MC Tested: Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact

Killing the elephant

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Metzeler

Just like the razor wars that created ridiculously overcomplicated, five-blade shaving devices, a similar game of technological one-upmanship has consumed motorcycle tire manufacturers. Dual- and even triple-compound tires have become the norm. Can the world's first quad-compound tire be far behind? Rather than cram yet another compound onto its carcass, Metzeler takes a different tack with its latest street radial. The all-new, single-compound Sportec M5 Interact instead utilizes "Five-Zone Tension Technology" to vary steel belt tension across the tire carcass, precisely tuning performance characteristics in different areas of the tire. Metzeler says this new technology provides the mileage and grip benefits of a multi-compound tire with even better carcass stability and feedback at all lean angles.

Designed for sportbikes and aggressive naked machines and replacing Sportec M3, the Sportec M5 Interact is built around a 0-degree belt with 120 individual cords that are each tuned separately across five distinct zones. The center section is wound to optimize mileage and straight-line stability. The shoulders utilize a low-tension winding to maximize grip at mid-lean angles, while the outer edges feature a high-tension winding for maximum support at full-lean loads, minimizing carcass flex and providing a broader and more stable footprint.

The Sportec M5 Interact uses unique compound formulation for front and rear fitments, though both have been reconstituted with a high-silica content for better cold-temperature performance and improved wet grip compared to the old M3. A new tread design, inspired by the Greek letter "Pi," gives a distinct look and enhances wet-weather drainage as well. A novel lean indicator molded into the surface of the tire, with markings at approximately 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 degrees lean, gives riders an easy way to visually confirm their individual tire usage-or calibrate the width of their buddy's "chicken strips" with uncanny accuracy. A version of Metzeler's trademark elephant logo molded into the very edge of the tire makes "killing the elephant" the newest metaphor for scrubbing the tires out to the edge.

Monsoon-like conditions during the two-day, street and track introduction last spring at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve at Portimao, Portugal, made killing the elephant a somewhat difficult proposition, though it did give us a thorough appreciation of the tire's enhanced aptitude in sub-optimal riding conditions. Day one was spent at the racetrack aboard various 600cc and 1000cc sportbikes, where we noted very neutral steering manners and precise feedback that made it easy to monitor and manipulate scant available traction on Portimao's often off-camber track. The new, more-silica-rich compound provided exceptional grip and even in standing water the new tread cleared moisture without any evidence of hydroplaning. The carcass rigidity of the front tire was especially impressive in its resistance to deformation under even the heaviest braking-as tested during repeated full-brake decelerations aboard an ABS-equipped BMW S1000RR.

The second day was spent in similarly sketchy conditions on the street, aboard naked bikes including the Yamaha FZ-1 and Honda's Europe-only CB1000R. The Sportec M5 Interact operated equally as admirably under these bigger, heavier machines, maintaining impressive stability under both acceleration and braking and delivering the same responsiveness and easy directional changes that inspired confidence even in challenging conditions on unfamiliar roads. Though we obviously weren't able to test Metzeler's mileage claims during such a brief introduction, we are confident in confirming Metzeler's claim that the new tuned-tension technology doesn't make any compromises with regard to grip, handling or feedback, even compared to the best multi-compound offerings.

Offered in two front sizes (120/60ZR17 and 120/70ZR17) and four rear sizes (160/60ZR17, 180/55ZR17, 190/50ZR17 and 190/55ZR17), the Sportec M5 Interact is available now to fit most naked, standard sport and supermoto-style motorcycles, and is a good match for an impressively wide range of riding conditions and styles.

Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact sport tires
Price: $180.95-$183.95 front, $221.95-$281.95 rear
Contact: Metzeler Tire North America
www.metzelermoto.com.

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5
An innovative design that offers the grip and durability of a dual-compound tire with even better ride quality and stability.

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