When one thinks of Sicily, one thinks of bubbling volcano’s, rugged cliffs, fabulous food, the Mafia and even the Godfather comes to mind, so when I was invited to participate in the product testing of the new Metzeler Cruisetec Tyre, I was delighted to say the least!
I flew into Catania – an ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast, at the foot of Mount Etna, an active volcano. I transferred to our meeting point – the Zash Country Boutique Hotel – where historical fragments meet contemporary taste. Born from the restoration of an old winery, that has been converted into an elegant manor house wrapped by vineyards and mandarin trees and is characterized by flagstones of lava stone and vaults.
I hooked up with some very entertaining ‘non-smiling’ Russians including the Russian Metzeler guy Sergey and we became ‘brothers in arms’. We were a small group of Polish & Swedish journo’s, a Harley-Davidson Dealer from the Czech Republic, and the amazing Mezeler Team from both Milan and the Testing Centre in Sicily.
Metzeler’s Silvio Frare, head of the company’s motorcycle business unit, introduced us to the new Cruistec tyre which is specifically designed for the cruiser market. It delivers improved handling on both older and modern bikes, giving superb comfort, great grip and is perfect for wet weather riding. It is designed for improved cornering, braking, and stability all due to an all-new tread pattern. Whilst a standard V-twin Tyre has low-curvature contours, Metzeler extended the center of the tyre and narrowed the sides in order to give it a bigger footprint at mid-to-full lean. New compounds and tread patterns are pretty much standard fare for new tyres.
Then we met Salvatore Pennisi – the Head of Testing for Metzeler, he is a dynamic Italian that has tested motorcycles for more than 40 years. He helped BMW Motorrad develop its first ABS, and assisted Massimo Tamburini with the Ducati 916 when developing the bike that changed sportbike history.
He shared his passion for the product and the reason why they launched the Cruistec Tyre to offer cruiser riders the opportunity to experience high performance, stability, comfort and safety and also to meet the needs of younger riders and custom bike enthusiasts.
Our evening at Zash was an indulgence of local food and wine, good conversation, great wine and fun chats. The Chef beautifully prepared dishes that highlight the region’s specialities and excellent fresh produce. The dining room is situated in the old mansion, its designer-style decor is modern and functional. Bikes, Wine, Good company and food – My ideal evening!
Early morning with a touch of drizzle and armed with our rainsuits, we headed to the very impressive Metzeler Testing Station in Giarre for a planned riding route up to the top of Mount Etna, testing this new Cruistec tyre on a variety of new Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles.
Southern Sicily is known for its great biking roads. The scenery is beautiful and the road is like a race track – nice, smooth, grippy tarmac. A perfect combination of straight tracks, tight corners, lots of hairpin bends – hair raising when you are used to riding on the OTHER side of the road! Shew!
I have been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles for 25 years which means we started riding without ABS brakes, good tyres and even safety gear! It was the mandatory pisspot helmet, cut off gloves, cut off sleeves and a on whim and sometimes a prayer we would hit the road! Thankfully we have gotten a touch wiser as we have gotten a tad older, so safety features and safety gear have now become a priority, so I really was looking forward to this day.
The first thing that I noticed when I jumped onto my first ride; the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim, was how safe I felt on the bike – It was like I was constantly glued to the road! The grip, the handling on the corners and the stability was unbelievable! I felt incredibly confident despite the fact that I was riding in a strange country. I’ll tell you something else – the braking was different level!
We swapped out bikes a couple of times and I rode the Indian Scout, the Harley Softail Heritage and finally ended up on the Road-King. Each ride gave me the same feeling of confidence and safety: from braking, steering, tight corners, straight roads – even slippery roads in the villages we rode through. Tyres remained stable and tractable, allowing me to keep a steady line. The same can be said for cornering grip and stability – the performance never waned. All in all it was a very comforting feeling.
Metzeler attributes the increased braking performance to the diverging grooves that extend to the edge of the tyre. The center section’s grooves cross, which Metzeler says also assists in braking duties. Trust me – I’m no tyre tech, quite the contrary in fact – but even I felt that the Cruisetec Tyres had a real connection to the asphalt.
To increase the adrenalin status – it started to rain! We were able to test our riding skills on the Cruistec Tyres in the rain – no problem! Having the latest specifically designed cruiser tyre makes such a difference to your riding ability in adverse weather conditions. My confidence overflowed as the Road King remained steady in the corners and stopped smoothly! The secret to the stable handling is the performance-oriented high-curvature contour of these tyres.
By lunchtime, it was raining heavily and the visibility was bad! We were unable to complete our route up to Mt Etna so we detoured through the twisties to the city of Catania. The security of the Cruistec Tyres allowed me to focus on my riding skills, something you absolutely must do when riding in the rain – on the wrong side of the road! We stopped for a much needed coffee break at Harley-Davidson Catania and were very warmly welcomed by Italian legends Gaetano and Ignazio. Thanks guys!
Our day ended with a swift ride back to the Metzeler Testing Station through the traffic and a tour of the outstanding facility!
Traditional Cruiser Tyres are designed for maximum life and mileage. Performance Cruiser Tyres though, need to be able to handle deep leans and hard control inputs, often at the same time. A tyre that’s made to go a long way in a straight line, though, will break down—sometimes suddenly—under that kind of pressure. Metzeler says its Cruisetec tyre will maintain its character in high-stress conditions, allowing performance cruisers to confidently ride their bikes the way they’re intended.
With the advanced braking technology that is now available on most bikes, the contact point between the brakes and the tar road is the ability of the tyre – you can have the best brakes in the world – if you don’t have a decent tyre you don’t have the best of anything! Where the rubber meets the road isn’t optimized, all suspension and electronic enhancements like ABS are ultimately worthless.
Benefits for the rider:
- Performance-cruising pleasure – performance-oriented profiles with higher curvature than tyres in the same segment offer a new level of handling and line taking and holding.
- The new tread pattern, innovative compound recipes and the dual-compound rear guarantee immediate response and higher grip, giving confidence, even in wet conditions.
- The dual-compound rear layout – which adapts technologies from the sport-touring world to the requirements of higher torque, weight and segment durability – ensures grip without sacrificing the durability of standard tyres.
- Smooth and effortless riding – The conformability of the profiles, thanks to the reduced thickness of the carcass, improves the precision and line holding, to give a neutral, effortless steering and comfortable feel, whilst riding leisurely, plus precision when pushing harder.
- Enhanced confidence and safety – thanks to compounds with high Silica percentage coupled with a conformable carcass, Cruisetec delivers the best wet behaviour in this segment, and is capable of effectively working with all generations of electronic rider aids.
Cruiser motorcycles can now express their full potential in terms of agility, grip limit, stability, comfort, stopping distances and cornering speed – thanks to an exceptional combination of technological features, many of which are revolutionary for tyres in this segment, riders can make the most out of their bikes in terms of performance, tyre durability and riding pleasure!
What makes the Cruisetec’s so ideal for hard cruising? In addition to the high curvature profile, Metzeler borrowed materials from its sport-touring tyres in the Cruisetec’s construction. The front uses a softer, more plasticized compound, while the rear gets a dual compound that’s softer and more pliable on the outside but harder around the middle for more consistent wear. The sidewall softness is what brings the sporty feel and improved handling to big V-twin cruisers generally not accustomed to aggressive riding. The rear tread pattern also has a slicker center strip that replaces some of the straight-line stability lost to the slightly smaller contact patch. Outward bridges on the tread pattern do more than displace water; they encourage even wear, resulting in more consistent performance as the tyre ages and its tread fades.
Their tagline ‘Performance Perfected’ defines this tyre 100% and I will certainly invest in a pair of these amazing tyres! This is the ultimate V-Twin tyre to perfect the performance of the motorcycles of yesterday, today and tomorrow – particularly the new breed of performance cruisers and custom bikes! Personally I think this is going to be a trendsetter for the cruiser market going forward! Indeed!
Thank you to Wayne Doran and the Metzeler Team for this amazing opportunity!
Metzeler Cruistec Tyres will be available in South Africa in June 2019 – for more information visit: www.metzelertyres.co.za