First look: Michelin Pilot Road 3

by Jeff on March 4, 2011

First of a multi-part review for Michelin’s new sport-touring wonder tire.

By Jeff Cobb
Motorcycle Safety News

Michelin’s Pilot Road 3 dual-compound sport touring tires promise new levels of wet and dry road grip, along with a high degree of durability.

We recently got a set to mount and test from Competition Accessories, and will follow up with riding impressions and longer term evaluations as well.

The PR3s replace Michelin’s already well-regarded Pilot Road 2s.

Michelin says they are intended for riders of bikes as different as the VFR800, BMW R 1200 RT, and Suzuki Bandit 1250S.

Sport riders take note: They come in your sizes too, and if you’re not doing lots of extreme cornering all the time, they may be a viable choice.

Tech brief

Given that “sport” and “touring” put radically different expectations on a tire, “sport touring” could almost be considered an oxymoron, and at least is a case of wanting the best of all worlds.

The Pilot Road 3s claim better cornering grip and longer wear at the same time by utilizing softer rubber on the tire’s cornering section, while using a more durable compound for the middle section.

Other leading tire companies are developing new dual- or multi-compound technology too, and Michelin calls its version “2CT” for two compound tread.

Michelin used it first for its sport tires, such as the Pilot Power 2CT and Pilot Pure 2CT, two tires we’ve already ridden, and will use as a comparison to the PR3s.

The Pilot Road 3s also use scientifically tested grooves called “sipes” to help disperse water when riding through rain or puddles.

According to Michelin, its “all new ‘XST’ X-Sipe technology” uses many full-depth sipes to evacuate water, as well as to generate pressure at the edge of the sipe to break up water film to prevent hydroplaning.

Michelin says the Pilot Road 3s will wear evenly, and well, and “will be a new benchmark of the sport touring motorcycle radial class.”

Initial impressions

The Z-rated Pilot Road 3s for our Ducati Monster SR2 1000 test mule were delivered in proper sizes of 120/70-17 front, and 180/55-17 rear, and we wasted little time mounting them up. They replaced a set of Michelin Pilot Power single compound tires, and we are eager to see how they compare.

One tester (Dave, a mechanical engineer for his day job, and the bike’s owner) noted off the bike, they look “impressive,” but once mounted, he thought the front siped tread looked “busy.”

As for me, being a “form follows function” sort, I think they look intriguing.

Front tire standing in the snow ready for cold roads.

In fact, if these cuts and grooves in the tread are really going to keep a rider upright, even in the rain, and while pushing relatively cool tires in all temperatures, that makes me unconcerned about how they look.

Admittedly, I tend to be swayed by the look of technology that works, regardless of initial impressions.

Rear Pilot Road 3.

Since tires even of the same nominal size can actually vary in size, we measured their width.

The mounted front tire was the same as the Pilot Power it replaced, and the rear measured about 4mm narrower than same size Pilot Powers.

We can’t account for the small discrepancy, but think it’s likely irrelevant to how the tires will perform.

Tire performance is more a factor of tread compound and design. Of course width affects things, but these are quite close. If anything, an ever-so-slightly narrower tire will help that much more in the rain.

Next, we’ll be riding them on cold, rough roads, and aiming for puddles and rain, so check back for more.

Michelin Pilot Road 3: MSRP: Front: $220.29 – $233.85; Rear: $264.36 – $346.85,

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