Since being forced out of MotoGP due to the spec tire rule going into effect in ’09 (as well as dropping out of Formula One auto racing two years before), Michelin hasn’t exactly been sitting on its hands. With the massive resources that are usually tied up in racing now free, Michelin has been very busy designing new generation rubber that is still utilizing the treasure trove of knowledge the company gained before leaving MotoGP. The latest to come out of this heightened development pace is Michelin’s new Pilot Road 3 sport-touring tire.
Replacing the previous Pilot Road 2 (itself a fantastic tire; see our test in the June 09 issue), the Pilot Road 3 is said to be designed for a wide range of machinery, with everything from a Honda VFR800 to a BMW R1200RT to a Suzuki Bandit 1250S in its varied list of applications. Utilizing the same 2CT (2 Compound Technology) pioneered by the Michelin Pilot Power series that features a soft rubber compound on the tread shoulders and a harder, wear-resistant compound in the center, the Pilot Road 3 sports newer formulations in both compounds designed to provide even better grip and mileage.
A first with the new Michelin is the usage of X-Sipe Technology (XST). Designed to not only improve wet weather traction but also promote long tread life and even wear characteristics, the X-Sipes are much thinner tread sipes that run horizontally across the front tire tread’s normal siping, and in a length-wise/diagonal direction from the ends of the rear tire tread’s standard-size grooves. Although they might look like some sort of superficial styling exercise at first glance, these are actually full-depth sipes, meaning that they go down to the same depth as the standard tread grooves, and are thus functional for the life of the tire. The X-Sipes improve wet weather grip by providing another edge to cut into the water film and break it up, as well as helping to generate more pressure on that edge due to the smaller tread blocks. They also provide another escape route for that water once the tread cuts through it, helping to evacuate water from the tire footprint and allow more rubber contact with the pavement quicker. Another side benefit is that the X-Sipes are cut directionally into the tread to keep the tread blocks from squirming excessively, thereby encouraging longer tread life by helping to sustain even wear across the tread block’s face.
The Michelin Pilot Road 3 sport-touring tires will be available by the time you read this, in most popular sportbike sizes. Visit michelinmotorcycle.com for more information.