Michelin motorcycle tyres

In the world of the sport touring we could not forget about Michelin motorcycle tyres. For number of years Michelin have delivered and continue to do so exceptionally well. Similarly to other players in the subject they had recognised that sport touring tyres are best served as all-round product for quite a versatile rider needs.

The global Research and Development network constantly improve Michelin tyre technology pushing for innovative materials and better all-round performance of their tyres. As a result Michelin have established a wide range of expertise on tyre technology. Read more on Michelin motorcycle tyre technology here.

"We never work on one isolated element of performance. Instead, we focus on the whole package: safety, durability and the thrill of riding"

Michelin is a well-known tyre manufacturer serving many industries. They make tham for bicycles, motorcycles, cars, heavy machinery vehicles, aircrafts and even space shuttles. They started in 1889 as a small rubber company in Clermont-Ferrand in France run by two brothers Edouard and Andre Michelin. One day a cyclist came to the factory to repair a tyre that was at a time glued to the rim. It took a lot of effort to actually remove and repair the tyre. Next day, the tyre failed anyway.

Since that day the brothers started working on a tyre that did not need to be glued to the rim. They succeeded in 1891 making their first patent for a removable pneumatic tyre which was used in the Paris-Brest-Paris race the same year by Charles Terront.  

The most popular Michelin motorcycle tyres. 

Let’s look at the three recent sport touring Michelin motorcycle tyres. 

Pilot Road 3 were very competitive for the sport touring community. Some would still say Michelin have already achieved the excellence with PR3 so pushing this even further with later versions could be a very challenging task for any tyre manufacturer.

Pilot Road 3 were so good for so many riding scenarios and road conditions. The grip was exceptional in dry and wet conditions and the tyre gained popularity in big sport bikes. Looking at the tread the long grove pattern on the sides of the tyre together with dual compound, provided the rider with a lot of confidence on wet surfaces when cornering. The only minor issue seemed to be with the front tyre. The wide thread pattern on the front could sometimes feel a little bit too flexible and unstable under heavy breaking. 

Obviously, you cannot have all in one tyre, can you? If you read our guide on motorcycle tyres you should suspect that with this excellent grip the millage may not be as good. Well, it was not bad at the time but comparing them now to newer versions the millage was actually not so good. One of the reasons for this was that the Pilot Road 3 employed 20% of the medium-soft compound in the centre and 40% on each side of the soft compound on the rear tyre. The front was equipped with even softer combination of compounds, see the picture below.

However, this again may be what some of us want. If you don’t ride your bike often enough although the tyre is not used it will still undergo ageing process that is described in our tyre guide. For this reason you may want to consider a softer version that will not last as long but deliver more fun. All in all, changing them more frequent is not a bad thing!

Pilot Road 4

The world has moved on and the Michelin motorcycle tyres too. The new Pilot Road 4 has undergone complete change to increase the longevity. The centre now had 20% of the hard, 100% silica compound and on each side 40% of medium soft compound, which means no true soft compound on the rear any more. Silica decreases the rolling resistance therefore the use of 100 % of it makes the tyre last longer reaching on average 15,000 miles.

This was the key to increase the tyre life by 20% and was probably the most pronounced change between the PR3 and PR4. 

The trial version of the PR4, for the dual sport adventure bikes, actually employs the medium-soft in the centre and soft at the sides similarly to the PR3 rear tyre.Talking about compounds it should be noted that year after year tyre manufacturers constantly develop their materials by optimising the composition and properties, or as we like to call it – performance. This means that a medium-soft compound today is not the same as a medium-soft compound a few years ago. 

Looking at the tread the front tyre is strangely “cut” with its fine tread perpendicular to the riding direction. This actually makes the tyre distribute the water to the sides more effectively and more stable when breaking. Looking back at PR3 the wide tread pattern on the front felt a bit too flexible and unstable under heavy breaking so for the PR4 things surely went the right direction. They are now regarded as one of the safest on the wet.

The front tyre profile is more angular than Pilot Road 3 which makes the bike fall into a corner much easier than on the previous versions. We like this but some may say that it falls in too easily. It proves to be great also for the heavy sport tourers. For some of them you may want to consider the Pilot road 4 GT specifically design for heavy bikes. This is probably a good choice for those traveling with luggage and a pillion. 

From the latest Michelin motorcycle tyres - Pilot Road 5

With the huge number of fans of the Pilot Road 4 Michelin has made themselves even bigger challenge to satisfy their customers and improve things even further with the new born Pilot Road 5. So how do you refine something that has already been optimised to the highest performance sport touring tyre? Obviously they had to retain some of the great characteristics of the RP4.

However looking at what they have changed from PR3 to PR4 you may guess what would customers of Michelin motorcycle tyres be looking for. Yes, they are now back in improving the wet and dry grip as perhaps the PR4 was a little compromised on the grip with it’s hard compound. However, you may be surprised that the compound did not change much.

To increase the grip they have removed some of the siping (in other words the small cuts/groves on the tyre tread) the sides which gives even more surface to surface grip on the dry. However they also claim that this also helps in wet grip which to some may seem confusing really. What they did is that they made the siping more effective. The new design of these siping is that they are wider at the bottom than at the top so as the tyre wears the sipes have still big volume which means working efficiently with wet road. It makes the cuts work a little bit harder ensuring that the tyre is capable of ejecting more water as it rolls along.

This allow Michelin to claim that after 3500 miles the Pilot Road 5 tyre will actually perform as good in wet weather as a brand new Pilot Road 4 tyre. Isn’t that great news?

As the PR5 was launched only recently in January 2018 not many riders have actually ridden them yet. If you did, let everyone know your thoughts! 

What do you make of the new Michelin Pilot Road 5?

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