For many Harley riders we typically stick to what we know. It’s the safe decision of our comfort zone, but the truth is that if you’re in the market for a set of new tires for your Harley Davidson Road King, there are better options available:
Many riders stick to something typical like your typical H-D Dunlop tires, and generally replace them with the exact same brand for the lifetime of the bike without considering the durability, or the lifespan of your usual go to tire brand when compared to some of the alternative brands on the market.
Some tires wear a lot faster than other brands, typically your cheaper tires or your softer compounds, depending on what type of riding you do.
Buying the best tires for your HD Road King can end up saving you a lot of money, and time. Especially if you’re the type of rider that doesn’t take advantage of a fresh set of rubber by abusing it down the street in a cloud of smoke and thick black trail of shiny rubber down the sidewalk.
Factors to consider
Firstly, are you looking for a tire that lasts longer? Or are you looking for a tire that offers the best ride quality. It’s not always as simple as striking a perfect balance between the two. With so many tire options you need to decide what you’re after.
If you’re looking for a good rear tire for your Road King that will last you as many miles as possible, get a hard compound tire like the Harley Davidson Dunlop tire. This is essentially a replacement tire for the OEM tires at roughly 70% of the cost – a nice 30% savings – I’ll take two!!
These tires are approved by Harley and come with an H speed rating. Available in blackwall, single white bar and white sidewall variations. I’ve listed both the front and rear tire options below for all the guys that hate riding with a mix of branded tires.
The next question you might want to ask yourself. Are you’re OK spending a little more money on a better set of tires? They may not last as long, but they will improve your overall ride quality. Offering better grip and handling even over some loose gravel surfaces.
Best Road King Tire Options
Some of the Metzler tires are perfect for H-D Road King riders looking for a softer compound and a smoother ride. A lot of guys feel like the Metzler 888 tires offer a MUCH better ride quality. The tires don’t track the grooves and cracks in the road surface as much as Dunlops do. The cost of course is that the softer compounds typically do not last as long as the harder Dunlop tires.
Quick Tip: Play around with the settings of your stock shock setup to find a more comfortable ride. If this doesn’t help, take a look at our guide to finding the right Harley Davidson shocks for your ride.
The most popular tire brands you would have undoubtedly heard of are Metzler, Michelin, Bridgestone and Dunlop. Of the three, it really does come down to rider preference as to which tire would be the best for your Road King.
Many riders feel that Michelin tires offer the worst performance and quality – including unwanted road noise at high speeds. The general consensus is that Dunlop tires last the longest but are not as smooth as the Metzlers. The Metzlers seem to offer the best ride quality but at the cost of more rapid tire wear.
Tires are constantly evolving to meet the high expectation of riders who are constantly pushing the limits of abuse to rubber that keeps us planted to the ground. Going by what someone said about a brand or particular tire years ago quickly becomes irrelevant. So when someone says that the Michelin tires are the worst for your Road King, ask them which Michelin tires they’re talking. It’s often not true.
For example, one of the most highly rated and bought tires on Amazon is the Michelin Commander || with hundreds of 5 star reviews, showing the immense popularity that this tire has.
So at the end of the day it really comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and how often you’re willing to spend to get the most satisfaction from riding your bike. Ultimately you want to have a smooth ride and enjoy every minute of it without spending too much on tires. Look for something of a compromise that meets right in the middle.
Not all tires are the same. While the Dunlop D402 are a perfect replacement for the stock tires, their hardened ride quality can be improved by upgrading the Dunlop Elite 4 Tires which have seen plenty of glowing reviews from riders around the world. Outstanding handling, tread life and overall ride quality. They’re cheaper than the stock Dunlop OEM replacement tires as well which definitely makes them worth a ride.
The closest competition to the E4’s are the Metzler 888’s which are both highly voted by Harley Riders. I won’t be able to say exactly which of these is better because I think that answer will be really subjective, but what I can say is that you won’t go wrong by picking up a set of either tires.
Another tire you might want to consider is the Avon Venom tires which also have excellent grip, handling and offer an ultra smooth riding experience. Although these tires, just like the other tires I’ve recommended will likely not make the distance that a set of stock tires would.
But the fact remains. If you’re reading this, you’re not looking to go the maximum distance. You’re looking for the best tires for your Harley Road King. Which means getting the most pleasure and joy out of your ride. If distance and tread life is you number one priority, check out this guide to the best tires for long distance touring.
But as I’ve said, getting the best of your beast means getting a softer tire that meets somewhere in the middle of tread life and traction under all surfaces including wet roads, high speeds and low torque grunting over loose gravel tracks.
A tire like the Avon Cobra’s is another great option for those that need a little extra grip in the wet while offering a reasonable wear life over 10,000 KM on the rear and probably twice as much on the front tire.
One important aspect to consider before you go out splashing your cash on a fresh set of treads is the recommended tire pressure. Many tire manufacturers have different pressure settings for optimal ride quality. Make sure you check these specs before you accuse the tread about any issues you might have.
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