Metzeler Roadtec Interact Z8: first MCN test

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Our man recently headed out to the back roads of Sicily for the launch of Metzeler’s new sports-touring tyre, the Roadtec Interact Z8. Here are his test notes…

Name: Metzeler Roadtec Interact Z8
Designed for: Sports tourers and naked bikes
What’s its USP? Interact technology allows for high grip with impressive wear levels while providing a cushioned ride and increased wet weather performance.

Riding impression: A sports touring tyre is usually confined to use on bikes with panniers fitted as standard, but according to Metzeler this is no longer the case.

The firm has identified a growing number of more performance-oriented riders on nakeds and even sports bikes turning to this class of tyre due to their increased wear rates and ability to cope with all weather conditions.

So they have created the new Interact Z8 to appeal directly to this market and replace the old Z6 Interact.

With a deliberately aggressively styled tread pattern (rider’s choice of tyre is often dictated by tread aesthetics) the Z8 has the company’s Interact technology to give it a soft carcass construction at the tyre’s shoulders for improved handing while the central area is stiffer for increased life and improved bump absorption.

Riding Yamaha’s new FZ8 Fazer the lightweight bike felt perfectly suited to the Z8.

The tyres’ more rounded profile gave a very smooth and reassured progression from upright to leaned over and seemed to match the relaxed nature of the bike perfectly, providing more than enough grip for the Yamaha’s limited ground clearance to be exploited to the full.

Moving up a class to Honda’s CB1000R the Z8’s progressive feel was once again apparent.

Being a sportier naked the Honda turns into corners with more enthusiasm than the Yamaha but while the Metzeler has the feeling of calming this down slightly, it didn’t detract from the bike’s sporting potential and I found the neutral roll-in very comforting with a high level of feedback.

Once again the grip levels exceeded the bike’s ground clearance and coming on and off the power mid-corner didn’t seem to disturb the tyres’ mid-corner stability or make the bike sit up, something Metzeler claim to have worked hard on building into the tyre.

Testing the Z8 on the heavier tourers such as BMW’s R1200RT and Honda’s VFR1200 the tyre retained its neutral handling and while I couldn’t say I’m 100% convinced the tyres aided the bike’s suspension, the motorway part of the ride on all the bikes I tested was very smooth and stable.

During the day Metzeler gave us a Bandit 1250 with a brand new Z8 front tyre and a rear that had done 7,500 miles and had just 2mm of tread depth left on it.

This combination of a square rear and new front should have made the bike handle like a pig, but instead, although the steering was marginally more sluggish going from upright to the first part of corner entry, it was nothing like I’m used to experiencing on worn rears and I’d have happily ridden on it until the final 1mm of legal tread was used up.

Squeezing this kind of mileage while still retaining 90% the handling performance from a tyre up until the end of its life is very impressive.

Sizes: Front 120/70 x 17 Rear 160/60 x 17, 180/55 x 17, 190/50 x 17, 190/55 x 17
Rivals: Continental Road Attack 2, Pirelli Angel ST, Bridgestone BT-023, Michelin Pilot Road 2, Dunlop Roadsmart
Cost: £230 pair
Verdict: Impressive from start to finish