I'VE HAD Michelin’s new Pilot Road 4s fitted to my ’05 KTM 660 SMC for the past month, and so far I’m seriously impressed.
I've always fitted my bikes with dedicated sports tyres. I do most of my miles through the summer so I figured it’s worth getting something as 'sticky' as possible. Mistake number one.
My old Continental ContiAttack SM tyres performed brilliantly, in perfect conditions. I had them fitted for several trackdays over 2013’s warm summer and they were flawless. The rear never broke loose and the front end gave me loads of feedback, enough so that I didn’t lose it at Graham Hill Bend when it started to tuck.
But there lies the problem. If you hadn’t given them several warm-up laps on a scorching hot trackday, they were fairly uninspiring. The rear tyre would spin at the sight of moisture and the front wouldn’t instill any confidence. And it might be a sad reality, but those are the conditions you’ll be encountering 99% of the time. Sunny weather and dry high-friction surfaces don't usually pave the way to the workplace, not where I live anyway.
Whilst the new Michelins were being fitted by FWR, the heavens opened up. I always knew the PR4’s would perform much better in the wet than semi-slicks. But when I eventually got to ride on them, it was the feedback they delivered, and not just the grip, that had me gobsmacked.
Surprisingly, they felt much harder than any tyre I’ve ridden on before, but I could feel they had tons of grip on offer. The 660 SMC has a decent amount of torque and fairly short gear ratios, so it’s not hard to either break traction or lift the front wheel up, but I couldn’t get the rear to spin.
I was giving it handfuls of throttle in second gear, in the rain, and nothing would happen but acceleration. I would try and catch it out with a dab of front brake to unload the rear tyre and then more throttle, but again, nothing would happen other than forward momentum.
I waited to find a particularly wet and glossy patch of tarmac to abuse the rear on. I saw an ideal patch, slowed to 20mph and gave it a handful of throttle and dropped the clutch. The rear tyre gripped, the front wheel lifted, absolutely no dramas whatsoever. And this was in the wet, under three miles from the garage, so a big middle-finger-up to the recommended break-in period. And the warm-up period for that matter too.
And front-end grip was no different either. I never gave the Brembo brakes enough of a workout to lock the front tyre, but grip at the front was predictable and progressive under braking.
I’ve now had a play in the dry too and really get on with the tyre’s profile. It's not aggressive, it feels rounded but retains that flickable feel, and I didn’t notice it to be any slower-steering than any other sports tyres I’ve ridden on.
I’m yet to try the PR4’s on track, but given how well the Pilot Road 3’s handled Spa Francorchamps and Brands Hatch on a 2011 ZX-10R, I can’t imagine there'll be any issues with the new model.
If your bike currently lives on a diet of Pirelli Supercorsa SP's or similar, but you ride in all-weather, give the Michelins a go. You won't be disappointed.