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When it comes to choosing the right tires for your motorcycle, performance should always top the list of priorities. After all, tires get the most beating out of all the parts of a vehicle and it has to do the dirty and tough job of keeping you running on the road safely and comfortably.
Although tires look simple and basic on the outside, they are the result of ingenious engineering, technology and chemistry. But as with most products, not all tires are also created equal.
When it comes to finding the best tires in the business, two names always stand out: the Metzeler Me888 and the Michelin Commander II. But which tire is better? Let’s take a closer look:
The Metzeler ME 888
The German motorcycle tire company Metzeler has been selling motorcycle tires since 1890 making them one of the pioneers in the business.
Over the years, the company has created a wide range of tires that became instant favorites to motorcycle enthusiasts for their sleek performance.
But one of the most popular from Metzeler’s line is the ME 888 Marathon Ultra, which replaces its ME 880 series.
Metzeler’s Marketing Director Chet Plewacki said that the ME 888 was designed specifically for the motorcycle enthusiasts who are the most important market segment for the company in the United States.
Using its state-of-the-art development programs, Metzeller re-examined the ME 880 tire’s profile, treat pattern, compound and structure, and tested it for millions of miles to see which areas need improvement.
The goal of creating the ME 888 was to improve wet and dry grip and handling while increasing service life. Here are some of its best features:
- Since it’s specifically designed for tourers, cruisers and custom motorcycles, the designers at Metzeler focused on refining the specifications needed for tires: compound, structure, profile and tread pattern.
- Compared to the ME 880, the ME 888 Marathon Ultra’s contact patches are 5% shorter and 15% wider allowing for better force distribution. It also features several structural improvements such as tread design and rubber compounds, which guarantees longer life.
- The tire is designed to have a flat and wide geometry to dissipate the stress generated under the footprint towards the sidewall to reduce fatigue and delay wear and tear. It also has polyester carcass plies and aramid belts for tires used on heavier motorcycles.
- Metzeler designed the ME 888 Marathon Ultra for longevity by introducing a new mixing process that maintains excellent performance even as the tire ages. It also has a modified polymer compound that delivers better abrasion resistance and a unique resin for improved grip on wet surfaces.
- The tires’ wider and shorter footprint makes it last longer than other types of tires because of the flexing at the contact patch. This type of profile also distorts less under engine torque and its compound bridges located between tread grooves help to reduce tread flex under load.
- The new design for the ME 888 offers better resistance to hydroplaning due to improved water dispersal. It also promises excellent stability in both high and low speeds, and smooth handling no matter what the conditions are.
The Metzeler ME 888 was designed to give riders the best experience in both wet and dry roads. Of course, its performance and longevity will still depend on factors like speed, temperatures, pavements and riding style.
But Plewacki said that in typical road conditions, the smaller rear tires could last about 12,000 miles while the bigger rear tires could last up to 20,000 miles.
On the other hand, the front 888 tires could last for as much as 24,000 miles if it is inflated properly and handled right.
Michelin Commander II
Known as the second largest tire manufacturer in the world, Michelin has been in existence since 1889 and it’s now a French multinational tire company based in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Michelin is famous not only for its mascot but also for its reputation in manufacturing tires for automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, aircrafts and even space shuttles.
One of its most famous tires for motorcycles is the Michelin Commander II, which was released in 2012 and designed specifically for cruiser motorcycles.
Available in more than 15 sizes, the Michelin II promised a new standard in stability, handling and tire longevity. Here are some of its best features:
- One of the primary goals for developing the Commander II tire is longevity, which has been a longstanding issue in cruiser motorcycles, especially for rear tires. The chemists and tire engineers at Michelin developed a new rubber compound that doesn’t contain any aromatic oils to make it reach a longer mileage than the average tire.
- Several third-party tests have proven that the Michelin Commander II rear tire lasts almost twice as long as its popular counterparts including the Metzeler ME 888 tire.
- The Michelin Commander II features a tread pattern that the company calls as the “flame effect” where longitudinal rain grooves are used to disperse water away from the contact patch. This design also offers better load-bearing tire surface in the middle of the contact area.
- The Commander II boasts of Michelin’s new Amplified Density Technology (ADT), a rigid, high-density carcass architecture that allows for excellent maneuverability and feedback.
- It offers added stability, casing rigidity and convenient installation through a square-bead sidewall and an impressive 90-thread density plies instead of the regular 71 thread plies.
- The rear tire features aramid fiber plies that were designed to improve stability and tire life by minimizing centrifugal distortion and reduce weight significantly.
Over the years, the Michelin Commander II tires have been tested by a lot of riders, many of whom say that this is the best tire they’ve used for their cruiser motorcycle.
In fact, it is now one of the highest rated cruiser tires in the world with the Metzeler 888 coming in close. Those who invested in the Commander II recommend it for its wet handling, stability and proven longevity even when used frequently. For its price, it offers the best value for many riders.
Metzeler ME 888 Vs. Michelin Commander II: The verdict
The Metzeler ME 888 and the Michelin Commander II tires are both reigning in the motorcycle tire segment. Although they’ve been released years ago, they continue to attract buyers for their quality, performance and proven longevity on the road.
They’ve also been compared and tested closely with each other and the results came out impressive for both of these tires.
These tires are proven to deliver in terms of stability, wet handling and tire life. A lot of riders who installed these tires on their motorcycles years ago still use them today.
For the question of what is the better tire, it will all boil down to the rider. Different riders have their own preferences when it comes to how they want their tires to be.
It will also depend on proper handling and maintenance. If handled properly, both these tires can last for many years and will continue to perform even as they age.