Michelin Road 5: Coming to Grips with New Rubber

Jun 01, 2018 View Comments by



At the Michelin world press launch for the new Road 5 tire line, held outside of Seville, Spain, at the Circuito Monteblanco track and the surrounding countryside, we had a full day to ride a variety of motorcycles fitted with their new rubber on public roads, and under dry and wet track conditions.

Proclaimed as a “High Tech Sport-Touring Tire,” Michelin designed the fifth-generation Road 5 for road use by most types of street bikes. It replaces the outgoing Pilot Road 4 and comes in two versions (standard and trail). We test rode the standards. The trail tires, designed with a more aggressive tread pattern for large adventure used mainly on-road, will be along soon.

Tech Briefing
The Road 5 benefits from recent innovations, notably Michelin’s adaptive casing technology (ACT+), optimized rubber compounds, and the company’s XST Evo progressive siping (rain grooves) technology for improved water evacuation. The use of metal-additive manufacturing technology, which permits the making of highly sophisticated molds, has allowed Michelin to deliver better grip on wet roads, as well as offering long tire life. Michelin tests show that Road 5 tires with 3,000 miles on them brake as short as new Pilot Road 4s, its predecessor, and yet the Road 5s still provide outstanding grip in dry conditions.

To improve grip performance in wet and dry conditions with no detriment to wear, the rubber compounds developed for the Road 5 employ new elastomers and formulations. The way these compounds are laid across the Road 5’s tread is the result of two Michelin technologies: CT front and CT+ rear. The front tires feature two types of all-silica compound, one for the crown and the other for the shoulders, in order to ensure the best handling in all situations and to combat understeer. The rear tires combine an all-silica compound for the crown (with a higher silica concentrate than that used in the front tire for greater resistance to wear) with an all-carbon black compound for the shoulders. This is said to produce superior dry-weather grip without detriment to the tire’s grip in wet weather, since the outer shoulders of the rear tire rarely come into contact with the road surface in wet conditions.

Most of my Road 5 street miles were spent on a new Yamaha MT-09, which is a sporty and potent 900cc naked triple with plenty of cornering clearance for steep lean angles. It also has a competent chassis and excellent brakes, which makes tire evaluation easier. Our ride consisted of a brief stint on the highway to get a feel for the Road 5’s manners there. At speed, the tires feel stable and planted, with no noticeable tendency to chase rain grooves or other longitudinal pavement seams. Heavy straight-line braking is also stable with very good grip.

We spent a lot of time on some fantastic rural mountain roads, with good pavement, which allowed us to turn up the wick. Many sections between villages were more like roller-coaster rides, with continuous ups and downs and left-to-right transitions. The Road 5 performed well, with low steering effort and quick turn in. The transitions felt linear, with no sudden “drop in” when you get to a certain point, like some tires do. The tires’ outer shoulders have no rain grooves (none are needed there), which provides an unbroken surface similar to a racing slick. This allows aggressive cornering way over near the limit in dry conditions. This let us lean the bikes over until the foot pegs were scraping hard. Overall, the Road 5 rubber was confidence-inspiring with no discernible bad habits.

After our street ride we returned to the track, where Michelin had a series of tasks for us to participate in. The first had us riding Ducati Supersports on the dry high-speed track for several laps, followed by several hot laps on BMW S 1000 XR models. Although we barely had time to get acquainted with the track layout, it soon became apparent that the Road 5 tires have enough grip for riding quite fast and aggressively on both types of bikes.
Next, we rode a series of laps on a different section of the track with water spraying upon it. The Road 5 tires maintained their grip and allowed us to ride fairly fast without slipping, sliding, or mishap. They also allowed us to brake safely at maximum rate using full ABS intervention. A Michelin test rider even demonstrated “stoppies” on the fully wet track! The Road 5 demonstrated impressive wet performance along with very good, dry grip and should be considered a good choice, especially for commuters and riders who often ride in wet conditions.

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