By toning down the chrome and dialing up the horsepower, higher-performing cruisers such as Indian's Scout and Harley-Davidson's new FXDR have invigorated a cruiser segment long dogged by gaudy, overpriced "American choppers" that often eschewed rideability for curb appeal.

For the most part, technology has kept up with (some might say enabled) this encouraging trend toward function over form. One problem: Cruiser riders are burning through tires faster than ever. Quicker starts, harder leans—aggressive riding just chews up rubber. And cruiser tires have been slow to adapt.

Until now. Thanks to a more consistent footprint that sets and maintains its composure under duress, Metzeler’s new Cruisetec tire is designed specifically for the performance cruiser. And it delivers.

performance
Metzeler’s Cruisetec is a tire for performance cruisers.Courtesy of Metzeler

Traditional motorcycle cruiser tires are designed for maximum life and mileage. Performance cruiser tires, though, need to be able to handle deep leans and hard control inputs, often at the same time. A tire that’s made to go a long way in a straight line, though, will break down—sometimes suddenly—under that kind of pressure. Metzeler says its Cruisetec tire will maintain its character in high-stress conditions, allowing performance cruisers to confidently ride their bikes the way they’re intended.

How? The contact patch on a typical cruiser tire is about 18 percent smaller at lean as it is upright, thanks to a low curvature profile that maximizes mileage and straight-line stability. Metzeler claims the Cruisetec maintains a more consistent contact patch size that keeps that change to under 10 percent, thanks to a high-curvature design that’s more akin to a sport-touring tire. The result is a slightly reduced straight-line footprint for better side-to-side agility, and a larger in-lean footprint for improved corner tractability and rider feedback.

On a recent run through the Ozarks we set out to put all that marketing jargon to the test, and discovered the rare product that lived up to its hype: a performance cruiser tire that thrived when ridden aggressively, no matter if we were aboard a loaded dresser or a stripped-down bobber.

The tire’s ready-for-anything character really unlocked the potential of Indian’s Scout Bobber, a smallish cruiser that’s designed to be an around-town barhopper. Which is a shame because in the city the Scout’s blazing powerplant (with its 9,000-rpm redline) is a caged tiger that rarely gets to show its mettle. Out in the hills and with tires just made to be abused, though, the Bobber’s engine was unleashed, turning the barhopper into a randy speed machine that demanded to be whipped hard through the sweepers—at least until hard parts begin to drag.

tire for modern cruisers
Metzeler’s Cruisetec tire unlocks the handling potential of modern cruisers.Courtesy of Metzeler

We also got to ride a few Big Twin baggers and touring bikes outfitted with the new tires, and the Cruisetecs provided those bikes a fun, almost flickable disposition that shaved 20 years off that segment’s appeal. It also shaved quite a bit of metal off their floorboards. Rolling through sweepers at speeds approaching triple digits, the big dressers became eager running mates for the smaller, higher-revving Scouts. Diving into turns was seamless and smooth, and our leans and lines were confident, with no discernible throwout. And we got far better feedback at lean than we did on the stock rubber, frost heaves and tar snakes be damned.

And that was the case with every bagger we rode. Street Glides, Road Kings, and even a grizzled Heritage Softail 103 were (almost) as much fun to flog as the Indians in the hills around Arkansas’ Mount Magazine. These tires were designed for performance cruisers—but bagger bros, and particularly the new breed of performance bagger riders, are sure to find these Cruisetecs a revelation.

taking corners
Diving into corners on the Cruistec is seamless and smooth.Courtesy of Metzeler

What makes the Cruisetecs so ideal for hard cruising? In addition to the high curvature profile, Metzeler also borrowed materials from its sport-touring tires in the Cruisetec’s construction. The front uses a softer, more plasticized compound, while the rear gets a dual compound that’s softer and more pliable on the outside but harder around the middle for more consistent wear. The sidewall softness is what brings the sporty feel and improved handling to big V-twin cruisers generally not accustomed to aggressive riding. The rear tread pattern also has a slicker center strip that replaces some of the straight-line stability lost to the slightly smaller contact patch. Finally, outward bridges on the tread pattern do more than displace water; they encourage even wear, resulting in more consistent performance as the tire ages and its tread fades.

Sportbike guys will guffaw, but throwing a big ol’ cruiser side to side at high speed is hard work. And it necessitates confidence in the bike, freeing up the rider to focus on the task at hand. Metzeler’s new Cruisetec tires deliver. Their composure under duress brings sport-touring handling to performance cruiser bikes, turning even the most staid dresser into a two-lane monster.

For sizes and availability check out the Metzeler website.