Article By: Chris Callen
Photos Courtesy Of Metzeler
Originally Published In The March 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
While there are many differences in the US and European markets when it comes to motorcycles and the products for them, tires create a completely different environment. European’s take their tires very seriously, no man… Very Seriously! I’m not sure if this is due to their feverish pursuit of making everything go fast as hell or their scientific approach to their work, but even in their testing, they are different than us. Many times, when a company launches a new product, they will invite journalists out to compare their product to that of their competitors in a heads up environment. Very competitive and very informative. Even when it came to my recent trip to Milan where I was treated to a real testing procedure on the Metzeler track in Vizzola, it was a real track, with several variables to give me great depth in my comparison.
For the US, mostly as it applies to the V-Twin segment, having a tire that will last the lifetime of a bike has been the status quo over the years, or that has been the popular opinion at least. In all of the articles and reviews ever written about tires, the number one thing people in the states want to know is… How Many Miles, Bro? Well, like I said, that was a has been attitude and times have been changing for a good decade. Now that consumers of the cruiser and heavyweight twins are concerned with now are the perfect blend of performance and longevity. As more younger riders take to Harley and Indian brands, they find that the suspension and handling must be upgraded to meet their riding abilities. Metzeler noticed this with tires as well and just this month has released their answer to that demand; The Cruisetec.
So, how much performance can you really get out of a tire for a big twin or a cruiser? Well, you will probably be as surprised as I was when you realize the things that go into considering what that looks like. The real challenge would not be how to get performance from them, in that case, you would just make a great soft compound that would stick to a corner with a tread that dealt with water and good to go. Unfortunately, that tire would probably only last a few hundred miles and suffer immediate negative reports from the market. Metzeler began by looking at the average tire profile for V-Twin bikes. Typically, they have less curvature than sport bike tires do, providing a broader footprint, or flat spot, in the center of the tire. This is ideal for straight line travel but is less reactive to quick cornering maneuvers. With the Cruisetec this curvature is much higher in the center and allows for a smoother transition from side to side while cornering. While the profile is crucial, the compound for this tire has also been completely reformulated as well. As Metzeler has a tire for almost every two-wheeled vehicle on the planet, and a specific tire for every environment they find those vehicles in, they were able to draw on innovative Plasticizer technology they have achieved in sport touring areas of their product line. The application of this new compound was as important as the formula itself. Rather than the traditional single or dual compound approach the Cruistec has a specific layered compound construction that, while being harder in the center, graduates across the curvature providing, what they claim to be, consistent performance through 80 percent of the tire’s life. Anyone who knows what happens when good tires start to cup half way through their life cycle can appreciate that.
To test some of these theories out, we were brought to the Ozark Mountains and let loose with various motorcycles from both Harley-Davidson and Indian. There were dozens of journalists and at times I would call it breakneck speeds we were traveling with. This is a perk of riding with Italian record holders, they love to race, we love to race, the countryside was perfect for racing, and the tires were excellent. Pushing the big motorcycles harder than anyone in the general public would ever take them we found that the question of performance while braking was answered, perfectly. Metzeler attributes this to the diverging side grooves that extend to the edge of the tire and cross the center section. The side to side was amazing, no hesitation spot throughout the entire range of the tire and the curvature also added to the lean angle. In damp conditions during the early mornings, they handled brilliantly, and the report back from the road was emboldening. Meaning that even as you rode over tar snakes or cracks in the road, the compound combination of the Cruisetec tires seemed to absorb them and you remained focused on the cornering.
In closing, with the 888 as their leading high mileage tire that has the widest application range and the Perfect 77’s that are killer for a vintage look with performance attributes, the Cruisetec rounds out Metzeler’s catalogue for the American Rider quite nicely. Thanks again to Salvo Pennisi, Tyler Porter and everyone at Metzeler for a great ride through the Ozarks!.