Just because tire treads wear, that doesn’t mean traction has to suffer.
Needless to say, I’ve put more than a few kilometres on my Suzuki Gladius SFV650. This past summer, I rolled over 75,000 km and experienced some of the best riding I’ve ever done. The roads were the same, but the tires were different.
I rode on a set of Michelin Road 5 tires – a new model for the brand at the time – and the company boasted the Road 5s provide exceptional performance on wet and dry surfaces along with significant longevity while touring. The Michelin Pilot Road 4 model, the Road 5’s predecessor, was a fan favourite because it offered longevity and all-round performance. However, the company thought it could do better.
I didn’t take tires into account very much for most of my riding days. (I know that’s wrong.) Part of my issue was I just didn’t know enough about tires to form an opinion about which ones I should use. Then a few years back, when I put 70/30 street/dirt tires on my Gladius – a move instigated by my penchant for riding off-road on my street bike – I lost all confidence during cornering and was hesitant to ride on slightly wet surfaces because those tires were very rigid and displaced very little water.
When I threw the Michelin Road 5s on my bike, I felt like I had my bike and my confidence back almost immediately. One of my first trips on those tires was a 300-km round trip to go camping with friends. It rained the whole weekend. Instead of staying at camp and watching the brooding skies, I was excited to ride in the rain, as I knew how well my Road 5s would handle on wet roads. My trip soon had another 300 km added on – all in the rain.
Since 2011, Michelin has used its XST (X-Sipe Technology) technology, which was created to break through the film of surface water and disperse it from the treads to offer better traction in wet conditions. While the Pilot Road 4 is a good tire, when the treads would wear, the siping technology suffered and caused instability in the wet.
Michelin has incorporated its XST Evo siping system in the Road 5s. These new and improved siping grooves widen throughout the life of the tire to ensure a constant level of safety and inspire rider confidence when riding on wet surfaces. These siping grooves’ trapezoid shape clear water more efficiently than previous iterations of Michelin tires as the Road 5s wear. Another interesting feature of the Road 5s is that all the tread grooves have small siping ridges to clear water even more.
Furthermore, Michelin employs new elastomers and formulations to improve handling and increase longevity of the Road 5 tires compared with their predecessors.
The front Road 5 tire uses a silica compound technology Michelin calls 2CT: a hard strip of rubber comprises the crown and sidewall of the tire, while a softer rubber compound forms the shoulder of the tire.
The rear Road 5 tire uses 2CT+ technology, which is similar to the 2CT but with a higher concentration of silica on the crown of the tire to increase tire longevity and a carbon-black compound comprising the shoulder’s compound. Neither 2CT or 2CT+ technology hinders the wet-weather grip of the tire.
In addition, Michelin uses its patented Adaptive Casing Technology (ACT+) to provide varying degrees of rigidity to the tire’s shoulders for better straight-line and cornering performance from a responsive sidewall that won’t tuck or flex while cornering the bike.
I’ve put 2,200 km on my Road 5 tires so far and I’m really enjoying the improvement in performance, tracking and stopping power.
I feel confident riding at speed with the Road 5s on my SFV650, and I’ve also found the stopping power to be impressive. Trail braking into corners and emergency stopping in wet and dry conditions can be done safely without loss of traction. As well, my motorcycle doesn’t have ABS and I soon realized how much I trust my tires to maintain traction and stability on the road.
Michelin is so confident in its Road 5 tires that it claims that these tires will have the same stopping power in wet and dry conditions after 5,600 km as a brand-new set of Pilot Road 4 tires does, mainly because of the XST Evo sipe technology.
Although I wasn’t able to put as many kilometres on my motorcycle this past year as I would’ve liked, I parked it at the end of the riding season feeling excited to get my Michelin Road 5s on the road again in the spring.
My verdict: Michelin Road 5s provide exceptional control and stability in wet and dry conditions without sacrificing manoeuvrability and tracking. This tire should be at the top of riders’ lists of long-lasting wet-weather tires for most sport touring motorcycles.