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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510) Website:www.55collection.com
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

Gear review: Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires

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.

If you have attention deficit disorder or don't like to read, the short version of my review is simply this: Buy yourself a pair.

I say that without reservation for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it was the Pilot Road 4 that taught me tires do actually make a difference. Oh, sure, I had read plenty of articles in which moto-journalists were yammering about the feel of a tire and how long it takes to warm up and so on, but my general feeling was that this was gibberish -- stuff they were just saying because, you know, they've got to say something. Or, perhaps, I felt, if it was not total gibberish it was irrelevant to anyone who rides a bike at anything near legal speed.

I mean, a tire's a tire, right? I've replaced plenty of tires on my cars, pickup trucks and bicycles over the years and I honestly could not tell you what brand I used on any of them. Had you asked me, I would have said: "Uhm, the one that fits and that costs the least."

It's like regular oil. Don't buy an expensive bottle of the stuff just because you've heard of the brand name. That's stupid. Oil is oil. It all comes out of the ground. There's no difference (a). And I figured rubber couldn't be too terribly different, either. Certainly I had not noticed a difference between the Bridgestone Battlax tires that had been on my Honda and the bargain-bin things that had been on the bikes I used in my training courses. Nor had I noticed differences in the tires on the various bikes I had to that point test ridden (b).

But then I had the Pilot Road 4s fitted to my bike and suddenly, instantly, I understood that a tire matters.

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.

Another positive, which may just be luck on my part, is that they hold pressure quite well. I check my tires before each ride and have found myself making far fewer adjustments with my Michelins than I was with the Bridgestones.

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.

____________________

(a) Note that I am talking about regular oil here. I pretty much feel the same way about synthetics but if someone I trusted had a strong argument in favour of a specific synthetic I'd probably take his/her advice.

(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.

Comments

  1. Nice review. I got the Pilot Road 2s on my CB400 last year, and again, made me start thinking that even for my modest road biking, tyres might be a bit more of a thing than I had thought. Certainly for performance bikes and other more specialist uses absolutely, but not so much for my CB400. The PR2s have been great, and when it comes to replace them, I suspect I'll be looking at the Pilot Road range again.

    FWIW, I didn't get the 3s at the time as I heard from more than one friend that the wear rate was pretty high on them.

    Great blog overall by the way - enjoy Wales, it's been too long since I last visited.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My last three sets of tires have been Pilot Roads... The originals were awful (imho), but lasted well over 10,000 miles. I think they were pushing close to 20k, actually. My Pilot Road 2 tires lasted probably close to that long too. They were more confidence-inspiring (the originals were terror-inducing), but not perfect. I've got Pilot Road 3 tires at the moment and I am very pleased with them. I'm sure the latest iteration are even better.

    The tires on a bike - as you've learned - make a huge difference in handling. I wish I had the budget to try out all the different tires that will fit my bike and report back on how they behave on the road.

    Honestly, I have a tendency to wax enthusiastic about the joys of good tires, so I'll stop here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. On my K1200R, I've only used Michelin Power Pilot Roads 1 and 2. Never had the chance to use 3s or 4s.
    My friend has a R1200R (about 116hp and 80 ft-lb), with Metzelers something. Those tires are so easy to get sliding. I have to be careful on those tires. Probably because they last a bit longer (the tire is very stiff).

    My K1200R (163 hp, and 93 ft-lb) is a lot more powerful and torquey. But it's so happy with these tires. Chicken strips are almost gone. These tires are grippy. I have total confidence in them.
    The roads here in Nicaragua are ALWAYS covered in sand/gravel. The government puts gravel on the roads so that the asphalts absorbs it somehow, and make it last longer. Really bad news for motorcycles.
    I have no idea how these tires deal with gravel. But I've been caught in some corners on gravel. A bit of sliding but everything was very modulate-able.
    I've gone 270 kph on these tires. Rock solid.
    They last me about 6,000 miles. But I ride like a maniac, so that's expected.
    So, yes, that's all I buy.
    Too bad Michelin doesn't make tires for my LT, otherwise it'd have Michelins too.

    Good review.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you run a Google Image Search for "michelin pilot road 2 vs 3 vs 4", you can find charts that illustrate each tire's percentage composition of soft-medium-hard rubber, and you get the sense that the 2, 3, and 4 are not meant to be improvements over the former, but just different rubber combinations and coverages to suit your specific style.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I put front and rear PR3's on my bandit and will be replacing the front soon after 21,000km. The rear is still good for a bit more. Definitely going PR4. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Chris
    what is the value of a tire-test when cars are catching up on you in corners?

    have fun anyway

    Grtz
    Tony

    ReplyDelete
  7. Alrighty I need some knowledge. I've got a harley 1200t priced out some Michelin road 3, 4 and the scorcher that my bike came with. Now I'm told that the road 3 and 4 are for sport bikes and would not handle well on my ride. The scorcher is expensive and I don't like the wet road handling.
    Am I going to regret putting Michelin road 3 or 4 on the rear?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm afraid I can't offer any advice there. I'd assume the PR4s would handle a little differently, but whether that's negative or positive would probably depend on your opinion of the experience.

      Delete
  8. Use the PR4 GTs if they come in your size. they are a little stiffer and made for larger touring bikes. Had a set on my R1150RT and worked great.

    ReplyDelete

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