Michelin Launches Pilot Road 2
Michelin has launched the Pilot Road 2, unveiling its latest dual compound offering at the Motorcycle Trade Expo at Stoneleigh Park. The French manufacturer claims that its latest product means riders no longer have to compromise between wet grip and tread life. Michelin hopes results of tests conducted by CERM will help convince retailers and the motorcycle riding public of this.
According to the CERM test results Tyres & Accessories has seen, Michelin Pilot Road 2s in sizes 120/70 ZR 17 and 180/55 ZR 17 demonstrate up to 6 per cent better wet grip characteristics and up to 30 per cent longer tread life than any other tyre tested. According to Michelin, CERM’s fleet of 1200 Suzuki Bandits motorbikes tested the tyres over approximately 6000 miles of varied driving conditions.
However, it is worth pointing out that Avon’s long-life Azaro and brand new Storm ST tyres are noticeable by their absence from the CERM tread life test. Also some observers have suggested that the fact that the Bridgestone BT-021 and BT-020 came second from last and last is very surprising. The Michelin representatives T&A spoke to, which included Claremont Ferrand-based product developer Ross Shields and UK motorcycle technical manager Barry Robinson, stood by the test results. From their point of view the fact that the data resulted from independent tests carried out by a professional body mean that they are rigorous and repeatable.
Presenting the Pilot Road 2 (PR2) to delegates at the trade expo, product developer Ross Shields explained how the technology associated with the PR2 is the second generation of racetrack to road technology: There is a kind of process: the hyper sport/track day tyres benefit first, but after that the technology filters down to the sport touring market – they get the advantage of premium level motorsport involvement. In Shields’ words: “This line of products takes individual hand grafted technology and moves it into sport touring functionality.”
In terms of portfolio placement, the Pilot Road sits between the Pilot Road and Pilot Power products, at a higher price level than both. However, the tyres are not designed to replace the Pilot Road and Pilot Power, says Michelin. Instead these products will continue serving different customers at different price points.
Now Michelin is planning to embark on a large scale communications effort designed to spread the news of the test results far and wide to as many of the target audience as possible. The official press launch of the product is due to take place at the end of February and it is anticipated that the first consumer level press coverage will be published in March, with the rest following in April.
One of the largest motorcycle tyre wholesalers in Britain, Birmingham based Bike Tyrestore joint managing director, Peter Smith, reflected the opinions of other influential industry figures when he told Tyres & Accessories that products like the new Pilot Road 2 was one reason why Michelin was one of the fastest growing manufacturers in the segment last year.
Referring to the Michelin commissioned CERM test data, Smith commented: “The tests show that there is basically no such thing as a bad tyre nowadays,” diplomatically avoiding the controversial question of whether or not the Pilot Road 2 really is the best tyre on the market for both mileage and wet grip.
Smith predicted that the Pilot Road 2, as a touring tyre with sporting capability, will be successful with its target audience. He added that the product’s best strength is that the concept can capture the imagination.
According to Smith, with only a slight difference in price between the various brands, competition between the suppliers is tight. As a result, marketing alone simply won’t do, and while Smith describes the Pilot Road 2 as a “strong product” this is also not enough in isolation. And that’s where a concept like dual-compound technology has the advantage being a concept that captures the imagination. So, whatever you think about the CERM data, the narrowness of the margins between the whole range of tested products means having that special something – be it varied temperature curing, long mileage life, wet performance or dual compound technology – could make all the difference.