A brief comparison of sport touring tires fitted to my Yamaha FJR1300. I posted this because every tyre review says “I just put them on they feel great” which is useless. This is some feedback after the tyres have been used to end of their life.
I have tried seven different model sport touring tyres on my Yamaha FJR1300. Metzeler Z8 which came on the bike when new. Bridgestone BT023, the non GT variation. Pirelli Angel GT which was suggested by others and Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT which is very popular. Then BT-023 GT spec, Dunlop Roadsmart 2 and now Bridestone T31 GT.
This is my personal experience not a controlled test just some real riding feedback for people to consider. I am not hyper sensitive about road feel/grip and I don’t ride hard thus consider pure sports tyres unnecessary on public roads. All these tyres offer decent road performance but some worked a little better on my particular bike.
The BT023 was perfectly acceptable to me, I have since used three more sets of this model tyre. I set it at 6 just so I can show how the others rate a little better and also because their feel is less confident on turn in than some people might like and they let the bike move about a bit especially on cold roads.
The Metzeler Z8 was a little better feeling on corner entry and felt more confident mid corner on the FJR than the BT023. Still a tyre that lets the big bike move around a bit compared to the other model tyres.
The Angel GT offers a notable higher level of grip on the FJR. Corner entry with these tyres is sure footed feel and inspires a lot of confidence. Similar mid corner grip is notably better feeling and rare to have the bike moving about. The FJR is a slow turning bike and speed of turn in and change of direction is fastest on these however they wear fast and then become very slow to turn with a pronounced V shape.
The Pilot Road 4 corner entry feel is solid no movement which continues mid corner. Confidence is high like the Angel GTs. The grip also remains high on cold roads. Nearly always offering a planted feel is how I would describe them. However the Pilot Road 4 makes the steering feel slower than the other tyres and I had premature tyre failure and QC is an issue for Michelin tyres coming from Thailand.
The Dunlop Roadsmart 2 tyres have possibly the best dry grip feeling of all these tyres. Quick yet confident turn in. Totally planted feel mid corner and best feeling of grip at higher lean angles. If you wanted the best feeling tyre for dry these are it but they wear fast.
The Bridgestone T31 GT tyres initially felt vague coming from the sticky Dunlops but once worn in and my brain adjusted to the different feel I have become a fan. They grip like the Angel GT’s but perhaps little better again with nice turn in which remains as they wear. The confidence level is almost as good as the PR4, very little in it.
An item to note is the FJR exhibits a cornering trait where it understeers then suddenly changes at half lean angle to oversteer. This has been talked about by AMCN in their tests and is not my imagination. (its the high COG) With the Angel GT fitted the bike lessened it’s behavior of this and steering became much more neutral. Pirelli claim the Angel has a slightly different curvature. The Dunlops also were good at helping lessen this steering trait but both these tyres dropped off rapidly. The T31 GT was next best steering feel and it did not lose that as the tyres aged.
Now to wet weather grip. Something I used to not bother much about when only doing day rides in Australia. If it was raining I stayed home. If caught in a storm I would wait it out in a café. Now that I tour for extended time riding in rain and on wet roads all day is always a feature on tour and the way tyres feel on wet roads makes a big difference to my touring enjoyment.
The Z8 is a tyre I never liked in the wet. Always feeling like it was moving about and squirming. I used to tippy toe along when encountering wet conditions with these fitted.
The BT023 is similar in feel that you just do not have much confidence on wet roads.
A big step up is the Angel GT tyres which feel decent in the wet. You can ride and not have the bike constantly feeling loose as with the other two tyres and only on the coldest wet roads might I notice the grip lacking.
The Pilot Road 4 in the wet are very good. I forgot I was riding on wet roads after a while the grip is that good. I would never had imagined this level of grip could be obtained on road tyres. Not saying you can lean over like in the dry or that the bike will not move about – you are on wet roads still – but you can ride a modest pace and not feel concern.
The Roadsmart II’s were perhaps not quite as good as the Angel GT’s. I only had limited wet road time with them and only summer wet roads not cold wet. They are a softer tyre like the Angels and felt about the same.
The Bridgestone T31 GT have been good in wet but I have only had them on mostly warm wet roads not cold and wet. Still the grip level has been confident but not PR4 level.
This time the score is actual distance the tyres lasted (times 1000km).
The Angle GT’s were worn out by 6,000km. Front tyre sides were completely bald and tyre had that pronounced egg shape making steering very slow and really high effort. Rear tyre was wearing consistently but at the wear tabs already. Terrific tyre in the way they feel but they wear out far too quick.
I changed the Z8’s out at 7,000km at which point the front tyre was very badly scalloped on the sides making the steering wobble under braking and the pronounced egg shape made turn in effort high. The middles still had some rubber remaining and if I was commuting the lifespan might be totally different but for sporty riding they did not last long enough.
The BT023 averaged 9000km lifespan. No scalloping and less of that egg shape which meant turn in effort remained less difficult as the tyres wore. While they lose out in grip they are the economical choice in Japan where they sell for much less than the others.
The GT version in my experience wear a little more even than the non GT version. I have had two sets of each and considering the GT models are usually much more expensive it seems hardly worth it to achieve very little extra.
With the Pilot Road four I had problems with the front tyre. At 5000km I put the bike into the shop for a service was told there was a premature wear failure issue with the front tyre. This is 2nd time I have had PR tyres fail (previously in Australia). How much was left at that point is a guess, perhaps another 2000 but they only lasted 5000 before failing so I have split the difference at 6000 on the chart. Like the Angel GT’s, these higher grip tyres do not last long on heavy bike like mine.
The Roadsmart 2 front tyre was bald by just 5000km whilst the rear looked like it could have gone another 3000km at least. These tyres feel excellent on the FJR but have the shortest life and 5000km is not enough for a touring tyre.
The Bridgestone T31 tyres are the mileage winner. I think like the BT023 they will vary in life and perhaps 9000 will be an average but first set I have easy reached 10000km, probably the easy flowing Hokkaido roads have extended their life this time. But they cost twice as much as a set of the BT023 non GT spec.
So that is my real world results so far. None were bad but the mileage is too low on some for them to be called Sport Touring and reality they are pure sports tyres. If you wanted best dry grip feel then try the Roadsmarts but they sure wear out quick. If you ride wet roads all the time the PR4 are going to please. But for all rounders the Bridgestones offer touring life distance and their T31 GT are a great tyre with good feel in dry and wet. The value tyre is the BT023 and I will probably just be fitting these again in future.