|It appears Bibendum (aka “the Michelin man”) is attempting to kill these people by throwing tires at them.|
It’s been a few months since the good folks at Michelin gave me a set of Pilot Road 4 tires, and in that time I’ve managed to clock up roughly 2,700 miles on them, in pretty much all weather, so I thought now might be a good time to offer a review.
The main selling point of Pilot Road 4 tires is that they perform 17 percent better than the competition on wet roads. As luck would have it, I got to test this claim right away because it was raining on the day I had the tires fitted (of course, it is always raining in Wales). Despite the tires still being well within their break-in period, I could feel the difference in the first roundabout I navigated. The tires just held.
A few months later, as I was riding through torrential rain in Scotland, the tires just held. Through mud that had washed onto the road, or cow manure left there by inconsiderate farmers, and on the overpainted surfaces of British roadways, the tires have just held. Obviously, I am continuing to be cautious in these scenarios but the difference in feel, and the confidence that delivers, is notable.
The reason the tires stick so well has to do with the siping and the rubber compounds used in the tire. If you’re like my spell check and have never seen the word “siping” before, that’s OK. I hadn’t heard of it either until one of the Michelin guys spent some time explaining that they are the lines in tires that push water away. The siping on the Pilot Road 4 is so effective that it results in my one and only, and very insignificant gripe about the tires: Your boots and trousers will get a little more dirty because of all the stuff the tires are pushing away.
Meanwhile, the rubber compounds are magical in the sense that just in touching the tires they feel sticky.
They stick amazingly well to dry roads, too. And the confidence they have delivered has had a dramatic effect on the quality of my riding. OK, yes, my chicken strips are still pretty wide but it is now incredibly rare for a car to catch up with me in corners. Whereas not so long ago, a ride on a twisting Welsh highway would have involved frequently pulling over to let other traffic pass.
The other selling point of these tires is that they last 20 percent longer than their predecessors, the Michelin Pilot Road 3. What that actually means, though, is hard to gauge. When I had the opportunity to share a few beers with (c) some of the Michelin folks they were pretty unwilling to give me any sort of mileage figure. Different people ride differently, after all. And on different road surfaces and with different bikes.
In my own case, I have, as I say, put roughly 2,700 miles on the tires so far. Within those miles are some pretty long stretches of motorway, a goodly amount of curving A roads (i.e., two-lane roads with a limit of 60 mph), some even curvier B roads (roads most Americans would describe as a bicycle path), plenty of crumbling urban surfaces, and even a tiny bit of off-road stuff. Despite all of that, the tires still look quite new. I’m certain I’ll get another 2,700 miles out of them, at least, and wouldn’t be at all surprised to not find myself even considering replacing them until they’ve gone past the 10,000-mile point.
Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires do tend to be a little more pricey than some others but I feel it’s worth it. Honestly, I love these tires so much that they affect my thinking about which bike I want next. For example, the BMW F800GT stays on my list simply because it comes equipped with Pilot Road 4s as standard.
(b) Admittedly I’m not terribly aggressive when I test ride a bike. I don’t want to end up having to pay for any damage.
(c) And by that, I mean they drank me under the table.