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Michelin Road 5 - full road and track test

Michelin Road 5 full road and track launch test

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.

 

Michelin Road 5 - full road and track test - page two

PAGE TWO

ROAD RIDING

The real acid test is how they perform on the road, where the vast majority of people ride, and where the Road 5 will spend most of its time. The line up of bikes for the afternoon road ride around the mega twisty roads of Seville was pretty varied, and like a German with a towel on a sunbed I quickly placed my Arai on the mirror of Aprilia's Tuono V4 1100.

What. A. Bike.

I could do an entire review on the Tuono because it's just that bloody good, but this is a tyre test, so I'll try staying on topic.

The first long straight saw the Tuono on the back wheel from second to third to fourth. I assume this sort of behaviour is legal in Spain. Either way, it's an important test of the rear-wheel stability of the Road 5, which it passed with flying colours. Stoppies were out of the question, sadly, as I couldn't find the button to switch off the ABS.

The 75 mile road test was split into two groups, and I foolishly decided to choose the quicker-paced one led out by ex-GP500 nutter and bona fide legend Dominique Sarron. Even pushing sixty years old hasn't slowed him down, and when he saw me harassing him in the mirrors of his tatty old BMW K1300, he decided to show me how it was done.

His old tourer was also shod with the new Road 5 and if anything demonstrated the sheer ability of this tyre, it was watching this veteran GP racer buggering off into the distance so quickly and smoothly, that I was shaking my head in disbelief. If he can push the tyre that hard, then I know I'm safe to chase as fast as my electronically-assisted Aprilia can go.

CONCLUSION

If you're a fan of the previous road 3 & 4, but want a bit more summer performance when the pace quickens, the new Road 5 is definitely the tyre for you.

An all-weather tyre with improved edge grip means everyone's a winner.

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