Track tires vs. road tires: We learn through experience

Metzeler unleashes Sportec M7 RR street tire
by Aris Ilagan | Oct 30, 2018
PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

Earlier this year, I bought a slightly used 2017 Yamaha MT-09. Even though it cost me more than a brand-new unit would’ve had, this MT-09 is loaded with lots of high-performance parts that would probably fetch one-third of the bike’s original price. Just check out the extra goodies: Akrapovic exhaust, Öhlins rear suspension, high-end steering damper; forged-steel adjustable brake and clutch levers, and an original aftermarket Yamaha windscreen.

Another aftermarket component that caught my attention was the Metzeler Racetec RR semi-slick tires designed primarily for track sessions. By the way, the MT-09’s former owner is with Club 200, a motorcycle group that thinks ‘happy hour’ begins at 200kph.

I immediately fell in love with this MT-09. Occasionally, I ride it to my hometown in Batangas, and to the office in Mandaluyong City. I use it to evade traffic during long weekends, or just to have a quick breakfast elsewhere on Sundays. But it didn’t take long before the romance between me and my bike started to show some cracks.

I was faced with the dilemma that the Racetec rubber isn’t meant for wet road conditions. It’s a good thing the bike’s electronic safety features are there to protect me from harm. Having this kind of tire for daily rides isn’t practical at all. I have since started praying for a more appropriate road tire.

Out of the blue, Motoworld came knocking on my door, offering a product test of its new tire models through the Metzeler Brand Experience riding event. Among the products line up for testing was the sleek Sportec M7 RR, the choice of champions on the Isle of Man. Metzeler’s new tire lineup was mounted on different types and models of big bikes—BMW R 1200 GS, BMW R nineT, Yamaha Super Tenere, Yamaha MT-09, Yamaha MT-07, Suzuki Burgman, Kawasaki Z1000, KTM 690 Adventure, and Suzuki V650.

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The sizzling Metzeler tire products include the Karoo Street (off-road), MC 360 Mid Hard (motocross), MC 360 Mid sSft (motocross), Racetec RR (racetrack and road racing), Racetec SM (racetrack and supermoto), RoadTec 01 (sport touring),  RoadTec Z8 (sport touring), Tourance (street endurance), Tourance Next (street endurance), and Sportec Street (street endurance).  

Let me zero in on the Sportec M7 RR. Being a sporty road tire, it has slightly more grooves than the Racetec, and it provided me more traction for cornering and acceleration on the endless twisties of Aurora.

More about riding confidence. Sensing the Sportec M7 has more grip, I came to drive more aggressively to keep up with the lead pack of fast riders. This time, I never felt ABS and traction control intervening. The roads leading to scenic Baler are not only composed of long straights and challenging twisties. There were areas where traffic is a big problem. In Cabanatuan City, your fingers will never leave the brake lever as you stay alert for tricycles that don’t use signal lights.

We all know that brakes alone cannot bring a bike to a halt. It needs a ‘grippy’ set of tires like the Sportec, which uses a dual-compound formula, ‘Interact’ technology, and high-silica compounds. Flavia Maffeis, Metzeler Asia Pacific’s marketing manager, gave emphasis to the specially designed groove pattern that easily drains water from the tire patch for optimum traction, even on wet road conditions.

On varied road conditions, the MT-09 heeded my commands. The Sportec made the MT-09 more stable, allowing it to attack corners with a fine racing line. I felt no twitching and sliding as I leaned in with the bike while shifting directions on wet surfaces at high speed. The sleek tire profile of the Sportec M7 RR complements the MT-09’s sporty stance, too. Actually, I chose a 190/55 R17 tire for the rear (one size higher than the Racetec rubber), but retained the 120/70 R17 size for the front, so the bike’s seat height increased a bit.

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The 600km Manila-Baler-Manila Metzeler Brand Experience ride boosted my riding confidence. Back at home, this question started to bother me: Is there an opening for new members at Club 200?

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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