We all know that the Adventure bike market has grown massively over recent years and is now easily the biggest market sector for motorcycles with BMW, KTM, Ducati, Honda, Triumph and Yamaha all wanting a piece of the action.
It’s this popularity that lets us see constantly evolving technology in the adventure tyre market, with all the top tyre manufacturers aiming to provide the best range of tyres for each individual rider’s skill sets or riding styles. In 2017, the 3 top selling Maxi Trail Bikes made up 40% of all new bike sales in Europe!
Up until recently, the range of Michelin Adventure tyres was comprehensive, if a little large. The Michelin Anakee Wild offers riders a 50/50 split between on and off-road, the Michelin Anakee 2 offers riders a 70% road and 30% off-road tyre and the Michelin Anakee 3 offers a more road biased 90% road and 10% off-road split. The whole of the Anakee range offered an excellent mix of road and off-road, depending on the riders preferred riding style, with the Pilot Road 4 Trail and Road 5 Trail offering a 100% road option for riders who do not intend riding off-road.
The 2019 range of Michelin motorcycle tyres
The new range is a lot simpler to understand and provides a Michelin Adventure tyre to cover all styles of riding in fewer tyre styles. The Anakee Wild remains with its 50/50 mix of road and off-road, as does the Road 5 Trail for 100% road riding. The Anakee 2 and 3, however, have been replaced by the new Anakee Adventure with an 80% Road and 20% off-road mix.
Fitted as OE equipment on the BMW R1250GS and the new Moto Guzzi V85, the new Michelin Anakee adventure is aimed at riders of adventure / dual sport bikes who want a tyre that can deliver capable sports-touring performance on the road, but still offer capable off-road capabilities when their tours or rides will undoubtedly include off-road sections.
The Michelin Anakee Adventure tyre uses a plethora of new technologies over its predecessors and brings a lot of firsts to the adventure tyre market. A new profile gives high speed stability and optimized manoeuvrability while the all new silica tread compounds offer riders high levels of wet-weather grip, with no sacrifice on dry grip and wear resistance – while the Anakee Adventure features their patented 2CT technology in front and rear tyres (a first for an adventure tyre).
The tread pattern on the Anakee adventure has also gone through a complete re-design to offer the best performance on or off-road. A fully grooved tread (with no central rubber strip) gives more confidence, as well as more traction on trails. Large grooves opening at the shoulder of the tyre provide excellent water and dirt clearing, whilst bridge blocks (taken from the Anakee Wild tread design) provide an optimised void ratio on the front and rear tyres meaning handling and stability are never compromised. The tread void is lower in the centre of the tyre for high speed stability with multiple biting edges for grip; but is higher at mid lean angle for wet grip and it is at its lowest at max lean angle for dry grip and stability.
Class leading wet grip, with improved balance between wear, stability and handling are highlighted even more when compared to its predecessor, the Anakee 3:
The same high-speed stability and handling as Anakee 3
No sacrifice on wear resistance
A new reference for wet grip
Higher levels of moderate off-road ability
The Road Test
The UK dealer launch took place in sunny Scotland (really – it was sunny!) on some tremendous roads around Peebles and the surrounding Scottish borders. Our fleet for the day consisted of a range of R1250GS’s, F850GS’s and an F750GS – all fitted with Anakee Adventure rubber and kindly supplied by BMW Motorrad Edinburgh. The roads were a selection of A and B-roads with plenty of obstacles to challenge the tyres – gravel, cattle grids, manhole covers and damp sections to name a few.
I picked an F850GS to start with and no sooner had we left the hotel grounds, the tyres felt completely neutral and perfectly planted to the road surface. The first section of road was quite a narrow and twisty B-road that gave a great indication of the tyres agility and how easy it was to get the bike to change direction with very little input from the bars.
This twisty section was probably the best to start with, as with all new tyres and unfamiliar bikes it can take a while to feel at one with them, but after 4-5 miles I instantly felt at ease with the tyres and started to explore them more – happily looking for the gravel, manhole covers and any imperfections in the tarmac to see if they unsettled the bike, but this was not the case: the tyres took it all in their stride.
Once out onto the open A-roads, I was able to feel how the tyres handled on the faster, more flowing road surfaces. My first impression? They felt very much like a sports touring tyre, with no indication that this tyre is designed for 20% off-road use with a knobbly tread pattern. There was no vibration or excessive road noise and as the pace picked up it was easy to see how the fully treaded centre and lower void ratio in the centre of the tyre offered great stability and grip – even when tipping the bike into a corner, there was none of the sensation or feeling that you sometimes get when transitioning from the centre to the edge of the tyre.
High speed stability and changes of direction were impeccable, the tyres just went where they were pointed with no tracking or shimmying. On the faster corners, once the bike was over on the edge of the tyre, the grip was impressive and stable – a good example of how well the bridge blocks on the shoulders of the tyre work. Braking for corners was also impressive and felt secure. The tyre felt planted and the bike stable, even under heavy braking, or when using a little rear brake mid corner to scrub off some speed, and the bike never tracked or tried to change line, holding its position through the corners.
We didn’t get chance to test the corners in real wet conditions, however, on some of the faster roads there were a few tree lined sections where the road hadn’t fully dried and there were sizeable damp patches, but the bike simply sailed across them showing how good the silica compounds in the new Anakee Adventure are.
After a quick coffee break we swapped bikes for the return leg of the trip and I got to try the R1250GS. The first mile or so was spent getting used to the bike and the 19 inch front wheel as opposed to the 21 inch front wheel on the 850, but normal service was soon resumed. Even on a big adventure bike like the R1250GS the tyre felt planted, the steering neutral with minimum input needed – just like them old slippers we all have back home.
On the return ride, it was this “at home” feeling that soon had me forgetting we were supposed to be testing the tyres. I was too busy taking in the scenery, looking at the road ahead and picking what lines to take which is a true testament to how good the tyres are on the road – I just trusted the tyre to do the work and enjoy the ride.
The off-road test
After a spot of lunch, we were collected by the guys from BMW Motorrad Edinburgh and taken to their off-road facility just outside of Peebles. An ex moto-cross track with plenty of surrounding natural trails and trials sections that present an off-road tyre with a range of challenges!
After a quick briefing and a demonstration of the correct way to pick up a motorcycle, we got to familiarise ourselves with the bikes – a fleet of R1250GS’s and a little 310GS for anyone wanting something a bit smaller.
Before we were let loose on the main track we had a series of exercises on the oval circuit which was a combination of grass, loose gravel and a few ruts – pretty much what you would expect to encounter on a ride out if you were to take in a few fire roads or gravel tracks – not full on off road, but enough to give a pure road tyre a hard time.
I was on the R1250GS and this part of the off-road session was a good way of familiarising myself with the conditions and how the Anakee Adventure copes with such surfaces. It didn’t take long to realise that there was no need to panic – the tyre felt planted on the loose surfaces, no front-end pushes or rear end slides on the loose surface and emergency stops and handfuls of acceleration were coped with easily.
With this part out of the way, it was time to take to the track! It seemed a bit of a monster at first as the sighting lap seemed to go on forever and there was such a mix of climbs, jumps, ruts, up and downhill corners, boggy conditions (everything you would expect a more road biased tyre to struggle with and be more suited to a tyre like the Anakee Extreme).
I needn’t have worried though. After a few laps we were all riding around the track like we were on 450 enduro bikes, not 1250 adventure bikes! No worries about confidence in the tyre or lack of traction, either, as the large tread grooves effectively cleared the dirt out of the way and gave plenty of grip and confidence when cornering and braking.
At this point the Motorrad Edinburgh guys thought a few of the more experienced enduro guys were having it a little easy, so set up a new challenge. Up alongside the first climb to the first jump on the track there was a natural stream which over time has been used for various trials stages. To me, it looked like something I wouldn’t even want to ride a trials bike up, let alone a 250kg adventure bike on what was effectively a set of road biased knobbly tyres!! Approximately 100m long, narrow and full of mud it seemed impossible, but one of the guys successfully managed the climb, non-stop with no dramas on three or four occasions before deciding to ride back down the same way!
After this we soon realised the off-road capabilities of the tyre. To riders like myself, it will happily take me on and off-road as far as my capabilities allow, but in the hands of a more experienced off-road rider it was capable of a whole lot more!
The Michelin Anakee Adventure does exactly as it say on the tin! It inspires confidence on the road with excellent handling, stability and grip, but for those of us that fancy an adventure bike trip that requires occasional off-road work it is more than capable of holding its own in the loose stuff. If you are thinking of travelling Europe, or just fancy a bit of fire-road fun with your friends, the Anakee Adventure will “free your desire” once you turn off the black-stuff!
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