ABR’s resident expert of all things two-wheeled answers your questions.
It’s my intention to use my Triumph Tiger through the winter. My question is, what tyre do I use? On my car, I have a set of all-season tyres that are suitable for year-round use. I’ve also previously used full winter tyres on a car. Are there suitable bike tyres for winter use?
It’s a good question. I’ve searched around and there aren’t many. There may be more available in countries where winter weather is treated more seriously than here in the UK.
The problem with UK availability is importers are less keen to fill a warehouse with unsold tyres that will be difficult to shift as they age. The only make that I’ve used is the Heidenau K60. This is available as a winter-spec tyre and it’s very good. A name I’ve also found is Anlas, which does full winter-spec tyres, but the range is a bit limited.
So, what is the difference between a winter and summer type of tyre?
Summer tyres have to operate and supply grip in quite a range of temperatures, with tread to shift water when the inevitable rain starts. Winter tyres are more designed to operate at low temperatures, usually below 7C. The compound of a winter tyre has a high silica content which lets it work in the cold.
Metzeler Tourance Next tyres have a higher silica content than some others. I’m sure most tyres produced for adventure bikes would be similar. I think that to go with a good adventure spec tyre from a top manufacturer would be the best option. If it’s icy, nothing will grip unless your tyre is studded, but that’s not legal in the UK. A good aggressive treaded adventure tyre should be able to cope with deepish snow, but maybe the best option would be to leave it in the shed on those days, though where’s the fun in that?
So, where are we with this? Fit a good pair of tyres just before the bad weather hits to give the maximum grip in the conditions. Maybe lower the pressures by about 20%. This helps the tyre warm up a little quicker and spreads the load over a wider footprint.
The other consideration in winter riding is punctures. When the roads are wet, a nail or screw is lubricated by the water, this makes penetration easier. It’s best to carry a puncture repair kit or an aerosol of puncture fluid. Or, even install something like Slime tyre sealant when fitting new tyres. Make sure you only use the manufacturer’s recommended amount though or it can affect wheel balance. My winter riding tip is a vacuum flask of Bovril… It’s the best internal heating for me.