Improving on a class-leading tyre isn't what you'd call an easy task. Just like a band's tricky second album, Michelin had to find a way of making their best-selling tyre even better.
Here's where 3D printing technology comes into play, with Michelin being the first to use this clever technique for improved wet weather performance. They even say that a set of new Road 5s with 3,000 miles of wear on them will perform better in the wet than a brand-new set of the Road 4 predecessor. Their test rider even proved this, boasting a good bike length or two improvement in stopping distance. As the tyre wears, the sipes and grooves which displace standing water actually expand, which means they keep working for longer.
The previous Road 3 & 4 were the best winter tyres out there, without question. When it came to summer blasts and the odd trackday, there were complaints they'd move around and slide, which is what you'd expect from a dedicated road tyre.
With the new Road 5, Michelin hopes to give the all-weather rider the perfect tyre that does everything, without having to change tyres in the summer for fast road and trackday blasts. The key to this is the new naked edge with a black carbon silica compound, similar to their sportier Power RS rubber. More rubber on the road means more edge grip - simple. It's a bold move from Michelin, especially as dedicated winter riders may worry about a loss of grip during wet cornering.
SO ENOUGH OF THE PRESS GUFF, ARE THEY ACTUALLY ANY GOOD?
The first workshop consisted of an artificially soaked Monteblanco mini circuit with hard braking zones and a simulated brake and weave section to demonstrate front-end wet grip.
Here's where the new Road 5 really excels. In the wet the feedback from the front in particular is superb, and even trail braking in the wet didn't faze them one bit. Triumph's new Street Triple 765 RS and Yamaha's MT-10 both performed faultlessly with tonnes of feedback.
DRY TRACK PERFORMANCE
It may not look at home on track, but BMW's S1000-XR is a formidable track weapon. Without attempting to break any lap records (or bikes) I slowly got used to pushing the new Road 5 around the full-length track at Monteblanco, which has very tight first-gear stuff in places, together with bumpy, long and tightening bends to really shake things up a bit.
The track bikes were Ducati's Supersport and BMW's S1000XR. Neither are out-and-out superbikes, but there was enough power to give the tyres a thorough workout. Again, feedback from cold was practically instant, and the traction control lights on both bikes only lit up when I was seriously taking the piss with throttle inputs.
The Road 5 really started to come alive when leaned over onto the final 30% section of slick section on the edges, where it honestly felt like an out-and-out sports tyre. If you're fond of the odd trackday or two but don't want to fork out for dedicated track rubber, the Road 5 will run around comfortably in the top of the inters group without any trouble at all.