Tyre manufacturers have become casualties of their own success in many ways. Outright grip levels and longevity have dramatically increased in recent times, so much so that average consumers aren’t visiting tyre suppliers/fitters as often – once every few years rather than annually. And nowadays, there are reams of do-it-all tyres that satisfy any rider and ability. Metzeler’s M7RR was seemingly one of the best-selling tyres in 2015, combining inscrutable performance and decent mileage, even trackday prowess, and has been joined by Bridgestone’s S21 this season as a perfect all-rounder. But what of even more durable rubber?
Literally hours after returning from our Spanish soiree at Parcmotor, I was hotfooting it to Frankfurt for wieners and the world press launch of the Metzeler Roadtec 01: a sports-touring tyre that replaces the über popular Z8. Considering the sports-touring segment is responsible for 38% of global rubber sales, it’s no wonder the likes of Metzeler has chucked immense amounts of effort into fresh hoops – particularly versatile examples like the Roadtec 01 with a claimed 10% increase in mileage over the Z8.
Tyre launches are great because (usually) there are numerous different bikes to ride. Tyre launches can also become just a multi-bike launch if there aren’t any unique testing parameters. Thankfully, Metzeler scheduled in a hefty road test followed by an afternoon at the Bosch-owned Boxberg proving ground for a series of diverse assessments.
With an impending 100km road ride and a fleet of bikes at our disposal, I grabbed the keys for a BMW S1000R: a perfect tyre testing steed with feedback oozing through the ‘bars at every opportunity. However, I had to relinquish the Beemer for one bizarre reason or another, and was left with a Yamaha FJR or BMW GS. I chose the latter. #HeatedGrips
In truth, you could furnish the GS’s rims with a skinned cat and it would still grip, and I didn’t learn too much about the Roadtec whilst riding the German mothership, other than it was black, round, and offered instant performance from a standstill.
Akin to motorcycle speed dating, we all swapped saddles every half an hour and I was soon onboard KTM’s 1290 Super Duke GT. Playtime ensued. We were riding like utter Jeremy Hunts, even on cold tyres, and the Roadtecs provided instant assurance and steering ability. Conditions in Germany were damn similar to those in the UK – around 10-degrees ambient temperature – and with an initial stop-start nature of our route due to photography breaks, this was a proper test for the 01s.
As the pace picked up and tyre temps increased, it was the Roadtec’s unwavering stability and sheer confidence inspiring tactics that shone through, and I was soon wishing for kneesliders instead of jeans. I had to remind myself that we weren’t shredding sportier rubber, although there were never any moments to suggest otherwise. There was an element of hesitation when loading the front end under a closed throttle and impressive lean but only the most hardcore/experienced of riders would suffer and see this as a sacrifice.
With stacks of stability under any scenario, there’s very little flex without sacrificing feedback and tracking the abundance of shitty German roads was never a problem. Back on the S1000R – a bike I’ve ridden frequently over the years – this highlighted a faint decrease in steering speed over its more focused OE rubber, only a slightly more lethargic turn-in under braking but, again, nothing detrimental to the ride. 10/10 so far…
On returning to Boxberg proving ground, a trio of tests awaited us. First up was what can only be described as a karting track, half dry and half artificially soaked, and this is where the Roadtec 01 truly shocked me. Under the guidance of a test rider for the first few laps, we were soon nailing unfathomable lean angles and going against everything I know about motorcycle physics. I could feel the front tyre digging in with every degree of input and only a moment during the dry-to-wet transition on the gas proved marginally intimidating.
It’s safe to assume that anyone with a botty hole appreciates the wet weather performance of Michelin’s PR3. Even some racers used them as an intermediate option. The upgraded PR4 was an improvement in dry grip but tarnished Michelin’s USP. Could the Roadtec 01 be the new PR3? Yes. We’ll have to encounter appropriate wet pubic roads and more natural environments before making such bold claims, although it has to be one of the most capable wet weather tyres I’ve ever sampled. Someone in full one-piece leathers was reported to have gone full kneedown…
Next up was a high-speed affair round a 2-mile oval, banking and all. Other than high-speed stability, I’m not entirely convinced how useful this test was, but it was fucking cool nonetheless. 6th gear pinned on a ZZR1400, 260kmh on the dash and being sucked into the Tarmac, it was an experience I’ll never forget.
Finally, we were gifted a Suzuki Bandit 1250 and asked to slam on the anchors at 40mph on horrendously greasy cobblestones. Metzeler was keen on the 01’s safety aspect and, back-to-back with the outgoing Z8, they performed admirably in such slippery circumstances – thankfully, so did the Suzuki’s ABS system.
Overall, the Roadtec 01 is impossible to fault given its place in the market. If you’re looking for a tyre that offers a gazillion miles without upsetting handling, look no further. Usually a do-it-all hoop with incredible wet weather performance can feel slightly guff when the roads dry up. Not the 01. Still 10/10…
Roadtec 01 technology: Metzeler has used a full silica compound on the front 01 to ensure maximum wet grip, and there’s a dual compound rear with 40% silica on each shoulder for similar reasons. A sturdier middle compound using carbon black provides mileage.
It was interesting to hear Metzeler techs talk about tread pattern and how important it is when outright grip levels are lower, contradicting what we’ve recently learned about racier rubber and how aesthetical pleasure is considered. Water dispersal is a primary objective with tyres like the Roadtec 01, so front and rear tread patterns have been designed independently without compromise to supply the best possible wet tekkers.
Metzeler claim the 01 offers a wider contact patch (5% more area on the ground than the Z8), utilising the 0-degree belt technology.