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Michelin Pilot Road 2 tyre launch review

Rah Rah John Cantlie journalist tries Michelin's new dual-compound road rubber

Colin Edwards has been busy. Between testing his new GP bike and fulfilling sponsors' whims, he's been developing Michelin's new dual compound tyres.

"It's all about consistency," said the disarmingly normal Texan at Michelin's secret test facility in the South of France. "Hard laps, time after time, keeping the tyres on the edge until they let go. Sometimes I save it, sometimes I don't, but that's when you know you've found the limit." Michelin has been developing dual compound tyres with Colin for years, and now the technology has filtered down to the sport-touring world with the new Pilot Road 2 tyre.

Three compounds are in the Road 2, with the centre made of harder rubber for mileage and the shoulder made of squidgy stuff for grip. Michelin claim these tyres will last around 15,000 miles, giving the best wet grip of any comparable tyre.

Our wet test was held on a short circuit so slippery old people would have fallen over and bust brittle hips just walking across it, and we had datalogging on each bike to show the difference between the old Pilot Roads and the new.

Our bike was a Bandit 1250 with Michelin's old Pilot Roads and it was utterly lethal out there. First gear: wheelspin. Second gear: sideways. Third gear: pure Vaseline. Having not ridden a bike in six months, I feebled about with my sphincter tighter than a snare-drum and the front tyre trying to wash-out on every corner through an inch of standing water. With no feeling from either tyre and the absolute cream of British journalists watching, it was quite the most pathetic display of riding I've ever been responsible for. Fortunately after four miserable laps the chequered flag was waved. Best lap was a lowly 1m21.24s.

The next four laps on the Road 2s were a revelation. Michelin swear pressures and suspension settings were identical, but the transformation was total. Braking came later, cornering was faster, and the Bandit felt alive and fun to ride even on this skating rink of doom. Now you could feel the tyres generating grip, allowing you to push within safe limits instead of blindly hoping the rubber would hold.

And what's more, all this was scientifically proven to be true! The datalogging showed we were four seconds a lap faster on the Road 2s, a massive jump when you consider top speeds were no more than 60mph and all the time saved was in the corners.

On the open roads around the beautiful Gorges du Verdon, Michelin provided a selection of high-powered, high-weight motorcycles to try their tyres on turn-and-shoot French mountain roads. I plonked my helmet onto a Yamaha FZ1 and off we went. Led by a Michelin employee who had evidently fallen into a tub of red mist as a child, it was 10/10ths peg scraping as we twisted and turned for 60 glorious miles. Any meaningful testing went out the window and it was every man for himself. There were no slides, no crashes, but everyone rode like lunatics and the Pilot Road 2s stuck to the road. Outstanding.

I'm about to buy a GSX-R1000 for commuting and the odd bit of lunacy, and although the Road 2s are a sport-touring tyre, I'd fit them without hesitation. Nice work, Colin. 

The Pilot Road 2 is available now. Prices are almost impossible to give for tyres as everyone discounts, but they'll be somewhere around the usual marker of £220 for a pair.

For more information, go to www.michelin.co.uk

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