Big bikes are very much different from their small-displacement relatives. Not only do they produce more power—up to ten times as much, but they’re also physically bigger, and a lot sharper in terms of handling. Now, it’s often said that your tires are your bike’s most important component. In many cases, that’s very true, as they’re literally the only thing keeping your bike rolling.
Naturally, as technology advances, so too do our choices as consumers. This is especially true when it comes to performance tires, as they’ve certainly evolved a lot in the past few years. These days, tire technology from the world of racing has well and truly made its way into our production motorcycles. Nearly all premium bikes in the market come fitted with what are called multi-compound tires. Let’s take a closer look at multi-compound tires, and why they’ve become so ubiquitous in the world of big bikes.
What is a multi-compound tire?
Multi-compound tires are simple, really. As the name suggests, they feature different types of rubber compounds, in one tire. As you know, rubber adheres to the ground, but the degree to which it adheres depends on the hardness of the tire. Unlike a car tire, motorcycle tires lean from side-to-side when tackling corners. The sportiest motorcycles out there are capable of leaning close to 70 degrees at full tilt.
Naturally, this requires far more grip than if the bike was standing upright and going on a straight line. Conversely, if you were to put a super soft compound of rubber on the middle of the tire, it wouldn’t last long enough to be economical. What using multiple compounds does is optimize a tire’s performance for both longevity and performance.
What benefits do they offer?
Going into things in a little bit more detail, softer rubber compounds are often found closer to the edge of the tire, as these allow for more grip at the expense of reduced wear-resistance. This is all well and good as motorcycles don’t really spend as much time leaning over taking corners, than they do standing upright going in a straight line—well, most of the time, that is.
In fancier tires, you may even see three, even four different compounds, with the softest rubber at the edge of the tire, a medium compound towards the middle of the tire, and a hard compound right at the center. This is the case for high-end sport-touring tires which are meant to meet the demands of both long-distance riding, as well as sporty, spirited riding on twisty roads or even the circuit.
They're a bit pricey
Of course, with all this technology comes a drawback, and that’s cost. Multi-compound tires cost up to twice or thrice the price of economy single-compound rubber. For instance, a set of Bridgestone Battlax S22 hypersport tires can cost around P20,000 depending on the size. However, what you do get is optimized versatility that will last you a lot longer than a single compound tire, as well as more even wear across the entire contact patch. This means that you can enjoy your tires at peak performance for a longer period of time, and wear them down completely evenly.