Tested: Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact

Visordown tests new road-biased sports tyre in a wet and windy Portugal

With its clever Interact technology Metzeler has created a tyre that has a varying carcass construction to alter how the rubber performs. Without going too deeply the M5 consists of five bands of belting that vary in stiffness. At the outer edges of the tyre the carcass is quite flexible, allowing the rubber to move around and generate more heat and therefore grip, while nearer the tyre’s centre the carcass is stiffer, reducing the rubber’s movement and decreasing its wear. While keeping a single compound of rubber, Metzeler has tuned the tyre’s carcass to alter its performance and grip/wear levels. All very clever, but does it work?

Unfortunately the weather was less than ideal for outright grip testing but in the very brief dry session we got at Portimao I was very impressed by the M5’s grip levels. I can’t see it being a problem to run in the fast group of a trackday on this tyre and having charged far too hot into quite a few corners due to not knowing where the hell the track went I didn’t experience any slides. But then the heavens opened, which actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing. The M5 is a tyre aimed predominantly at road riders so a little rain was probably a good thing.

Metzeler have designed a new tread pattern (shaped like the pi symbol) for the M5 that creates an extra overlap in the grooves of the front tyre, helping it to disperse more standing water and claimed to assist grip in a panic brake situation. As well as this the silicon content (which helps wet weather grip and also allows the tyre to heat up faster) has been upped from the 30% on the M3 to 55% on the new M5. Riding a variety of bikes I found the wet weather grip very impressive and braking in a straight line from top gear at the end of the Portimao start/finish straight the front felt very secure despite the track dropping slightly downhill. We are talking fairly strong braking from over 130mph here so it is certainly a good sign.

Later on in the day Metzeler gave us a BMW S1000RR fitted with the M5 tyres and told us to brake as hard as possible on a very wet (it was still raining) surface. Although it was a fairly pointless exercise as the BMW’s ABS kicked in to save any potential spills it was very interesting to note just how hard you could brake before the ABS took over, something I’m attributing to the tyre’s tread pattern.

With the rain continuing into the afternoon and the track now completely saturated I was impressed by the M5’s level of wet grip while lent over. I found I could ride at a reasonable pace without experiencing any scary slides as the tyre gave loads of feedback about a lack of grip rather than just letting go.

Because the conditions in Portugal were so bad I’ll reserve final judgement on the M5’s dry grip for a day when I can actually test it, but as this is a tyre aimed predominantly at road riders who have to face all kinds of weather conditions I guess the day wasn’t a complete wash-out. The M5 certainly provides excellent grip under braking in damp conditions and certainly more than enough on the edge of the tyre for road riding. As we were on a track I was more than happy to push the tyre further than I would on the road so I’m confident that road riders will find it performs far beyond anyone should reasonably expect, or want to try, on a damp road.

For more info and to find your nearest Metzeler stockist go to www.metzelermoto.co.uk