Better Tires for Your Vintage Motorcycle

New tires from Continental and Heidenau are aimed at the classics.

continental motorcycle tires, heidenau motorcycle tires, best motorcycle tires
New rubber for old bikes.Julia LaPalme

No matter how righteous the tread pattern on those ancient Avons, old tires are an accident waiting to happen. Thankfully, there’s no need to compromise. The popularity of vintage bikes has prompted numerous tire manufacturers to roll out new tires to fit the narrow 18- and 19-inch wheels common on motorcycles from an earlier era. Heidenau and Continental are two options, and while both examples shown here are handmade in Germany, the two companies take a different approach to building tires for old bikes.

Heidenau takes the traditional route with its K34s. These bias-ply, tube-type tires are the modern equivalent of the rubber that originally came on your old twin. They’ve proven very popular with vintage BMW riders as well as British and Japanese collectors seeking an original-looking tire. Want a little more technology? Continental’s ContiClassicAttack tires feature a retro tread pattern wrapped around a radial carcass, while a progressive tread compound that’s harder down the center and softer on the shoulder helps balance wear and grip.

Continental

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Continental ContiClassicAttack.Julia LaPalme

ContiClassicAttack
$185–$198

  • Available in: 4 sizes

  • Radial carcass construction

  • Tube type or tubeless

  • Multi-compound

  • Speed rating: V (149 mph)

Heidenau

continental motorcycle tires, heidenau motorcycle tires, best motorcycle tires
Heidenau K34.Julia LaPalme

K34
$109–$185

  • Available in: 8 sizes

  • Bias carcass construction

  • Tube type

  • Single compound

  • Speed rating: S or H (112 or 130 mph)

Remember: Whiskey, leather, and the patina on your vintage bike all improve with age, but time isn’t kind to tires. Rubber that’s older than five years should be rolled down to the recycler.

Watch: Streetbike Tire Categories Explained