Michelin Road 5 Review
Yep, when you’ve got a company the size of Michelin behind you (founded 1889 / 114,000 staff / 641million Euro R&D budget last year), you’ve got the ability to make the roads wet even when the sun is shining.
The location was the Circuit Monteblanco, which was a slight surprise as the Road 5 is what it says on the side, a road tyre. But with the beauty of a controlled environment complete with a sprinkler system, we were able to test the tyres via workshops on a wet and then a dry surface. But first to the technology.
From 4 to 5
Michelin has sold over 1.5million Pilot Road 4 tyres in the last four years, and the Road 5 needed to be better. The object was to make it better in the wet and better in the dry, but also to make it last longer, which is no mean feat when modern sports tourers are now pushing out some serious horsepower.
The compounds were changed front and back, with an all-silica dual compound front given excellent wet weather grip, while the rear has a silica compound in the middle and a carbon black edge to give maximum side grip. Look at the rear and it’s almost a slick on the edges which is a strange design for a tyre which is designed to be good in the wet. But the engineers worked out you’re not going to be leaning over further than 35-degrees in the wet, so there’s no need for the tread to carry on, and having a slick contact patch is much better in the dry.
The casing has been updated, which is the structure which gives the tyre its rigidity. With Michelin’s new ACT+ tech, the casing is stiffer at the edges to improve grip, but softer in the middle to give increased stability under acceleration (and especially) braking.
Finally, the patented ‘siped’ tread pattern has been altered for the Road 5s, with the small lines that traverse across the tyre not quite so prominent on the new model, with the grooves to channel water altered to give better wet weather performance while again improving straight line stability. They’re also thicker inside the tyre than on the surface, meaning that water is still dispersed at the same rate when the tyre is worn as it does when it’s new.
Before we got to try the tyres on the track, a 120km road loop which was taking at a decent pace was used to demonstrate the tyres in their natural environment, while a fleet of models ranging from a Kawasaki Z1000SX to a Yamaha MT-07 and a Triumph Street Triple let us sample the tyres on the sort of bikes where they will be most popular. With riders of these styles of machines likely to use their bikes for daily commutes, weekend scratching, touring and even the odd track day, Michelin knew they needed to make a tyre that could handle everything the rider is likely to subject them to, and also provide additional mileage than the outgoing model.
With the roads ranging from tight and narrow to fast and flowing, the one constant was the decent pace the lead rider was setting, with the pegs of the Z1000R I was riding first beginning to scrape as the Road 5s encouraged me to push more. With the ambient temperature reading 10-degrees on the digital dash and dropping to single figures at night, the beauty of a sports touring tyre over a super sport tyre is their ability to work in varied conditions, whether that’s cold or hot.
Corner grip was excellent as was the front tyre’s ability to cope with heavy braking without flexing. With the Z1000R not featuring traction control, it gave a good indication that the Michelins were well within their capability despite some pretty heavy throttle use coming out of turns to make sure I stayed within view of the lead rider.
With the afternoon at the track, it was time to check the wet weather ability of the Road 5, and with a demo showing how a worn set of Road 5s could stop in a shorter distance than a new set of Road 4s, there’s no denying the new model is a better tyre. Look at the pictures and you can see the amount of water that is being dispersed by the tread pattern that is printed using tooling made from 3D metal printers.
There’s a lot of technology that has gone into the new Michelin Road 5, with the French team commenting that the tyres need to be able to match the performance and technology now available in the sport touring category. Making a tyre to do everything well used to be impossible. But with the Road 5, Michelin seem to have managed to make a tyre that will be able to cope with everything a Kiwi motorcyclist is likely to encounter and still manage to offer good mileage. We’ve got a set on our longterm Suzuki GSX-S750, so keep an eye on BRM to see exactly how long it lasts.
And the best bit, the new Road 5 is priced at around 20% less than the outgoing Road 4. So you’re getting better technology, longer mileage and saving cash in your pocket too!