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Why are Motorcycle Tires So Expensive? (7 Exclusive Reasons)

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As a motorcycle rider, you probably must have considered the price of buying motorcycle tires at one point in time. Why are motorcycle tires so expensive is a common question among riders, and this has baffled a lot of people.

In this guide, I want to try as much as possible to answer the crux of the matter. To get a full understanding of why motorcycle tires are so expensive, we will look at the materials used for manufacturing motorcycle tires and the engineering process behind motorcycle tires to see if they could be the cause of the higher price tag of these rubbers.

Furthermore, we will consider other economic and geographic factors that could be behind the high cost of motorcycle tires.

Before I go on, below is a chart of some of the best motorcycle tires I recommend for motorcycle enthusiasts:

ProductCategoryCheck & Shop Now
MICHELIN ROAD 6 TIRESBest All-Rounder TireRevZilla | Amazon
PIRELLI DIABLO ROSSO IV TIRESBest For Sport RidingRevZilla | Amazon
DUNLOP ROADSMART 4 TIRESBest for All-Weather PerformanceRevZilla | Amazon
METZELER SPORTEC M9 RR TIRESBest For TouringRevZilla | MotoSport
DUNLOP Q5 SPORTMAX TIRESBest For Aggressive CorneringRevZilla | Cycle Gear
PIRELLI ANGEL GT TIRESBest for MileageRevZilla | Amazon

Why are motorcycle tires so expensive

Materials Used for Manufacturing Motorcycle Tires

To answer the question, “Why are motorcycle tires so expensive?” It is necessary to consider what these products are made of to determine whether it is the reason why they are expensive.

So basically, tires are made from rubbers, chemicals, and other reinforcing materials. Let me break this down for easy understanding.

Rubber

Two types of rubbers are used for making motorcycle tires: Natural and synthetic rubbers. These compounds make up over 50% of the total constituents on tires. Most natural rubber is obtained from para rubber trees which are predominantly grown in tropical countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The properties that natural rubber brings to tires include durability and abrasion resistance.

As for synthetic, oil-based rubbers, they are usually obtained from manufacturers in Europe. The major property synthetic rubber brings to tires is heat-resistance properties.

Chemicals

A list of chemicals are mixed with rubber to offer a variety of unique properties to tires. Below are the major ones:

  • Carbon Black: This chemical is responsible for the black color of tires, and it also boosts the strength of rubber by reducing thermal damage, thus enhancing the tire’s life
  • Silica: This is another vital constituent of tires. This white powder is responsible for the wet grip property of tires, and it also delivers better fuel efficiency.

Other chemicals used in making tires include oil (to soften the rubber), sulfur (for elasticity), antioxidants (to delay tire aging and extend service life), and vulcanization accelerator (to build a cross-link between rubber and sulfur).

Reinforcing Materials

Lastly, construction materials are used to reinforce and protect tires, each offering unique properties. These materials include:

  • Polyester
  • Steel
  • Rayon

Looking at these materials for making tires, they are not scarce resources that could make the price of motorcycle tires shoot up. So, why are motorcycle tires so expensive? Could it be a result of the process behind the production of these tires? Let’s briefly consider how tires are produced.

Tools & Supplies

The motorcycle tools and supplies I recommend provide a perfect balance of affordability and unwavering quality, ensuring the utmost value for your investment. These are items I've become well-acquainted with during my more than 50 years of motorcycling experience, where I've led and consulted for reputable companies in over 25 countries, in addition to being an avid rider.

The Engineering Process Behind Motorcycle Tires

Let’s see if the tire production process will answer the question, “Why are motorcycle tires so expensive.” Below is the process of producing motorcycle tires:

Mixing and Heating

The first stage is the mixing stage. All the materials needed for production are mixed and heated at a temperature of about 248 degrees Fahrenheit or 120 degrees Celsius.

Now, the constituent mixture can vary from manufacture to manufacture, and the mixture is also dependent on the intended use and model of the tire. The rubber compound used in a winter tire will be different from that of a summer tire, etc.

This is the point where some of the top manufacturers display their expertise and years of experience in producing specific tires meant for special purposes.

Manufacturing and Assembly Stage

At this stage, assembly machines are needed to assemble the components into green tires. For clarity, green tires are tires that have all the components assembled together but haven’t been cured or had the treads added yet.

Vulcanizing Stage

The green tires are vulcanized in curing presses. This is done by conducting high steam pressure into the curing pad inside the curing press. This process presses the elastic green tire against the tread pattern and side texts inside the molds, thus giving the tire its final appearance.

Inspection Stage

A visual and machine inspection are carried out on the final product. The visual inspection is to double-check that there are no faults or defects in the appearance of the tire. For machine inspection, the machine measures the pattern, radial throw, and lateral force variation of the tire. When this is completed, the tire will be tested, labeled, and moved to the warehouse for delivery.

Now, while this may look simple on paper, there is far more engineering process that goes into the production of a tire than for car or truck tires. Also, with less tire patch on the ground, more needs to be done to ensure that the little patch of the tire continues to stay connected to the road.

But generally, the materials and manufacturing processes of car and motorcycle tires are almost the same. Therefore, there must be other reasons (other than materials and manufacturing process) to the question of why are motorcycle tires so expensive.

Why are Motorcycle Tires so Expensive

Why are Motorcycle Tires so Expensive? (A Run Through)

Having gone through the materials and the process involved in manufacturing motorcycle tires, here’s a run-through of why motorcycle tires are so expensive:

1. Market Size

The limited market for motorcycle tires is a factor that contributes to high prices. Using the U.S. as an example, there are only about 9 million registered motorcycles compared to almost 300 million registered cars in the country. Since the economy of scale isn’t favorable to motorcycle tire manufacturers, there is a high production cost per unit, which in turn affects the price of tires.

2. Manufacturing Process

Although the manufacturing processes for car and motorcycle tires are similar, motorcycle tires require a specialized production process due to their small size, specific rubber compounds, and unique shape. This could affect production costs and in turn, raise the price in the market.

3. Motorcycles are Considered Luxury Items in Some Countries

In some parts of the world such as the US and Europe, some riders see motorcycles as luxury items. Of course, as you know, luxury items always come with a higher price tag.

4. The Fear of Riding on Just Two Tires

Unlike cars with four tires that you can easily maneuver if something goes wrong, the outcome could be fatal with a motorcycle due to its two tires. Therefore, every rider wants peace of mind and is ready to pay premium prices for these machines.

5. Brand and Quality

Just as we have expensive motorcycle tires, it is important to know that there are also cheap tires sold in the market. The brand and quality of tires can significantly affect their price. Premium brands often come with a higher price tag due to their reputation for producing high-performance and durable tires.

6. Special Features

Some motorcycle tires come with special features such as enhanced grip in wet conditions, longer tread life, or special design for specific types of riding like touring, off-road, etc. These extra features can lead to a high cost of tires.

7. Buying from a Dealer

Buying from a dealer can also affect the price of motorcycle tires. If possible, you should consider buying from an independent shop or shopping online unless the dealer can match or beat internet prices. Get the kit and watch videos on YouTube on how to get the wheels off yourself and locate a shop close to you where the wheels can be swapped.

These seven points above one way or the other contribute to the exorbitant price of motorcycle tires.

Why are Some Motorcycle Tires More Expensive than Others?

Why are some motorcycle tires more expensive than others? I believe this is a general rule that applies to almost all commodities. The amount of time, effort, technology, and materials used for some tires are superior to others, hence, the huge margin in price. You actually get what you paid for.

Another thing that can make some tires more expensive than others is the brand name and reputation. Over the years, some top motorcycle tire brands such as Michelin, Dunlop, Metzeler, etc., have been able to give riders a reasonable level of trust in their products. People don’t mind paying more as long as they know their safety is guaranteed.

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Are the Most Expensive Motorcycle Tires the Best in the Market?

I know that a higher price does not always mean higher quality, but I’d rather spend the extra money on a proven quality tire brand for my motorcycle. Hopefully, this will reduce my chances of having a catastrophic tire failure while riding.

If you are just a commuter traveling 5 to 10 miles a day at low speed and don’t do any other riding outside of that, sure, get the cheaper tires. But if you venture out into the distance on highways and back roads for miles upon miles, you should put the best rubber you can on your bike.

Why are motorcycle tires so expensive

Motorcycle Front and Rear Tires: Which is More Expensive and Why?

Generally, the front tire for a motorcycle is typically priced slightly higher than rear tires, and there are reasons for that.

1. Complex Design: Front tires are engineered to offer superior grip and stability, especially during braking maneuvers. Achieving this requires advanced tread patterns and specialized rubber compounds, which can increase manufacturing costs.

2. Weight Distribution: Motorcycles place a greater load on the front wheel due to the presence of the engine, rider, and other components. Consequently, front tires often require reinforcement or stronger materials, adding to their production expenses.

3. Research and Development: Manufacturers allocate significant resources to the development of front tire technologies as they directly influence the motorcycle’s handling and safety. The expenses associated with research and development are reflected in the pricing of these tires.

While it is true that front tires tend to be pricier than rear tires, the difference in cost is usually modest.

Michael’s Summary and Conclusion

So, why are motorcycle tires so expensive? Considering what goes into motorcycle tire production and other market factors, I still do not think motorcycle tires are so expensive for what they offer. Instead, I believe the installation cost of motorcycle tires is what seems higher to me, and even at that, the price is justifiable, considering the amount of time and effort it takes to mount and balance these rubbers.

There are still cheaper tires being sold in different markets around the world. However, if you want tires from premium brands with excellent reputations, you should expect to spend some more on them. As a rider, as long as your safety is in order, price tags shouldn’t stop you from getting the best for yourself.

AGVSPORT Knee and Body Armor

I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!

Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and nonprofit organizations:

Ni/JO

About the Author:

About the Author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America. In total, he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. He has also served as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. For over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

Click Here for Michael’s LinkedIn Profile

Click Here for the Complete AGV Helmet & AGVSPORT History

Click Here for All AGV Sports Group Social Media Information

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