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What Are Motorcycle Snow Tires?

What Are Motorcycle Snow Tires?

When riding a motorcycle in icy and snowy weather, it is important to have good road traction. Winter tires are necessary if you are planning to ride in snowy and icy conditions. These tires have long treads which cut through snow and maintain a strong grip on the road.

Here’s a look at the importance of snow tires, the difference between snow tires and regular tires, and the pros and cons of snow tires.

1. What Are Snow Tires?

What Are Snow Tires?

Photo Credit: @redbull

Winter or snow tires are types of specially made tires that ensure better traction when traveling over snowy or icy terrain. Snow tires have a tread pattern with wider gaps than regular tires. These tires are also ideal for riding in temperatures below 7 °C (45 °F). To improve grip on icy or hard-packed snow, some snow tires include protruding metal or ceramic studs.

Snow tires can be used to travel over many types of terrain, including snow, ice, mud, and pavement (dry or wet). 

Compared to dry roads, there is less friction for braking and turning on roads coated with snow or ice. The amount of friction produced by the tires depends on the temperature. Snow crystals are tough and produce greater friction when a tire runs over them at temperatures below 7 °C. However, melting snow or ice reduces tire friction if the temperature increases past 2 °C. If the snow or ice becomes slippery, hydrophilic rubber compounds help to generate more friction.

2. Does Your Motorcycle Need Snow Tires?

If you reside anywhere that has snow, ice, sleet, or freezing rain or temperatures at  40° C or below, snow tires are essential. They are also the best choice if you frequently travel through snowy areas or mountains during the winter.

3. Difference Between Snow Tires and Regular Tires

3.1 Tread Pattern and Depth

Snow tires have deeper treads than standard tires. More tread depth reduces snow accumulation and increases traction. Additionally, snow tires have distinct grooves or tread patterns. These grooves push moisture through the treads to reduce hydroplaning. The wheels maintain contact with the ground, finding purchase against the surface since moisture is forced out of the tires.

3.2 Rubber Composition

Winter tires are manufactured from rubber that performs best in icy climates. To ensure your tires maintain their grip when the weather cools, the rubber remains supple and malleable. Regular rubber tires become harder in the cold which results in reduced traction.

3.3 Biting Edges

Snow tire treads are covered in zigzag grooves. Meanwhile, standard tires don't have grooves. In snow or ice, these grooves have biting edges that hold the pavement.

4. How Does Snow Affect Motorcycle Tires?

Riding a motorcycle in the snow is more challenging than with a car. Motorcycle riding under such circumstances requires a great deal of expertise and weather appropriate tires. Therefore, having snow tires is essential for both comfort and safety due to being able to better handle snowy and icy surfaces.

Even though the United States does not have laws requiring the use of snow tires, you should still have a set for your motorbike just in case.

When the temperature falls, tire traction becomes worse. Right after departure, if the tires have not been sufficiently warmed, there is a greater risk of sliding.

Rubber tires tend to become stiff and lose their elasticity in low temperatures.

5. Are M+S Marked Tires Good for Riding on Snow?

All-season tires have an M+S symbol along the rim of the tire walls. M+S stands for “mud and snow” to signify that they are suited for muddy and snowy terrain. These tires have a more aggressive tread pattern with bigger treads and wider spaces which offer improved grip on rough roads and weather conditions.

However, M+S tires are not always suitable for riding in cold weather. They lack the grip, control, and shorter stopping distance that snow tires offer over slippery roads.

6. Best Snow Tires for Motorcycles

6.1 Michelin Pilot Road 4 Touring Radial Tire

Michelin Pilot Road 4 touring radial tires offer better performance and grip on wet surfaces. These tires ensure reliable braking when stopping on slick, snowy, and icy roads. The tire treads include a complicated pattern with several channels to allow water to escape while braking, accelerating, or making sudden turns.

Additionally, it has a cutting-edge silica-charged composition that improves grip in all weather and road conditions all year round.


  • Made of high-quality material
  • Provides better traction on slick and wet roads
  • Has a longer lifespan
Rim Diameter 17 in
Size 180/70-17
Weight 11.08 lbs

6.2 Bridgestone Battlax T30 EVO

Bridgestone Battax T30 EVO tires offer good handling and traction. Bridgestone's engineers focused on improving the tires' traction when traveling on icy and wet terrain by combining rubber compositions with silica-rich, redesigned treat patterns.

These tires also were designed with a modified profile for safer and smoother curve transitions. Drawing inspiration from the MotoGP program, Bridgestone engineers also developed these tires to still retain their shape at different temperatures.

Bridgestone Battleax T30 EVO tires can handle slick and rainy weather and road conditions, providing a safe and comfortable riding experience. These tires can also fit almost any type of motorcycle.


  • Offers excellent cornering traction
  • Suitable for all terrains and weather conditions
  • Relatively cheap
Rim Diameter 17 in
Size 180/55ZR17
Weight 14 lbs

6.3 Shinko SR733 Motorcycle Tire

If you plan to ride during the winter, the Shinko SR733 motorcycle tire is best suited for rough weather and terrain. The tires ensure a comfortable and secure ride in chilly weather.

These tires have a popular cruiser tire pattern which ensures they operate correctly in cold weather conditions.

This tire is DOT approved and four-ply rated, with a tubeless design that makes mounting easy. This tire's adaptability makes it compatible with all motorcycles.


  • Provides better traction on icy and snowy terrain
  • Has a tubeless design
  • Suited for almost all motorcycles
  • Is four-ply rated and DOT certified
Rim Diameter 18 in
Size 130/70-18
Weight 6 lbs

6.4 Pirelli Angel GT

One of the most resilient sports touring tires available is the Pirelli Angel GT tire. Designed to function in all weather conditions, the compound and tread patterns ensure you can ride with confidence. Being sport tires with a long tread life and dual-compound construction which offers a superb grip, this tire is a fantastic choice for riders with powerful bikes.


  • Sport touring tire with long lifespan
  • Provides excellent traction and performance in muddy environments
  • Long treads with a good grip
Rim Diameter 17 in
Size 120/70ZR-17
Weight 8.8 lbs

6.5 Metzeler 01 Roadtec Winter Tire

The Metzeler 01 Roadtec Winter Tire has a broad contact patch, which improves its durability, performance, and longevity.

This tire offers reliable traction no matter how smooth or slick the terrain is.

Additionally, these tires have better mileage and are quite adaptable. Due to their excellent compatibility, you may mount them on many types of motorcycles. These tires are appropriate for many road conditions and riding styles. This tire has a revolutionary tread pattern that delivers excellent grip, ensures a smooth ride, and keeps you safe during winter rides.


  • Offers stronger grip
  • Highly versatile
  • Offers safe and smooth rides in the snow
  • Has better mileage
Rim Diameter 17 in
Size 180/55-17
Weight 13.86 lbs

7. Advantages and Disadvantages of Snow Tires

7.1 Advantages

Better Grip

Snow tires have tread patterns that are designed to provide a better grip on ice and snow. The treads have grooves and blocks that easily cut through the snow and ensure smooth riding through snow.

Longer Lifespan

Snow motorcycle tires have a longer lifespan than regular tires.


Snow tires offer reliable braking that ensures you stop on time and reduces sliding due to the strong and longer treads.

7.2 Disadvantages

Wear Down Easily

Snow tires are made of a soft rubber which makes them prone to wearing down quickly. It is recommended you change out the snow tires on your motorcycle when winter is over.

Poor Handling

Snow tires do not handle as well as regular tires, requiring more caution while riding over snow and ice. You won’t have much handling and control when riding on dry and clear roads with snow tires.

Tough on Roads

Despite the fact that snow tires are made of soft rubber, they can still damage the asphalt on roads.

8. When Should You Replace Your Snow Tires?

Snow tires play an important role in safety, maintaining traction in snowy and icy conditions. Examine the treads of tires closely before you decide to replace them. Snow tires are considered totally worn out when they reach 2/32’’ of the remaining treads. Keep checking your snow tires regularly and get new ones when they reach 6/32’’ of the remaining treads.

9. Last Words

Riding a motorcycle in the snow is more difficult than with other vehicles. When the road is covered in snow or ice, snow tires outperform regular or all-season tires. They will keep you safe when traveling over snow due to their better stability, braking, and traction. It is always recommended you get snow tires before going on winter rides to ensure you stay safe on snowy or icy roads. If you wish to improve its appearance, you can add new Saddlebags, seats, crash bars, fairings, handlebars, luggage racks, and sissy bars.

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