Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Review | Better than a Dunlop Q3?

Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Review

Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Track Day 1_Rear Side Top_R
Metzeler M7 RR Rear tire after the first Track Day

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.

Read Ron Lieback's M7 RR Review from Spain - both track and street!

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.

Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Track Day 1_Rear Rear Top_R
Metzeler Sportec M7 RR rear tire after the first track day

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.

Metzeler Sportec M7 RRTrack Day 1_Rear Side Close_R
Close up of the Metzeler Sportec M7 RR rear tire after the first track day

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.

Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Track Day 1_Rear Side Top_R
The Metzeler Sportec M7 RR rear after the first track day

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.

Shop RevZilla.com for the latest Dunlop Q3 Sportmax Front Tires!

**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

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Eddie — you’re right, and if you look at the foot of the story I do indeed ‘fess up to it… Look for the paragraph in italics above the picture gallery.
    It’s a bit embarrassing, but it would only have affected the tire in the wet and as it happens I didn’t ride in the rain with it so I figured the review was still valid.
    Cheers

  2. Well if you have the tyre tread pattern and belts running the wrong way you can expect the tyre to deform under heavy braking or hard acceleration just like you said and the steering would also suffer. Still the tyre held and you didn’t find the limits. You lifted the tyre almost to the level of your preferred tyre even that it was operated at higher pressure and faulty fitment. The tyre is directional and when fitted correct can cope with much bigger forces. Tyres that have longevity and by the sound of it has better grip when fitted proper than Dunlop Q3s. Metzler sounds like a no brainer even for group A.

  3. Rain has nothing to do with it. Specially carbon belts only have strength if the forces are applied right way. Steel also but not as much. It is very simple. Try to pull the fibre and break it and it will hold. Push it together and it will bends without effort. Same happens when you brake or accelerate you are pulling on the belt and fibres but if the fitment is incorrect under load the tyre has no strength.

  4. I don’t disagree entirely… except the front tire was fitted correctly, it was only the rear that was not, so the front end feelings I had are legitimate.
    I do not claim to be the best or only authority on tires, and I am most certainly not the fastest guy on track. What I do know is tire feel is hugely individual, and highly dependent on multiple factors; so all I can do is report as I find based on my machine, speed, riding style, and compare them to the known quantity I have established for myself (Dunlop Q3s).
    If you find different then our audience would be happy to hear it.
    Thanks for reading and joining the conversation; I think it’s good to discuss this stuff.

  5. Jumping from one bike to another doesn’t mean that you can carry the same tyres. I found that the hard way when I was running Pirelli’s and loved them but on my current bike they didn’t suit at all. The bike was like tractor and didn’t want to turn. Changed it to Metzler and problem solved. Started from M1’s and every new edition has been better to already a good tyre. You feel comfortable on Dunlop Q3s so it is hard to judge anything else and maybe the tyres are not even the best option for your bike. It is a confidence issue often that just don’t allow to get into the unknown. I understand that very well. Finding the limit has a bad habit to hurt.

  6. Many thanks for a very good review.

    Interestingly enough, your findings are much the same as mine. Check this out. I run a heavily modified CBR 125 and ran 6 sets of the M5’s through it. Traction was unreal – well beyond the bike’s ability to break loose under ridiculous cornering rates. Just push harder and no worries.

    They (the M5’s) saved my life in the rain several times. Riding through unknown corners at 120 in the pissing down rain while passing semi’s. Don’t know if you know how much water comes off a semi in the pissing down rain but it’s impressive. Especially when you pass one on a 125 at 120 through a corner with sheeting water…You’re next to that semi for some time…it’s a 125…

    Anyway, as you can guess, the M5’s were ‘it’ and that’s why I ran 6 sets. There was no reason to change anything. They were firm and the ride was somewhat harsher. That was the price paid for an inability to loose traction, unreal wet weather performance and braking….oh boy, braking was unreal. The wildest thing with the M5’s was that on several occasions I realized you could have too much traction. Gearing down from high RPM’s meant sliding forward at a rapid rate because the tires would not slip. Engine over-speeding became a real issue (rev limiter does nothing). Braking, you had to make sure you didn’t go end over end.

    On the 125 wind and cracks were terrible with other tires. The bike could best be called nervous which is being gentle. Fall in a crack and you might as well follow it through because you couldn’t get out of it. When I went to the M5’s cracks became irrelevant as did the wind. When I had dialed in the suspension on the M5’s the first thing I did was intentionally ride in a wind/rain storm through the twisties around a lake. The wind coming in off the water, combined with the rain – there was no issue. Nothing. The more the wind hit it – the more it leaned.

    OK, so why am I here? As you can guess, after 6 sets I knew the tire well. Then the M7’s came out….so I pick up a set even though I have that feeling in my gut that says, “Why are you messing with perfection?”.

    What do I find? The softer M7 gets blown by the wind. Cracks are also once more, problematic. Interestingly enough, I had to do a harsh (7.5/10) braking to avoid re-ending someone. Both the front tire and the rear tire locked up and skidded. They literally made skidding noises and it took me a second to realize they were coming from my bike!

    I’m no stranger to hard braking. I’m no stranger to extreme corner angles (on this bike). I know, with 100% certainty, what the M5’s did under those (and much harsher conditions).

    The only conclusion I can come down to is that the softer sidewall impaired the wind performance. That’s one right off the bat. As for the poorer braking performance, I really don’t know. Ambient was +30c – the tires were hot. The road surface was inspected afterwards and it was consistent with great traction.

    Long and short, this is the first review where someone found the same things that I did with the M7’s. I really think a lot of the reviews on the ‘net reap praise because the riders, a) don’t really push their bike, b) just got off a worn out set of probably questionable tires to begin with (in which case everything will be way, way better) etc.

    Unfortunately, Metzeler, in their infinite wisdom, discontinued the M5’s even though you can still buy M3’s from way, way, way back. Which is exactly what I did with respect to the 125 – I went all the way back to M3’s just so I could get that damn stiffer sidewall back.

    Fast forward to today and I have just acquired a CBR 600 RR. The tires should be replaced. So I’m thinking….should I get back to the M7’s on this specific bike? Your review was a very big help because you’re the only person that actually found the same issues I did with them last year on the 125.

    Dunlop Q3’s you say? This may be the tire for me just for the points you mentioned. On the other hand, this was an exceptional review for the M7 and I think your conclusion that they are ideal for the street and OK for the entry level track rider is an excellent one. Way to go on a great review!

  7. This was an excellent review and the author picked off the same issues I found with the M7’s last summer. Does it make them a deal-breaker? I’d say no, but I certainly understand the difference between a tire with a firmer sidewall and one that’s really quite soft.

    The difference between the M5, with the much stiffer tire construction and the M7’s with the much softer construction is readily apparent when fitting them by hand (as I do). With the M5’s it was very nearly a wrist-breaking exercise, with the M7’s, it was not. The first thing I did was sit on them (unmounted) and gage the deflection – the M5’s, for all intents and purposes, did not deflect at all – no give in those babies. The M7’s deflected quite a bit.

    I’m reasonably certain that Pirelli got involved in the M7’s development and that the M5’s were actual Metzeler’s….

    I spoke with Metzeler about the issue – they did not want to hear about it. As such, my brand loyalty, coupled with my experiences with the M7’s, made me shy away from them.

    All in all, I’d say it was an awesome review and one of the very few that managed to pick up on the issues I saw with the M7’s under relatively high work loads.

  8. I just switched rear Q3 to M7 RR and I like it , less expensive and a extra 1000 miles out of rear ! But I’m keeping Q3 in the front.

  9. Interesting! Do you feel a bit more confident with the Q3 front over the M7 RR? Or have you not given the M7 RR front a shot?

  10. I have not tried M7RR front , I’ve had RS10 , GPA , Rossi 2 and none of them are as good all around tire as Q3 front. When I have a track day I prefer Q3 but for aggressive street riding I’m sold on front Q3 & Rear M7RR

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