By Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor

A solid tire with precise steering and balance

The new Michelin Power SuperSport appeals to sport motorcyclists seeking the best in road performance. It’s designed for riders who demand a do-it-all sportbike tire that is as adept at work week commutes as it is apex strafing missions on weekends. It’s positioned between the more street-focused Pilot Power 3 and top-of-the-range Power Cup racing tire.

French engineers continue to refine the profile of the Power tire in an effort to improve handling and make for a more enjoyable riding experience. A sharper contour boosts steering response, and the carcass now has a bigger footprint against the road when loaded. Furthermore, the back tire’s casing is stiffer, allowing for enhanced grip at lower tire pressures at the track. Michelin claims that the contact patch grows by 52% when tire pressure is reduced from 42 to 22 psi (cold), translating to more grip during spirited riding maneuvers.

Just like the Pilot Power 3, the rear hoop employs Michelin’s latest dual-compound technology. The new process is an evolution of Michelin’s original 2CT formula. One uniform compound is overlaid by a softer rubber mixture at either shoulder (25% on each side). This is done to reduce tread squirm and give the tire a more rigid feel when dialing in a fist full of throttle at lean. A more durable compound comprises the middle half of the tire and is formulated for straight line grip and mileage. Lastly, the array of tread sipes was modified for better adhesion on wet and dry roads alike. Michelin also claims that the updated grooves decrease irregular wear as the tire is worn.

Michelin allowed us a brief taste of its new track day hoops at the Portimao racing circuit in southern Portugal. A fleet of modern European and Japanese middleweight and liter-class sportbikes were assembled for us ride, but due to time constraints, we were limited to riding two bikes: Yamaha’s YZF-R1 and Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-10R. They also allowed a half-lap aboard two BMW S1000RRs, one outfitted with the old tire and another shod in the new rubber.

Right away it was apparent that the new profile affords greater precision during turn-in. This boosts confidence as the rider has greater control when steering and allows the rider to accurately position the bike on track. Due to the condensed back-to-back laps, we didn’t recognize any difference in traction between the old and new tire, but we did feel the rigidity balance the carcass offers isn’t overly soft or hard, which both elevates road feel and helps absorb bumps in the pavement. The only problem is outright grip isn’t up to the level we had anticipated. Surely the cooler track temperature didn’t help things any (it was overcast with an ambient air temperature in the low-60s [Fahrenheit], with some sporadic rain showers) and since a heavy dousing of rain erased most of the rubber on the track, it made it difficult to get a true performance assessment of the tires. To Michelin’s credit, we did notice that the SuperSport’s felt a little more rigid when driving off corners and didn’t move around as much as we remember on the old Power One 2CTs. In the end, the tires served up enough performance for a sane street pace, but we need more time on them to see if they are truly racetrack-grade.

SIZES: Front: 120/70-17 Rear: 180/55-17, 190/50-17, 190/55-17, 200/55-17

MSRP:
$243.95 (front)
$351.95-362.95 (rear)

Michelin Power SuperSport Highs & Lows

Highs

  • Precise steering
  • Good carcass rigidity balance
  • Less tire squirm/flex during acceleration

Lows

  • Could have better outright grip
  • Durability still unknown