Michelin Road 5 | PRODUCT TEST | Best Of All Worlds?
Michelin packs its all-new Road 5 sport-touring tire with technologies that are being used in its two-wheel lineup for the first time.
Creating a competitive sport-touring tire in today’s market is a difficult thing to do. Buyers don’t want just pure, sporty performance, they also want longevity. Wet performance is a must, but so is straight-line stability. Oh, and don’t forget that sharp lean angles are important, too. Missing any one of those? Buyers will toss your tires in the garbage and move onto the next set. It’s a tough life for tire manufacturers.
By Michael Gilbert
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY MICHELIN
But what if there was a way to achieve—okay, exceed—all of the standards that the sport-touring market sets forth? To not compromise in one area in order to excel in another, but hit every mark just right? Michelin claims that it has found the best of all worlds in the form of its all-new Road 5 sport-touring tire.
The Michelin Road 5 is all new in comparison to its predecessor, the Pilot Road 4, and comes packed with ground-breaking technologies that the company is using in its two-wheel lineup for the very first time. The headline of the Road 5’s construction is an additive metal manufacturing process, which is a form of 3D printing that opens the possibilities for uniquely effective tread designs. It’s a process that Michelin has taken advantage of since 2006, and has resulted in tire weight savings, reduced raw material wastage, and limitless opportunities when it comes to designing a new tire.
How does this benefit the Road 5? Thanks to the capabilities of additive metal manufacturing, Michelin has given its new sport-touring tire a highly effective, siped tread pattern—called Michelin XST EVO technology. The XST EVO pattern is a combination of sipes and wells aimed to effectively clear water during wet-weather riding, boosting performance and safety. The beauty of the sipe design is that the channels are progressive, meaning they become increasingly wider as the tire wears out, which helps maintain high performance over the entirety of the tire’s lifespan. Michelin even claims that a set of Road 5s with 5000 kilometers of wear perform equally to a brand-new set of Pilot Road 4’s in a wet braking test. Impressive stuff.
Michelin also introduced two new rubber compound formulas with the Road 5’s, which are said to improve grip levels in both wet and dry conditions. The front tire features two types of the company’s 2CT all-silica compound, with one being used on the crown and the other on the tire’s shoulders to avoid understeer at lean. A 2CT+ variant compound has been employed to the rear tire, which also features two different types. Like the front tire, an all-silica compound is used for the crown, yet it has a higher silica concentrate to provide resistance to straight-line wear. On the shoulders of the rear tire, Michelin employed an all-carbon black compound to achieve remarkable dry grip.
Another key component of the Road 5 is the use of Michelin ACT+ (Adaptive Casing Technology), which is said to optimize the stiffness of the carcass for stability both in a straight line and at high lean angles. Shoulders and sidewalls of the Road 5 feature close-angle, overlapping cross plys to ensure rigidity and stability under load. The crown of the tire remains flexible, helping maintain stability over long stretches on straight roads.
Rubber Side Down
Michelin invited us to try out the all-new Road 5 on a ride though the Andalusian mountains in southern Spain, as well as over a few laps at Circuit de Monteblanco. After switching between various size and style motorcycles, like a Yamaha MT-07 and BMW S1000 XR, we have a strong grasp on the capabilities of the tire, and have come to the conclusion that Michelin got it right.
The Road 5 made an immediate impression on us with its quick warm-up time and easy break-in process. Being a brand-new tire on a rather brisk morning, the confidence for “spirited” riding off the bat wasn’t quite there. Thankfully, the Road 5 managed to scrub in and build heat quickly, which created grip and built our confidence to chase after our Michelin only a few miles into our ride.
On the twisty roads, the Road 5 showed its true potential. The Michelin is agile and begs to be ridden with aggression, making quick backroads a blast on any size bike. It possesses an ability to make a quick turn in with ease, which is thanks to a sharp front tire profile being heavily based off of the company’s flagship sport tire—the Power RS. Understeer was nearly nonexistent, and even if you get in to a corner with a little too much speed, the Road 5 has no problem carving back to the proper line. Feel through the contact patches of the tires to the asphalt is also impressive for a sport-touring tire, and provides a good sense of how much traction there is left to use.
As part of the Road 5’s press launch, Michelin was kind enough to let us spin some laps aboard the new tire on the racetrack, which is important to understand its limitations at speed—but do remember, it is a sport-touring tire. In general terms, the Road 5 handles the racetrack well at a moderate pace, but searching for lap times isn’t the tire’s strong suit; nor should it be. Under heavy braking, the front tire’s carcass will begin to flex, creating a wallow that hinders the ability to apply any more braking force. The feel from the tires suffers slightly at maximum lean too, but only while riding at a serious pace. Both of these gripes come after putting serious loads through the tires—some that are almost impossible to find on the normal roads. Grip from the rear tire was actually a highlight of the racetrack experience, proving that Michelin’s use of the all-black carbon compound on the tire’s edge will provide serious traction.
In the technical briefing of the Road 5, Michelin made bold claims about the tire’s wet weather capabilities. In fact, they were so confident that they soaked the entire Monteblanco Circuit with water until puddles were forming—then they set us loose.
The Michelin Road 5 is downright impressive in the wet, period. After only a lap, it was easy to find confidence in all areas of the racetrack, even leaning through the long hairpin corners. The tire is planted, providing enough feel and traction through the contact patch keep upping the aggression. Just like the dry conditions, the rear tire sticks to the ground, allowing you to drive off of the corner without the worry of it stepping out of line. The Michelin Road 5 is totally confidence-inspiring in all conditions.
Michelin has proven that it can create a sport-touring tire capable of exceeding all the standards that the market requires, without compromising in any specific area. The all-new Road 5 is an excellent choice for the daily commuter, back-road warrior or even the beginner trackday enthusiast. We’d have no problem riding a set. Hell, we might even buy some Road 5’s for our next sport touring trip. CN