Review: Michelin Pilot Road 4

Aug 11, 2014 View Comments by

Review: Michelin Pilot Road 4Michelin has introduced a slew of new motorcycle tires during the last couple of years. I recently had a chance to try out the new Pilot Road 4 radial sport-touring tires that are designed to improve upon the outgoing Pilot Road 3.

Pilot Road 4 employs Michelin’s X-Sipe Technology (XST) in the tread design. Sipes (thin grooves) are located between wider tread grooves to direct water away from the tire-to-road contact patch in order to reduce the chance of hydroplaning and to improve wet grip. To go along with that, there’s a small chamfer on the sipe edges to decrease tread flex during heavy braking, which reduces wear.

Review: Michelin Pilot Road 4Pilot Road 4 also come in GT and Trail versions. To increase cornering stability on larger, more powerful sport-touring machines, GT rear tire casings include Michelin Dual Angle Technology (2AT), which uses a combination of bias ply and radial construction. This is claimed to increase rigidity by 15 percent.

Trail versions of the PR4 are designed for adventure-touring motorcycles, with a medium-hardness rubber compound at the center of the tread and softer shoulders, using dual compound technology (2CT). Both standard version and GT front tires share the same medium/soft combination as the Trails. Rear standard and GT tires utilize a hard center/medium shoulder rubber compound design.

Michelin held a press ride from Redondo Beach near Los Angeles, climbing the famous serpentine Angeles Crest Highway to the mountain community of Big Bear Lake. I rode a Yamaha FZ1 fitted with standard Pilot Road 4s, and the steering felt light and nimble. In the faster sections, the tires were stable in a straight line, and pavement rain grooves didn’t seem to cause a wiggle. Cornering traction is very good and allowed me to drag footpegs—thanks to the solid grip. The PR4s turn in nicely with a linear feel, are confidence inspiring, and allowed me to hold a steady line through long high-speed sweepers.

A storm had passed through the mountains several days earlier, and there was a lot of dirt and rocks that had fallen down onto the pavement. This required many mid-corner corrections, and the tires were up to the task. In the morning as I left the hotel, the temperature was just above freezing, yet the tires remained pliable in the cold and provided good grip.

There has been no rain in Southern California since the Pilot Road 4s were installed on my Yamaha FZ1, so I can’t comment directly on Michelin’s wet-grip claims. However, the tires obviously have some of the most extensive water-channeling grooves I’ve ever seen on a street tire. In the European market, rain performance is very important.

Michelin reports that independent tests of Pilot 4’s wet-braking distance found it to be 17 percent better than its nearest competitor. Michelin claims the PR4s deliver a 20 percent increase in tread life over its PR3 predecessor. So far, with more than 2,000 miles on them, there’s no loss of grip or handling, nor any sign of appreciable wear.

Michelin Pilot Road 4

Text by Ken Freund
Photography by Kevin Wing


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