Michelin engineers put more soft rubber on the shoulders of the Power Pure while supposedl
Round, black and sticky. For years, that's been my simplistic, smart-ass refrain when asked about the qualities desirable in sporting rubber. After spinning laps on Michelin's new Power Pure tires at their press launch in Almeria, Spain, light weight is now a part of that equation.
In countless PowerPoint presentations, a few track laps, a field experiment and a street ride, our hosts reinforced the idea that lighter tires make your sportbike better. The less unsprung weight in a motorcycle's wheels, tires, chain, sprocket and brake rotors, the better it turns, accelerates and stops.
A dual-compound "sport premium" radial, the Power Pure has a strange name and a long lineage. Positioned between Michelin's high-end Power One track-day tire and Pilot Road 2 sport-touring stablemate, the Power Pure replaces the Pilot Power 2CT introduced in 2006.
The most-repeated acronym at the event was LTT. Shorthand for Light Tire Technology, this multi-faceted design process wraps the latest silica-based rubber compounds around a carcass of aramid fibers, producing the lightest tire in the category. All told, LTT nets a claimed 2-lb. weight savings per pair over other tires in the street and sport category (think Bridgestone BT-016, Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier II, Metzeler Sportec M3 and Pirelli Diablo Rosso).
Michelin technicians added weight to our testbikes' wheels so we could see the difference
Almeria's twisty circuit could have been the perfect proving ground to test these theories-if only there had been a dry line! Nonetheless, when enough heat was generated by the Power Pures on this damp, 50-degree day, they exhibited excellent handling manners and good grip, although the pace was admittedly conservative.
A dry ride through the local hills the following day provided a better opportunity to test the tires, and while the rubber is plenty sticky for sporty riding, the carcass exhibited a little more flex than is ideal for aggressive backroad missions. Michelin has succeeded in slicing weight from the Pures, but it came at the cost of stability and feel, as the tires squirmed under braking and while traversing pavement seams at lean. Granted, this behavior only became apparent once the pace had picked up to the faster end of the intended-use range, and may go entirely unnoticed by more relaxed riders.
What will be noticed by all Pure users is the more rapid steering made possible by less rotating mass. To illustrate the effects that unsprung weight has on a bike's handling, Michelin fitted 2-lb. weights to the testbikes' wheels. After running the bikes through a first-gear chicane several times, the weights were removed and the runs repeated. Snapping the bike from side to side through the chicane was noticeably easier, and became even more apparent at higher speeds.
For hard-charging riders and those who demand precision front-end feel, Michelin's Power Ones are probably the best choice. But for anyone looking to reduce weight while sharpening their bike's handling without dropping $4000 on a set of forged-magnesium or carbon-fiber wheels, the Power Pures are an excellent choice.
Michelin Power Pure Sport Premium Tires
Price: $181.97-$183.81 front, $231.09-$287.80 rear
Contact: Michelin North America
Verdict 3.5 stars out of 5
The quickest and easiest way to quicken your bike's handling.