Moto Guzzi California 1100 & 1100i (94-97), V11 EV (98-), V11 Bassa (V11 Special) (99-), V11 Jackal (00-)

(updated September 99)

Rim Stock Size Possible Alternate Original Tyre
Front 2.50 x 18 110/90-18 Metzeler ME-33 Laser
or Pirelli Match MT09
Rear 3.50 x 17 140/80-17 130/90-17 Metzeler ME-55A Metronic
or Pirelli Match MT08

Manufacturers' Recommendations

Manufacturer Front size Rear size
(no data)
(no data)
No Fitment
Metzeler ME-33 Laser 110/90V18 ME-55A Metronic 140/80VB17 69V
Michelin Macadam 50 110/90V18 Macadam 50 140/80V17
Pirelli Match MT09 110/90V18 Match MT08 140/80VB17


Rear Tyres to Avoid!

This is not an exhaustive list.  These are merely tyres I know to be unsuitable for the bike in the so-called stock size.  There may be others: if so, I'd like to know, so tell me!

The following rear tyres, in the stock size of 140/80-17, do not clear the driveshaft housing:

These could be dangerous to run on your bike.  In some cases, it's just the edge that rubs and the tyre works fine; but under certain loads and conditions it's possible for the sidewall to rub, and that's inviting disaster.

If these are available in a 130/90-17, they'll all clear just fine.

Martyn's Opinion

General Comments

The big problem with this bike is the strange size combination.  The front is a touring size, the rear a sport-touring size.  This makes the selection of a suitable pair of tyres rather awkward.  Complicating the situation is the fact that the clearance between the rear tyre and the driveshaft housing is very close.  Some tyres of the nominally correct size won't even fit safely; even Metzeler's ME55A, one of the two OEM sets, comes in two versions -- one fits, one doesn't.  Because of this, you have to be extremely careful to check and monitor the clearances -- it is possible that load and flexing effects could cause an tyre to rub even if it clears at rest (I had this experience with an Avon ST23, which otherwise would be a superb tyre for this bike).  In theory, any tyre with an inflated maximum width of 156mm or less should fit; the ME55A, at 157mm, is the tyre that is right on the edge of the fit/no-fit line.

The following 140/80-17 tyres are known to be fine:

Another key is that the bike is incredibly hard on rear tyres.  Fronts wear fairly fast, too, but the shaft drive and hard power pulses tear up the rear.  I've had a reliable report of an ME55A lasting a mere 2500 miles!  Most combinations, though, manage around 5-7k from the rear (and about another 2k from an equivalent front).  Only one, the K491, stands out as lasting over 10k miles, although the Avon Roadrunner AM21 gets close to 10k.

There's also the fact that although the bike has cruiser styling and dresser touring ability, it's also at home strafing the twisties.  This puts extra demands on the tyres.  The Avon Roadrunner AM20 front, for example, is a very nice tyre for general riding, but put it to hard use and the outside tread blocks overheat rapidly; this makes it unsuitable for this bike.

The Safe Bet

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Pirelli Match MT09 110/90V-18 $96
Rear Pirelli Match MT08 140/80VB17 $124

The Safe Bet is to fit the OEM Pirellis.  They're decent tyres, perform well, but tend to an uneven wear pattern.  There are better tyres out there for this bike, but these will fit, and they do suit the bike well.

A Tight Budget

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Bridgestone BT45 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $68
Rear Kenda K657 Sport Challenger 130/90H-17 $55

There is no question about what to put on the rear if you're strapped for cash.  The Kenda K657 lasts around 5-6k, and provides good traction in wet or dry, and even wear.  It doesn't have the stick of, say, an ME88 -- you can break it loose under full throttle in the twisties in first gear, but when you do it slides predictably and comfortably.

The front is a question.  I'm not confident enough about the Kenda front in the wet to recommend it, so I'm looking for an alternative here.  Fortunately the Bridgestone BT45 is very reasonably priced, and makes an excellent choice.

General Purpose, Sport-Touring

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Bridgestone BT45 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $68
Rear Bridgestone BT45 Sports Mileage 140/80V-17 $79

Bridgestone's new BT45 is now the undisputed general purpose tyre of choice for the California.  Available with a stock rear that actually fits the bike, it provides good performance in all conditions, wears reasonably well, and is a very good all-around and sport-touring tyre.  The only drawback is that the front tends to uneven wear, but that does not seem to affect its performance.  It is definitely superior to all the other general-purpose and sport-touring pairs, and having a stock size rear makes a big difference at higher lean angles.

High Mileage

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Dunlop K491 Elite II Touring MR90H-18 $83
Rear Dunlop K491 Elite II Touring MT90HB17 $81

This is the only combination which is known to produce anything like high mileage on this bike.  You can probably expect around 12k from the rear, which on a Cali 1100 is absolutely fantastic.  They'll also stand up well to hard riding and long-distance touring work.  The front is a little wide; the MR size is equivalent to a 120, but the tyre does in fact seem to work well in this application; a 100/90-18 is also available if that concerns you.

The Avon Roadrunner AM21 rear also lasts well, but not as long as the Dunlops.  The catch with the Avon is that in sport riding there's a tendency to run off the edge of the tyre profile -- this can be improved by running higher pressure in the rear (like 39 or 40 psi) but not eliminated.


Brand Model Size MAW
Front Metzeler ME-33 Laser 110/90V-18 $88
Rear Metzeler ME-88 Marathon 130/90HB17 $101

This classic touring combination from Metzeler lives up to its reputation on this bike too.  They last fairly well, about 8-9k from the rear and 10k or so from the front, and wear evenly.  They are superb in the rain, and stick plenty well enough in the dry provided they are warmed up properly.


Brand Model Size MAW
Front Avon Super Venom AM20 110/90V-18 $99
Rear Avon Super Venom AM18 130/90V-17 $110

In general, Sport-Touring tyres work well for sport riding on the Cali 1100.  Although it has a surprising amount of ground clearance, and superb brakes, the bike is long and heavy to be nimble on any tyres.  The choice here is between the classic Dunlop K591 and the Avon Super Venoms, and although either should work very well, and while the Dunlops are much cheaper, I prefer the Avons.

The Radial Option

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Metzeler ME-Z1 110/80ZR18 $98
Rear Metzeler ME-Z2 140/80ZR17 $109

I would *love* to put the California on radials.  I tried a 140/80 Avon ST23 on the rear, both with the Pirelli Match MT09 front and with a 110/80 Avon AV27 front.  In both cases I loved how the bike responded, but severe clearance problems with the second ST23 forced the end of that experiment.  The ME-Z2 should just barely fit, according to Metzeler's maximum width specification, and combining that with a shorter Z1 on the front should work well.  An alternative would be to go with a mixed-construction set -- pair up the Z2 on the rear with, say, the Avon Super Venom on the front; the profiles should work well together.  Note: Some radials cannot be used with a tube; be careful to check this.

Martyn's Choice

Brand Model Size MAW
Front Avon Super Venom AM20 110/90V-18 $99
Rear Bridgestone BT45 Sports Mileage 140/80V-17 $79

I still haven't come to a solid conclusion for this bike, but this is really looking like I might have found the right choice.  It's a stock size combination with excellent traction and decent wear.  The only question in my mind is how much wear, and what happens to the traction at the rear in cold weather and as the tyre reaches the latter part of its life.

On the front, the Super Venom provides superb traction and excellent highway stability, as well as good wet traction and water dispersal.  The profile matches very well with the BT45 on the rear, which also has good traction and is inexpensive too.

For sport-riding, this combination works well too.  You can scrub both ends until the floorboards hit, and the profile inspires confidence.  It's a great combination.

The Full List

(from MAW and manufacturer web pages)

Well-sized matched pairs

This table shows pairs with an exact front.

Brand Front size MAW Rear size MAW match
Avon Roadrunner AM20 110/90H-18 $104 Roadrunner AM21 130/90H-17 $120 excel
Super Venom AM18 110/90V-18 $107 Super Venom AM18 130/90V-17 $110 excel
Super Venom AM20 110/90V-18 $99 Super Venom AM18 130/90V-17 $110 excel
Bridgestone BT17 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $94 BT17 Sports Mileage 130/90V-17 excel
BT45 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $68 BT45 Sports Mileage 140/80V-17
SE11 110/90H-18 $76 SE11 130/90H-17 $92 excel
Continental Blitz TKH-23 110/90H-18 $49 Blitz TKH-24 130/90H-17 $58 excel
Dunlop F11 110/90H-18 $72 K627 130/90H-17 $89 excel
K591 Sport Touring 110/90V-18 $69 K591 Sport Touring 130/90V-17 $79 excel
IRC Durotour RS-310 110/90H-18 $48 Durotour RS-310 130/90H-17 $59 excel
Metzeler ME-33 Laser 110/90V-18 $88 ME-55A Metronic 140/80VB17
ME-33 Laser 110/90V-18 $88 ME-88 Marathon 130/90HB17 $101 excel
ME-33 Laser 110/90V-18 $88 ME-99A Perfect 140/80VB17
Michelin Macadam 50 110/90V-18 $107 Macadam 50 140/80V-17
Pirelli Match MT09 110/90V-18 $96 Match MT08 140/80VB17

Radial matched pairs

This table shows pairs with a short front and exact rear.

Brand Front size MAW Rear size MAW
Avon AV27 110/80HR18T $124 Azaro AV36 140/80ZR17 $142
Azaro AV35 110/80ZR18 $134 Azaro AV36 140/80ZR17 $142
Dunlop D205 Sport/Touring 110/80ZR18 $90 D205 Sport/Touring 140/80ZR17 $111
Metzeler ME-Z1 110/80ZR18 $98 ME-Z2 140/80ZR17 $109
ME-Z2 110/80ZR18 $92 ME-Z2 140/80ZR17 $109

Listing by Manufacturer


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
AV27 110/80HR18T $124 short AV281 140/70-R17 short
AV27 110/80ZR18 $137 short
Azaro AV35 110/80ZR18 $134 short Azaro AV36 140/80ZR17 $142 exact
Roadrunner AM20 110/90H-18 $104 exact Roadrunner AM21 130/90H-17 $120 excel
Super Venom AM18 110/90V-18 $107 exact
Super Venom AM20 110/90V-18 $99 exact Super Venom AM18 130/90V-17 $110 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
BT17 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $94 exact BT17 Sports Mileage 130/90V-17 excel
BT35 Sports Mileage 140/70H-17 short
BT45 Sports Mileage 110/90V-18 $68 exact BT45 Sports Mileage 140/80V-17 $79 exact
BT45 Sports Mileage 130/90V-17 $79 excel
BT53 Sports Touring 140/80VR17 exact
BT54 Sports Touring 110/80ZR18 $91 short
SE11 110/90H-18 $76 exact SE11 130/90H-17 $92 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
Blitz TKH-23 110/90H-18 $49 exact Blitz TKH-24 130/90H-17 $58 excel
Sport 2000 140/80V-17 $92 exact
Tour TK-17 130/90H-17 $85 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
D205 Sport/Touring 110/80ZR18 $90 short D205 Sport/Touring 140/80ZR17 $108 exact
F11 110/90H-18 $72 exact K627 130/90H-17 $89 excel
K491 Elite II Touring MR90H-18 $83 wide K491 Elite II Touring MT90HB17 $81 excel
K505 110/80H-18 $81 short K505 140/70H-17 short
K505 130/80V-17 $89 short
K591 Sport Touring 110/90V-18 $69 exact K591 Sport Touring 130/90V-17 $79 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
Carapace RS-320 140/70H-17 $84 short
Durotour RS-310 110/90H-18 $48 exact Durotour RS-310 130/90H-17 $59 excel
Road Winner RW-010 130/90HX17 $74 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
K657 Sport Challenger 130/90H-17 $55 excel


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
ME-33 Laser 110/90H-18 exact ME-55A Metronic 140/80VB17 $138 exact
ME-33 Laser 110/90V-18 $88 exact ME-55A Metronic 130/90V-17 $124 excel
ME-77 130/90H-17 $93 excel
ME-88 Marathon 130/90HB17 $101 excel
ME-99A Perfect 140/80VB17 $110 exact
ME-99A Perfect 130/90H-17 excel
ME-99A Perfect 130/90V-17 $99 excel
ME-Z1 110/80ZR18 $98 short
ME-Z2 110/80ZR18 $92 short ME-Z2 140/80ZR17 $109 exact
ME-Z4 110/80ZR18 $112 short


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
Macadam 50 110/90V-18 $107 exact Macadam 50 140/80V-17 $126 exact
Macadam 50 130/90V-17 $124 excel
Macadam 90X 110/80ZR18 $86 short


Front size MAW match Rear size MAW match
Dragon GT MTR03 110/80ZR18 $100 short
Dragon GTS MTR23 110/80ZR18 $105 short
MT75 110/80H-18 short MT75 130/80H-17 short
MT75 140/70H-17 short
Match MT09 110/90V-18 $96 exact Match MT08 140/80VB17 $124 exact
Match MT08 130/90V-17 $122 excel
Strada MT68E 130/90H-17 $90 excel


Exact Precisely matches original spec
Excellent Precisely matches a recommended alternate
Good An exact or alternate in a different sizing system
Short Exact or excellent width, lower profile.  Consider these both ends to lower the bike
Soft Similar diameter by using a taller profile and narrower width; used on the rear only
Tall Taller profile, stock width; similar in effect to "soft", but for the front only
Wide Same profile, wider tyre.  This MAY NOT FIT your rim.  BE CAREFUL!!!