OF ALL the types of tyres out there, the sporty road touring type is maybe the hardest to get right. They have to give good grip (no-one likes a slippery tyre...), work in the wet and the dry, be super stable on a wide range of bike types, and also last a good few thousand miles. About the only thing they're not expected to do really well is hard track action (though some folk will still take them out on intermediate trackday groups on big bikes of course).
So, that very broad focus brings a very broad set of expectations, and the tyre firms have worked really hard to perform as well as they can across the board. Luckily, advances in tread materials, new production methods, carcass layouts and computerised design and manufacture mean tyres have never been better - truly, we are spoiled by the black round hoops on which we depend.
Metzeler's new Roadtec01 is the firm's latest model in this sector, and it's been widely acclaimed since it appeared in 2016. It's got a radical tread pattern, that echoes the look of racing wets, and incorporates loads of thin cuts, or sipes, which clear water away, while controlling tread block movement.
The compounds are specially chosen for wet and dry grip, while lasting for thousands of miles, and the profile is designed for stability while maintaining comfort and agility.
We've got a couple of Visordown friends testing these tyres for us, and I've got a set on my long term test Tracer 900. Ducati fan Jan McCormick (@ursaminorthreat) rides a Monster 695 and a Panigale 959 around London, and she's fitted the Roadtecs to the Monster.
Our final tester, Martin Hill, has not one, but two current Honda VFRs, one white, one red, and is trying out the Metzelers on his white VFR. Both our testers do loads of real-world miles: commuting to various work locations, in all weathers, all year round.
Jan's had the tyres on for a while now, so she told us how she's getting on first. "I've had my Monster 695 for over four years, and the entire time, the Monster was shod in Michelin Pilot Road 3s, which sufficed for London commutes, track days, twisties and motorways. I covered around 12k miles and they still had a bit of life in them, when Al asked if I'd like to test ride some Roadtec01s. I'd never turn down new shoes, so that was a cold Saturday in April when I popped down to FWR Tyres in Kennington to have the lovely chaps there fit the new tyres.
"I got the usual 'Take it easy the first 100 miles' warning, and I did try.... I also had to do a few emergency stops on the way home, as being a Bank Holiday weekend, there were drunken idiots stepping out in the road... the tyres did their job and the bike remained shiny side up.
"The Monster 695 doesn't have the best brakes, and I tend to grab handfuls of front, so I do rely on a tyre that will stop well, and these certainly do. Also the 695 has no ABS/DTC/OMG so it's just you, brakes and tyres. So far, in cold temperatures, hot temperatures, rain, uneven surfaces, they give you confidence, and are a good replacement for the now-discontinued PR3s.
"I've done around 800 miles on them so far, and have no complaints whatsoever. Certainly they're less twitchy than the Diablos on my Panigale, and don't need a long time to come up to temperature."
Good initial impressions from Jan then. And Martin's just got his fitted at Tadworth Tyres in Surrey. "Great service from Tadworth Tyres, and the Metzelers have now done about 200 miles. Obviously all the riding has been in the dry with the lowest temperature being 16'C and the highest (yesterday) 31'C."
"I'm comparing them with the original Dunlop Sportmax tyres fitted to my red VFR that have done 8,000 miles. The Roadtecs are definitely superior and feel more connected to the road, warm up quickly, stop well and even encourage an old duffer like me to lean over a bit more! I'm interested to see if this continues as they wear more."
On my long-term test Tracer 900, I got the Metzelers fitted just before I trotted off to Greenock for a family event a couple of weeks back. After 900 miles in three days, they still look brand-new, even though the weather was on the toasty side. Compared with the stock Dunlops (D222 Sportmax), the Metzelers are far more communicative, with a much nicer profile. The steering is more responsive, and the whole bike rolls from one side to the other beautifully. There's not been any rain since I fitted them of course, so I can't speak to the wet grip of course, but the dry grip is faultless (as you'd expect in these conditions really.)
So - good initial thoughts from all three of us trying these tyres out. But the real test will come in a few months, when temperatures drop and we get some rain. It'll also be interesting to see how they last in terms of wear too.
More on the Roadtecs in a month or so then! In the meantime, here's what we thought to them when they were launched 18 months or so ago.