Despite relinquishing its once-lead role in MotoGP competition, Michelin has retained the top-level team of scientists and engineers it employed in its racing effort. What are they doing now? They're working on consumer tires. Three years in the making, the new Power One series replaces Michelin's acclaimed Power Race tires, and incorporates much of what the French manufacturer has learned during 36 years of Grand Prix racing.
The Power One hypersport range includes a performance street tire as well as a more focused, road-homologated competition version--the same tires that will be used by the Power Research race team in world endurance competition. All tires feature a dual-compound tread front and rear, and benefit from technologies developed specifically for MotoGP, such as specialized "black carbon" synthetic rubbers and carcass architecture that increases the contact patch area by 15 percent. To put the new buns through their paces, Michelin invited journalists to the Portimao Circuit in Portugal.
The street tire features a classic three-ply design front and rear for a more compliant, smoother ride. Lapping the circuit on a Kawasaki ZX-6R, the rounded profile of the road tire demonstrated excellent straight-line stability, neutral steering and a predictable, progressive tip-in feel. The softer rubber on the One's shoulders provided more than enough grip for the 600's power, maintaining its hold on the pavement even during full-throttle, off-camber corner exits. Intended for aggressive road riding and track days, the road tire offers ample performance for intermediate to advanced riders, and way more than you would ever need on the street, even on a liter-bike. Reconciling grip and durability is a difficult endeavor, but Michelin's advanced rubber compounds seem to be a success: Our testbikes were ridden hard for six 20-minute sessions (just shy of a typical track day) and the tires still looked fresh.
Michelin has taken the reduced-tread trend to the limit. Tread "void" is only 5 percent, b
The Power One lineup is comprised of 20 models available in eight sizes, with nine differe
Once we were familiar with the track, it was time to step up to the competition tires, sampled first on a Yamaha YZF-R1 and then a Bimota DB7. Although the competition tire has the same appearance as the street version, the similarities end there. A higher crown and flatter shoulders (called Competition Profile Technology, another trickle-down from MotoGP) yield precise, razor-sharp handling and massive traction at full lean. This allowed us to brake harder and deeper into corners, and roll on the throttle sooner, leaving our mark on the circuit's still-unsullied pavement in the form of long, arcing darkies. The responsiveness is further improved by a more rigid carcass of five plies front and four plies rear. Multiple compound combinations allow riders to tailor traction and durability to meet the requirements of specific circuits.
With every gain there is a loss, and what's lost with the competition tire is front-end stability and compliance. The front wheel exhibited an increased tendency to headshake at corner exits, and the stiffer tire casing resulted in a much harsher ride. Granted, there was little time for suspension adjustments, which likely would reduced--if not eliminated --these problems.
Michelin Power One Hypersport Tires
Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
A comprehensive range of performance tires to suit every rider's needs.