Touring tires on large bikes undergo a torture test every summer. Weighing 900 pounds or more fully loaded, these behemoths of the two-wheeled world place a huge demand on tires, which also have to provide long life, excellent traction and grip–even in the rain–at an affordable price. For a recent cross-country trip from Southern California to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and back, I decided to give Michelin Scorcher 31 tires a try on my Road Glide Ultra. Recently approved for use with the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, Road Glide and Street Glide, the 31s are also the original equipment tire for almost all of the Sportster and Dyna models and made for the Harley brand with small “Bar and Shield” emblems molded into the sidewalls.
Road conditions varied significantly from state to state on this cross-country ride, from horrible to smooth as glass. The Scorchers handled it all with aplomb. Bumps and potholes were dealt with smoothly with little directional deviation, in part thanks to Michelin’s Amplified Density Technology (ADT), which gives them a stiffer carcass. In curves up to and exceeding floorboard contact with the road, they always maintained a steady lean angle, which was particularly noteworthy during spirited riding on California mountain back roads. There were even a few sections of unanticipated dirt road in New Hampshire (thanks GPS) on which the tires felt well planted and stable, with little loss of traction even under (intentional) hard acceleration. There was naturally some slippage but they were predictable and didn’t kick out to the side.
Riding two-up the Scorchers were comfortable and handled freeway rain grooves with just a little wiggle, although on severe grooving such as the Mackinac Bridge metal gratings, they did wander a little bit. Again, nothing alarming, but enough to let you know you had better pay attention. Temporary patches in the roadways, also known as “tar snakes,” resulted in a little bit of a squirm but nothing unnerving, and on rough freeway roads throughout the New York area my Road Glide kept its solid footing when dodging large potholes. On the back roads of Michigan, which are treated quite roughly with snowplows, the Scorchers did not seem to be adversely influenced by grooves in the roadways. They remained well planted and responded well to input.
Overall, the Michelin Scorcher 31 tires are a nice upgrade from the stock tires on touring bikes. Michelin put quite a bit of R&D into these tires and it shows. Depending on size, prices range from $187 to $347.
For more information, see your dealer or visit motorcycle.michelinman.com.