For the lightweight design of the wheel rim of motorcycles, the knowledge of the way in which contact forces are transmitted by the tire is of crucial importance. In this paper, an analytical model of the tire is developed and explicit formulae giving the distribution of the radial and axial forces acting on the wheel rim for a given vertical load are derived. The analytical model is validated by means of a finite element method (FEM) model and experimental tests. The proposed analytical model is able to predict the radial deflection of both a front and a rear tire for a racing motorbike with very good accuracy over a wide range of inflating pressures and vertical loads. The force distributions are in very good agreement with the results of the FEM model. Experimental tests show that the force distribution at the interface between the tire and rim can be used to predict the stress distribution in the rim with a good accuracy.