Metzeler Roadtec 01 Tyre Launch
Metzeler’s new Roadtec 01 tyres are the German company’s replacement for the popular Roadtec Z8 sports touring tyre.
The designation of 01, as apposed to using Z9, indicates this is an entirely new tyre design, not an evolution of the current Z range.
In addition to a new tread pattern, Metzeler has a new carcass design using a thinner wire in its steel belt to allow greater flexibility. This has also allowed the tyre technicians to make changes to the contact patch shape from the oval shape on the Z8 to a more rounded design on the 01. This change is claimed to have increased durability by 10 per cent without compromising grip levels.
Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 is in every way a sports touring tyre – there’s no pretence that it’s a straight out sports tyre, so you may be wondering why I travelled halfway across the globe to test it on the famous Mt Fuji racing circuit in Japan. Sure, touring the roads around the iconic natural landmark is a great way to see the countryside, and that’s what we did, but a track is the best place to push a tyre to its limits and discover what it can deliver.
As well as having the use of the iconic Fuji Speedway, Metzeler also organised a variety of tests from wet weather handling to emergency braking on a slippery road surface. Mother Nature came to the party on the road ride, serving up a smorgasbord of conditions along the twisting and turning Mt Fuji ascent and decent, with pea-soup fog, brilliant sunshine and rain – it felt just like Melbourne.
In keeping the with variety theme, a wide selection of bikes was also laid on, including a Ducati Multistrada, KTM 690 and 1290 Duke, Honda’s VFR1200 and CB1300 and a Yamaha MT-09 – all shod with the new Roadtec 01 to highlight the tyre’s versatility.
Despite the cold ambient temperature and constant threat of rain, the level of grip provided by the Roadtec 01 was impressive for a sports touring tyre, especially given the deep tread pattern across the full face of the tyre. While some rear-tyre slip was felt when the bigger bikes were cranked over at a reasonable speed during the track test, the slight and momentary loss of adhesion could be felt, instilling confidence in the rider. Unfortunately, we were unable to test the tyres on the full Fuji circuit to evaluate the tyre high-speed performance, however, the short burst down the front straight of the short track hinted at good stability.
While the opportunity to enjoy some track time on a tyre launch is always eagerly anticipated, it was the wet weather slalom course and emergency braking tests that impressed the most.
A tight and twisty course of witch’s hats was given a good soaking prior to each run, and because I had returned from the road ride on the big Honda CB1300, that’s the bike on which I was flagged away to attack the maze of cones. The first two laps were conducted at a lead-rider-imposed steady pace, but once free to set our own speed it didn’t take long to work out that the tread pattern of the Roadtec 01 was delivering the water dispersion abilities promised during the morning’s tech briefing. The tyre’s tread pattern, which becomes more spaced out with wider cuts toward the shoulders, felt as sure footed as it had done on the dry surface, and while the speeds were not up to highway levels, the cornering angles were a tough test for the tyre’s ability to grip. Even on the big CB1300 I was able to increase the pace considerably as I placed more confidence in the tyre’s ability to hang on.
The big surprise of the launch was the wet surface emergency stopping test. You may question what the big deal is about slamming on the front and rear brakes of an ABS-equipped motorcycle on a wet surface. But if you have you ever tried to pull up an ABS-equipped roadbike on wet grass or loose gravel you will know it feels like you are never going to stop. A tyre with a poor grip level will provide a similar feeling when you attempt to stop quickly on a wet road surface because the ABS will constantly intervene and release brake pressure each time the tyre is about to lock up. The increase in braking distance could mean the difference between pulling up a couple of feet short or becoming a hood ornament for a car which has turned into your path. It’s a simple formula: more grip means minimal ABS intervention, shortening braking distance. Interestingly, the Roadtec 01 rear tyre has a slick groove down its centre. Working as a matched pair, the front tyre is designed to squeegee enough water away from the road surface to allow the rear tyre to follow in its wheel track – and it works.
As my faith in the tyres increased, so did my speed, until an 80km/h stop saw me pull up even shorter than my previous best for the 70km/h stop. An emergency stop is not something you want to be practicing on your own motorcycle on a wet public road, so being able to test the limits of the tyre in a controlled environment was a real eye opener.
Metzeler’s new Roadtec 01 may be classified as a sports touring tyre but its application will easily spread further than the world of touring. Too often, riders feel they need to fit their machines with tyres of similar ilk to the bike’s sales segment. This often results in a mismatch between the tyre and the style of riding being undertaken. If you are an everyday rider who uses your bike as a weekday commuter as well as a weekend getaway machine, then the Roadtec 01 is going to be a more sensible choice of tyres – cost, durability and practicality wise – than a full-blooded sports tyre. The Metzeler will last a great deal longer, saving you cash that could be better invested into other motorcycle things.
Touring riders who enjoy picking up the pace during a long-haul ride – two up or single – will also appreciate what Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 has to offer in cornering grip.
While Metzeler has manufacturing plants around the globe, Australia will receive the tyres manufactured at its Breuberg plant in Germany when it is launched in June.
Metzeler has also designed a Roadtec 01 specifically for heavier bikes. Designated HWM (Heavy Weight Motorcycles) it offers greater stability by using a two-ply casing for the rear tyre (as opposed to a single ply on the standard tyre) along with a more rigid casing and flank material, and different compound for the front tyre.
GMoto Imports is the local distributor for Metzeler tyres. You can find the sizing chart and pricing at www.gmotoimports.com.au/shop/category/roadtec-01.