It’s pretty hard to talk about something that most people find too technical or boring. Sure, we know how important tires are to our noble steeds; our motorcycles have only two contact points to the road, and we need to make the most of them under all riding conditions. But talking about them gets tricky because there’s a lot of science involved coupled with a little bit of mathematics, and all motorcyclists just want to ride. So that’s exactly what Motoworld and Metzeler Philippines had in store for us; a ride to experience the tires, and all the technical stuff to follow. There’s no better way to relate to all the numbers and science of tires when it’s backed up by actual riding time.
The destination was Baler, Aurora, for the 2018 Metzeler Brand Experience and an early take-off would mean we would miss out on most of the weekday traffic. We all met at MotoMarket Libis, one of the biggest shops of Motoworld, a candy store for motorcyclists with a plethora of gear, accessories, tires, and anything related to motorcycling in general. We had a huge lineup of big displacement motorcycles and a single maxiscooter, all wrapped in new Metzeler tires of different types, each playing to the strengths of the bike they were put on. BMW, Yamaha, KTM, and Suzuki motorcycles were assigned to media participants, and I was lucky enough to get the benchmark-setting BMW R1200 GS.
We set off from MotoMarket Libis at around 6:00 a.m. and made our way through C5 to Mindanao Avenue to get on NLEX. The BMW R1200 GS is one of the biggest motorcycles around, but comfort and features are topnotch, leaving no wonder as to why it’s the generally-accepted bike of choice for long distance touring and off-roading. Initially, the BMW R1200 GS assigned to me was using Metzeler Karoo 3 dual sport tires with a focus on off-road duties, and having experienced this tire before on another motorcycle from another brand a few months ago, I knew what to expect. As with most off-road focused knobby tires, there’s the expected characteristics of additional road noise coming from the tires and slightly sharper turning feel, meaning it just drops into corners and can feel vague on paved roads. Fortunately, even on the roads leading up to the expressway, and even on the expressway itself at triple-digit speeds, the Karoo 3 performed admirably, being quieter than expected and handling city riding very well. Once we got on to TPLEX, the cruise control of the BMW R1200 GS was my favorite feature. All I had to do was set my windscreen to the highest position, reach my desired speed, and press a single button to engage cruise control, allowing me to rest my hands and enjoy the scenery a bit.
The BMW R1200 GS cruises with absolutely no complaints and maximum comfort on any expressway or fast road. The weight becomes imperceivable once you get going, and the low speed balance, meaning crawling speed, is superb, with no need to put your feet on the ground. There were times when I came to a full stop and got going again in a span of a second, all without putting my feet down. The low center of gravity and the flat firing order of the 1,170cc engine contribute greatly to this, plus the wide handlebars offer great leverage. It also has all the technology to keep you safe and planted on the road, with ABS, traction control, riding modes, heated grips, adaptive suspension, and a whole lot more. This came in handy during the technical sections on the road to Baler as the roads opened up after each small town we passed.
Since the Karoo 3 tires were more suited for off-road stints, there’s definitely an adjustment in riding style when it comes to taking and pushing these tires hard on the street. You have to make sure you accelerate smoothly and choose clean lines when taking corners, and when you add a little too much gas, the rear tire breaks traction for a little slip; nothing too bad, very controllable thanks to the electronics and weight of the BMW R1200 GS, and it’s just enough to keep you on your toes and make the ride more interesting. Once we got to our destination, Costa Pacifica Resort in Baler, Aurora, we parked next to the Metzeler blue elephant inflatable mascot and freshened up for the product presentation.
Representatives from Metzeler regional and Metzeler Philippines gave us a brief overview of Metzeler as a company and a little history about their tire production processes over the years. Metzeler has been in the tire making business since 1892, and they’ve been revolutionizing the way they create tires throughout the years, with advancements like the patented Metzeler Interact multi-zone tension that uses a combination of steel cord at varying tension in order to provide the best performance in all conditions. Silica is their compound of choice for most tires, and a combination of silica and carbon is utilized as well, offering superior cold and wet weather grip, plus excellent traction and control in dry conditions. There’s a lot of technology and engineering behind the entire range of Metzeler’s tires, and the feedback we gave about how they performed during the ride gave everyone insights on how the dynamics of tires greatly affect the overall performance of the motorcycle. After a six-hour ride and excellent food and some drinks, it was a well-deserved rest before we were to head back to Manila the next day, but this time, I’d be trying out Metzeler’s adventure touring tire on the BMW R1200 GS, the Tourance Next.
The Tourance Next is the standard tire on the BMW R1200 GS, and is a road-focused tire but with some off-road credentials. It’s more like an 80% on, 20% off-road tire, and offers superior grip in the wet; perfect for long distance touring in all conditions. I felt immediately at home with these tires on the twisties, as they compliment my riding style perfectly with the BMW R1200 GS; a little sporty despite the size and weight of the bike. Leaving the bike in Dynamic mode, which adjusts all safety systems to riding style and prevailing road conditions, left me to confidently take corners and reach lean angles that felt extremely stable with the Tourance Next tires. The Tourance Next can also tackle fire roads and light off-roading with ease, but 99.99% of the roads we took were either cement or asphalt, so that’s a test for another time, I guess. The tires were also fantastic on the highway, providing high-speed stability and good traction when braking hard or making quick maneuvers, making the Tourance Next the perfect all-weather tire for high displacement adventure touring motorcycles.
When people ask me about upgrading their motorcycles, I always tell them to upgrade the rider first, learn new skills, sharpen existing ones, and learn to be a better and safer rider. Then you upgrade the tires and confidence will naturally follow. Metzeler’s line of tires helps riders experience more by providing more mileage, better feel, and award-winning technology that make every ride effortless. They win awards in independent tests for a reason, and I’d gladly slap on a pair of Metzeler street tires on my Ducati very soon.