Motorcycle tyres are available for many different applications, including sport, sport touring, touring, cruiser, scooter, on/off road, dual-sport, enduro, motocross and racing. Tyres are designed specifically for each type of usage and application and can differ in terms of performance, grip, durability, etc.
Sport/performance tyres typically provide excellent grip. However, the downside is that they are usually less durable, and last around 1,600 km or less. Cruiser and “sport touring” tyres usually try to find the best compromise between grip and durability. Another type of tyre developed specifically for racing offers the highest level of grip for cornering. Use on the street is unsafe and not advisable due to the high temperatures at which these tyres typically operate, as the tyres will usually not reach optimum temperature before a rider arrives at the destination, thus providing almost no grip en route. In racing situations, racing tyres would normally be brought up to optimum temperature in advance through the use of tyre warmers.
Sport Touring tyres are generally not used for high cornering loads, but for long straight roads and are good for riding across the country.
Sport Street tyres are for aggressive street riders who spend a significant amount of time carving corners on public roads. Such tyres generally do not last long, but in turn have better traction for high speed cornering. Street and sport street tyres have good traction even when cold, but when warmed too much, can actually lose traction as their internal temperature increases.
Track or Slick tyres are specifically for use on tracks during races. They tend to have more of a triangular profile, which in turn provides a larger contact patch. Such tyres are generally not recommended for the street, and tend to have a shorter life span when used on the street. This us due to the triangulation of the tyre, resulting in less contact patch in the centre, which causes the tyre to develop a flat spot quicker. Over time, they lose their tread and tend to lose almost all grip on wet roads. Usually made of a softer rubber compound, racing slick tyres do not provide as much traction as street tyres until warmed to a higher internal temperature than street tyres normally operate at. Street riding does not have a sufficient amount of friction on the tyre to maintain the slick’s optimal tyre temperature, especially in colder climates and in spring and fall.
Off road tyres have knobby, deep treads for maximum grip on loose dirt, mud, sand, or gravel. Such tyres also tend to be less stable on paved surfaces and may not be suitable for street riding.
Touring tyres are usually made of harder rubber for greater durability. They may last longer, but they tend to provide less outright grip than sports tyres at optimal operating temperatures. The tradeoff is that touring tyres typically offer more grip at lower temperatures, meaning they can be more suitable for riding in cold or winter conditions whereas a sport tyre may never reach the optimal operating temperature in winter.