Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interact Motorcycle Tires Review

Review by Rich Cox
[This Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interact Motorcycle Tires Review was published in the August 2009 issue of Rider]

Last March Metzeler conducted an overnight press launch in Palm Springs, California, to introduce its latest sport-touring tire, the Roadtec Z6 Interact. I definitely lean toward the “sport” side of the sport-touring genre, therefore I’m well aware of the role that tires play in performance and safety. It may have been this that got me the assignment…or that I happened to have an appropriate motorcycle model (Yamaha FJR1300) at the time.

The original Roadtec Z6 debuted back in 2003, in direct response to our sport-touring bikes bulking-up in every direction: They were getting bigger, heavier and making serious horsepower. These beasts required a tire to do more than just stick—it had to work well in the wet and give reasonable mileage as well. The Z6 was based on Metzeler’s zero-degree radial technology (the first zero-degree steel-belted rear tire being introduced way back in 1992), but it benefited most from a new profile, new compound and new tread design. The original also incorporated “Metzeler Advanced Winding” (MAW), a patented winding system that allows for optimum spacing between the steel bands. By changing the spacing between the belts, engineers can distribute the stiffness differently from shoulder to crown.

It’s now 2009 and times are a-changing again. Metzeler realized that the sport-touring market is once again evolving: it now encompasses a multitude of different makes and models, some fully faired, some stripped naked, some road burners, all with varying personalities. It needed a new tire that offered increased versatility, a tire that could outperform the original throughout an even wider range of usages.

Enter the new Interact. This new tire incorporates all of Metzeler’s latest materials, compounds and processes. The most notable is another evolution of the steel-belted radial structure: a new variable-tension string winding process that allows each strand to have a specific tension for a specific performance need depending on its location in the profile of the tire. Tension relates to friction and heat, which ultimately relates to grip; so this modulation of tension is akin to applying multiple compounds along the tread pattern, only without the “step effect” between them.

The new Interact also benefits from Metzeler’s patented Contour Modeling Technology (CMT), where front and rear tire profile matching is refined through the combinations of different profiles, each of them optimized for a single lean angle—this is real techno stuff, but ultimately plays a major roll in overall handling. Capping off the tire—and apparently only made possible by the new winding process—is an all-new compound featuring the latest synthetic polymers which have had their ingredients more homogeneously blended. Plus this compound now boasts a higher silica percentage (65 percent vs. 30 percent of the Roadtec Z6); this in itself has really contributed to improving the tires’ overall wet behavior.

In addition to heaps of testing data, there were plenty of creative graphs displayed during the intro showing the tire outperforming the original across the board: better traction wet or dry; improved feel; increased stability and more predictability. And after some test miles I was fully aware of feeling more comfortably connected to the road: turn-ins were light and easy and the tires projected a rock solid feel throughout, even at the extreme edges of their footprint. I truly became more trusting, even saw my aggression spike: My old FJR’s footpegs aren’t virgins anymore. Don’t, however, expect the Interacts to give any more mileage than the Z6s did. It’s still more about overall performance in this class, not absolute mileage. But they have seen their “end of life total behavior” expanded, meaning you can trust this tire to perform almost as well at the end of its life, as in the beginning. It’s said this tire has a quicker warm-up, too—nice to know when charging into that first on-ramp in the chilly a.m. Wet-weather performance? Hmmm, no opportunity to test it as of yet.

These new Interacts incorporate a new way of blending multiple technologies that, in itself, create an all-new technology. There’s no question that Metzeler has again raised its own bar, with a better overall performing tire and a safer one as well—and that’s good for all of us in the sport-touring world.

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