Among all of the different types of motorcycle tires out there, those we have the highest expectations of are certainly sport-touring tires. If a sport tire wears out quickly or a street-legal knobby squirms a bit in corners, no one is taken aback.
But sport-touring tires are expected to stick wet or dry, handle well, wear like iron, run quietly and comfortably and carry big loads. The already huge variety of bikes they have to do all of this on is expanding, too. Now that more sportbike riders are commuting on their formerly weekend-only machines, for example, they also need a tire that works in the wet and lasts longer than one lap of the turnpike.
Count some adventure-bike guys in that growing group too, and in fact for this test of Michelin’s new Pilot Road 3 sport-touring tires we decided to try them on a Suzuki V-Strom 650. Like most S-T tires the Pilot Road 3s have no offroad pretensions, but neither do many adventure-touring riders. If you have finally accepted the fact that you’re never going to set a wheel on a dirt road unless it’s being repaved, the only argument for keeping those blocky trailie tires on your adventure machine is that they look cool.
Well, so do the Pilot Road 3s, especially since they have Michelin’s new XST Sipe Technology, a series of narrow channels and reservoirs running among the tread grooves that store and force more water out to the sides, away from the contact patch. The varied depth and performance of these additional sipes helps the Pilot Road 3s wear more evenly and outperform the previous 2s in the wet for the life of the tire, a critical sport-touring edge. Michelin says it has also updated its 2CT dual-compound technology for the 3s to give them four-percent better longevity than the 2s. Dual-compounding puts harder rubber in the center of the tire for straight-up wear resistance, and softer rubber in the cornering tread for better grip (illustrated below).
Our Pennsylvania-based test rider reported that levering the 85/15 percent onroad/offroad-biased tires off his 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and spooning on the Michelin Pilot Road 3s had a dramatically positive effect on the bike’s handling. He says the bike tips-in more smoothly now, the tires are quieter and have great grip, and that he’s riding faster and braking harder with more confidence in the wet or dry.
Michelin Pilot Road 3s come in tubeless radial sizes to fit most adventure, sport and sport-touring bikes. The 180/55ZR-17 rear is also available in a “B” version specifically designed for loaded sport-touring or riding two-up.
We’ll have another report after we get a chance to mount a set of Pilot Road 3s on a genuine sport-touring bike. Based on our positive experiences with the former Pilot Road 2s on FJR1300s, the Concours 14 and others, however (and the 3’s shared profile, load capacity, etc.), the Michelin Pilot Road 3s should offer the same enhanced capabilities on these bikes, too.
For more information: See your dealer or michelinmotorcycle.com