Michelin Pilot Road 4 Tire Review

Adam Waheed | May 20, 2014

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Michelin unveils an updated Pilot Road 4 sport touring tires. Watch the Michelin Pilot Road 4 Review Video and see if the French made rubber is right for your motorcycle.

Michelin appeals to a broader spectrum of road motorcyclists with its latest motorcycle tire offering: the Pilot Road 4. Available in standard, GT, and Trail variations, these French-engineered hoops are made specifically for the type of touring riding you most enjoy.

Last updated three years ago, the Road 4 is Michelin’s fourth iteration of its popular sport touring shoes. For this riding season it gets a few enhancements aimed at increasing both wet and dry grip, durability and overall handling performance.

All three versions share identical tread patterns. Like before the exterior features a bevy of sipes and tread bars designed to evacuate enormous volumes of water on wet roads. However, the extreme edge of the tires shoulder has fewer grooves for a bigger footprint at higher lean angles. There’s also clever circular recess that pools water momentarily before ejecting it from the contact patch.

Michelin claims an improvement in wet weather braking achieving a 17% shorter stopping distance compared to its competitors. On painted lines the gap increases to 24%. With such a dense array of sipes, excessive wear can be an issue especially during heavy braking. To combat this, the front tire’s grooves are beveled slightly allowing it to wear more evenly with less performance degradation over the life of the tire.


(Left) As you can see, the Pilot Road 4 features heavy siping designed to evacuate high volumes of water on wet roads. (Center) The standard PR4 had ample grip and stability for a 1000cc sport-touring bike even when ridden hard on canyon roads. (Right) Although the standard and Trail’s PR4 casing is the same, both the tread pattern and the profile have been altered slightly for added steering response.

Both the standard and Trail tires utilize a similar carcass to the Pilot Road 3 but with a steeper, more triangulated profile for quicker steering response. The GT version gets an specific casing that’s 15% stiffer to accommodate heavier loads typically encountered on large sport touring bikes, including BWM’s recently released R1200 RT (PR4s are standard fitment on four out of every 10 new RT’s). Dubbed as Dual Angle Technology, the GT uses a pair of crisscrossed plies below a standard belt ply for enhanced stability at high speeds without it giving away favorable bump absorption properties on rough surfaces.



(Top) The PR4’s were marginally more responsive than the OE fitted tire. They also deliver a pleasing ride and are easy to get a feel for when new. (Bottom) The only issue we have in the stability department is a small degree of tread squirm during super fast paced riding. Though it wasn’t significant enough to keep us from exploring the high level of traction provided by the rubber.

The rubber compound was also reformulated with primary objectives being a wider operating range (from 23 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit [air temperature]) and improved durability. The standard and GT hoops share identical layouts with harder, cooler-running compound zone at the center of the tire (50% at the front and 20% at the back), flanked by a softer mixture on the shoulders (25% and 40%, respectively). The oddly named Trail variant (designed strictly for on-road use on adventure-style motorcycles like Yamaha’s Super Tenere) gets its own arrangement with a softer blend employed at the rear similar in composition to the standard and GT front only with a wider center band.

To see how the PR4 felt we mounted a standard set (120/70-17 front, 190/50-17 rear) on Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000 ABS sport tourer. Unfortunately we’ve never logged miles on the older generation Pilot Road tires so we can’t comment on how the most recent version compares.

On the road the Michelin’s complemented the Ninja’s handling well. The tires were marginally more responsive to steering inputs yet remained neutral, and didn’t require a whole lot of miles to acclimate to. During hard riding, we did notice a degree of tread squirm but it’s not enough to limit the rider during fast-paced rides. Conversely, the tires favorable flex characteristics were welcome on bumpy surfaces plus it gives the rider the feedback necessary to confidently explore its high-level of traction. Another big plus is how quickly the tire arrives at operating temperature and the consistent level of grip on warm, heat-soaked asphalt and chilly early morning rides

Considering the tread design, wet weather performance is a key attribute, but we haven’t had a chance to log any wet weather miles. Still, if you often ride in the rain, these tires will surely be the rubber to have in those conditions. Another unknown is longevity as we’ve only logged a few hundred miles on them. Over the course of the year, we intended on fitting these same tires on a project bike in an effort to see how many miles we can get out of them.
 
The Michelin Pilot Road 4 Standard, GT, and Trail Front Tire and Michelin Pilot Road 4 Standard, GT, and Trail Rear Tire are available at Motorcycle-Superstore.com

Michelin Pilot Power 4 Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Responsive steering feel
  • Delivers a smooth ride over bumps
  • Heavy siping should work wonders on wet roads 
Lows
  • Some tread squirm during fast paced riding
  • More expensive than Road 3s

Standard Front Sizes: 120/60-17, 120/70-17
Michelin Pilot Road 4 Front Tire

Standard Rear Sizes: 150/70-17, 160/60-17, 180/55-17, 190/50-17, 190/55-17
Michelin Pilot Road 4 Rear Tire

GT Front Sizes: 120/70-17, 120/70-18
Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT Front Tire

GT Rear Sizes: 170/60-17, 180/55-17, 190/50-17, 190/55-17
Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT Rear Tire

Trail Front Sizes: 110/80-19, 120/70-19
Michelin Pilot Road 4 Trail Front Tire

Trail Rear Sizes: 150/70-17, 170/60-17
Michelin Pilot Road 4 Trail Rear Tire 

MSRP: $223.95 – $228.95 (front) $270.95 – $330.95 (rear)

 

Adam Waheed

MotoUSA Road Test Editor | Adam's insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.

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