Before we get on to the tyre reviews, motorcycle tyre prices are a rip-off.
I'll say that again. Motorcycle tyre prices are a rip-off.
This is one thing that really irritates me.
Let's briefly compare motorcycle and car tyres. (I'm going to generalise a bit, but bear with me)...
When I had my first motorcycle (30 years ago), a car tyre cost around £30, and was expected to last around 20,000 miles (barring irreparable punctures of course).
My wife's car recently required new front tyres, as the tread was approaching the wear bars. (The rears are still fine). The car has had the same tyres on since it was new - and had done just over 40,000 miles. The tyres cost around £50 each. So, over 30 years, the price has increased by around 66%, and the expected mileage has doubled. Technology has improved handling in cornering and braking, both in the dry and in the wet.
Now contrast that to motorcycle tyres. 30 years ago a motorcycle tyre cost less than a car tyre - about £20 - and was expected to last around 8,000 miles.
I've just looked up the current price of a rear tyre for the ST1100. £111 (2021). And it's expected to last 16,000 miles (I can hear gasps of shock from Bridgestone fans).
So, over 30 years, the expected mileage has doubled, but the price is 5 times higher. And of course, if you get a puncture, the dealer will tell you that for safety reasons you should throw the tyre away and buy a new one. Has technology improved? It probably has - if we look at the super sticky racing tyres which last around 200 miles.
You may think I'm comparing apples with oranges. I don't think so.
A car tyre is made of rubber with steel bits embedded in it, it's round and black, and has a footprint the size of the palm of your hand.
A motorcycle tyre is made of rubber with steel bits embedded in it, it's round and black, and has a footprint a bit less than the size of the palm of your hand.
Why is it then that the motorcycle tyre costs twice the price of a car tyre?
Because manufacturers/dealers have us over a barrel - and they know it. A dealer that sells both car and motorcycle tyres will sell more car tyres in a day than they sell motorcycle tyres in a month. So it's logical that the majority of the money for development goes into car tyres, and the price to the end user will be less (due to the sales volume).
So, can you fit a car tyre to the ST1100?
Yes you can:
Not for you? No problem. Back to the subject of motorcyle tyres.
Now, all these numbers on the tyre wall - what do they mean? Click on the image for a clearer view.
Image originally from www.tyresafe.org.
So for the rear tyre of the ST1100, the designation 160/70 R17 means that the tyre measures 160mm across at its widest point, the rim size is 17", and the profile ratio is 70% - in other words, the sidewall height from the rim to the tread measures 70% of 160 - i.e. 112mm.
The rear tyre is a 160/70-17.
The front tyre is a 110/80-18, with the exception of ABS models from 1996 - 2002 which used a 120/70-18 tyre as stock; although a 110/80 will also fit.
Now let's do some tyre reviews of different brands. Obviously each brand has different models and sizes of tyre which may differ radically in price and longevity - but as this is a site about the Honda Pan European it seems reasonable to stick with those that fit the ST1100.
Futher information on tyres:
A final word
It has been really difficult to construct an objective motorcycle tyre review. I discovered that comparative tyre reviews are very rare - there are just too many variables; riding style, type of road, type of motorcycle.... the list goes on.
Of course it is possible to do an objective review, but only under controlled conditions, where both the environment and the testing procedures themselves are repeatable. So this is unfortunately unlikely, and instead one has to rely on the information provided by the companies' marketing departments - and obviously each will claim that their particular tyres are the greatest thing since .... well, since tyres were invented.
In other words, that particular caveat normally seen on forums would be of particular relevance here.
* Your Mileage May Vary