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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Michelin PR 4 tyre review for anoraks

Perhaps I should explain the title of this post for readers who are unfamiliar with the item of clothing in the title line when it is used in a mildly derogatory way by those with British connections!  To call someone an anorak is to describe a person with a nerdy obsession.  It probably stems from from the days of UK steam trains when legions of train-spotters would collect train numbers as they passed, often wearing anoraks to protect them from the crappy British weather.  Let me say right now, dear reader, that I don't currently possess an anorak although I did have one in my teens.  It doesn't stop my darling wife Jennie calling me one though if I talk about motorcycles too much but that's ok as I've been called far worse on numerous occasions.

Getting back on topic...... every so often, fellow moto-blogger Julian Pearce and I will swap our experiences with oils, chain lube, tyres and pretty much anything else we have a common interest in.  This time it's tyres, especially as Jules and I have both been using Michelin PR4's on our road bikes.

Going back a bit, I used Michelin PR3's then PR4's on my Street Triple and found them nigh on perfect for the type of riding I do.  Phenomenal grip in the wet and not too shabby when pressing on in the dry either.  The only slight disappointment was that Michelin's claim of a 20% increase in tyre life compared with the PR3 did not materialise in practice - they were virtually identical for a higher price.  On the other hand as I mentioned in another blog post, the PR4 front tyre felt slightly more planted than the PR3; perhaps due to the bigger spacing between sipes.  All things considered, the price difference between the 3 and 4 didn't really bother me.

When I bought the Suzuki GSX-S 1000 just over a year ago, it came fitted with Dunlop D214's.  For my particular requirements, they were horrible things.  Being a pure sport tyre, it takes a bit of heat to make them grip.  The often damp, cooler conditions of an NZ winter didn't give the level of grip which inspired confidence and there was no way I was going to rely on the Suzuki traction control to stop me skating along on my arse.  Also, the flatter 50 profile of the tyres slowed turn-in and it was easy to run off the edge of the tyre at decent angles of lean.  The final turn-off was tyre life.  I'd destroyed the rear D214 in a mere 3700 km from new and to replace them at that frequency would bankrupt me!  A good example of "fitness for purpose".

Rear D214 at 3700 km from new - not much tread pattern to start with but rather less now!

It was a no-brainer to replace them with PR4 sport-touring tyres, but go for the 55 profile rather than 50 as the sharper profile would assist with a more rapid turn-in.  Some photos of the pristine PR3's and 4's and a review of the PR3 can be found HERE .  

Well, it's now approximately 12,500 km later and they've just been replaced.  They've done one track day and most of the remaining k's have been generally spirited riding with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and minimal commuting.  The centre of the rear tyre was down to the legal minimum tread depth of 1.5 mm and the front hoop was a shade above 2 mm at the same position.  Pointless to extract every last km from them when they are such an integral part of staying upright.

So how did they go? Well, I'm pretty pleased with the distance they lasted, considering what they've had to put up with.  Going to a 55 profile was also a good move as turn-in was noticeably quicker.  Can't take the credit for this as one of my IAM friends, Rob Van Proemeren, had previously done the same to his Hayabusa and was delighted with the improvement in handling.

Equally importantly, front and rear PR4's retained a good profile for most of their life. It was only in the last 1000 km or so that the rear showed obvious signs of flattening in the centre and the front showed flattening towards the edge.  Here are some photos taken at ~12,500 km from new.

Rear PR4

With the rear, it can be seen that the centre part of the tyre is starting to flatten as you might expect, but not excessively so.  This would be principally due to the dual compound construction, aided and abetted by never having a pillion passenger and a relatively light bike.  It can also be seen in the right hand photo that despite some enthusiastic riding including a track day, the wear marks don't quite extend to the edge of the tyre. Compared with running off the edge of the D214, this is is almost entirely due to the higher crown of the 55 profile.  I guess it also gives a larger contact patch when leaned over.

Front PR4

The front tyre is also in pretty good shape but is starting to get flats on the outer edge of the tyre.  The  probable cause is that the bike spends a fair amount of time in the twisties where countersteering is a "must" to make progress!

So in summary, how have the PR4's gone on the Suzuki?  The answer is that they've delivered everything I'm likely to want from a tyre for the type of riding I do.  Phenomenal wet weather grip, good in dry conditions and even handled a track day ok.  Would I replace them with another set?  Certainly would, BUT.......

....... the Metzler Roadtec 01's have been getting great reviews since their release earlier this year and I'm not so one-eyed as not being open to doing a comparison this time around. Price is comparable with the PR4 so why not give them a go to test longevity and performance?  Today's activity involved a 320 km round trip to my favourite dealer to have them fitted and here they are:


The new Metzler Roadtec 01's

Coming away from the dealer, the bike felt like it wanted flop over, such was its sensitivity and I was ultra-cautious about slow speed tight turns until I got used to the rapid turn-in compared with the PR4. The most likely reason is because of the imperceptible flattening off of the PR4 which is impossible to pick up on a daily basis and we don't notice that the rate of turn-in is affected. However, the true tyre characteristics will become apparent over the coming weeks and months, so expect another thrilling post entitled "Metzler Roadtec 01's for Anoraks", or something pretty similar!

As a parting remark on wheels and transmissions, particularly for us chain-driven luddites, I've periodically commented on my near-fruitless quest to find a decent replacement for the wonderful DuPont teflon product which was discontinued without notice in 2012.  One of the chain lubes I've tried since then (a Castrol product) was truly hideous, flinging itself over everything despite marketing claims to the contrary.  Others were a dirt magnet but Maxima Chain Wax was pretty darned good.  Unfortunately, my dealer had run out when I needed some 6 months about ago so reluctantly accepted some Tirox synthetic chain wax on their recommendation.  So glad I did!  Like the DuPont product, it has a Teflon base and and dries to a non-tacky finish and no fling!  The chain stays totally clean and I haven't had to adjust the tension during the time it's been used, so it looks like we're onto a winner.  The only negative is that it doesn't seem to come with a fine application pipe.  No big deal as I had one laying around.  This is the product:
Tirox chain wax - does the business!

New tyres, warm, sunny weather and mutton dressed as lamb

18 comments:

  1. Anorak or duffel coat Geoff, I had both.....

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    1. Just an anorak Nick, I had a reversible one which was blue on one side and orange on the other - really sad! A close friend had a duffel coat with those wooden toggles. He bought a Lambretta scooter soon afterwards and graduated to a parka with a fur-trimmed hood. Couldn't take the mickey for him being a Mod as I only had a Suzuki 50 and would have been on the receiving end of some serious scorn.

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    2. A parka with a fur trimmed hood! I probably went through that phase too but I graduated to a German navy trenchcoat when at university, it had smart anchor motifed buttons....

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    3. Crikey - what sartorial elegance! My only transport in those days was my Tiger 100 so clothing was normally restricted to disgustingly filthy waxed cotton Belstaffs, supplemented by torn jeans from falling off on winter roads!

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    4. Top write up as always Geoff. Keep em coming always interested.

      Tony

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    5. Thank you Tony! will try to do an update or two on the Roadtec 01's. Must get out in the wet on them!

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  2. There was another 1,000km in those tyres Geoff ;)

    The Connie's rubber seems to be lasting longer lately (less kms ridden dagnabbit!) and I'm in love with PR4's so probably not going to bother trying anything else until PR5's come out...

    Incidentally, a lot of Connie riders use a 55 rear for exactly the same reason as you outline. I've yet to bother as the old girl handles pretty well as far as I'm concerned.

    Don't ask me about chain lube...

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    1. Maybe Andrew, but it was a gorgeous day and I fancied a nice ride :-). Very pleased that you've had the same experiences. I've had multiple 3's and 4's on my bikes now which speaks for itself.

      Aha! Didn't know that - thanks for the heads-up.

      Alright, I won't but still curious :-)

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  3. I'll have to keep a look out for that chain lube, can't say I've seen it anywhere. I've used the maxima and its pretty good, less fling off.

    Nice review of the PR4, michelin are pretty solid wet tyres and good in the dry too.
    I've just put a set of Bridgestone S21 on my R1, I can't afford to replace the RS-10's every 2500kms so I'm hoping for around 7000kms out of them.

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  4. Hi Steve,
    I'm quite happy with Maxima too bu the chain does stay cleaner with Tirox. Dealers round here seem to change brands fairly often so might buy several cans to ensure supply!

    Wear is a real problem with pure sports tyres, isn't it? If you do lots of trackdays or relatively low distances it's probably not too bad. I do up to 20 k a year and they would bankrupt me!

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  5. Mutton dressed as a lamb........ Great photo though.

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    1. Haha! Once, when I remarked to Jennie that I was a "chick magnet" in those leathers, she remarked, "until you take your helmet off". That's why the helmet is still on in the photo :-)

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  6. Thanks for another interesting and well written blog Geoff...I have to say Jennie is a superb if brutal realist

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  7. Hey Loui and thank you! She is indeed, keeping me totally under control. She is also inclined to think that all engineers border on OCD. I couldn't possibly comment!

    Safe riding........

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  8. Good info. I have been running the PR4 on my VFR 1200 and they work great.

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    1. Hi Thomas, great to hear from you. That's good to hear. Do you run the GT or the standard version? One of my IAM colleagues has to run GT's on his ST 1300 due to the weight affecting life and wear patterns on the standard tyre. I suspect that the VFR is significantly lighter though. PR4's weren't available when I had my Blackbird but that was notoriously hard on front tyres and suspect that a GT would have been the front tyre of choice.

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  9. Geoff, thanks forreferencing me! I don't think the term 'mutton' suits you at all - motorcyclist is far more fitting.As fate would have it I'm getting a new rear tyre fitted this week, but will stick with the PR4, however, I am going to try the 55 profile this time rather than the 50. Did you check the manufacture date on the Metzler? Also, do those Oxford panniers have a heat reflective base? I've just bought some unused, second hand pannier for a couple of two-up trips, but the base of them is within 1-2cm of my exhausts.

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  10. Hi Jules,
    No worries and thanks - motorcyclist will be fine! I think you'll find the 55 profile will make a huge difference to your turn-in. It certainly did for me and you'll note Andrew's comments regarding Connies too. I didn't check the manufacturing date of the Metzlers as they were only released onto the market this year but have now done so.... the front was made week 9 2016 and rear was made in week 18 2016.

    No heat resistance on my Oxford soft luggage but isn't an issue due to my low muffler. I won them at my last 1000 miles in under 24 hours event in 2010 but couldn't use them on the Street Triple because of the high mounted mufflers. Perfect for the Suzuki though!

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