Metzeler Cruisetec: Cruiser Tires with a Hint of Sportbike

Apr 06, 2019 View Comments by

Metzeler Cruisetec: Cruiser Tires with a Hint of Sportbike

In recent years, cruiser motorcycles have been getting more powerful with higher levels of performance, leading to increased demands on their tires. These performance gains require more tire grip during acceleration, braking, and cornering. Metzeler has answered the call with an all-new tire series called Cruisetec.

The Cruisetec tire is engineered to improve handling and grip on cruiser motorcycles, both new and old. It’s intended for the performance-minded enthusiast who prioritizes cornering and braking traction more than just straight-line longevity. Keep in mind, though, that tire life is reported to be long, and performance consistent throughout Cruisetec’s service life.

Metzeler Cruisetec: Cruiser Tires with a Hint of SportbikeMetzeler’s engineers started from scratch when they designed a new dual-compound tire built to meet the needs of hefty large- and mid-sized cruiser bikes. This new rubber compound results in a better cornering feel, improved braking performance and stability, and impressive wet-weather traction. Cruisetec also features a revised tread pattern that further improves wet grip, which they report outperforms Metzeler’s ME 888 Marathon Ultra in rainy conditions. This tire is also meant to optimize performance in situations where rapid electronic rider aids are operating, such as ABS and traction control.

RoadRUNNER and other motorcycle journalists attended the press launch where Salvo Pennisi, Global Head of Testing for Metzeler, spoke. As an avid rider, Pennisi has been testing and racing motorcycles for more than four decades. He was instrumental in developing and testing the Cruisetec line, and he led the press ride through the twisty Arkansas countryside like a proud father.

Metzeler’s staff chose as the site to hold its press launch the appropriately named Magazine Mountain, which is the highest point in Arkansas and is part of the lovely Mount Magazine State Park. The area abounds in twisty roads and scenic overlooks, which are well-suited to a tire introduction and evaluation. We enjoyed the countless turns on Arkansas SR 309, especially those near The Lodge at Magazine Mountain.

We rode a wide selection of motorcycles, aging from the latest to those about a decade old, including popular models from Indian and Harley-Davidson. During breaks, we were able to switch off, which enabled a chance to sample the Cruisetecs on a variety of chassis comparable to what you, our readers, typically ride.

For my testing, I first familiarized myself with the specific bike I was on, and then gradually increased the throttle, braking, and cornering inputs to find the limits of the tires. Cruisetec performance delivered a smooth, confidence-inspiring ride on all sorts of pavement conditions including asphalt and concrete, with both smooth and deteriorated surfaces. The tires don’t chase longitudinal seams such as cracks and rain grooves. They feel stable, sure, and vibration-free at highway velocities, while also working well at parking lot speeds with light and easy turning characteristics.

Metzeler Cruisetec motorcycle tiresAs we turned up the wick and increased the pace, Cruisetec’s combination of cornering grip and braking performance became apparent. Holding a line through corners was noticeably easy, and transitions from side to side were quicker with less effort required than typically found on cruisers.

Whereas most cruiser tires have a low-curvature cross section designed to optimize straight-line mileage and stability, Cruisetec uses a high-curvature contour. By sneaking some sportbike tire design into the Cruisetec, Metzeler delivers a cross section that trades a slightly reduced straight-line footprint for faster, more nimble, yet confident, side-to-side transitions. It offers a bigger footprint while leaned over, resulting in improved cornering feel and grip. Cruisetec tires use a softer compound in front, along with a dual-compound in the rear which is softer on the shoulders and harder in the center to reduce wear and “squaring off.” The softer edges provide the sporty feel and cornering grip.

The Cruisetecs remain stable under hard braking, and allow the rider to even go to full ABS activation in straight-line raking without fear of the outcome. Metzeler reports that Cruisetec’s improved braking performance over the Marathon is due to the diverging grooves that branch out to the shoulder edges, along with the center section’s crossing grooves.

Metzeler claims that Cruisetec’s higher-curvature design, paired with the dual-compound rear tire tread, allows consistent performance through 80 percent of the tire’s life and contributes to longer tire life. We of course weren’t able to verify this during a one-day ride.

The overall impression the Cruisetecs leave is one of confidence; they did everything well. These tires let you accelerate, brake, and lean to the bike’s limits. It’s obvious that a lot of design and development work went into them, and they shine as a quality performance cruiser tire.

Cruisetec is now the flagship of Metzeler’s cruiser and touring lineup. The ME 888 Marathon Ultra remains the all-around cruiser tire, and the ME 77 Perfect is Metzeler’s answer for the custom bike segment. The new Cruisetec is available in a wide range of popular cruiser sizes, including 16, 17, 18, 19, and 21-inch front wheels and 16, 17, and 18-inch rear wheels. Get them at your local dealer or your favorite online retailer.

Text: Ken Freund
Photography: Metzeler

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