Michelin Anakee 3 review

We test out the successor tyres to the Anakee II and ask: if we pretend to go off-road, don't we end up riding on pretend off-road tyres?

IF YOU search for 'Best tyres for a BMW 1200GS' in Google, you'll get thousands of answers with just about no-one agreeing on anything. Try the same for any other adventure-styled motorcycle and the results are similar.

However, look through those results and you'll see a few tyres tend to shine through. One of those tyres is Michelin's Anakeee II another is Metzeler's Tourance EXP. They're both firmly established in the minds of owners of adventure-style motorcycles.

Michelin have stated that their three aims for the new Anakee III are: to provide better mileage, increased safety and more riding pleasure. At least one of those aims has a small chance of being quantified, the other two will be debated on internet forums until the cows come home.

Michelin have set the Anakee 3 up with a bias of 90% road and 10% off-road. If Adventure-style motorcycle owners were honest, they'd admit that 99.9% of their time is spent on road, not off-road. Michelin are wise to this and that's reflecting in the bias of the new Anakee IIIs. However for years, manufacturers have offered their tyres with off-road looks because looks sell and adventure motorcycle owners like the image that they cross borders on their rugged machine when in reality, the toughest border most cross is getting permission from their other half to go out for a spin on a Sunday morning.

The Anakee III has taken over from the Anakee II. Gone is the chunky tread, replaced by a tyre that has a similar profile to a road tyre but with an aggressive thread pattern. Michelin call these new lateral grooves 'a tread within a tread' and you can see why. They're designed to move water, shed mud and gravel and on a microscopic level, spead out to find grip where, according to Michelin, the previous Anakee may have struggled.

Out on the road, the new tyre feels sure-footed and not dissimilar to a conventional tyre. Even though the Anakee III is a single compound tyre, it feels like you've got a grippier compound on the edges due to the way the tyre gives great feedback when on its ear, compared to the slight weave you'd get with a off-road-styled tyre when the tread blocks started to move. The lack of chunky tread also removes some of the vibration you get with a pseudo off-road tyre and makes the riding experience that bit more pleasurable. There you go, perhaps you can measure the pleasure.

I rode the Anakee III on both the 2013 BMW R1200GS and the Tiger Explorer XC. Both bikes feature traction control and a good handful of throttle was needed to make the Anakee IIIs break traction. A lot more than you'd need were you on a knobbly tyre.

It's no surprise that 80% of the new BMW R1200GS models will come fitted with Michelin's Anakee III as standard. It's a good tyre that copes with the demands of heavy bikes like the R1200GS and Tiger Explorer XC, who, with their long-travel suspension and top-heavy handling characteristics, benefit from a tyre that you can lean on.

Michelin Anakee II vs. Anakee III

We rode a few laps of a tiny, tight and twisty course on identical R1200GS models, one fitted with Anakee II tyres and the other with the new Anakee III. The main difference I felt was confidence on turn-in. The Anakee IIs weren't bad but you have to get used a slightly vague front-end on a mock-off-road tyre. Even though it won't go anywhere, you have to trust that it won't rather than feel that it won't. When back-to-backing with the new Anakee III, you can feel the front end gripping the whole way over with no loss of grip and none of the vague steering you associate with long-travel suspension on tarmac.

In summary

It's ironic then, that potentially the best tyre for today's Adventure motorcycles is a tyre that loses the pretence of needing to go off-road and falls into line with what road tyres have been doing so well over the last five years with the recent developments in tyre technology and that's: offering a fast warm-up time, increased levels of silica for better wet-weather performance and a profile and tread pattern that promotes the most amount of rubber in contact with the road.

Pretending you cross continents off-road means you ride with a compromised tyre on the road. Fit a set of Michelin Anakee IIIs and you'll probably enjoy your riding more. Screw what anyone thinks.

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