We’ve had these tyres for a while – it’s impossible to quantify road tyre performance without getting some serious miles under your belt. Launch reviews can’t evaluate parameters like wear or pillion / fully loaded performance, and when you’re dealing with out and out road rubber these things matter, along with highly variable weather conditions and surfaces. Another key factor in tyre evaluation is the use of the same bike for different products. For this reason we used the trusty ZRX 1100, veteran of many such tests, and a bike which is guaranteed to offer a tyre a decent challenge. The Rex’s 85 ft/lbs of torque (available early doors) housed in an old school steel cradle frame (originally designed to cope with about half the power and 2/3rds of the fighting weight) make it a perfect test bed for the contact patch.
The bike was ridden in all weathers and a large variety of road conditions, from motorways to B roads and a stint in central London, sometimes two up with luggage. In the end the hitherto indomitable Kawasaki gave up long before the tyres showed signs of serious wear, but that’s another story.
The M7s are designated by Metzeler as sporty road tyres and their technical characteristics can be found here. In layman’s terms the front is softer all round than the rear (the centre of which features a harder compound) which makes a lot of sense: the rear on road going bikes almost always wears faster than the front. Secondly, and equally sensibly, the tread on the front is designed to facilitate greater water clearance than the rear, for the obvious reason that the front is always first in the swimming pool. You can get away with a sporty profile, a softish compound, rigid construction and prioritising grip on a road tyre – as long you can shift that water when required. The bridges and grooves in situ have been situated with that aim in mind, and differ from previous Metzeler incarnations. So much for the theory.
In practice, the M7s offer an excellent combination of stability and grip in either wet or dry conditions. Most riders are aware that it is the in-between state – damp – which can often catch you out, and that was where these tyres were remarkably confidence inspiring, subjectively better than Metzeler’s own Z8s as worn by the very same bike – although the Z8s were their equal in torrential rain. There was less tracking of road defects than on any other front tyre I’ve experienced, a remarkable feat given that the M7s are equally at home going fast on pampered track surfaces. The drop into corners is smooth and precise, although as with all sporty profiles a novice rider may need to acclimatise to the ease of turn. Under hard braking on uneven road surfaces we simply came to a predictable halt, without any deviation from line or traction loss.
In faster corners there was never any drama and plenty of grip, and I would happily do a track day on a set on the same bike. On the other side of the coin, at very slow speeds around town a heavy bike fully laden with pillion can feel vague and wandery, characteristics exacerbated by aged, hard tyres with no feel. Although stop start riding means no warmth in the rubber even under a full load, the M7s did the job as one would be entitled to expect. At normal and high speeds, the bike felt totally planted with all that weight on top of the bike’s own (not inconsiderable) bulk. Which brings us to the question of wear.
The proviso here is that all bikes are ridden in a different contexts, and the machines themselves will cause different wear patterns. Correlating user reports with our experience suggests that at 2k miles there are no signs of squaring off, although there is tread wear evenly distributed across the centre of the tyre, and this on bikes which can lunch rear tyres. At that mileage the single compound front will show a little centralised wear. It might be optimistic to expect to be within legal limits much beyond that figure on enthusiastically ridden motorcycles, but one size does not fit all when it comes to tyre wear and user experience will differ.
Looking beyond Bg to opinions elsewhere, it is becoming clear that the M7s are pretty special even by the standards of the excellent competition – a verdict which can be safely delivered at this distance from their launch in early 2014. If you want road rubber with a sporty emphasis, these must be right up near the top of your list. They may not have quite the track prowess of Metzeler Racetecs or the wet reputation Z8s (and their 01 successor) enjoy, but for average road conditions – the ones we encounter most often – I’d take the M7s, particularly on a bike with sporting credentials, where they will excel. If you’re looking for new tyres for the summer, you won’t go far wrong.