The Michelin Pilot Road 4s are a sport-touring tyres designed for all conditions, from highway miles to traversing the twisties in the wet. Test: Richard Collins
Michelin kindly sent a set of their latest sport touring tyres, the Pilot Road 4s, to shoe my 2001 Ducati 900 Supersport. The 4s are aimed at the sport touring sector, which is where many of us frequent.
That is, we want grip in corners, wet or dry but also to cover some straight kilometres to get to the twisties, track day or PI for MotoGP or WSBK. The new range builds upon the Pilot Road 3 range that I have used before but the Pilot Road 4 range takes it a few steps further.
The very first impression is that the front is akin to a racing wet tyre. Tyres on, pumped up to suit the Ducati, it was time to test the release claims.
The day was very cold but dry and with new tyres some caution was applied to scrub in the tyres and bring them up to temperature. Honestly, within 20km on the way to the twisties, I had forgotten the tyres were new and was able to hook in with confidence.
The test road is one I know very well, down to the last bump and iffy bits with dampness, moss and sand. The 4s were amazing and transformed the bike’s handling and my confidence in the tyres. I have a passionate dislike of bumpy roads, particularly in corners, however thinking about the ride at the first stop I realised that the bike handled so much better without the usual, ‘better back off here’ thoughts.
Now the 900 is no superbike and power is much less than even the 600cc four-cylinder supersports but the torque of the V-twin allows punching out of corners much quicker and side grip is paramount to capitalise on this.
The 4s are very sticky indeed and inspection of the tyres in the privacy of my shed, not in full view at the café – which I find a bit knobby, did not show the acceleration tears experienced with other tyres.
Riding so far has been dry and I can’t believe I am writing this, but I am looking forward to a wet ride. If the tyres meet wet road claims, as well as they do the dry road claims, then it is going to be fun rather than sphincter!
The worst-case scenario test was on the Old Road (Pacific Highway, Central Coast ,NSW) where there is a corner affectionately known as ‘the freezer’ by locals. This is a downhill right-hander featuring ripples/bumps, green moss and a solid sandstone run off – it’s utterly horrible.
I need to go back and push my envelope more, but the 4s certainly handled those conditions admirably and certainly quicker than usual.
While not many kilometres have been done so far, first impressions are excellent and the tyres will outperform my skills. I’m looking forward to a wet ride, track days and the inevitable slabbing to see how the centre compounds stand up to claims.
I met a CBR1000RR rider at Mt White café who had the 4s on for a while. Loved them, no complaints, wet or dry but not enough time to determine longevity as yet.
The new range has three variants – Standard, GT and Trail. Within the Standard range, the tyres would be suited to the readers who cover some straight kilometres but still want cornering performance in both wet and dry conditions.
There are two front and three rear sizes available which means tyres are available for larger capacity learner legal bikes through to superbikes.
Fronts and rears feature Michelin’s 2CT technology, providing zones with different hardness/softness between the centre and the shoulders. Rears work harder than fronts and feature a more resilient (harder) zone in the centre (20 per cent of the tyre) for slabbing rides and the shoulders a medium compound for cornering. Fronts feature a medium centre zone (60 per cent of the tyre) with soft compound shoulders for cornering. The GT range is designed for heavier bikes, such as the 1300cc BMWs/Yamaha and the Kawasaki 1400.
TECHNOLOGY AND PERFORMANCE
The Pilot Road 4 is the result of ongoing development from the respected Pilot Road 3. According to Michelin the 4 provides 10 per cent better grip on wet and dry roads, with 20 per cent extra longevity than the Pilot Road 3. Independent tests showed 17 per cent better braking than rival tyres in wet conditions on smooth concrete and 24 per cent better on surfaces similar to painted road markings.
- 2CT (dual) compound technology for grip and wear depending on which part of the tyre is in contact with the road. Michelin first introduced dual compound tyres as far back as 1994 for the 500cc GP bikes.
- XST sipe technology with water storage for better water removal in wet conditions. Sipes are the grooves cut in tyres to provide a path for water to be removed from the tyre.
- Chamfered sipes across the front tyre provide better front tyre grip particularly during braking in the wet. These sipes are designed to help break up the water film between the tyre and the road surface.
- Dual angle technology (2AT) where the plies that make up the tyre construction are laid at different angles for greater rigidity whilst providing better flexibility.