Michelin Tyres

From the track to the street

From track to street

From the Track to the Street

A tire having a completely smooth or nearly smooth tread surface, with little or no tread pattern. Pioneered by Michelin in 1973.

From competition...

The logic is inescapable: the more rubber in contact with the road, the better the grip. Legendary GP rider Jack Findlay first tested slick tires on a privateer Italian Suzuki in 1973. Slicks were anything but an immediate success, however. "In the beginning, slicks weren't a giant step ahead, because we didn't understand them," said Barry Sheene. Not only did riders initially look upon slicks with suspicion, race officials did as well. Nevertheless, Sheene earned his first 500cc world championship in 1976, using slick tires. Not long after, the entire grid moved to slicks, and the only grooved tires that remained in Grand Prix racing were for rain use.

...to the road

Modern-day sportbike tires are not very far removed from racing slicks. As the years have passed and rubber compounds have continued to improve, tread grooves have become increasingly rare. For example, MICHELIN® Pilot® Power tires have a grooved area (sea/land ratio) of only 11.8 percent. This tread design maximizes the contact patch for incredible grip, making it possible to attain lean angles of more than 50 degrees on dry pavement, and nearly 42 degrees in the wet.

A tire construction in which the casing plies are laid at an angle perpendicular to the tire's direction of travel. Pioneered by Michelin in 1983.

From competition...

Thanks to the genius of Freddie Spencer, Michelin in 1983 scored the first victory for a radial tire (rear only) in a 500cc Grand Prix. The following year, Randy Mamola became the first rider to win a Grand Prix (San Marino) using both front and rear radials. Radial tires generate less internal heat than conventional tires. And because radials run cooler, their rubber compounds used can be much softer, for enhanced cornering grip.

"In terms of tires, the radial was the most important innovation of my career," says three-time world-champion Spencer "A rider wants grip, feedback and durability. The radial was an improvement in all these areas, and also influenced other aspects of bike design. The first thing I noticed with the radial is that it gave me much more grip and stability in fast corners. I could get on the gas earlier, which was one of the aspects of my riding that I was always working on."

...to the road

Three years after their competition debut, Michelin put radial tires into production. In 1987, MICHELIN® A59X/M59X tires started a revolution in high-performance tires, allowing riders to explore the full potential of then-new sportbikes like the Suzuki GSX-R and Yamaha YZF. Today, every middleweight and larger sportbike is equipped with radial tires. Without the introduction of radials, sportbikes would still have about the same horsepower that they had in the 1980s, because conventional bias-ply tires couldn't handle the power of a modern literbike.

When used to reinforce rubber compounds, silica provides significant benefits as compared to conventional carbon black. Pioneered by Michelin in 1992.

From competition...

Michelin developed the process of integrating silica into rubber compounds, replacing carbon black as a reinforcement. On March 29, 1992, at Japan's Suzuka circuit, Mick Doohan was the first rider to use a silica tire in competition, scoring a resounding win on the rain-soaked Japanese track. Even today, racing rain tires continue to incorporate silica technology.

...to the road

MICHELIN® Pilot® Sport tires were the first production tires to use 100% silica-reinforced rubber compounds. In contrast to a race tire, a road tire must deliver exceptional performance both on dry AND wet pavement. Thanks to silica technology, road tires benefit from improved performance both in the wet and in cold weather, without compromising tread life.

The tread is made up of two rubber mixtures: a softer compound on the shoulders, and a harder compound in the center. Pioneered by Michelin in 1994.

From competition...

Michelin's first two-compound tires, introduced in 1994, had an 'A' compound on one side and a softer 'B' compound on the other, for asymmetrical tracks having many more left-hand turns than right, or vice versa. Over the years, more and more rubber compounds have been developed for racing, to deliver the best possible grip on any given circuit.

...to the road

In the past, riders had to choose between a softer tire for cornering grip, or a harder tire for durability. Now with 2CT, you can have both. Power Race® tires were the first road-legal tires with Michelin 2CT, followed by Pilot® Power 2CT tires. With a soft compound on the tread shoulders, they warm up quickly to facilitate unbelievable cornering grip. The harder compound in the center of the tread withstands the violent acceleration and braking forces of modern sportbikes. With Pilot® Road 2 tires, 2CT delivers confidence-inspiring cornering, particularly in the wet, while offering the longest tread life of any comparable tire*.

*Tests conducted by CERM (Center d'Essais Routiers Mécaniques) in 2006, comparing Pilot® Road 2 against Bridgestone BT-020 and BT-021, Continental RoadAttack, Dunlop D220, Metzeler Roadtec Z6 and Pirelli Diablo Strada tires, and in 2007 against Dunlop Roadsmart tires. Sizes tested: 120/70 ZR 17 and 180/55 ZR 17.

Combinations of synthetic additives help provide enhanced grip and other benefits. Pioneered by Michelin in 2002.

From competition...

"In the beginning there were 3 or 4 rubber compounds. At first we were physicists, but then we became chemists because we were getting our butts kicked," said Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin's former director of competition. At the start of 2002, Michelin chemists introduced revolutionary new synthetic compounds (MRSE, HTSC, MMC) that helped with the MotoGP World Championship. In addition, these new tires won every single race that season.

...to the road

Pilot® Power tires were the first to benefit from these new synthetic compounds, scarcely two years after they were introduced in GP racing. Or as the advertising campaign put it, "Pilot® Power: With 100% Pure Racing Ingredients." Fitted with Pilot® Power tires, a sportbike can achieve a remarkable lean angle of 50.6 degrees – 3.6 degrees more than its predecessor, Pilot® Sport. At the time, it set a new benchmark for road tires.