Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Review
Yes, I admit it - and I make no apology for it - I'm a Dunlop Q3 fan. The Q3s grip as well as race tires did a few short years ago. At the outer edge of traction there is a wide "gray area" so they give you tons of warning before they finally let go; they turn in with neutral precision; and their carcass strength and carbon-fiber reinforced sidewalls make the tires very stable under hard braking and acceleration. I’d like them to last a bit longer of course, but ultimately with tires I’ll take performance over longevity any time. The consequences of cheap tires are simply way too expensive to make it worthwhile.
So when the good folk at Metzeler’s marketing division asked me to try a set of their all new Sportec M7 RR tires on my personal Suzuki GSX-R1000, I was somewhat skeptical, and to be honest, I delayed the inevitable as long as I could. But eventually my beloved Dunlop Q3s were completely shagged out and it was time to try the Metzelers. No doubt they’d be horrible and I’d quickly go back to a new set of Dunlops.
But that didn’t happen.
I had a track day booked at the newly re-surfaced Buttonwillow Raceway and I figured that would be a good place for the new tires to have their debut. I did not use tire warmers, but it was a fairly hot day starting in the mid-70s and climbing into the mid-80s around lunch time, so I figured I’d take it easy on the first few laps (which I do anyway) and feel the grip of the tires before getting committed. I set my tire pressures at 32 front, 30 rear (cold) which is a tad higher than the 30, 28 pressures I use for Q3s at the track.
After a couple of laps I started to relax a little and gradually upped the pace; by the end of the session I was running at about 8/10ths of my normal (modest, unfortunately) lap times, and I have to admit, I was beginning to feel impressed.
The Metzelers grip was really good; they simply gave me no hint of sliding or squirming, either at the front or rear. They were stable, planted, and confidence inspiring. The bike's handling was pretty much the same as on Q3s; perhaps the Metzelers initiated turn in a little quicker than the Q3s, but it’s so close I can’t say for certain. This is good! Interestingly, when I pulled back into the pits and looked at the tires they were hardly scuffed at all—now that’s amazing.
The rest of the day was more of the same, and as I became more comfortable I gradually increased my speed. By the time I was well into my third and fourth sessions, I was lapping at my usual pace (around 9/10ths) and had pretty much forgotten about the tires.
The M7 RR Metzlers behaved well, and even in the heat of the day they maintained their grip level. I have no idea how close I came to the edge of grip - the M7 RR tires simply gave no indication that I was close to it.
In handling terms, I have made no suspension adjustments to my Suzuki GSX-R1000 for the Metzelers; they are the same sizes and run the same 55 profile as the Q3s. On the M7 RR tires the bike turns just as sensationally as it always does, although on corner exit with hard acceleration at the track I can get the rear carcass to squirm a little, but it definitely does not lose any grip.
That’s the only criticism I have of these tires: the carcass and sidewalls do not have quite the same strength as the Dunlops, and under extreme load you can make the tires squirm. I have subsequently tried going up in pressure to 36 Front, 34 Rear and that certainly lessens the effect, however I haven’t wanted to go any higher with pressures for fear of losing grip.
Under hard braking, the lack of sidewall strength is exaggerated and the front tire would squirm quite a bit which manifested itself as some mild twisting at the ‘bars; the relatively low pressures I was running to optimize grip certainly did not help. The first time it happened I was braking hard at around 140 MPH in anticipation of Buttonwillow’s Turn 16 Sweeper, and that puts some heavy duty forces into the front tire as the full weight of the Gixxer and myself load up the tire.
On this occasion the M7 RR deformed quite a bit and the handlebars (I have an upright handlebar conversion on my bike) twisted fairly hard once, and then again, in my hands. It wasn’t a huge movement as the GoPro footage later showed, but from the seat it felt pretty gnarly and unnerved me enough that I came off the brakes and used the paved run-off section without attempting the corner. For the rest of the day I avoided truly hard braking into that corner and I had no more issues.
I also found that because of the slight deformation in the front I was taking the super-fast Riverside sweeper at Buttonwillow around 10 MPH slower (approx 100 MPH) than normal. Guys on slicks go far quicker, but I can’t honestly say the Metzeler M7 RR tires wouldn’t have taken more as I never found the limit of grip; but at those kind of speeds for me, discretion is the better part of valor.
By the end of that first track day the Metzelers were showing little wear to the astonishment of everyone who looked at them. You can see from the pictures that the shoulders have started to scuff a little, but considering how hard I was pushing them I was super-happy, and my friends on various other rubber were showing dramatically more wear than I.
I have subsequently put another 2,250 more miles on the M7RR mainly on the street, but such is my comfort with the tires I have also done two further track days at Buttonwillow and they have kept their characteristics even as they’ve worn and got harder. I have maintained the higher pressures and to my amazement they are still showing plenty of center tread and even some at the shoulders.
Heat cycles are the real enemy of tires and as with any brand, the Metzelers started to lose grip on the third track day. It was subtle for sure, but noticeable. Clearly their track life was at an end. I have another track event coming up so it’s time to retire the M7RR from track duty, but they will make a great set of street take-offs for one of my buddies; there is obviously plenty of life left in these bad boys.
On the street the Metzelers have behaved impeccably. The speeds are much lower and the banzai level of braking done at the track isn’t anywhere near duplicated on the street, so there has been no issue at either the front or rear with either squirming or deformation. I have continued to run the higher 36/34 (cold) tire pressures and I can honestly say I have absolutely zero complaints whatsoever.
In conclusion, if you’re a hard-core racer or even an A Group track day guy, then the M7 RR tires probably are not for you. But if you’re a fast, committed street rider then you will be delighted with the Metzeler M7RRs; they simply work that well.
I’d certainly recommend you give them a try; their length of life is amazing and the speeds you do on the street won’t come near challenging them enough for them to misbehave. If you do the occasional track day and enjoy fast Group B riding then the M7 RR will certainly work well enough in that environment.
So the question is: were the Metzeler M7 RR tires "horrible", and did they "drive me back to Dunlops"? The answer is emphatically no, they absolutely did not. On the contrary I was incredibly impressed with their level of grip, and even more so because that was coupled with serious longevity. Grippy tires that last? Awesome!
Overall for my personal use, I will still prefer the Dunlop Q3s as my somewhat specialized riding demands require a stiffer carcass for the frequent track days I end up doing. But if you’re not quite as demanding as I am, then I’d heartily recommend the Metzelers to you—these are great tires and deserve for you to give them a try.
**Not Deliberate Mistake Time: Sharp eyed readers will notice that the tires were mounted "backwards" by our fitter. Not sure how that happened, and I didn't even notice until it was pointed out to me! The tread should be starting in the center line and sweeping away (out) towards the shoulders, not the way it is here. Bottom line is that it doesn't make any difference at all in the dry, but in the wet it would be a major problem as the water would not clear as designed and the tire would hydroplane--not good. Apologies to Metzeler and you our readers for the mistake; however it does not affect the tires' performance in the dry and the subsequent review above.
Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Review Photo Gallery