Michelin announced a new sport-touring tyre, the Michelin Road 5. Although the Road 5 supersedes the Pilot Road 4, the Pilot has been dropped from the name in an effort to differentiate Michelin’s road-going offerings from the more hard-core sporting Power line. The primary change between the Pilot Road 4 and the Road 5 takes place in the tread’s siping and the incorporation of ACT+ technology seen earlier this year on the Michelin Power RS.
Riders on Road 5s will notice the biggest improvements in wet performance, particularly when the tyres are worn where, according to Michelin, they will outperform all other entries in the sport-touring tire segment. The company claims that Road 5 tyres with 3,000 miles on them offer the same wet-road stopping power as brand new Pilot Road 4 tyres. This is thanks to the XST Evo (X Sipe Technology), the third generation of XST found on Michelin motorcycle tyres. (XST was introduced with the Pilot Road 3 and XST+ with the Pilot Road 4.) XST Evo sipes feature a patented teardrop shape as they get closer to the carcass of the tyre. To understand why, we need to look at what a sipe does.
Sipes offer a place for water to go as the contact patch rolls over a wet road. When tyres are new, they can, not surprisingly, displace more water because the sipes themselves are deeper. However, as the tread wears away, the sipes get shallower, limiting the amount of water they can displace. The enlarged inner depths of the XST Evo sipes in Road 5 tires can, according to Michelin, hold as much water as new Pilot Road 4 tyres – even after 3,000 miles of use. This translates into comparable performance for the used Road 5 tires and brand new Pilot Road 4 tyres. If this is confusing, take a look at the video below.
While this is new technology for motorcycles, Michelin first introduced XST Evo’s technology in its Evergrip™ tread design in 2014 in the Michelin Premier A/S automobile tyre which introduced the maintaining of wet-braking performance as the tyre wears.
The apparent wet-track lap-time improvement claims are, quite frankly, hard to believe. So, we won’t repeat them here just yet until Michelin clarifies precisely what their graphs are claiming. No matter how you slice it, Michelin is very confident, and they say they have the independent test data to back it up. Either way, we can’t wait to sample these new tyres and find out for ourselves.
However, the Road 5 isn’t just about wet-weather conditions. Dry performance also gets a boost, thanks to the inclusion of ACT+ (Adaptive Casing Technology). Michelin first released the ACT+ in the Michelin Power RS, and now, it makes the move to sport-touring tyre. The key characteristic of ACT+ is its ability to create a softer crown while maintaining a stiff sidewall. The tyre's 90° casing maintains the tread’s suppleness in the centre for a stable straight-line ride. This same 90° casing wraps around the bead and doubles over on itself, giving the sidewall the stiffness necessary to handle cornering forces. ACT+ allows for Michelin to tune in the correct amount of sidewall stiffness for a tyre’s intended purpose by adjusting the amount of overlap of the sidewall casing.
Additionally, the tread’s 2CT (Two Compound Technology) allows for a harder, more wear-resistant compound to be run in the center of the tyres, with softer-grippier rubber on the shoulders. For the Road 5, the rear tyre also gets the 2CT+, which has the harder rubber compound running under the soft compound. This helps the tyre to better withstand the forces of acceleration while leaned over and results in more stability while still delivering the better mechanical grip of the softer compound. The combination of the 2CT and ACT tread technologies results in dry grip performance that Michelin claims is superior to the Pilot Road 4.