Why Are Motorcycle Tires So Expensive? (Explained)
Motorcycle tires are among the biggest recurring expenses for motorcycle owners.
However, it does not take long for most owners to notice that motorcycle tires are seemingly more expensive than other types of tires. This is why many riders will want to know if it is normal for them to pay more for their motorcycle tires.
Why are motorcycle tires expensive? Motorcycle tires are more expensive to engineer, design, and make, which drives manufacturing costs up. The smaller size of the market also keeps motorcycle tires more expensive compared to the tires used on other motor vehicles. On top of that, motorcycle tires can take longer to install, which increases labor costs.
Over the years, I have seen that the prices of motorcycle tires can vary a lot. And if you have a motorcycle of your own, it will not be long before you have to buy a new set of tires.
So why are motorcycle tires so expensive?
What makes motorcycle tires expensive?
Manufacturing and Engineering
Motorcycle tires are not easy to make, and they are not just a little piece of rubber wrapped around the rim. Often tires will go through several different stages before they end up on one’s wheels.
Overall, a lot of materials, engineering, development, and considerations go into making a good motorcycle tire. Motorcycle tires are very different from car tires. They are also trickier to make—this inevitably raises production costs.
Motorcycle tires are designed to have a curved profile. The curved profile is needed for the motorcycle to corner, which not only means that the tire will be subjected to higher and different forces (compared to a car tire) but also that it will have less contact with the ground.
The less contact means less grip and traction, so the tire needs to be designed with that in mind. This is why motorcycle tires need to be made from a rubber compound with a higher coefficient of friction.
The size of the market
One of the first reasons why motorcycle tires are more expensive is due to the law of supply and demand. The market for motorcycles is significantly smaller compared to other motor vehicles like cars, for example.
The smaller market means there is less demand, and fewer tires are sold as a total. This is one of the main reasons why motorcycle tires can end up being, on average, more expensive.
If you change the tires on your motorcycle by yourself, you will pay for the tires alone. However, most riders will have their tires changed at their local shop or dealer. This means that they are paying for labor costs as well.
Tire change and alignment on a motorcycle will normally take more time than it would on a car. If most experienced mechanics need, on average one, hour to change and align the four tires on a car, changing and aligning the two tires on a motorcycle can take between one to three hours in some instances.
This means that despite the fewer tires purchased, the labor costs will increase. This is why the cost of tires and labor costs should be viewed as two separate things.
The cost of changing the tires will include the removing, mounting, and balancing of the tires, including disposal fees as well. Generally, you can expect to pay between $20 to $125 for labor costs per tire, depending on whether we are talking about carry-in service or ride-in service.
If you buy your motorcycle tires from the shop, they will often offer to mount them on your motorcycle. The amount they will charge you varies from place to place. Typically if you buy your tires from the shop, they can mount them for you either for free or charge you up to $100 in certain instances.
See article: How much does it cost to change tires on a motorcycle?
Let’s not forget that there can also be included taxes, import duties, and even liability insurance costs in the price of a motorcycle tire.
Usually, motorcycle tires cannot be purchased directly from the manufacturer, so most consumers have to go through a third party.
How much do the different types of motorcycle tires cost?
Much like how the different types of motorcycles can cost differently, so do the different types of motorcycle tires. So how much does the price of motorcycle tires vary according to their type? Let’s take a look.
- Touring motorcycle tires cost between $35 and $560.
- Sport motorcycle tires cost between $60 and $450.
- Cruiser motorcycle tires cost between $10 and $560.
- Dual sport motorcycle tires cost between $15 and $360.
- Dirt bike tires cost between $15 and $300.
- Race tires cost between $40 and $450.
- Supermoto tires cost between $100 and $300.
- Vintage motorcycle tires cost between $10 and $300.
- Scooter tires cost between $25 and $370.
- Motorcycle tubes cost between $7 and $200.
MotoGP tires, for example, can cost at least a few thousand dollars in certain cases, with rumors being that prices can go up to $5,000 per set of new tires.
The prices listed are market averages and denote single tire prices. These prices do vary and can change depending on various factors, nonetheless, they are good ballpark ranges that can be used as a guide.
Are motorcycle tires really that expensive?
Let’s compare the price of motorcycle tires and car tires.
Motorcycle tires cost between $10 to $600 each. On average, motorcyclists will spend between $200 to $550 on a set of new tires.
The prices of motorcycle tires will vary wildly depending on their quality, whether it is a front or a rear tire, and depending on seasonal sales and discounts.
On the other hand, car tires can cost between $50 and $200 each. Most car drivers will spend, on average, between $320 to $600 on a set of car tires.
The tires for SUVs and pickup trucks can be even more expensive, going up to $350 each with an average cost for a full set of tires between $400 to $1,000.
You can see that buying a full set of tires for a motorcycle on average should not be more expensive than buying a full set of tires for a car. But there is something more that makes motorcycle tires more expensive that should be noted, and it is not the price of the tires—it is a simple fact that motorcycle tires wear out faster and are changed more frequently.
Motorcycle tires, compared to other motor vehicle tires, are not significantly more expensive. However, motorcycle tires wear out fast, which forces motorcyclists to change their tires more often. Buying motorcycle tires more frequently drives expenses up for motorcycle owners and makes it seem like motorcycle tires are more expensive.
Car tires generally are expected to last between 50,000 to 75,000 miles. In comparison, motorcycle tires (including moped tires) will usually last about 2,500 to 17,000 miles.
This means that if you spend $500 on a set of four car tires and get 60,000 miles for the same mileage, you may have to go through 4 to 20 sets of motorcycle tires. (Not forgetting that the rear and front tires are usually not changed at the same time.) Despite the lower price of a set of motorcycle tires, you can end up paying, on average, between $1,400 to $7,000 for that same 60,000 miles.
See article: Why do motorcycle tires wear out so fast?
Naturally, this raises the question of whether it is really worth it to spend more on motorcycle tires, and are cheaper motorcycle tires really that bad?
Are more expensive tires worth it?
Riders commuting at low speeds for no more than a few miles a day on well-maintained city roads can do well with cheaper tires. However, for riders who are traveling longer distances, frequently ride at higher speeds, and go on highways or back roads, higher quality tires are worth it.
A higher-quality motorcycle tire can literally be lifesavers as they can significantly improve the motorcycle’s handling and behavior on the road or terrain.
The general rule of thumb is to always go with the manufacturer’s recommended type of tires or higher quality.
However, the saying “You get what you pay for.” is in full force when it comes to motorcycle tires.
That being said, just because a tire is more expensive does not mean it is worth buying. Some of the mid-priced motorcycle tires may be more than enough for normal riding habits and will fit the needs of the majority of riders. All that is to say, that while you don’t want to buy the cheapest motorcycle tires, you may not really need to buy the most expensive either.
As long as the tires you are using are the right tires for your motorcycle and are made of quality materials, they are good. Quality is more important than price. There can be found quality motorcycle tires that are not necessarily the most expensive ones on the market.
Looking into how the tires are made, designed, the materials used is necessary, and ultimately, you should choose tires that you are comfortable with.