Metzler Roadtec 01: 6000 mile review
Race-track tyre tester and long distance mile muncher Jock McJock gets to grips, literally, with the Metzler Roadtec 01. Does it match the hype put out by the manufacturer?
No doubt you’re reading this having looked on the internet for some kind of real world guidance to this ‘new in 2016’ sports touring tyre.
If you’ve visited the Metzeler website you’ll have noticed they talk about how this tyre is better than the last really good sports touring tyre they have and multiple test winner, the Z8.
You may have noticed key phrases to help you decide whether this tyre is the tyre for you. Or not. Things like ‘outstanding grip across an extended range of tarmac, weather and temperature conditions’, or ‘unsurpassed rider confidence when leaning, braking and accelerating’.
Or that it had a ‘completely new tread design, new profile and a dual compounds layout for rear sizes.’
It also has ‘transversal grooves’, okay……and the much desired ‘higher water drainage ratio’ as well as the ‘highest chemical grip on wet and low friction surfaces’.
There is, of course, the ‘tension peak close to mid-shoulder lean’, and the ever important ‘flexibility for the tread pattern to copy as much as possible the tarmac micro-asperities’.
I don’t know about you but when I’m riding I’m all about tarmac micro-asperities…..
6000 miles in, what does all that stuff mean?
Let me describe what I found in the 6000 miles of mixed conditions riding on the Roadtec 01, both here in the UK and also in the French/Italian Alps on a BMW R1200GS LC. And to add, most of those miles were the kind of rides where either side of the road is just a constant blur of green and afterwards you have to Google the areas you rode, just to find out what was actually there, over and above the grey strip of tarmac winding away in front of you. Which may explain the 6000 miles lifespan and not more.
I tend to go blank when I read these sorts of descriptions, put it down to a PR effort, rather than a real world description. But, and here’s the rub, it kind of tells us the truth. Well more than kind of, it does, but it’s not exactly plain speaking.
‘Outstanding grip across an extended range of tarmac, weather and temperature conditions’. Oh lordy, lord, this is true. In all the time I rode on these tyres I never actioned the traction control light once.
On the previous Michelin Anakee 3’s if it rained I was always one or two moments away from having an epileptic fit, such was the almost paparazzi levels of flashing TC light on the dash.
On the cold, wet mornings as common on an Alpine route as it is on a Welsh valley road or city back street, the Roadtecs provided absolute consistency in grip, warming up quickly and evenly. As predictable and reliable as an X Factor Christmas number one. (Bar the awesome revolt of Rage Against the Machine). Get on the bike, bed yourself in, up to speed. That simple really.
‘Unsurpassed rider confidence when leaning, braking and accelerating’. Again, yes. Very yes. I went from ‘is my suspension dead and in need of attention’ on the previous tyres, to ‘holy mofo, why are my boots and the pegs touching down’.
At one point I actually got down on hands and knees to see how far I could go before the crash bars would touch down after the pegs did.
‘Tension peak close to mid-shoulder lean’ and ‘flexibility for the tread pattern to copy as much as possible the tarmac micro-asperities’. These two lines are very much connected to the previous paragraph. What the blurb is saying is this. At real-world lean angles, (think less MotoGP and more a bit of peg or knee sliding at real world speeds) the tyre will give you a direct, but not harsh feel through to you the rider.
The subtle flex in the sidewall allows the tyre to soak up some of that buzz that can rob you of the ever precious feel and helps the tyre grip when the going gets bumpy.
Basically, it’s clinging on to those tiny, almost unnoticeable peaks and troughs in the road surface for its dear life, but being compliant enough to provide talkative grip, without being so soft they flex and wallow in the corners or as importantly on the gas or brakes.
In practice, this means on a bumpy road they’ll take out some of the harshness the road is trying to kick back at you and when leant over they give enough grip and flex that you’ll not be deflected with every bump or hole in the ground. I like that in the middle of a corner, at the sort of angles where you’re more on offer than any other time, the tyres grip. But, more importantly, do this with enough feedback you just know what is going on down there between your legs. So to speak.
On snooker table smooth roads they grab the tarmac by the nutsack and literally allow you to push on far harder than you might have thought possible on sports touring rubber.
From the first mile, these tyres are the mutts nuts
Tyres having been fitted by the excellent MotoWorks in Kent, I ride away reminding myself to ease into the tyres gently, scrubbing them in and get some initial thoughts.
The first corner was a roundabout. I get to the turn-in point on the oval-shaped roundabout and holy hamburger, I nearly launch myself into the grass on the centre of the roundabout. Such is the ease in which they’ll turn you need to use a lot less effort than you’d imagine. Scared the bejesus out of me if I’m honest.
I did chuckle later on because I knew then that these puppies were going to be the dogs in twisty, winding roads. I knew then they’d turn my suspension into a noticeable fitment, rather than something that just held the wheels on. Frisky? No. Light in the bars? Yes. Utterly. Make a mental note when you first use them, ‘less effort required’.
That support and the ease of turn translates into a very easy turn rate from one side of the bike to the other. Changes of direction become a lot less effort, a lot more fun. Even on a big adventure bike.
And on the brakes you find you can squeeze the brake lever like you mean it, really finding stopping distances you may not have discovered before.
Is it a better tyre than others on the brakes? Well whether it is technically or not, the fact that they provide the confidence through feel is as important in those moments when technicalities don’t matter and feedback does.
‘Completely new tread design, new profile and a dual compounds layout for rear sizes’, ‘transversal grooves’, ‘higher water drainage ratio’ and ‘highest chemical grip on wet and low friction surfaces’ can all be dealt with together.
The use of large amounts of silica in these tyres may not exactly mean much to us punters, but it does away from the brochure when applying right-hand action, either twisting the throttle or squeezing the brakes.
In changeable conditions, that compound mix and tread design works exceptionally well and very much impresses in those less confidence-inspiring situations.
These tyres rock in the wet conditions this globally warming planet likes to throw at us and yes they chuck water away from them as well as a decent intermediate race tyre would have done not that many years ago.
And having a firmer centre to the edges provides mileage when upright, grip when leant over.
Personally, I loved these tyres and would fit them again at the drop of a hat.
My only slightly negative observation – and this is based on me riding like a bit of a loon under the luxury of sporty riding everywhere if I’m honest – is that when the rear is just past that overly square effect and running to the tread depth markers, they ‘float’ a bit more on the road surface. You feel a little less connected than before.
The worse the surface, the more these tyres give that floating feeling. I guess at this point they’re not ‘copying the tarmac micro-asperities’ as much. I found this easily cured by setting the suspension a little softer which gave the feeling of absolute grip again, if in a slightly softer guise.
Also, I found that the front wore at the same rate as the rear. Again, in context, I wore these in the Alps for half the tyres life and I routinely trail brake to the apex of corners so it’s only natural this would happen. I would argue in the mountains the front is under more load than the rear in these conditions. So no criticism, only relevant observations.
Sports Touring tyres are the honest tyres of the tyre world. They have a lot to do and, in reality, a good one covers real world abilities more than well enough to make many an overpriced and short lifespan track based tyre null and void to many.
From knee-down to soaking wet I’d have these over a track-based tyre any day of the week. These are the best all round tyres I’ve used in 30 years of riding and for the road have more real world grip than you’ll need for the ever-changing conditions we face. Full stop.
Get yourself sorted:
For more gumpf, sorry, technical specifications, head on over to the Metzler Roadtec 01 page on their website.