There are many dedicated sport-touring motorcycles to choose from, but sport touring—anything from a weekend trip to a yearlong escape that puts a premium on lean angle—can be done on just about any motorcycle, from a sportbike clad in soft luggage to a fully-farkled adventure bike. Given the broad range of motorcycles used for sport touring, Michelin’s latest S-T tire, the Pilot Road 4, comes in three flavors—a standard version for lighter-weight sportbikes and standards (like the Honda CB500F, Yamaha FZ-09 and Kawasaki Z1000); a GT version for heavyweight sport tourers (such as the BMW R 1200 RT, Triumph Trophy and Yamaha FJR1300); and a Trail version for adventure bikes that will stay primarily on pavement (think Aprilia Caponord 1200, Ducati Multistrada 1200 or Suzuki V-Strom 650/1000).
Michelin’s 2CT Dual-Compound Technology uses a harder compound in the center of the tire for higher mileage and a softer compound on the shoulders for better grip when leaned over. The standard and GT versions of the Pilot Road 4 use three different compounds—a soft compound for the shoulders of the front tire; a medium compound for the center of the front and the shoulders of the rear tire; and a hard compound for the center of the rear tire. The Trail version has the same front/rear compound mix, with a medium compound in the center and a soft compound on the shoulders. The illustration on the right shows how the compounds are distributed for each version.
The Pilot Road 3, introduced in 2011, was the first motorcycle tire to be offered with a patented design Michelin calls X-Sipe Technology (XST). Between the large rain grooves that are common on all motorcycle street tires are narrow sipes with small pockets that act like mini reservoirs, channeling more water away from the contact patch. Pilot Road 4s feature next-generation X-Sipe Technology, called XST+, with chamfers on the leading edge of the sipes to reduce premature wear and improve grip.
To improve stability for heavy sport-touring bikes, the Pilot Road 4 GT rear tire uses a new patented architecture called Michelin 2AT, or dual-angle technology. By combining bias-ply and radial construction in a single tire, 2AT optimizes load-bearing capacity (from the bias-ply) and flexibility/comfort (from the radial ply). The rear GT is 15-percent stiffer and has one less ply than the Pilot Road 3 “B.” Michelin says this new architecture is a major reason that BMW Motorrad approved the Pilot Road 4 as an original-equipment tire for the liquid-cooled 2014 BMW R 1200 RT (approximately 40 percent of bikes are delivered with Pilot Road 4s).
Sport-touring tires should provide good grip on dry and wet pavement as well as long life. Based on test results from Dekra, an independent vehicle inspection company based in Germany, Michelin claims that Pilot Road 4s last 20-percent longer than Pilot Road 3s. And, on average, wet braking performance is 17-percent better than competing tires (Bridgestone T30, Dunlop Roadsmart 2, Metzeler Z8 Interact and Pirelli Angel GT). Michelin attributes these results to its proprietary compounds and the improved X-Sipe Technology. Furthermore, Michelin says the Pilot Road 4 has a 90-degree operating range; that is, its handling and performance will be the same across a broad range of temperatures, from 23 degrees to 113 degrees F.
Michelin spooned a fresh set of Pilot Road 4 GT tires on our 2014 BMW R 1200 RT test bike. Over the course of several days, I rode several hundred miles on concrete superslabs, technical mountain roads and city streets, in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees in Big Bear to 100 degrees in Los Angeles. After scrubbing the tires in, I pushed them to deeper and deeper lean angles on Angeles Crest Highway, a famously serpentine ridge road that was very dirty due to high winds and recent rains. Even though the RT weighs 623 pounds fully fueled, and well over 800 pounds with me and loaded saddlebags and top trunk aboard, it felt stable at any speed, predictable in any corner and compliant over any road surface. The Pilot Road 4’s slightly narrower, less rounded profile (compared to the Pilot Road 3) gives the tires quicker turn-in and better grip when leaned over, but they never felt darty.
It’s too early to evaluate wear and the severe drought we’re having in Southern California means that wet grip remains an open question, but dry grip and handling get high marks. To find out if Pilot Road 4 tires are compatible with your motorcycle, visit http://motorcycle.michelinman.com/tires/michelin-pilot-road-4#compatibility.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: See your dealer or visit michelinmotorcycle.com