ABR’s Julian Challis went to Portugal to check out the Michelin Anakee Adventure, the French manufacturer’s latest adventure tyre.
If the plethora of forums and owners’ groups are any reliable barometer of opinion, the riders of every brand and size of adventure bike are engaged in a constant quest for the best tyres.
But it’s not an easy quest, as any contender must combine exceptional grip on and off-road, promise incredible longevity and, of course, look suitably rugged to match the styling of the bike. If a manufacturer can match these often disparate criteria, it would seem an instant route to massive sales.
That’s exactly what Michelin must be hoping for with its all new Anakee Adventure tyre. Not that the French manufacturer is struggling. Its sales have doubled in the last five years, maintaining Michelin’s position as one of the biggest players in the global tyre market with revenues of over €22 billion in 2018 alone.
Filling the gap in the adventure market
But with the popularity of adventure bikes showing little sign of decreasing, the need to fill the gap between its tarmac specific Road 5 Trail and the 50:50 Road/Off-road credentials of the Anakee Wild was essential to capitalise on the ever-booming market.
The Anakee Adventure sits directly between these two, pitched as an 80% road:20% off-road tyre. Michelin, like most of the bike manufacturers, has acknowledged that although adventure bike owners love the off-road looks of their machines, the adventures are far more likely to be based on blacktop than slogging through axle-deep mud in remote landscapes.
Yes, we want the option to go away from the beaten track every now and then, and when we do, we want the tyres to perform well, but at the same time we want the tyres to handle big speeds and enthusiastic road riding.
To come up with a tyre that can tick both these boxes, Michelin has gone all out with the latest technology and designed and produced a truly unique and, on the basis of the bikes we rode at the European launch in Portugal, a very effective and likable tyre. The Anakee Adventure is the first in the company’s range to incorporate ‘two compound construction’ that has normally been reserved for radial road tyres.
For the front tyre, this translates to the central crown of the tyre being constructed from a silica-based compound to give the best grip even in the wet, while the shoulders of the tyre (the 20% on either side of the crown) are made from a softer compound to deliver the grip needed to corner safely in the dry.
For the rear tyre, the central crown is the same, but on the shoulders the softer compound sits on top of a bed of the harder silica to give better stability at speed while still allowing spirited cornering and good wear characteristics.
Putting the new rubber to the test
To support this new technology, the Anakee Adventure has a fully-grooved tread pattern that gives the important off-road looks and hopefully, great grip when the going gets dirty. Balancing the dual duties of the tyre, Michelin has made the pattern more compact in the centre for road stability, included bridge blocks that tie the side blocks together, designed tapered grooves that channel away the water and, importantly, given the tyre a smooth profile to allow seamless transition into corners whatever the surface underneath.
To allow us to properly test the tyres, Michelin had assembled a full range of adventure bikes from the diminutive Suzuki V-Strom 650 right up to the bahn-storming BMW R 1250 GS, all suitably clad in beautifully-crafted new rubber. They’d also laid on a two-day road trip of over 180 miles of, rather appropriately, 80% sweeping Portuguese roads and 20% deliciously varied and sun-kissed trails across the countryside to the east of Lisbon.
Starting on an Africa Twin, we progressed through to the big BMW, onto the F 850 GS, the Triumph Tiger 1200, Yamaha XT1200Z Ténéré and finished the journey on the positively sylph-like BMW F 750 GS. Regardless of the bike we had selected, the Anakee Adventures were beautifully neutral and dependable.
Whether you were diving into a fast road corner at three figure speeds or powering along a twisty gravel track, the Michelins coped with whatever we threw at them regardless of whether we were on a 250kg behemoth or a lighter machine. On the tarmac you can simply forget the adventure tread pattern and ride like you’re on a set of road hoops.
On the dirt, you can trust them to keep the bike sunny side up providing you don’t go mad and think you’re on a dirt bike. Impressive stuff, and enough to see the Anakee Adventure homologated as the OEM tyre for the 2019 BMW R 1250 GS and the new Moto Guzzi V85TT.
In the course of two sunny days in Portugal, the opportunity to test the tyres in any wet conditions didn’t arise, but as the Michelin test riders have racked up thousands of miles testing these new tyres in all kinds of weather conditions, we can be confident that the Anakees are not going to let you down on a winter commute.
The tyres have a ‘Mud and Snow’ marking, but given the tread pattern on the front, we’d be reticent to be over-confident in slippery conditions. That said, given the type of riders and bikes these Anakee Adventure are aimed at, we doubt you’ll be heading out onto snotty trails in the depths of December…
Good tyres should be like good shoes, they need to do the job they were meant to do without you even noticing them. And on that basis, the Michelin Anakee Adventures could be the tyre that adventure riders have been looking for.
Front tyres are available for 21” as a 90/90 and 19” as 100/90, 110/80 and 120/70
Rear Tyres are available in 18” as 150/70 and 17” as 130/80, 140/80, 150/70 and 170/60