As the Continental’s naming suggests, the ContiTour line of tires is designed for heavy touring bikes and cruisers. With a stock dry weight of only 507 pounds, my Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH 883 is on the lighter end of that bike spectrum. That should help the Continental ContiTour tires just mounted on it roll for an above-average mileage range.
Introduced in 2017, the ContiTour doesn’t use a mid-tread rain groove, which puts more rubber on the road where the load is carried for the vast majority of the miles. That said, a deep sipe just off the centerline of the tread shaped roughly like a bent “7” provides twin grooves toward the shoulder of the tire to channel water away from the contact patch.
The other strategy Continental has built into the ContiTour line is the MileagePlus Technology compound. The company says it significantly extends the tire’s wear, while providing exceptional handling and consistent performance throughout its service life. The ContiTour tires use a single compound throughout the tire.
The Continental ContiTour 100/90-19 M/C 57H TL front tire ($181 MSRP) is constructed with four polyester plies on both the tread and sidewall, while the 130/90-16 M/C 73H RF TL rear ($232 MSRP) is built with five reinforced nylon plies on the tread and three-ply sidewalls. All the sizes in the ContiTour range are bias-ply construction, and they come in a wide range of sizes, though not all have the reinforced carcass.
Jeff Reid, Motorcycle Division Eastern Brand Manager at Continental, explains the reinforcement of the tire this way: “Reinforced tires have a heavier duty construction in order to handle loads bigger than a standard tire of that same size. Usually, it’s through the use of stronger materials than a standard tire of the same size.”
Professionally mounted by Mack Motorsports in Loganville, Wisc., I was eager to put the ContiTour tires to the test on the great curvy and mostly well-paved country roads of Sauk, Richland, and Dane counties here in southern Wisconsin. My old Sportster has always been shod with Dunlop D401s. Giving the Continentals a go would be an interesting change.
Mind you, I’ve never had a complaint about the Dunlops. However, running these advanced-tech ContiTours on the Sporty builds on my experience with the brand. It was on a set of higher-speed rated Continental ContiGo tires that I first rode my 1984 Honda V30 Magna in competition at Bonneville. Indeed, with those Continental tires, that old Honda took me to over 104 mph in my first meet on the Salt!
In the first week with the Continental ContiTour tires, rains rolled in. Although I didn’t get caught out in the rain, I did have an unusual opportunity to experience the tires’ performance on wet pavement.
Heavy overnight rain left shaded areas of a curvy, hilly township road wet the next day, while areas getting some sun were dry. A wild turkey broke from cover right in front of me, flying across my line at windshield height. As it happened, I went from dry pavement to wet under heavy braking, on a motorcycle not equipped with ABS—circumstances that have a high skid potential. Fortunately, the grip held up, the bike decelerated in a straight line, and the turkey and I parted company on good terms.
The mounting of the tires by Mack Motorsports proved skillfully done, as there was no air pressure adjustment necessary in the days following the work. Even at Interstate passing speeds, the balance was perfect.
Watch this story for updates on the Continental ContiTour tires as the miles roll up and we have a look at long-term durability, as well as handling properties.
Action photography by Jacci Shauger
Continental ContiTour Tire Sizes
- 130/90 x 16
- MT90 x 16 (reinforced carcass)
- 130/80 x 17
- 130/70 x 18
- 100/90 x 19
- 130/60 x 19
- 120/70 x 21 (reinforced carcass)
- 80/90 x 21
- 130/90 x 15
- 140/90 x 15
- 150/90 x 15 (reinforced carcass)
- 170/80 x 15
- 130/90 x 16 (reinforced carcass)
- 150/80 x 16 (reinforced carcass)
- 180/65 x 16
- MT90 x 16 (reinforced carcass)
- MU85 x 16 (reinforced carcass)
- 160/70 x 17 (reinforced carcass)
- 180/55 x 18 (reinforced carcass)
- 130/60 x 21