Honda GL1000 Tire Recommendations

Look familiar?


Then you should probably start shopping for some new tires!

Well-maintained and monitored tires are vital for safety!

Randakk Tires

The main points about tires:

  • Correct size
  • Correct speed and load rating for the intended use
  • Age and condition
  • Tread depth
  • Correct inflation pressure
  • Mounted with direction arrow correctly oriented

Mileage is a relatively unimportant variable. Running on old brittle tires – even when they have plenty of treads left is courting a disaster! If you have any doubts about the condition of your tires, REPLACE THEM IMMEDIATELY!

When you buy new tires, you insist that they are “fresh” tires. You don’t want to buy new tires that have been sitting in a warehouse for 10 years! Here’s a link which explains how to decipher tire date codes: click here

There are lots of tire brands and sources available. If you have a good relationship with a local motorcycle dealer, consider giving him your tire business. Tire work helps keep good dealers in the business.

If you’re willing to mount your own tires, then shop online for good values in tires.

There are many good tires available. Here are my 3 personal favorites for a GL1000:

Bridgestone BT45 Battlax

In my opinion, the BT-45 Battlax is the best performance tire available to fit the GL1000. This tire is available in both H-rated and V-rated versions. Get the V-rated version.

Great grip and well-matched to the weight and handling characteristics of the GL1000. I’ve run this tire in the past on my RC003 Endurance Special.

  • Battlax BT45 V-rated bias ply, designed to give performance and mileage on sportbikes.
  • Dual Tread Compound (DTC ) offering long lasting center compound and softer side compound.
  • DTC rubber combination yields rock-steady performance with acceptable mileage characteristics.
  • Larger crown radius for greater stability and longer life.
  • Bridgestone’s ‘stickiest’ BIAS ply Battlax
  • ‘V’ speed rating
  • ‘Diamond block’ tread patterns and wide tread patterns and wide tread grooving work hard to remove water and provide stability and traction when cornering.
  • 4 ply casing that incorporates insert plies, a redefined belt technology that helps keep the tire round and cool even at top speeds.
  • Zigzag and angled outer grooves – front and rear, provide wet weather performance by throwing the water to the sides and the tires will resist rain-groove wander.
  • Balanced wear characteristics maintain tire profile.
  • Tubeless design (but you’ll need to run tubes on GL1000s) 

Bridgestone Spitfire S11

This tire is a personal favorite…a great all-around tire and an excellent value. You can spend more but why?

The S11 has a 4-ply casing, incorporating insert plies, and a refined belt technology that helps keep the tire round and cool even at top speeds.

There are two tread compounds in each tire for the ultimate in maneuverability and wear resistance – resilient center delivers high mileage and low rolling resistance; shoulder compound gives sport-quality cornering traction. Zigzagging, angled outer grooves give better wet weather traction and performance. Comes in blackwall or raised white letter sidewalls (ugh!). H-rated to 130 mph.

I find that this tire offers far superior turn-in response and traction (esp. braking) compared to vintage OEM type tires.

One other good point about the S-11: the rear tire has a slightly larger installed diameter than most other tires with the same size designation. This small difference makes the bike much easier to put up onto the centerstand. If you struggle to put your bike on the centerstand even with good technique, try this tire!

IRC Durotour RS-310

This tire is a real “sleeper.” The ride, traction, mileage and overall performance is excellent…especially for a bargain-priced tire.

These high performance touring tires deliver super gripping power on dry roads and excellent traction on wet ones. Their low profile provides a large contact patch and the tread compound is formulated for extended mileage. Offers extra traction without compromising mileage.

If you’d like to spend a few less shekels, but still insist on a quality tire this one is hard to beat. I’ve logged many miles on this tire with total satisfaction.

Shinko Tour Master 230

I consider this tire a real bargain. This is the tire I’m currently running on my RC003 Endurance Special.

It’s one of the few performance tires available in a V-rated version in sizes useful for vintage Honda owners.

Spend some time at a drag strip and you’ll see lots of Shinko’s in action. The reason is they are inexpensive yet super-grippy. Not the highest mileage tire you can buy, but one of the “stickiest” at a very reasonable price. I like this tire a lot!

Here are the recommended tire sizes for a GL1000:

Front: 3.50 x 19 (OEM)…….. matches to: 100/90 x 19

Rear: 4.50 x 17 (OEM)………. matches to: 130/90 x 17

By the way, using the wrong-sized tires on your GL1000 can introduce all sorts of handling and safety issues. As noted above, this can also be the cause for excessive difficulty in putting your bike up on the centerstand (esp. if the rear tire is undersized.

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  1. David McCauley says:

    I used Bridgestone Spitfire II tires on my ’78 GL for years. They are the best tire I ever used for my very non-aggresive, long distance riding style. Grip and handling are more than acceptable, as is the tire mileage. I tried a pair of Battlax BT-45s. A good tire, but I wasn’t impressed with the mileage. Not bad, but not good. So I went back to the Spitfires.
    Now, there’s no 130/90-17 rear Spitfire tires available. Only the 110/90-19 fronts. Why would Bridgestone discontinue such a desireable tire for use on early GLs?
    You guys have lots of connections. How about convincing Bridgestone to start reproducing this particular size. There’s not much point in having a front tire if you can’t match it with the rear tire. Or maybe you can advise me as to how to source this tire.


    • Norton Muzzone says:


      We do appreciate your situation. In most cases it is as simple as the company decided to not produce this tire size further for whatever reason. The motorcycle tire industry has made some amazing leaps and bounds regarding compounds, tire design patterns and profiles. We can only suggest you make another attempt to duplicate the performance of the Spitfire which it seems you were very pleased, with a different model tire or brand.
      Thank you very much for your inquiry, we wish we could assist further.
      Randakk’s Customer Service Team

  2. Hey Guys…
    This may sound like a really dumb question, but if anyone had an answer, it would be much appreciated. Im looking for a dual sport tire for my 79 GL1000. As you can imagine im having trouble finding one that fits the size and can handle the weight. Does anyone know of a good tire that could be used that would give this monster an off-road look?
    For those who are curious why I would want a dual sport tire for this type of bike, im going for a cafe build with my 1979 GL1000. I know functionally this is not an optomal off-road bike; however, to have it look like a GIANT OFF ROAD Capable Cafe bike would be awesome!

    Everything has come together for this build (even the small cafe seat accentuates the giant body and engine the way I want it too); however, Im still trying to solve my tire issue… I know its only an aesthetic thing…. but anyone that may have found a way or know of a dual sport tire that could handle my naked GL1000 it would be absolutely awesome to hear it!

    If there is any place I could find someone who has pulled this off, it would be Randakks blog… Thanks all for entertaining this question!

  3. Goldwing7810 says:

    I’m having trouble finding front and rear available in these tires. What do you think of Metzeler (Lasertec?), Dunlop D404 (I had these for my last set and liked them, but I don’t have experience to compare), Michelin?
    Thanks, this site has been very helpful to me in getting my GL to run (almost) like it should.

    • Probably good tires, but no personal experience with them here. You might ask your question here to get a wider sample of opinions:

      • Goldwing7810 says:

        Thanks, I will.

        • Goldwing7810 says:

          So, my wheels are off to mount my new Bridgestone BT 45s per your recommendations. I’ll let everybody know how I like ’em. As long as the wheels are off, I’m wondering if I should grease the rear axle (or if it’s not recommended). If so, any special kind of grease? Any thing else I ought to do while the wheels are off?

          • Yes. A light smear of grease is recommended for the axle and spacer. ANY grease is better than nothing. I prefer hight quality wheel bearing type grease that contains MOLY.

            Don’t use too much as grease tends to “travel” and it can end up in undesirable places.

  4. Tom Ireland says:

    I am having quite a hard time finding the correct size rear tire for my 1976 GL1000. I can find the Battlax, but I am not thrilled with the projected mileage. I do want a ‘vintage’ type tire. Do you have any experience, or thoughts on the Avon Road rider Am26?

  5. Tom Ireland says:

    Regarding the Bridgestone S11 Spitfire rear tire for a 1976 GL1000, I can’t seem to find the size you recommend for that bike, being 130/90-17. You say that tire is one of your personal favorites; what size do you run on the rear?

  6. Terje Treff says:

    So my 77′ has Lester wheels, but the rear is a 16″ size. Would you still recommend 130/90 tire size ?

  7. Tom Hamwey says:

    From what I can find, the Bridgestone Battlax BT45 sized 160/70ZR17 has a weight rating of 73. This puts the weight rating for the tire at 805 Lbs. My bike (’77 GL1000) has a GVWR of 650.4 Lbs. Simple arithmetic dictates that I would have 155 Lbs of load remaining for the tire rating. Im not that heavy a guy at 170 Lbs , but even i send it over the max by 15 Lbs without a passenger. What are your thought on this? Should I hunt for a higher rated Tire?

    • Should be fine for one-up riding. I weigh about 170 pounds myself.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t the weight rating for a tire be for the load that the tire can/does actually carry rather than the weight of the motorcycle? If that is the case, then in this instance of a 650# motorcycle, roughly dividing that weight by 2 because there are 2 tires to carry the weight (and I realize that the rear would carry more weight than the front, particularly with 2 riders, but I can’t find any specs on the weight distribution) would put only 325# of weight on the rear tire before adding in 1 or 2 riders.

  8. Rich Misiti says:

    I just finished my 1976 GL100 cafe build, and went with the Shinko 230, and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting much , with the rock bottom pricing, but these perform as good as the Michelin pilot 3’s I have on my BMW R1150RS. Thanks for the suggestion…well worth it!!

  9. bill woods says:

    My GL1000 has 65000 miles on it with far better than average care. (no hotrodding
    Recently with NO warning I stopped at a corner, waited my turn , and attempted to go. The clutch had the normal feel. The transmission would shift thru all the gears but no forward movement and no unusual feel or sounds. I suspect the clutch but have had no indications of a problem even with two up.. What do I ck. thanks bill

    • There are many possibilities, but the first thing to check is to inspect the splined coupler underneath the rubber accordion boot on the rear of the engine where the driveshaft connects. If the retainer clip fails, the driveshaft can slide to the rear and dis-engage causing your symptoms. If that’s your problem, it’s an easy fix.

      • Or check the coupling between the drive shaft and the final drive unit. It is a “sacrifcial” part and is intended to protect the rest of the drive train. Easy fix but but you do have remove the final drive assy.

  10. Scott Fennell says:

    I am wanting to ride my 78 gl 1000 up the haul road north of Fairbanks Alaska. It is over 400 miles of gravel road. Some duel sport riders adivse me to get knobby tires for my gold wing. What do you think? and, what size tires in knobby for front and back will fit. or is it best to stay with street tires?
    Thanks, Scott

    • I would go onto one of the Forums that specialize in Alaska motorcycle touring and seek the opinion of folks who’ve made this trip. Good luck.


  1. […] I think it'd hold true for the 1100. I'm probably going with the Spitfires because of longer life. Best price for any bike tires (that I've found) is here: note […]

  2. […] I think I'm going with the Bridgestone Spitfire because it's higher mileage than the Battleax.…ons/#more-1184 __________________ […]

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