Michelin bills its new Pilot Road 2 radials as the longest-wearing all-weather sport-touring tires in the business. Ambitious? Sure. And it'll take more time and test miles to convince us, but first impressions are very encouraging. Adapting the 2CT dual-compound technology the French tire manufacturer perfected in MotoGP racing, the newest Pilot uses a harder compound in the center and softer compounds on either side. The idea is to build a tire that survives freeway travel without squaring off and sticks when you're leaned over in any sort of weather.
We started testing the Pilot Road 2s over a variety of wet and dry surfaces at the Centre d'Essais Routiers Mechanique, an independent test facility in southeastern France. Flooded corners made wet-track testing scary at first, but with greater wet grip than the previous-generation Pilot Road tires provided for comparison, the Pilot 2s should make rainy days less stressful.
Michelin then served up a smorgasbord of gourmet twisty bits for street testing. Canyons cut by the Verdon River in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region delivered a little of everything, and the Pilot 2s performed remarkably. There's more grip and feedback on any surface than the previous Pilots, which are still in the catalog for a little less money.
The front tire in particular performed well, turning in with great precision and good feedback under braking. There's little difference in a straight line, but bending into corners the new tire telegraphs front-end traction more directly. The more rounded profile lays down a larger contact patch, but lets you get into corners-slow or fast-easily, allowing more speed than most sport-touring tires. Both front and rear handle patches of dirt or water on the road with more poise than previous Michelin offerings, which had a tendency to slip and fidget over strips of grit or moisture. The net result is good news when you're skirting that 1000-foot cliff.
Our only complaint came while exiting corners hard on the power. Aggressive riding coupled with lots of horsepower tended to spin the rear tire at the transition from the soft rubber to the harder stuff. We're itching for a chance to see how the Pilot Road 2s feel on local roads. As for mileage, only time and the set on Carrithers' long-term Honda ST1300 will tell. But, for now, applying MotoGP technology to everyday riding seems like a great idea.
Pilot Road 2 Tires
Price: Front $153-$161
Contact: Michelin USA
P.O. Box 19001
Greenville, SC 29602
Seriously sticky all-weather sport-touring rubber for the long haul, with emphasis on the sporty side.