Michelin Commander II Tire – Reboot for H-D’s Sportster — or that Cruiser of Yours
Sooner or later, that bike of yours will need new boots. Michelin’s Commander II tires are a solid choice for the Harley-Davidson Sportster and a range of other cruisers.
For this review, we fitted the Michelins to a Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster and found that their all-around capabilities complement that Sporty’s moderately aggressive traits.
We also had a chance to check out their ability to absorb punishment as they shrugged off hitting a sharp-edged pothole in the pavement at a Wisconsin state park—while riding two-up.
The impact was sharp enough that I felt it necessary to stop and check for damage to the tires, though it happened at relatively low speed. There was none and no evidence of delayed ply separation, bulging or failure developed later.
In the wet, there was no slippage at all, even when caught in a July downpour that submerged some parts of the road.
Transitions from dry-to-wet-to-dry pavement on corners, which can be most dangerous of all, posed no problems when riding through irrigation systems that pitch water across otherwise dry roads. Michelin refers to the tread pattern as “flame effect,” which uses longitudinal rain grooves to channel water efficiently away from the contact patch.
The Commander II uses Michelin’s Amplified Density Technology (ADT), which results in a more rigid tire casing, delivering improved feedback and handling. The key factor in this design is the use of 90 thread density plies instead of the more typical 71 thread plies. Some Commander II sizes are available as radials; the set we evaluated are bias ply.
The rear tire of the set features aramid fiber plies, which reduces weight and minimizes centrifugal distortion further improving stability and tire life according to Michelin. New compounds contribute to improved traction in the wet while extending tread life. Finally, square bead-wire technology increases casing rigidity for more precise handling and ease of installation.
Speaking of installation, this procedure is crucial to safety, performance and tread life. For this review, we had mounting and balancing performed by the professionals at Sauk Prairie Harley-Davidson, Sauk City, Wis.
The quality Michelin itself touts for the Commander II is longevity. The company states that independent third party testing showed the Commander II rear tire typically delivers about twice the mileage as the competition. That claim is based on commissioned third-party tests conducted in 2011 on public roads comparing Michelin Commander II, Metzeler ME880 and Dunlop D407/D408 tires in sizes 130/80B17 and 180/65B16. The Michelin website didn’t provide any information about the mileage, tire loading conditions, or criteria used in the comparison.
For this review, we didn’t do a lot of extended high-speed Interstate travel, though there was some of that. Most of the mileage we put on the Michelins was in the two-lane back road country of southwestern Wisconsin, where a lot of cornering, braking and accelerating would put the entire footprint of the tire to use and adhesion to the test.
Wisconsin’s riding season isn’t as long as some and we got the tires out on the road only in July, but by the end of October and after a little over 2,000 miles, evidence to back up Michelin’s longevity claim is available. The tread profile of the rear tire shows barely perceptible wear. The front tire profile is virtually unchanged from day one.
Michelin Commander II Tire Tech Data:
- Motorcycle: 2007 Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster, cast alloy wheels
- Size front: 100/90B-19 57 H, tubeless or tube, bias ply construction
- Size rear: 150/80B-16 77 H, tubeless or tube, bias ply construction
For complete details, visit michelinmotorcycle.com.