Metzeler Karoo 4 on and off-road adventure motorcycle tyre review

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The latest generation Metzeler Karoo 4 adventure tyres are a road legal knobbly featuring an all-new tread design and improved compounds

THE Metzeler Karoo 4 is the latest and greatest road legal knobbly adventure hoop from one of Germany’s most famous and long-running tyre manufacturers. It’s designed to offer unrivalled off-road performance, with still enough on-road ability to allow for everyday use.

The new Karoo 4s, like the 3s they are replacing, is a true 50/50 adventure motorcycle tyre. For this product, Metzeler has honed both on and off-road performance, improving the tyre’s wet weather grip on the road, and its traction in off-road situations.

What’s new with the Metzeler Karoo 4?

The first thing you’ll notice about the new Karoos is the change to the tread pattern for this year. The design is more uniform-looking than the Karoo 3 and is there to boost both the on and off-road performance. The tread pattern allows the tyre to perform better at high lean angles on-road, while the new patented Detratec design improves traction and grip in off-road scenarios.

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The design of the tread features centrally mounted knobs which are separated from the side knobs by a channel that helps to grab dirt as the tyre bites and fling it away when it’s no longer needed. Think of them as self-cleaning in thick gloopy mud.

Metzeler has also focused on performance across the life of the tyre, as they did with the Tourance Next 2s we rode on the same launch. The ethos means you are getting more consistent grip and performance in all scenarios, across the life of the product.

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Metzeler Karoo 4 on-road performance

Riding on the launch in northern Italy saw us ducking and diving, from Tarmac road to dirt trail and then back on to the road again. It was a great opportunity to get to grips with the new Karoo 4s in their natural habitat. While this is still very much a knobbly with an eye very much on off-road riding, it’s far less compromised on the road than you would believe. With its tall tread pattern and widely spaced grooves, you’d imagine the bike to be squirming and complaining at every opening of the throttle, although that wasn’t the case. Even with the traction control left in the off-road (no intervention) setting, you had to really get hard on the throttle with quite high degrees of lean angle to force any complaint from the bike.

That said, slotting these on a big adventure bike and only ever riding on the road is a massive waste of the tyres' potential, and Metzeler already have the updated Tourance Next 2s for such road-based adventures!

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Metzeler Karoo 4 off-road performance

The route for the press ride on the Karoos was a proper mixed bag of adventure heaven. We had everything from sand, shale, flint rocks the size of your fist, and some mud thrown in for good measure. I stuck to the light stuff for most of it, riding the stunning KTM 890 Adventure and the new, and highly capable Aprilia Tuareg 660.

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First things first, both of these bikes feature highly advanced electronics that don’t really feature anywhere else in the class, and while you may feel that flatters the bike and the rider, it can only do so if the tyres ‘know’ what is going. It’s a point that was made clear to us before the ride. As bikes become more technologically aware, the hoops they run on also must keep up with the rate of progression. To this end, the Karoo 4s are specifically designed to work with the bike’s electronics and perform better both when those electronics are called into action – and when they are not.

Pulling off the road and onto our first trail, it seemed that a gentle start to the ride was not on the cards, and we were immediately greeted by a steep scramble up a flint-lined track that was strewn with football-sized rocks and boulders. It’s these kinds of conditions that play havoc with any type of tyre or bike. All you can really do is focus on the top of the trail, keep it pinned and hope for the best. After about 15 or 20 minutes spent bouncing from one near-crash to another, the ground softened, and we could get a feel for the tyre in a slightly less frantic manner!

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The first thing I noticed about the new Karoo compared to the old is how much better it is at finding traction in a straight line. You could easily get the front wheel of the bike pointing skyward with some provocation, as the new bucket design of the tread bit hard into whatever it was that lay beneath it.

The next thing I noticed was how good the tyre is at pulling itself out of ruts. On a number of occasions, I found myself cross-rutted which for me is normally a Code Brown moment. With the new Karoo 4s though it wasn’t ever an issue. The front and rear were perfectly capable of clawing their way out of even some of the deeper, muddier ruts we encountered. It’s an impressive feat to behold.

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The third thing I’ll take away from my time on the off-road ride was how much the lateral grip of the rear tyre has improved from Karoo 3 to Karoo 4. Even with all the electronics switched off and the bike effectively in hooligan mode, you had to really poke it to get any kind of power slide out of it. I’m sure those with more ability and skill than myself will be more than able to look the hero with ease, and I don’t see this point as a negative. For me, riding off-road is about learning, having fun, and most importantly getting, home in one piece. Those are three boxes the Metzeler Karoo 4s tick with ease.

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Metzeler Karoo 4 sizes and availability

The new Karoo 4s will be available from Metzeler dealers from March 2022 onwards. They will be available in the following sizes:

Front

  • 19”       100/90-19 TL 57Q M+S​
  • 19”       110/80 R 19 TL 59Q M+S​
  • 19”       120/70 R 19 TL 60Q M+S​
  • 21”​       90/90-21 TL 54Q M+S​

Rear

  • 17”       130/80 R 17 TL 65Q M+S​
  • 17”       140/80 R 17 TL 69Q M+S​
  • 17”       150/70 R 17 TL 69Q M+S​
  • 17”       170/60 R 17 TL 72Q M+S​
  • 18”       140/80 - 18 TL 70Q M+S​
  • 18”       150/70 R 18 TL 70Q M+S​

For more information on the new Metzeler Karoo 4 tyres, head to: www.metzeler.com

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