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Two Decades of Innovation: Michelin Road 6

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

When you’re shopping for new tyres, you really need to think about what kind of riding you do, and where your rubber spends most of its time rolling. Even with all the latest information at keyboard reach, most of us still over overcompensate and end up buying tyres that are overkill for our skill level, not suited to the kind of riding we do or just wrong for the season. It took me a good few years to realise this, and just one set of sports touring tyres to change my point of view. A point of view that has since seen me convert to sports touring rubber almost indefinitely for the daily and the weekend open road shenanigans.

Sports touring rubber has come a long way, especially with tyre companies spending millions on tyre development over the years. Michelin and their “Road” range is a good example of years of development starting back in 2002 with their Pilot Sport range—now the Road 6 and Road 6 GT. Sports rubber is awesome, but only when conditions, road surface and heat all play ball. Even when they do play ball, the game isn’t very long—6000 to 8000 km on a Sport or Super Naked, that’s if you’re lucky. With sports touring rubber, at least in the last 8 years, both grip and mileage have come to the game.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

With my daily ride, I have turned away from sporty rubber-like Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa, Dunlop Q3+ and instead, I have moved to sport touring biased tyres like the Pirelli Angle GT II, Dunlop Road Smart III and Metzeler Roadtec to name a few. Has my riding become more boring or slower on the road? No, what has happened is I’ve ended up riding more often, quicker out of the blocks (because less heat is needed for them to grip optimally) and without worrying about what the weather conditions might be.

With that said, the last year has seen Michelin’s Road 6 and Road 6 GT make headlines all over the internet and this got my attention. With my Yamaha XSR 900 needing some rubbery love, the guys from Auto Cycles delivered the notorious rubber that I’ve been keen on getting my hands on for months. Welcome home ‘Mich’!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

On paper and in design the 6th generation of Michelin’s “Road” family promises to improve on its well-known all-rounder capabilities in being a good corner rocket and mile muncher come rain or shine. The Road 6 is now fitted with Michelin’s 2CT+ Tech, meaning not only are they dual compound but they also come with reinforced sidewalls—providing better rigidity at lean and resulting in more stability through the corners. The ‘GT’ is pretty much the same tyre as the Road 6, but with an extra ply in the rear tyre to handle the extra weight of heavyweight sport-touring motorcycles or adventure motorcycles with a 19-inch front now available.

My very first day with the Road 6 saw me ride out of the tyre bay and into the pouring rain. Last year November and December had no mercy for us riders, which meant Mich and I would start our friendship together in what should have been pretty dodgy riding conditions. Ironically, the Road 6 was made for these exact conditions and I can vouch that they are hands down the grippiest and safest tyres I have ever experienced riding in the rain with, even with TC completely turned off and ABS in full effect. I was surprised because there is a lot of slick edge for sporty riding, but Michelin has done their research and has placed the sipes just before the soft slick edge, giving you plenty of grip and confidence with enough lean angle.

Photo credit: Simon Morton / ZA Bikers

Michelin’s special formula is all in the blend of their Silica technology tread compound and their “water evergrip tech” tread pattern. The 6th generation now offers 15% more wet grip than the Road 5, while also having a 10% increase in tread life than the predecessor.

This is thanks to less of a “V” shape and more of a “U” shape, allowing more of the hard compound centre of the tyre to be in contact with the tar and also longer siping which helps with increasing traction and water evacuation. A simple change with big results and I personally enjoy riding with the U-shaped Road 6 on the road, as they feel very progressive when changing lean and when having to trail brake on constantly changing road surfaces.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

With the need to get out of rainy Gauteng, Simon and I planned a two-day trip in and around Nelspruit where we would ride the twisties past Kaapschehoop down to Sabie, cutting through Pilgrim’s rest before making our final stop in Dullstroom. It was here where we got to experience 4 seasons spread across two days and thus I got to know the Road 6 in all road riding conditions. It goes without saying, that we didn’t escape the rain entirely, but for the most part, the ride to Kaapschehoop was dry and fast sweepers were plenty.

The D799 is a fun and fast mountain pass with a smooth as-butter road surface, and runs down to Sappi’s massive paper mill and connects with another tighter more technical twisty heading up to Kaapschehoop. This is an area I’ve ridden on my MT-09, Tracer 9 and XSR 900 all set up similarly in suspension and geometry with all the above-mentioned tyre combos. I must say the Michies felt super planted on their edge and even though typically harder than a sports tyre, they inspired confidence and at no point did I wish they were anything stickier.

Photo credit: Simon Morton / ZA Bikers

After lunch in Kaapschehoop, the next challenge for myself and the Road 6 was half stormed out Robbers pass, which by the way was more like a gymkhana with merely wet tar to actively rained on patched potholes to pavement with varying levels of standing water. This is where a rider needs to be smooth on their inputs, look far ahead and as we riders usually do, ride the road once or twice to spot all the imperfections first. Even with the XSR having a softer fork setup and springy rear shock, the front-end grip from the Road 6 under hard braking and hard fork compression was plenty. Rear grip was ample and TC never had much to argue about.

Photo credit: Simon Morton / ZA Bikers

Taking the Road 6s out on a rainy and badly maintained road revealed excellent traction, allowing leans as far as I was personally willing to test. As for mileage testing on these tyres, Michelin has had their test riders reach upwards of 18,000 miles (28,000 km) and one of those test riders was on a light 1050 Speed Triple. With our hotter climate and washed-away roads, I would say anywhere between 16,000 to 18,000 kilometres would be very respectable. You could probably cheat the system and put the Road 6 GT on your lighter naked bike like mine and ride smoothly to reach 20 odd thousand km with ease, but it might become a very hard ride forcing you to ride with a lower tyre pressure to compensate for the harder centre compound of the GT. So, just stick to the Road 6 on your light Naked and your GT on your Adventure and Sports-Tourer.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

At the end of the day after riding just over 2500 km in crappy conditions I am happy with the Road 6 and hope to report more good news as the riding season becomes hotter and clear-skied. I can’t say it enough, sports touring rubber is the road rider’s dream for all things tared. The Michelin Road 6 comes in a variety of sizes and will set you back around R6611 (120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear), but if they last the mileage, offer all the sporty fun and great wet weather grip, they are worth every cent. As for me, I look forward to bringing you guys more feedback as I rack up the mileage.

Michelin Road 6 (Combo: 180/55-17 – 120/70-17)

For more information on the product/s featured in this article, click on the link below…

Michelin Road 6 Tyres

R6,611.00 (RRP)


Brand: Michelin
Bjorn Moreira
Bjorn Moreira
My name is Bjorn Moreira (Senior Editor at ZA Bikers) and I eat, sleep and excrete motorcycles. Why yes this may be a problem, but I’m what you call a BIKEAHOLIC which I have been since my very first Braap, at the age of 4. My disease leads me to enjoy photographing, videoing and riding motorcycles on more than a regular basis.
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