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First Impressions | Michelin Tracker Tyre

In my quest to find the best tyres for the Honda CRF250L Rally we've moved further into dirt bike territory and fitted a set of Michelin's road-legal Tracker tyres. Are these the tyres for the little Honda I've been looking for? First impressions are quite promising.


 

After another summer of touring about on my trusty little CRF250L Rally, my tyres were starting to look a little sad. While just within legal specs for a WoF, the rear hoop was starting to get a little slippery and while this was admittedly a lot of fun to muck about on, going into the colder months with a list of tracks to try and conquer, it was clear the old rubber wasn’t going to cut it for long.


After a quick email to Kiwi Rider Magazine's Publisher and all-around top bloke, Vege, a set of Michelin Trackers were soon on their way to Hamilton dealer Boyd Motorcycles for fitment from local Michelin distributor Northern Accessories.


I know real ADV riders change their own hoops but seriously, why struggle to fit tyres yourself when you can have someone who actually knows what they’re doing do it? Furthering my case was the fact I could get up close and personal with the latest and greatest in hardware from the likes of KTM, Suzuki, BMW and more while the techs did their thing. Choice made.


After just enough time to work my way around Boyd’s floor and separate clothing and accessories building, the tyres were fitted and I was ready to start my next round of adventures on the little Honda.



When it comes to what the tyres are, the Michelin Tracker replaced the AC10 in the French manufacturer's lineup in 2019 and builds on that tyre with better all-round performance without losing out on durability or versatility.


That means that although they have an aggressive knobby design, the Tracker is a road-legal option offering serious dirt performance for bikes under 690cc, with lower capacity dual sport bikes with an 18 and 21-inch wheelset like DR-Z400s the prime target of Michelin for this hoop.


Michelin states careful attention has notably been paid to its tread pattern and crown which has been reinforced to shrug off the knocks associated with off-road riding.


The 36-block tread pattern is meant to optimise handling performance and resistance to wear, while also ensuring the versatility to cover a wide range of terrain.

The tie bars that connect the blocks provide added protection and upgraded resistance to impact, while the Tracker’s two-ply construction combines reduced weight with superior ride comfort and directional precision.


These are by far the most aggressively off-road focussed hoops I’ve put in the Honda to date. That means I’m not expecting huge kilometres to roll beneath them, but rather a step up in terms of grip off-road and the ability to get to the challenging tracks I want to go and explore over the coming months.



As a heavily dirt focussed tyre, you’d expect the Trackers to be miserable on the road, but so far the experience has been far from that, not that I’m planning to spend too much time on the hard black stuff.


The Plan



So what is the plan to put these tyres (and me) to the test?


Other than a planned ride over the Matariki long weekend, my goals are to spend most of my time with these tyres closer to home than riding to all corners of the country.


First up on the list are a few local tracks that have been in the back of my mind for a while now - the popular Thompson’s Track near Matamata and the warren of trails in the Nevesville area of the Coromandel. Both are infamous for thick and/or slippery mud, so with my terrible bike fitness and average skills, the Trackers will have their work cut out for them to get me to the end of the trail.


Riding gravel roads is fun and all, but can you really call yourself an adventure rider if you don’t push yourself from time to time?


The other goal for my time of the Trackers is to actually get out on some trail ride action where I can get down and dirty in the relative safety of a group of mates. That means I’ll be signing up to join a Berm Buster before the end of the year and find out why these massive trail rides are so well regarded.


First Impressions



My first decent ride post-installation at Boyd’s didn’t actually feature any dirt at all.


Needing to get to The Mount from Cambridge to grab a test bike I saddled up on the Rally. In the rain. On brand new knobbies. Surprisingly, the Trackers weren’t terrifying to ride on in these circumstances and held on much better than expected.


The tyre profile is such that you don’t suffer so much of that drop-in feeling with the Trackers compared to other road-legal knobbies I’ve tried. Sure, you do get a decent bit of tyre whine as your speed increases, but you would get that with any knobby tyre and I think that’s part and parcel of the experience.


I’ve been running slightly higher tyre pressures on the road by a couple of PSI as I’ve heard the Trackers respond well to a higher pressure. So far so good.


Moving into gravel and a bit of clay as I jumped off the main highway on the way home from The Mount, I was quite surprised to find I wasn’t kicked in the butt for the extra pressure.


Michelin Trackers? More like Michelin Tractors! These things hook up great in the dirt, and while the clay is still a surface that is slippery, the way the knobs bite in meant I could lazily chug my way up the clay hill on the side of SH29 with confidence.


So I’ve got a plan and some killer tyres that look the part on the Rally. Time to get into the real dirt and put it all (and myself) to the test!

 

The Bike: 2017 Honda CRF250L Rally AKA Rosie the Rally

Odo at fitting: 19274km

Weight: 157kg (or thereabouts)

Factory Tyre sizing: 120/80-18 and 3.00-21

Modifications: Moto SR tuned suspension (k-tech springs, re-valved both ends), R&G Tail tidy, alloy bars on 1-inch risers, bark busters.


The Tyres: Michelin Tracker

Test Tyre Sizes: 120/90-18 and 80/100-21

Measurements of the centre lugs

Front: 10mm

Rear: 15mm




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