Product review: Michelin Pilot Road 4 tyres
Big bike tyres in India is always a challenge. And I don't just mean sourcing them. Tyre selection itself can be a challenge. Do you listen to reason and get a sport touring tyre knowing that the blend of longevity and grip will be good enough or listen to the hype and go for an all-out sporty pattern?
This is the tyre at 5,000km in - and it's seen the city, potholes, highways as well as the harsh terrain at Ladakh. You'd be hard-pressed to deduce that from the excellent state the Michelin Pilot Road 4 is in, though
When it became time to look for fresh tyres for the Ducati Multistrada 1200S, Michelin sent us a particularly well-timed set of Pilot Road 4 tyres. The OEM Pirellis on the Multi' are designed to be 10-20 per cent off-road but the overt focus is on-road performance. The Pilot Road 4, or PR4 as everyone calls them, are hardcore road performance tyres. And they're said to be exceptional in the wet. Are they?
What is it?
The Michelin Pilot Road 4 is a sport-touring tyre, one of three PR4 patterns available (GT and Trail are the other ones). All three are road tyres by design and they claim all-round grip with exceptional wet grip and support under braking.
As a sport touring tyre, the Michelin PR4 promises both, durability as well as outright grip for cornering. The heavy siping on the tread is how the tyre moves water away from the contact patch to create the promised wet grip.
The tyre comes in many sizes for front and rear rims. In India, we couldn't source the 190/55 that the Ducati needs. However, the forums told us that other riders using the easily available 190/50 reported no issues so we went ahead with the test.
What we liked
Even in an environment it wasn't designed to take on the Michelin Pilot Road 4 proved impressive
This is a grippy tyre! Whether it was in the dirt in the Himalayas, Mumbai's slippery roads or out on our varied highways, the Michelins have done well. Trusting its grip has never been an issue. I was worried that having full-on road tyres on the big ADV test would be a problem for the testers as well as the bike. But for the most part, I heard no complaints.
Out pounding the highways, especially on my rapid run back from Delhi to Mumbai after the boys had had their fun in Ladakh, the PR4s made me very happy indeed.
I was especially surprised at the fact that the pace, my hard use as well as the broken Ladakhi roads failed entirely to make the tyre look worse for the wear.
To wit, I only have two punctures to report, both of which happened simultaneously on a road notorious for its aggressive puncture repair shops. I wish those buggers nothing but misery.
What we didn't like
As you ride more and more, you get used the 'language' the tyres talk back to you in, yes? Well, the Michelins don't speak the same dialect as the tyres we are used to. So initially there is a period of adjustment that is required for you to get used to their feel. This isn't unique to the PR4 either, the Pilot Streets on the TVS Apache RR 310 also feel different from the usual gamut of tyres we use.
The Michelin Pilot Road 4 is a road tyre that promises excellent sport-touring performance, exceptional wet grip, and stability under braking
Priced at almost Rs 10,000 less than what the equivalent Pirellis list at in India, the Michelin Pilot Road 4 is a no-brainer. It's a hardy tyre that isn't cut up by our conditions and it offers very good grip under most conditions too. I've only ridden it a handful of times on wet roads and the confidence levels remain sky high because it feels so grippy under those conditions. The test tyres are over 5,000km into their lives and from the wear rate, I would say there are another 3,000-odd kilometres left before I have to replace them, which is great tyre life in the hard use cycle that OVERDRIVE normally employs. Highly recommend!
Of course, Michelin has just announced that their Pilot Road 5 tyre is ready. It offers more grip on the edges and a smarter tread design for even more effective wet road performance. In the meantime, the PR4 will fit the bill for all kinds of riders easily.
Price: Rs 12,500 (Front 120/70-17)
Rs 16,500 (Rear 190/50-17)
Available at: Amazon.in
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