dark Side. See darkside.nwff.info – Bill N Oct 21 '16 at 19:38
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    Yes I know and I got ya on the fact they do. But they are with obvious disregard for the cornering force and camber thrust hence my logic of a seat belt being just as good an idea. For a pure drag bike cool. – spicetraders Oct 21 '16 at 19:48
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I have seen many times one tire replaced do to it wearing faster then the other tire.
My Road Glide has that issue right now one is ready for replacement but the other not. While I plan to replace both some will opt for just the one tire.
So if one tire only was replaced and they buy the same brand tire the year or twos difference in the tire market will like make for differences in that brands tire. Manufacturers have variations by year leading to mixing of tread patterns.
Some motorcycles do not have the same size tire front and back so this adds to differences in tires even is same brand. Take a look at the tread patterns of the Metzeler Tourance Combo or Michelin Commander II set with variations front to back.

From the technical side--
Front to rear wear is not even for every mile of riding.
Braking is not even.
Cornering pressures, foot print will vary front and rear and at different speeds.
This all changes drastically as you transition from Street Bikes (cruisers, sport bikes, touring, and scooters) to Dual Purpose to Off Highway.
At this point all supports that mixing of brands or mixing of brand models will basically not be a major detriment to your operation as long as your staying in the use type and size intended by the manufacturer for your motorcycle.

The one exception of this falls under the view of manufacture recommendations. The manufactures engineered their tires to work as a set so it is felt best performance is as that set. BASED ON REVZILLA TIRE GUIDE 101
But this can only be 100% on the specific motorcycles they tested and engineered the tire for.

Had found this LINK in the past, it has a very long discussion on motorcycle tires.

  • Agree with all youve said. And yes i think it makes sense on a road bike to have comparable tyres. However i am a bit suspicious of manufacturers insisting you should only use thier tyres as a pair or replacing both at the same time even if one still has some life left in it. Smells of revenue generation to me. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 22 '16 at 6:35
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Tires are the most important part of a motorcycle. It is not a bad idea to buy tires of different brands unless one of them is cheap or doesn't have the quality of the other.

Tires with different type of tread pattern may cause some difference in your bikes stability (Read this), just an opinion. Always buy the recommended size and type of tire by your motorcycle manufacturer.

Ride safe, wear a helmet.

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    Was liking some of the answer until I hit the "read this" the link is car tire treads no motorcycle treads showing. If it had shown street, track, dirt motorcycle treads and comparisons there, it would make a lot of sense. – spicetraders Oct 21 '16 at 15:14
  • I have changed the link. – devst3r Oct 24 '16 at 10:08
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As a tyre fitter years back and having owned several motorcycles. Brands don't make any difference. Provided the are both radial or xply. Mixing a radial and crossply is dangerous. As one is flexible and one is ridged . Brands do use different rubber compound for grip and wear . But the actual handle of the tyre is in it ply . 2ply 4ply 6ply and it's speed rating v s h . Be sure you keep the same ply on both front and rear and that both are radial or both cross ply . The higher the ply the more ridged the tyre but the less likely to get puncture.

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Not knowing (having proof) whether this will work well is good enough reason not to try it- assuming that we're talking about hard leans on a sport bike. If you're just cruising upright for 10k miles, it probably won't make a difference.

Unless a study (hard academic research down at the track) was done on your specific combination of tires I don't think you will find an answer... which should make it a bad idea.

Anti-answer.

  • Good point. I plan on commuting with the occasional weekend ride through some nearby canyons. Nothing too hard – user23102 Oct 14 '16 at 21:59

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