Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interact Tire

Whether you’re riding your motorcycle to work, blasting through the canyons or piling on odometer numbers during your weekend getaway, your tires have got to do it all. Not only that, they’ve got to provide thousands of worry-free miles regardless of 40-degree temperature, rain or pavement-melting 120-degrees. Sounds like the type of conditions best suited for the new Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interact sport-touring tire.

In the never ending quest for increased performance, the folks at Metzeler have released the successor to its versatile Roadtec Z6 tire. We were fortunate enough to have an early go on it during last year’s Metzeler Expert on the Road tour through some of the famed regions of the Alps. And for 2009, the tires have finally made their way stateside for all sport-touring riders to benefit.

Visually it can be difficult to differentiate the new tire as it uses the same tread pattern and profile as before. Beneath, however, both the tire’s carcass construction as well as rubber compound are new. Where other tire manufacturers (Dunlop) employ multiple compounds to provide an optimum blend of traction, stability and wear, Metzeler goes a different route by incorporating a unique flex-tuned carcass construction with a uniform compound to react to tire flex.

Its zero-degree steel belt technology returns (in which steel belts are laid flat and in the same direction as the rotation of the tire) with a new spin. On the Interact each individual steel carcass string has been engineered at a specific tension, much like a musician’s guitar string. Higher string tension at the tire’s center ensures stability when the tire is loaded during high-speed maneuvers or under braking. String elasticity decreases in a linear method towards the shoulder of the tire, which generates more tire flex, in-turn creating more heat and boosting outright cornering grip.

An updated blend of compound ingredients work in unison with the flex-tuned carcass offering reduced tire warm-up times, as well as increasing grip and stability without affecting mileage according to Metzeler. Another benefit is added wet-weather performance and greater consistency of performance as the tire reaches its service limit due to the more efficient mixing method and higher Silica content.

For our test, we mounted a set of Z6 Interacts in the original sizes (120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear) on our 2009 Moto Guzzi Griso. Tire pressure was set at 32 psi front and rear per Metzeler’s recommendations. The Z6 Interacts replaced the more sport-oriented and OE-fitted Metzeler M3 Sportec tire, thus giving us a unique comparison opportunity.

Warm and sunny weather greeted us as we departed from the oasis-like surroundings of Palm Springs, California. We headed east through the neighboring cities of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, veering north onto Highway 74.

Once on the 74 we climbed from the desert’s sea-level elevation and into the surrounding mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest. For the first few miles the road is perfectly straight but a few miles after you leave the perfectly manicured lawn of the city the road starts to zigzag.

Fast corners immediately greet as you start up the mountain. And with the throttle wrapped-out in fourth gear it became immediately apparent of the high amount of outright grip from the tires. Just 15 miles before the tires were brand-new and within that short amount of mileage they were fully up to operating temperature and ready for as much lean angle as I could serve up.

Contrary to my assumptions, based on the tires tech specs, at speed, with the motorcycle cranked over on the edge of the tire, the Interact’s feels firm without a hint of tire flex. Yet there is a suprising amount of road feel delivered especially at the front tire during trail braking. So much in fact that it makes you wonder if these tires are more aligned with the sport segment rather than touring.

As we moved closer to the top of the mountain, the long sweeping, 100-mph turns began to transition into tighter second and third gear corners which required us to repeatedly maneuver the bike from side-to-side. Here the Interacts complemented the Griso’s nimble handling attributes and continued to impress by not requiring any additional effort than the tires it replaced.

Shortly after we had reached the Santa Rosa Summit (approximate elevation 5000 feet), we headed west on Highway 371 through Anza, California. Here we piled on the miles on mostly smooth, straight road. Every so often a patch of rough pavement would surprise us due to the area’s extreme temperature variation between 100-degree summers and, at times, below freezing winters.

Based on the tires firm feel in the corner I had presumed that it would be equally as firm when rolling over rough stuff. Not so. The Interacts absorb pavement imperfections agreeably, delivering a smooth ride while assisting the bikes suspension in keeping the tire in contact with the road.

One particular straightaway allowed for a top-speed run and even with 130-mph registering on the 500-plus-lb Griso’s dash the bike was solid. In fact, with the previously fitted tire we noticed a hint of twitchiness when going over 100 mph, but with the Z6 Interacts that peculiar trait vanished.

Although we didn’t encounter any wet weather along our route, we did run into some during last year’s Expert on the Road adventure. One particular moment hard-wired in my brain is that of myself and two other riders leaving the rest of the group as we sped up a tight, winding, first or second gear rain-soaked road as we closed in on Switzerland’s Sustenpass. The motorcycle I was riding, a Honda VFR800 Interceptor shod with the Z6 Interact. The three of us ran up the road at a ridiculous pace considering the sketchiness of the road, yet none of us had even a slip.

When it comes time to plop down the cash for new tires, next to sheer performance the biggest consideration in the tire you choose is its mileage. Unfortunately we’ve only been able to log around 500 miles on the tires, so its mileage endurance is still a question. Nevertheless, Metzeler claims mileage remains the exactly the same as the previous generation Roadtec Z6 tire.

Arguably, sport-touring tires are the most difficult tires to develop. Yet once again Metzeler steps up with a tire that absolutely hauls out on the road. So are these tires for you? Can you toss them on your Suzuki GSX-R1000 street bike? If you’re looking for a tire that will last longer than the stockers that came on your bike yet still give you the performance you need on the streets, regardless if it’s wet or dry, hot or cold then the Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interacts are for you.