Wheel alignment

Sunday 30 December 2012

Michelin Pilot Road 3 - end of life review

Dispelling the "What's the Best Tyre" myth
In view of the hot air (oh, ok - absolute bullshit) which seems to blight any on-line discussion about tyres, including a complete lack of evidence to support some assertions about what tyre to buy, let's start with some facts which have a bearing with respect to tyre performance on public highways.
  1. It's likely that unless a rider is supremely talented, any of the major brands will offer a performance envelope which more than exceeds most people's capability.  What WILL have a large bearing however, is their "Fitness for Purpose". e.g track day capability, predominantly commuting, riding in dry weather only and so on.
  2. There are many variables which impact significantly on tyre performance and life...... road surface and temperature, ratio of straights to curves, weather conditions, tyre pressures, suspension quality, bike weight and geometry - just to name a few.  Also chuck in a rider's variables in terms in terms of speed, smoothness, their weight and god knows what else and it becomes clear that finding one tyre design that meets all criteria is close to impossible.
  3. Bike magazines which test normal road tyres round a test track for lap times don't replicate real world public road conditions either.  In other words, we're not comparing apples with apples in most cases.
However, what is relevant to this review is that the ST has been ridden by me over virtually identical road and weather conditions for over 30,000 km and more than 3 years using 3 different sets of tyres.  At least this gives strong comparative indications, if not measurably absolute ones. Hopefully, it will mean that this review is based on reasonably objective criteria.
Past experience with the Street Triple
The Triple came equipped with sport-oriented Dunlop Qualifier 2's.  The Qualifiers gripped really well in the warmer weather but I was nervous about them in cooler, wet conditions.  I got the same feeling when riding a friend's Daytona 675 equipped with Pirelli Supercosas on a wet and cold day.  It's not an unreasonable statement that pure sport tyres need heat to maximise grip and in wet, cool conditions, that's not easy to achieve. The generally smaller rain grooves on a sports tyre don't help either.  That probably means that in adverse weather conditions, a pure sport tyre has no performance advantage and possibly less; than sport-touring tyres.  The Q2's with higher profile crowns than many sport-touring tyres also tended to tip into a bend rather than roll in smoothly but this was something I eventually got used to.  By 6000 km, they had lost much of their tread and equally importantly, the profile had changed significantly which affected handling. 

Dunlop Qualifier front tyre.  Losing shape and nearly down to the min legal 1.5mm tread depth in the centre

The next tyres to be fitted were the Avon Storm 2 Ultra sport-touring tyre.  I was due to ride in the NZ Grand Challenge 1000 miles in under 24 hours event and wanted something which could handle adverse weather conditions.  Avon Storms were my tyre of choice for several years on the CBR 1100XX Blackbird which I previously owned, so was familiar with their characteristics.  They are a great all-round tyre with exceptional wet weather performance, finally being replaced after 10000 km.  The tyre profile remained pretty good for most of their life.

Avon Storm rear tyre at 8000 km. Harder centre compound clearly visible

Experience with the Michelin PR3's
I would have happily used the Storms again except that the NZ Avon importers had hiked the price and that was the spur to consider other brands.  The relatively newly-released PR3 sport-touring tyres were finally chosen mainly because the fine grooves (called sipes) which are traditionally used on some performance car tyres were an interesting point of difference.  A point of note is that I fitted the "B" specification rear PR3 which has a stronger carcass construction and higher load rating.

PR3 "B" load rating identification

Brand new front PR3

Brand new rear "B" load rating PR3

Coming out of the tyre fitters and rolling slowly towards the nearby traffic lights, there was a slight vibration through the bars, almost as if the bike was running over small corrugations.  I wondered if the sipes on the front tyre were causing the vibration as it happened at a couple of other slow speed locations too but didn't reappear at the end of the 160 km journey home. Maybe everything had bedded in by then.

Most of the homeward journey was on twisty, back country roads; perfect for carefully exploring the capabilities of the PR3's.  They exhibited a smooth, progressive roll-in on bends as opposed to the more rapid tip-in of the Qualifiers with the higher crowns.  However, they "felt" slightly slower to roll in than the previously-fitted Storm Ultras but to be fair, the difference was small.  Overall, they were totally confidence-inspiring.

Being anal about tyre pressures, I checked them using my digital gauge the following day.  The tyre dealer had set them to the recommended Triumph pressures which at best can only be described as a guide.  Where I live in NZ, summer road temperatures are quite high which means that you can start with a slightly lower cold pressure. (Ever checked the difference between cold pressures and the operating pressure at the end of a lively ride???)  In addition, I ride solo, weigh 80 kg and have found that 35psi front and 38 psi rear seems to work well.  The other thing which was checked on arriving home was front/rear wheel alignment, using my home-built laser rig and it was a mile out. I've never seen an alignment rig of any sort used by tyre fitters anywhere so it's hardly surprising.  Misalignment can affect both handling and tyre wear so setting it up properly on a new set gave peace of mind.

In terms of dry weather grip, the PR3's are good enough that I reach my level of competence well before the tyre is inclined to get squirrelly.  In the wet, they are simply amazing - not an anxious moment.  Even when I once hit wet clay, the slide was completely controllable.  Perhaps as much due to the wonderful handling of the Triple as the tyres.  The sipes actually seem to work as opposed to being a straight marketing gimmick as riding partners have remarked on how much water the tyres seem to displace and the strong dry line they leave.  I always thought that Avon Storms set the standard for wet weather riding but have to admit that the PR3's are even better.  Admittedly, the comments about relative grip are subjective but I reckon based on experience with different tyres on the same bike, they're pretty realistic.

Having established grip credentials, we now move onto tyre life which as mentioned earlier in this post, is affected by a multitude of factors.  However, as also mentioned, the 3 different tyre brands which have been fitted to the Triple since new have been used in near-identical conditions. Therefore, a comparison between the 3 is valid.  It's also worth mentioning that the Triple isn't used for commuting and I live in an area with really twisty roads so the wear is probably more evenly spread round the surface than it would be with a greater percentage of upright riding/commuting.

Just to recap, the Dunlop Qualifier sport tyres lasted for 6000km before they were replaced due to wear and going out of shape.  The Avon Storm Ultras lasted for 10000 km before being replaced.  They retained a decent profile for perhaps 90%+ of their life.  The photos below show the PR3's at just over 13000km.

 Rear "B" load rating PR3 - 13000 km

It can be seen that the rear hoop has maintained an excellent profile.  The rain groove depth towards the centre is approximately 2mm, indicating that the 1.5mm minimum legal tread depth will be reached in less than 1000km.  From my perspective, a total life of 14000km is perfectly satisfactory given that the Triple is used as intended by the designers!  Just out of interest, compare this photo with the one of the brand new rear PR3 above. In the brand new photo, the major rain grooves coming from the left and right hand edges actually reach the tyre centre line.  In the 13000 km photo, the end of the grooves are close to 8mm from the centre line, showing how much wear has taken place. The sipes have also narrowed in width as they have worn.

Rear tyre - view of tread towards edge - 13000 km

The rear tyre is worn right round to the edge but the rain grooves and sipes have maintained fairly sharp edges.  It's hard to see in this photo but the trailing edge of each sipe has a distinct raised feather edge.  There doesn't seem to be any adverse consequences from this,

PR3 front tyre - 13000 km

As with the rear tyre, wear is evenly distributed and to within 5mm of the front tyre edge.  Remaining tread depth is approximately 2mm in the centre.  With the lighter loads on the front tyre, it will almost certainly last considerably longer than the rear.  I generally change both tyres together but there may not be any compelling need in this instance.  It will be reassessed shortly.

Given the life of the PR3 compared with the other tyres previously used, it brings into question the wisdom of comments on bike web forums which simply dismiss certain tyres as being too expensive.  The Avon Storm is currently a little cheaper in NZ than the PR3 at present but taking into account the difference in wear rate, the PR3 lifetime cost is significantly cheaper.  If a pure sport tyre fits your riding requirements best, their reduced life means you're going to shell out more $$ on a regular basis.  It's also appropriate to mention the impact of suspension on tyre life.  If you have either tired or budget suspension where the effectiveness of spring rate and/or compression and rebound damping is questionable, it will definitely have an impact on tyre life (and handling of course).  When I changed from the standard suspension on my Honda Blackbird to modified front fork internals and an expensive Penske adjustable rear unit, the tyres lasted on average for an additional 2000 km.  A plausible argument if you have to go cap in hand to your Chief Financial Officer to spend money on the bike, ummmm..... like I do!

There is actually one unquantifiable variable in the last 18 months of Street Triple ownership which may have appreciably contributed to the excellent tyre life of the PR3 and that's the on-going enhancement of my riding with the Institute of Advanced Motorists.  In addition to being a safer rider, I'm a smoother rider thanks to much better positioning and smarter use of throttle, gears and brakes.  This must have a beneficial bearing on tyre life, although how much is open to debate.

In summary, the PR3 tyres are the best I've ever had on the Street Triple for the type of riding I do.  The ST gets ridden pretty briskly but it doesn't have to put up with, for example, the requirements for track days.  If I was a track day junkie, then a pure sport tyre would be the most appropriate option.   

Philip, the NZ IAM Chief Examiner has PR3's on his Honda ST1300 and they were beginning to lose a little shape at 6000 km but are now up to 9500 km.  Part of this would be due to a long fully-loaded trip he did on them on relatively straight roads and the overall weight of the bike must also be a significant factor.  Nonetheless, that sort of life on a big bike is still acceptable.  He intends to fit another set of PR3's.  My fellow moto-blogging mate Roger also has them on his Triumph Sprint ST.  Whilst Rog hasn't had them on for long, he speaks highly of their performance.

Clearly, there is no one best tyre, it all comes back to that all-important "fitness for purpose" which an individual owner wants from his machine.

I hope that this post has provided some food for thought!

Oh, and a final thought which only occurred to me the other day.  2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of owning my first motorcycle.  Guess that shows a decent passion for motorcycles, as well as definitely confirming Old Fart status :-)

Addendum:  I changed the front PR3 at 17,200 km.  The tread depth was still just above the legal minimum but the profile had lost its shape, taking a more triangular profile with significant wear on the sides.  Hardly surprising really given that I live in an area with hardly a straight road and only ride for fun, not commuting.  It always comes as quite a surprise how the handling is rejuvenated by a new tyre!

June 2015.  I am now on my second rear PR4 tyre.  When the PR4 was first announced, Michelin claimed that the lucky rider could expect up to 20% greater tyre life.  I note that claim has been quietly dropped, at least in NZ.  My PR4 lasted an almost identical distance to the PR3's - around 15,000 km despite the assertion that a harder centre compound has been used.  In addition, I've had a high end rear shock fitted for the last 5000 km which should have noticeably extended life based on experience with my Blackbird after an upgrade.  Also, the PR4 is more expensive than the PR3 so the cost/km has increased for no discernible reason other than filling Michelin's coffers.  The front PR4 has quite a bit of life left in it and has kept its shape, so no need to change it at the same time as the rear.  In fact, it may well last beyond the 17,000-odd km achieved with the PR3's. Perhaps the wider spacing of the sipes means less flexing.  It certainly feels slightly more "planted" than its PR3 counterpart under braking or rapid directional changes.

Irrespective of life and cost considerations, the PR4 is a terrific tyre when an all-weather tyre is needed.

Note:  For further tyre info, go to the later post HERE and HERE .  There is also an end of life review of the PR4 on my GSX-S1000 and the Metzler Roadtec 01 HERE Also comments on the Bridgestone T31 and Michelin Road 5 HERE .

New PR3 and a PR4 with 130 km on the clock

ADDENDUM:  An end of life review of the Road 5 can be found HERE


  1. Geoff

    An excellent write up - too bad you don't work for a bike magazine!

    I'd be interested in some tips on wheel alignment for my chain driven BMW F650 which I keep maintained for the wife "to ride".

    Happy New Year or as they say in Germany where I am at present "have a good rash (!?)

  2. Cheers Nikos!

    As a fellow engineer, I'm sure you gnash your teeth too when you see some of the crap which is spouted about tyres without any attempt to provide any form of evidence - that's what irritates the heck out of me.

    I'll email you some stuff on my alignment rig and its use. Basically unchanged since 2003 because it worked satisfactorily first time up.

    And best wishes to you too mate. Hope your "rash" doesn't require penicillin :-)

  3. Geoff, hello again!

    Great write-up, useful info and pictures. I agree, same rider, same bike, same roads, 3 different tyres is a good indication.

    Nikos probably means "einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr" which translates as "a good SLIDE into the new year", not RASH.

    As a biker, is it possible to have a good slide?

    Hotmetal from the Street forum

    1. 'ello again!

      As a biker, a good slide must be one where you stay on and don't follow the bike down the road on your arse :-).

  4. Excellent post Geoff

    I think the 'fit for purpose' has to be the best description ever used. Whats the point of having race track rubber on your touring bike or the other way around of having touring rubber on your track bike. Your right about bike mags just spouting crap and they always just pick the stickiest tyre and only use them on the track, I mean what pupose does that serve general road riding?

    I saw a You Tube video with Colin Edwards riding on Michelin Pilot Powers street tyres on his motogp machine in Malaysia and was only 6-7 seconds off his qualifying time, so anyone that says that those tyres are no good really don't know what they are talking about.

    You get alot of km's(13K) out of those PR3's, thats about double what I'm getting out of my Pilot Powers(PP). I saw first hand the PR3 vs the PP on my snowy ride in the rain down Clyde Mtn, generally speaking the PP are very good in the wet but nothing compared with the PR3's as the rider on those in the wet soon disappeared into the distance. That how much confidence they obviously give you.

    Again great post Geoff.

    1. Cheers Steve!
      Yeah, modern road tyres are probably better than race rubber of 5 years ago! I once fitted Avon VP2 Supersports to my Blackbird and destroyed them in 5000-odd km! Guess the weight and torque did most of the damage. Not exactly Fitness for Purpose but at least I didn't have to pay for 'em. Was testing them for the Avon importer!

      Happy New Year mate!

  5. Good write-up Geoff. I liked my PR3's but went back to PR2's as the pricing was better, they perform (for me) just as well and I didn't quite get the life out of the 3's that I have on the 2's.


    Congrats on the 50 years riding - I've got a ways to go yet and am looking forward to it.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks Andrew,

    That's further strong evidence that there's no such thing as a single best tyre!

    Hahaha - the 50 years sort of sneaked up! I was also passionate about competitive sailing but you have to be fit for that :-). Not quite as passionate about it as riding, even if I was still fit enough!

    BTW, had a nice email from your mate John Maroulis today. Really enjoyed the chat.

    Happy New Year to you too - leave a few brain cells intact for riding!!

  7. Afternoon Geoff,
    It was on your recommendation that I fitted PR3s to the Deauville. I am not an experienced rider, however I find that the PR3s grip the road very well in all conditions I face - urban chipseal, urban + motorway hotmix, cold + wet winter mornings [3-5C], warm/hot dry conditions. I am very pleased with them. My experiences are that the bike feels planted on the road - admittedly being a 250kg porker it should be well grounded. [Perhaps the weight of Philip's ST1100 has contributed to the greater tyre wear compared to the Triumph?]

    Yesterday we went to Maramarua for lunch with friends and went through the Hunua Ranges plus Papakura via Hunua Gorge - due to navigation error - and I had no surprises with the Honda. [OK, confess to missing an upshift and selecting Neutral and releasing the clutch which resulted in an excellent impersonation of a H-D = all noise and no go!] There were a number of places where the road surface was beginning to peel or break-up and the Honda just handled that with ease. Ken was on the MP3 and he set a quick pace through the Hunuas and I was having to work to keep up but at no time did I feel the bike was handling in anyway that was unpleasant or uncomfortable to me.

    I would happily replace the tyres with another set of PR3s when needed - unless something better - and as you point out: Please define 'better' - comes along.

    All the best for your fishing for 2013, sure Jenni, you and the cats will appreciate the results.


    1. Gidday Mark,
      Well, I'm delighted that you're pleased with them too, I always have a horror of making a recommendation which someone absolutely hates!

      Error or not, that's a nice way to get up to Papakura. I've been that way a few times and really like it. Pleased to hear of Ken on the MP3 ;-).

      I'll certainly be replacing them with another set of MP3's.

      Best wishes to you 2 fine gentlemen too. Remember that an excellent shiraz or merlot adds to brain cells, not kills them :-).

  8. Geoff,
    You're right, there are so many variables when it comes to tires and tire life. I've been very happy with the PR2's I run on my Zx-14. I use it as more of a long distance sport-tour bike. It never sees the track and I never ride crazy on the street. My front tire has never left the ground.
    My last set of tires were on the bike for 11,535 miles(18,564km) when I changed them for a new set because I was going on a long trip. There was probably another 1,000 miles of life left in them. They seemed to wear pretty good, with only a little cupping on the front tire, and the rear tire just starting to get to the wear indicators.
    I might have to try the PR3's, but I'm still very pleased with the 2's.


  9. Hi Erik - good to hear from you!

    I can't be absolutely sure but I think fellow moto-blogger Tarsnakes (Jules) from Australia uses PR2's on his ZX-14 too. They certainly seem to be the tyre of choice for CBR1100xx Blackbird users in Australia.It's a case of whatever works best for you!

  10. Geoff, as others have said - another excellent post and sensible analysis that is, for the most part, absent in motorcycle forum discussions.

    I'm still happy with the PR2's for my purposes, (and I have a spare new set in my office that I bought cheaply from the USA). However, my mate Bill has swapped to PR3's on his ZX14 and he says the front end grip is vastly improved compared with the PR2's. He rides harder than I do but seems to be getting pretty good tyre life, even though he frequently rides two up.

    My neighbour Mitch who rides the CB1000R has just had some new triple compound tyres fitted, Dunlops I think. In the past it seemed to me that tyre companies tended to leap frog each other with their technical developments. However, I think that they have evened out a lot now, though I must declare a bias towards Michelins, but your point about fitness for purpose is the critical thing when all is said and done.

    On a recent ride on the Great Ocean Road I realised that having just had a birthday, it marked 40 years of riding the GOR. I'm actually quite proud of that, so well done for 50 years of motorcycling Geoff.

    1. Hi Jules,
      Thanks mate - all it means is that I'm anal when it comes to stuff like this, as Jennie will gladly tell anyone within earshot :-).

      PR2's and the dual compound sports derivative have always been the yardstick on the bigger, heavier hyperbikes. I don't doubt that Bill will enjoy the performance of the PR3's but my slight worry would be their longevity on your 2 beasts! I remember when the PR3's were first launched, their marketing people said they were not rated for the heavier, big horsepower bikes although popular opinion seemed to regard that statement as arse-covering because they hadn't been tested at that time on bikes like yours.

      Hey, warmest congrats on 40 years of riding mate!! The best thing is that we're still alive to tell the tale without too many dramas along the way!!!

  11. Great review there Geoff. That tread profile looks bloody awesome for wet roads, with all of those little "sipes"helping shift surface water. I am in the market for some new tyres for the R1 and am almost dreading making a choice. I guess I will place a lot of faith in my little brother as we both ride in a similar fashion and I don't need a tyre that is awesome in the wet. Happy new year to you.

    1. Hi Dave!
      Yeah, they're certainly "different", aren't they? Hahaha - funny how much angst is generated when it's new tyre time eh? I'll be going for PR3's again rather than experimenting further, simply because with the IAM work, we don't get a choice of what conditions we ride in. Would hate to go sliding down the road on my face behind a trainee when the roads are awash!

      Happy New Year too!

  12. Interesting to read your experiences with all three tyres.

    Max came with Dunlop Qualifiers from the factory and didn't make it to 6,000 miles. We replaced them with Shinkos right before the 1500 mile IMBC trip and I was very impressed with them on that trip. We'll see how they do in the cold on our Polar Bear Ride Tuesday.

    Happy New Year to you and Jennie.

    1. Hey Brandy!
      You did pretty well getting 6000 miles from Q2's!! I'd be interested to know how long the Shinko's last. I know they're available in NZ but don't think they're widely stocked as most big bike dealers seem to have exclusive contracts with the likes of Pirelli, Metzler, Michelin etc.

      And to you Brandy - may 2013 be a spectacularly good year for you and Brad!

  13. Ahhh yes, the ol' tire debate, almost as controversial as the oil debate. I am glad to read your positive review on the PR3s as it is a fairly new tire design, so thank you.
    However, I am wondering about your comment regarding lighter load on the front tire? "With the lighter loads on the front tyre, it will almost certainly last considerably longer than the rear." I'm just flickin' you, but are you sure? Geoff, be honest... are you accelerating considerably more often and lofting the front wheel? And if so, wouldn't the rear wear sooner under such heavy acceleration? ;)

    Happy New Year to you and yours, mate.

    1. Howdy Brad!
      Okay, I'll take your bait :-). It's not hard to loft the front wheel on a Triple but really, I'm just an old fart when it comes to riding so have never done it. Well, not all that often anyway ;-). The comparison between weight bias on the Triple and the Blackbird is quite dramatic. The 'bird was nose-heavy and front tyre wore at more or less the same rate as the rear. The Triple has a rear weight bias and aggressive steering geometry, hence the lower wear rate. Well, either that or the time it spends with the front wheel in the air ;-)

      With every good wish to you and Brandy too - take care!

  14. Hello from Savannah, haven't had time to blog, been to busy cleaning Lori.s house so I get fed!

    Great blog and review Geogg, I love the pr3's but only time will tell....

    Have great new year to you and jenni, talk soon ya hear.

    1. Hey Bro!!!

      I'm just trying to picture you in a flowery pinafore with a cleaning cloth in your paws, hehe!

      Thanks - I'm certain that you'll continue to love the PR3's.

      Every good wish to you, Lori and Oilburner for 2013 and have an absolute ball over there. I'm off to clean the BBQ for tonight's celebrations. Beer can Moroccan Chicken and venison sausages, home made bread, Waldorf Salad and some sort of fancy dessert which Jennie is working on right now :-)

      Into the southern lingo already eh? Y'all!!

  15. Geoff:

    I just had new tires installed on my R1200R. I was going to purchase the PR3 but I am not an aggressive rider and for my type of riding they recommended the PR2 for longer life, and still good for the rain. I should be able to get longer tread life with the PR2, over the PR3

    I will know next year after my trip. I have Annakee2's on my Strom. I think I have around 10K on them and the tread looks like new

    I started riding 56 years ago but I haven't been riding continuously as you. I had many bikes during the early 1980's but moved over to sports car for a few years

    Happy New Year to you and Jenny

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  16. Hi Bob!
    The PR2's are an excellent tyre too so no worries there!

    Wow! Congratulations mate - we're two old farts together! I haven't ridden continuously either. Had about 8 years away from bike ownership when we first came to NZ but I did ride other people's trail bikes in that time.

    Happy New Year to you, Yvonne and family. We'll be firing up the BBQ an half an hour. Just 6 hours until 2013 in NZ!

  17. Geoff, it's just about tires, and you have to write a novel about it ;-) Ts, ts, those engineers...

    Wishing you and Jennie a happy and healthy new Year.
    Keep on riding, my friend. I sincerely hope that we'll meet again one fine day.


    1. Hahahaha - I ought to take offence - no more rides on the Street Triple for you! You've obviously been around engineers too long ;-).

      And to you and Roland. Now it's 2013, I can actually say that it's likely to be in Canada in 2014!

  18. Hi Geoff,

    Fellow Geoff and old fart here :P (I actually have an "old farts cycle team" jersey for bicycling.. its great when I pass all the young fellas :P).

    I have a zrx1100, which I purchased with PR3's on it, which had done 3k. I've done another 3-4k and can hardly tell, wear wise.
    I tend to run mine at 40psi, at 35 they feel a bit "square", and I am 120KG.

    I've also noticed that, as you say, they feel a bit "slow" rolling into corners, but it isnt slow enough to worry me. In fact, I find the progressive and "increasing stickiness" as I corner to be reassuring.

    I've read a review in which a guy got 18000 miles, which included several track days, and there was still tread left (not quite, what we would call "WOF" standard, but some places might still have passed it). They are great.. I'd love another set.

  19. Hello fellow Doppelganger!!!

    That's the spirit and may I commend your taste with a ZRX - still a stunning looking bike. Saw a green Lawson replica in The Hamilton motorcycle centre a few months back - photo somewhere else in the blog.

    I'd say 40 psi would be about right. Used to run 42 psi all round on my Blackbird with Avon Storms. You could feel it get wooden below 40 psi and guess that your ZRX probably has similar weight and weight distribution.

    Crikey, 18000 miles is stupendous!! The Street Triple gets worked fairly hard but even taking it easier, couldn't get near that mileage. That's when road surface characteristics and road temperatures have a significant effect. I think the basalt chip on south island roads is pretty hard on tyres.

    Thanks so much for dropping by and happy New Year!

  20. Good write up Geoff, and yep I can understand the engineers' penchant for details details details.

    Now I've been a confirmed Michelin fan club member for a few years now, PR2s - 18000kms, Power Pures - 7000kms, first set of PR3s - 12000kms, another set of Power Pures suffered on a track day...now onto PR3s again.

    Being a 24/7 rain or shine kinda rider, not a hoon as such, I find the Pilot Road 3 suits me. Tempted to try a Metzeler Z8 all the same, just to try something different...

  21. Gidday Caspernz!!

    My wife hates it - she thinks I border on Asperger's at worst and just plain anal at best :-(

    You've racked up some decent mileages there. This is my first time on modern Michelins. For years, I avoided them as my Blackbird cam equipped with the old 90 X's. They would have probably lasted forever but they had sod all grip in the wet and would spin up in the dry under hard acceleration in lower gears. Irrational to avoid them all these years but we all carry prejudices :-)

    Thanks for dropping by!

  22. An excellent tyre comparison Geoff!
    I love a tyre that imparts total confidance in the wet. In the dry, as you imply, most decent tyres are up to the task but when one rides every day, regardless of rain, hail or shine, its the performance of a tyre in the wet that really matters.
    Happy new year and may it offer many happy kms of safe travel


  23. Cheers Andy!
    Absolutely and you can never be sure what weather awaits on those end of month IAM runs, particularly when travelling the best part of 180km just to get to the start point!

    Same to you mate and catch you before too long. The Peninsula is chokka with insane tourists at present so won't be venturing out on 2 wheels until next week!

  24. Good read Geoff. I've always been a fan of good sports touring tyres for most real road riding - although I had Pilot Powers on the 750SP which were ideal for the Coromandel on a fine day...
    Over here, we're both on our first set of PR3's, after a good run on PR2's, mine on the XJR13 and the missus on her FZ1. Although there is not much wet riding over here, when it rains, it hoses down, and I've been thankful for the 3's a couple of times. As the roads are, generally "more open" over here, we do get more centre wear - even the PR3's, but, they are wearing better than the Metzler Z6's I used to use, before going over to PR's.
    To hot over here to venture out much, at the moment, although we had a cool day last week, so I snuck out on the RG250, for a quick blast from the past - always guaranteed to return with a large grin after taking that out.
    Safe Coro riding
    Jon L

  25. Gidday Jon and happy New Year!

    Thanks and yep, modern sports touring tyres tick just about every box for road riding unless you're strictly a dry weather rider and your comment about getting caught when it hoses down is just the time when you need something with proven capabilities. So you have an RGV 250, you lucky sod! I can well imagine the grin. I had a Suzuki X7 and whilst it wasn't in the RGV league, it was wonderful for thrashing round the Waikato country lanes!

    Hope you're well clear of bush fires in your neck of the woods. A month today, we'll be on holiday in Tasmania which is a bit of a worry!

  26. No - not an RGV - it's earlier sibling - the RG - a Mk3 Walter Wolf rebuild. Still suitably tiny and peaky. Also have a 78 GT250B to get back up to scratch......one day....
    Tassie will be OK by then - should be nothing else left to burn.........

  27. My mistake, the RG's were real performers too and those Wolf versions were pretty sought after. I vaguely remember a big article on them in the UK Performance Bikes magazine when they took several to the Bruntingthorpe airstrip for a top speed shootout of highly tuned ones owned by members of the public. BTW, you have a wife in a million allowing you to have all those toys :-).

    Oh thanks, little risk but no scenery to photograph other than blackened stumps. Got a few photos like that down Margaret River way last year :-).

  28. "BTW, you have a wife in a million allowing you to have all those toys :-)." -She insisted! if we had more money, we'd have more bikes - she still lusts after a Street Triple...- She still has the first bike she ever bought brand new - a 1973 CB350 Honda - mind you, I've got to put the engine back in so she can ride it again....after I finish the office....store room....front deck......pool area.....etc, etc....
    The RG has an interesting history - it was bought by a local chap as spare parts after a wiring loom fire, and he decided to rebuild it. It's not pristine, but the important parts all work, and, one day, I'll get around to tidying up the well worn bits (after I do the Honda)
    He did a video about it - http://youtu.be/M80TM_U8XGE
    I never had an RG first time around - had a T250-II Street Scrambler in '71, so it's great fun for short blasts.

  29. Well, I'm pleased you still have a task list around the house, I certainly do and brownie points are awarded by the Chief Project Manager :-).

    Fantastic restoration job on the RG. Loved the crackle of the unmuffled motor. Oh for that noise to be legal!

    Right, get back onto those home projects or you'll be REALLY old by the time you get round to the Honda and that will bring more grief down on your head :-)

  30. Great comparo, Geoff. I've just picked up my new Sprint GT and in the process of running it in. It comes with Bridgestones. I don't have an opinion on them yet, but when I picked the bike up I discussed tyres with the dealer. He showed me the PR3's and said that he was getting good feedback about them. It will certainly give me food for thought when the time comes. Cheers. ps I have kept the Tiger

  31. Gidday Marty - good to hear from you!

    Congrats on getting the GT - a great bike and that was what the Blackbird should have developed into rather than the dog of a VFR 1200! Thanks - my mate and fellow blogger Roger Fleming certainly loves the PR3's on his Sprint. Mind you, I'd have thought that with all that Perth sunshine, you could run on slicks ;-). We had a ball over there last year.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  32. There are millions of motorcyclists out there. each and every motorcyclist has a choice when it comes to choosing motorcycle tires. However, there are those that are not familiar with the best quality of motorcycle accessories at large. Congratulations for having this blog i believe it will be of help to many. Motorcycle accessories including tires are very essential to all riders.

    1. Thanks for dropping by!

      Yep, sometimes it's hard to find out what products or equipment suits a person best - it can be a real minefield!

  33. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough and helpful review. Looking for tyres to put on my SP1 this weekend and you've convinced me to go for the Pilot Road 3. Had the Pilot Power 2CTs on before and couldn't fault them for grip or wear, unlike the BT012s that I had to take off as they felt horribly vague wet or dry. Same tyre suited my ZZr 11 perfectly though, supporting your point that what is right for one bike/rider/riding style combo won't necessarily suit another.

    Only 34 years riding experience myself, but starting to get the hang of it.



  34. Hi Streaky Bacon and thanks for dropping by!

    Pleased you thought that there was something worthwhile in the post. I don't think you'll go far wrong as The Chief Examiner of IAM has them on his ST1300 and loves them and a fellow Observer on his Sprint ST so they seem to cope with a wide range of weights and power delivery. Wish I had an SP1 in my shed!!

    Best wishes for the next 34 years of riding, young fella ;-)!

  35. At last somebody who knows what they're talking about!! It's refreshing to read a review without all the bullshit!! I live in N.Ireland so will be making plenty of use of those sipes, thanks for a great review Geoff I'm off to ebay to buy my road pilot 3's. £209 for the pair delivered to my door. Thanks Johnny.

    1. Hi Johnny,
      Thanks so much for the kind words. My engineering background makes me pretty anal about facts rather than opinions - it really pisses my wife off on occasions (ok then, most of the time). Thats a sharp price for PR3s. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have. May the weather in N.I be kind to you - one of my riding partners is from Ballywalter.

  36. Thanks Geoff
    That was a great article it has helped me decide to stay with the PR3. I was thinking of moving to sports tyres on the BM but Tassie has great road that are often damp and at times green on the dark side this time of year.

    I have PR3s on my BMW k1300r se and my Triumph Tiger 800 (very new first set of tyres).

    I am about to change the front on the BMW again as it is not steering as well as it should. The tyre has covered 7500km which is what I got out of the PR2 and has developed flat areas on either side as you described above on the Dunlop.

    It is interesting point that I get about 2500km more from the rear. I put that down to the traction control.

    Anyway thanks

  37. Mark,
    Thanks for the kind words. Having spent a fantastic 2 weeks in Tassie earlier this year (sadly by car), I know what you mean! My training role with IAM means I have to ride in all conditions so that's why the PR3 suits so well. If you've seen the latest blog post, one of my IAM close mates has a K1300R so I'm reasonably familiar with them. I suspect that like my old Blackbird, the steering geometry on the K1300 is relatively conservative. The combination of the front end "pushing" a bit and decent countersteering effort is the most likely cause of flats on the side if your tyre pressures are correct.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  38. Great article Geoff - Michelin tyres are pretty well known for being one of the best for cyclists and it's great to see you discussing the facts rather than mis-informed opinions.

  39. Many thanks - being an anal engineer, it's facts all the way - drives my wife nuts :-).

    Thank you for dropping by!

  40. GREAT BLOG!!!

    I have been running the Michelin food chain on my Blackbird since the 90X Macadam, 100X, HPX, Roads, Road 2's and am now getting ready to order a 3rd set of Road 3's (over 100,000 miles on my Blackbird). I found that the PR3's wear significantly better on the 'bird than the 2's and have just started noticing that notorious front tire warpage on the 3's again creating a bit of "buzz" in the handlebar so it's replacement time. I have over 10,000 (miles) on this set and the rear still looks very round. I ride all types of roads as I am a distance rider, with a significant portion of my riding being high speed interstate travel. I have never owned a better wet-weather tire by the way.

    I would be pleased to hear any further comment(s) on the "B" spec vs. the standard as I have never tried the "B". I run with about 40 pounds of luggage and I weigh in at 240 lbs. I am wandering if the "B" is worth trying. I don't want to mess up a good thing however. Any advice is appreciated!

  41. Thanks Anon!
    I had Michelin 90X on my 'bird too - no grip at all!

    The B spec PR3 was built specifically for heavier, powerful bikes with stronger carcass construction. You may not notice on the interstates but when you push on in the twisties, I'd bet the ordinary PR3 will squirm around under load. Really important to keep the front and rear tyre pressures up to 42psi. There's no downside to the B spec PR3!

  42. Ultimately it's the man not the machine... I mean tire :-) I ride p2s the milage for long distance touring varies I carry a 40 dog on back (in a mounted kennel)plus my camping gear on a Suzuki GSX560F and my rear tires go before my front ones even though standard wisdom has it that with this bike it's the front tire which wear quicker. I'm 63 years old, having a ball. Did 45,000 kms a year 2 years in a row. Gonna top that this year. Most of my riding now is on the secondary roads of the west coast of Canada and up and down the Rocky Mountains. I particularly like riding through the high mountain passes of the Continental divide

  43. Hi Darwin - thanks for dropping by!

    You sure need decent tyres with the loads you pull and especially on the Wet Coast! My wife and I will be there in 2014, staying with relatives on V.I, doing the Rockies train trip and an Alaskan cruise.

  44. Hi Geoff, I should have added that the last two seasons I mentioned were actually done on the 2009 GSX1250 (Bandit.) Up the Stewart/Cassiar Hwy where it rained every day and also the muddy Dempster hwy.
    I traded the 1250 in for a new 2011 GSX650F this March. It came with Dunlop Battle Axes. I only got 6000kms on them. Based on your article I replaced the Dunlops with with P3s. I just got back from a 2.5 day 2800km trip on the P3s (average cruising speed around 135kms) in beautiful hot dry (28C plus temps) conditions. Love the P3s. I will get back to you on their longevity.
    You will love the train trip (I did it 40 years ago, still have vivid memories of it) as well as the Alaskan trip, road up to Nome last year on the 1250 during an extended 45 day meandering trip 'heading north' wherein I learned to 'take direction' as in whenever someone suggested 'oh your headed towards blah blah, you really must take a side trip to see x y and z" and I would. Oh Yeah its a tough life this retirement thing, but I've got to do it. All the best to you.

  45. Darwin,
    Pleased you like the PR3's. Hopefully, something even better will come along which has got to be good for everyone on 2 wheels, especially those who ride in all conditions.

    Yep, it's tough being retired, hehe, but we worked long hours to get there and enjoy our fun!

  46. If I had to pick a best all around street tire, for all the bikes out there besides the fastest racers, the Pilot Road 3 probably takes the cake. But I am interested in testing the new Pilot Power 3, which seems to have better Rain Ability(like the PR3)and last a little longer then the Old Pilot Power. Even better, I want to see how a combo of Pilot Power 3 up front, Pilot Road 3 on back does, if they corner well together and if they last the same miles- wear out at the same time. If they are a good combo, good mix and match, that may very well be the best of both worlds for 600cc RR's bikes, and Liter Bikes for only street use who do not race their bikes hard. Not to mention bikes whose power is in-between like the New Ninja 1000/Z-1000 ect... and pretty much every 800cc-1200cc sport tourer out there, which is what pretty much most guys ride...

    I have:
    1998 BMW F650, around 48HP, with PR3's front/rear.
    2008 Suzuki Hyabusa, around 190HP, with PP3's, front/rear.
    2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000(same as Z-1000, only with fairings). Around 140HP.
    Want to sell my two older bikes as I am feeling old and my neck hurts in Hyabusa and put PP3 on front PR3 on rear on my Ninja 1000. Wonder if any has thought like me and done that. Best of both worlds, in theory, imo.... But would like someone to have tested it out first, haha...

    1. Hi Anon and thanks for dropping by!

      The principle of using a sport tyre on the front and a sport-touring tyre on the rear PROVIDED that the profiles are compatible is a good move, particularly for bikes like your 'busa or Ninja. I did exactly that on my CBR1100XX Blackbird with an Avon Storm 2 Ultra on the rear and an Avon VP2 on the front. Good to have extra front grip on a bike that pushes the front end. I have no idea how good PP's are in the rain but in NZ for the type of riding I do, a combination of cooler weather and wet roads would rule out pure sport tyres which need heat for them to grip any better than a sport touring tyre. Absolutely hated my Dunlop Qualifiers in cool, damp conditions.

  47. Hi Geoff
    Great logical sensible and to the point and your views and that of others appreciated. Fitted PR3's to my 2000 BMW R1100rt earlier this year pre a 5000klms round trip to the Snowy Mts and Eastern Victoria, Southern New South Wales during their wettest April in 20 years and they performed brilliantly on some of the wettest and twistiest set of roads I have encountered (and have ridden in NZ/Tassie etc). Put my trust in them and very pleased with outcomes.

    Having said that the wear at 8000klms of the rear is of some concern and not sure why. I check pressure regularly often ride two up with combined weight of of 165 kilos plus luggage and a range of straight/twisty roads (live on Kangaroo Island South Oz)?
    Suspension good and adjust the pre-load as required. Thoughts?


  48. Hi Nigel, thank you for the kind words. You don't say whether you are using a "B" load rating rear tyre on your bike but even if you are, the weight of your bike, especially 2 up, will shorten the life of your rear. A friend of mine has and ST 1300 and his PR3 rear only had a life of around 9000 km, mainly riding solo. The PR4 was released earlier this year in a range of carcass strengths and compounds to suit different weights of bikes. I now use the standard PR4 and my friend with the ST uses the PR4 GT which I believe would be the ideal replacement for your bike. Michelin claim a significant increase in tyre life from the PR4. I've only covered 5000 km on my set so far but they are every bit as good as the PR3 in terms of handling in all conditions.

    Safe riding,


  49. I ride Suzuki Bandit S 600 95' and my PR3 tyres have been in service for the last 30000km with about 2mm left to use. I drive slow and fast sometimes and the sides are worn evenly. I did some research before buying them 3 years ago and i'm surprised how long they've last! Most of the time i'm riding solo but also with (female) passengers. So it's about 200kg + 80kg + .... they're a heck of a tyres! !!!!

    1. Correction!! That's 21000Km, not 30K!! I have 1mm left in the front and 1.5 to 2mm in the back! Over 2.5 years now.

      I did some research before buying them and they appeared with the best compromise between safety and durability. So far, I can vouch for both! I drive mostly in the city abut also in highways and even dirt or country roads (on the way to the beach).. 13000km ago I replaced my shock absorber with a new one. Might have some influence and the front fork dumpers liquid has about the same age.

      Next tyres will probably be the PR3. I've seen the new PR4, they look good and there's a 20% upgrade in durability, so they say, but saving a few bucks and still do good, might be worth to stay with the PR3.

      Awesome review Geoff.

  50. 15000 and counting on the rear pr3 on a f800s its not a power full bike but I,be never seen more than 8000 on a rear before. researching Whether its worth the extra £15 for the pr4 but until looking at this didn't,t realize just how much the tread had receded from the centre of the tyre, its a neat trick as the tyre still looks like it has a lot of tread and doesn't,t look squared off even though 90% of the time I ride on motorways.
    I have been swayed by the claim of an extra 20% so in the 3000 miles (6 weeks) I,all be changing to pr4.
    Good to see 50 years of riding doesn't reduce your enthusiasm, thanks Geoff for the great writeup.

  51. Hi Anon and thanks for the kind words! I now have approximately 12,000 km on my PR4's. They've retained their shape pretty well but the jury is still out on whether they will last appreciably longer than the PR3's. They're still an excellent tyre and I think that the front PR4 is a better tyre than the PR3. It's only subjective but the front end feels a bit more "planted". I'm wondering whether the wider spacing of the sipes means that the tyre squirms fractionally less under load. The other thing is that I replaced the stuffed OEM rear shock with a better quality one just before Christmas. This should help tyre life based on experience with my Blackbird.

    Thanks for the comments - Safe riding!

  52. Dear Sir,
    please forgive my ignorance of modern tyres, they scare me a little as they appear to have little to no tread, seem to need to warm up etc etc, where as when I was riding my AJS model 8, or suzuki GT550 back in the early 80s I felt very safe as the tyres had tread all over, did not require warming ie riding for a bit to get them to work (how does that work in the rain, sleet, snow etc anyway?)
    At the moment I am returning to riding and have done some re training, but the tyres really look unsafe......BTW something else that was not an issue years ago was being ultra careful on new tyres due to them still having releasing agent on, I would have thought the health and safety would have done something about that,
    all the best

    1. Hello Paul,

      Welcome back to motorcycling, it's good for the soul! Great question! As a generalization, virtually all modern tyres have far greater grip without warming than ever tyres from my era ever did (I'm 68). It's just that they grip even more with a bit of warmth. The modern compounds increase the mechanical grip. The only tyres to watch out for in colder wet conditions are pure sport tyres which require heat for them to work properly. Any sport-touring tyre will operate efficiently across a wider range of conditions. As per the photos on this post, the Michelin PR3 and PR4 tyres have terrific wet weather performance by the design of their tread pattern as well as the compound itself. With respect to tyre release agents, they used to be oil-based but I think most of the major manufacturers use water-based compounds now - Avon certainly does.

      Enjoy your return!

  53. Hi Geoff,

    I came across thos page when searching for mileage on the PR4 tyres - back on a bike for the first time in a couple of decades I was luckey enough to land on a 2011 ST with fresh PR4's fitted. Having put on a few thousand Km's in a matter of weeks I was surprised to find almost no indication of wear whatsoever, so I ventured online to see what's up. I'd like to thank you for the comprehensive write-up, it is unusual to see claims being substantiated to this level. Side note: do you have more information about your alignment method? I'd love to read more about that. :)

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Leif,
      Many thanks for the kind words and I hope you enjoy your experiences with both the PR4's and the Triple! If you look at the 21st Jan 2016 post, there's a bit more on tyres. I also have PR4's on my Suzuki GSX-S 1000 and as of last week, they have now covered 8800 km and have still retained their profile and have plenty of tread.

      With respect to wheel alignment, this might help: http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/2010/03/wheel-alignment-improve-your-handling.html

      Best wishes and safe riding!

    2. Hi Geoff,

      thanks for that - your solution seems very clever indeed! I happen to have some bits and bobs lying around from previous projects, and your concept has inspired me to see if I can improve upon your already great idea. For one, I have a bunch of 5mW line lasers just wasting away, now I am contemplating using one or two of those in my jig. Thanks so much for the inspiration! :)

    3. Good stuff Leith! Best wishes for a successful outcome. I've simplified my rig since writing that article and it works just as well.

  54. Replies
    1. Thanks James! A full review of the PR4 will be out sometime this month.


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