How does Metzeler's sports-touring tyre perform at the limit
Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact on track
German motorcycle tyre manufacturer Metzeler are well-known for their touring tyres but they’ve have expanded their range in recent years and are now offering tyres worth considering for sportier riding too.
Metzeler claim their new tyre, the Sportec M5 Interact, is a grippy sport-touring tyre that’ll work well on sportsbikes. As is the trend at the moment; tyre manufacturers are producing tyres that offer grip and bold mileage claims.
Often, the tyre uses dual compound, with a harder rubber in the centre to increase mileage and a softer compound rubber on the sides of the tyre for maximum grip.
The Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact doesn’t just use dual-compound rubber. The Interact part of the tyre’s name refers to the structural setup of the tyre carcass, which features steel bands which are tuned with different levels of tension, to control the amount of flex across the tyre’s surface.
The Sportec M5 Interact uses three different tension levels in its belts, across five different sections of the tyre. At the tyre’s centre, the belt’s tension is at its greatest, keeping the tyre stiffer, meaning it’s more stable at high speed and wears less too. As the belts move away from the centre of the tyre, their tension decreases, to allow the rubber to spread on the tarmac and find more grip. At the tyre’s edge a higher tension belt is used, to keep the edge of the tyre stable at full-on lean.
Seeing as Metzeler claim the M5 is capable on track, I tested them out on the current must-have superbike, the BMW S1000RR.
The S1000RR has over 175bhp at the back wheel and Cartagena’s tight corners unravel onto full-power straights, so the M5 Interacts were never going to have an easy time.
I started out on brand-new rubber, not scrubbed in, but it only took a lap before the tyres felt warm and I could start to feel for more of the grip they had on offer.
You don’t spend a lot of time upright at Cartagena and when your bike has a lot of horsepower, like the S1000RR, you end up using every last inch of the tarmac between corners.
The M5 Interact handles like a sports tyre, its profile isn’t as sharp as a full on track-focused tyre but for me, that’s a plus point. It doesn’t fall on its side like a tyre with a steep profile but it’s not slow to get over, either.
The S1000RR has phenomenal power but its brakes are also a force to be reckoned with. At the end of Cartagena’s main straight, you’re pulling in excess of 150mph and scrubbing off around 100mph for the first corner. The braking zone is slightly uphill which obviously helps but the M5 Interact stayed stable even when dealing with everything twin Brembo calipers could throw at them.
Drive out of corners was another aspect I can’t fault the M5 Interact on. The S1000RR has traction control, which after a few laps I decided to explore. Driving out of 3rd-gear corners, with a good amount of lean, there was only the smallest amount of movement from the rear but not enough to feel the traction control kicking in.
I wanted to find the point the tyres let go, so at the back of the circuit on a tight 2nd-gear corner that opens up to a decent straight I fired everything the S1000RR had at the M5 Interact rear tyre and a few milliseconds later I was out of the seat and staring at the tank below me. The problem was, my traction control wasn’t on and had never been on the entire session.
I count myself pretty lucky that my ham-fisted corner exit didn’t fire me into the back of an ambulance but all credit to the M5 Interact rear; no tyre would deal with that kind of abuse and I’m impressed it didn’t lose traction sooner.
What’s more impressive is that I spent the whole session being as eager with the throttle as I could, knowing that the traction control would cut in if the going got too hot. The fact that it was never switched on and the M5 Interact behaved all session is a true testament to its ability on track.
If it’s half as good at racking up mileage as it is at dealing with trackday pace, then it’ll make a great one-size-fits-all tyre for the typical British sportsbike rider who racks up a couple of thousand miles and a couple of trackdays a year.
If you’re a fast road-rider and looking for a tyre that’ll offer excellent grip, I’d highly recommend the Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact.
Posted: 28/06/2011 at 22:49
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