Winter’s almost over (isn’t it?) – and we’ve been trying out some proper bad-weather rubber on the mighty Suzuki GSX-S1000 F. Michelin’s Pilot Road range has been one of the go-to choices for all-round riders for years now, particularly the ‘3’ version. The PR3 as it became known won many a rider’s heart for its great wet weather performance, fast warm-up on even the chilliest winter mornings, and reassuring feel on rotten, greasy surfaces. Part of that was no doubt due to its impressive tread pattern: the front in particular looks just like a racing wet, with stacks of deep cuts all the way round the tread. This thing simply has to clear lakes of water, and heat up a treat, just by looking at it, we thought.
Best of all, if you did get a dry mild day with the PR3s on, you could still have a decent go. Indeed, I’ve ridden long term bikes pretty hard for pics on winter photoshoots, and even did some track time with a set on in years gone by, with no problems at all.
So I was keen to try out the PR4s on the GSX-S1000 this winter. The good folks at Michelin UK sorted me a set out, so it was time to whip the rims out, and head over to our mate Dan at Dan Miles Performance motorcycles in Wallington.
First up though, I had to give the wheels a bit of a clean… They were proper manky: I’d been preparing for winter early, and had coated the whole bike in SDoc 100 Corrosion Protector (www.motohaus.com) as soon as the first autumn storms appeared. That, plus brake dust and chain lube meant the black wheels had a thick coating of crud on there. Erk.
I broke out some of the ‘strong’ cleaners from my stash in the garage. I grabbed some Red Ant ‘Power Clean’, and a stiff brush and got to work. Now, I’ve used this stuff before, and the mad thing is how stinky it is! Proper rotten-eggs hydrogen sulphide stench! Yuk! It also turn bright red once it starts working, which is mildly disconcerting the first time you use it… But it does a great job of lifting nasty heavy grime. A good spray, worked in with a brush and left for five minutes loosened all the grease, grit and filth, rinsing away easily with a hose. Recommended stuff (www.redantbikecleaners.com/products-motorbike.html)
With my rims all gleaming, I could face Dan with my head held high. I ‘helped’ swap the (very good) Metzeler M7RRs that were on there for the summer out for the Michelins. Back home, and the wheels were back on in half an hour (I’m getting good at this now).
Since then, I’ve had the GSX-S out in some truly biblical conditions. One ride in particular, back from Big CC Racing in Wokingham is quite literally the wettest I’ve been in a decade. The tail end of Hurricane Wanker or some other shit name was lashing the SE of England, and I was wetter than a halibut’s ringpiece. But the PR4s didn’t care a jot, simply gripping and gripping. It’s fair to say that modern ABS and traction control setups let you take the piss a bit more in the wet, and I was so wet I didn’t really care if I went home in an ambulance or not. Indeed, sat behind an HGV on the 50mph-average-speed-camera section of the M3, being hosed down like a burning petrol tanker, the idea of a nice warm ambulance was strangely appealing. But the Michelins weren’t having any of it. No matter how hard I slammed the gas on to accelerate past a dawdling car, or how late I braked coming into a roundabout, there was no flickering of TC lights or pulsing of the brake levers. Essentially flawless performance in the wet, and a real confidence booster.
I’m leaving the PR4s on for a while yet – they’ve been great now the storms have abated a bit. And there’s every chance of some April Showers before we get into proper summer conditions I bet…