Michelin Commander II Review

Michelin Commander II | Long-Term Review Update
Wear on the 2013 Commander II on the left is nearly indiscernible compared to the new tire on the right.

Just over two years ago, we gave you a look at the Michelin Commander II cruiser tires. We wanted to give you a deeper look at the product over the long term, so we’ve kept those Commander IIs in service on a 2007 Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster.

As of this report, the tires now have 6,196 miles on them and, to better allow a view of how they are wearing, we’ve mounted another set of Commander II tires on a 1985 Honda VF700C. The side-by-side images allow direct comparison of the tread between new tires with zero miles and the ones in service since 2013.

Michelin refers to the tread pattern as “flame effect,” which uses longitudinal rain grooves to channel water away from the contact patch. The design also seems to provide for more load-bearing tire surface in the middle of the contact area than tire designs with radial rain grooves around the middle of the tire or other tread patterns that take more rubber out of the contact patch.

This may be part of the tire’s design that delivers the longevity that Michelin claims independent third party testing showed the Commander II rear tire typically delivers about twice the mileage as the competition. That claim is founded on commissioned third-party tests conducted in 2011 on public roads comparing the Commander II, Metzeler ME880 and Dunlop D407/D408 tires in sizes 130/80B17 and 180/65B16.

Other design innovations at work in these tires include Michelin’s Amplified Density Technology (ADT), which results in a more rigid tire casing for improved feedback and handling. The design uses 90 thread density plies instead of the more typical 71 thread plies and square bead-wire technology increases casing rigidity for more precise handling and ease of installation.

Michelin Commander II Test
Wear on the 2013 Commander II on the left is visible in flattening of the profile after nearly 6,200 miles, but the tire still has some service life left. The new Commander II is at right.

The rear tire incorporates aramid fiber plies, which reduces weight and minimizes centrifugal distortion with the goal of improving stability and tire life. New tread compounds were developed to improve traction in the wet while extending tread life.

So, how are the two year old Commander II tires holding up? As the image of the front tires shows, the 2013 test tire at the left is almost indiscernible from the new tire on the right, despite having nearly 6,200 miles on it.

The center of the front tire’s profile has minimal flattening, in fact, using a contour duplicator, I was amazed to see the profile of the 2013 tire is nearly identical to the new tire, though the new tire is wider than the 2013 tire, which may account for a somewhat lower profile to start with. The 2013 front tire is a 100/90 B 19 M/C 57 H, while the new tire is a 110/90 B 18 M/C 61 H. All the tires in this review are bias-ply but radials are also available.

Looking at it from another perspective, the tread depth on the 2013 tire measured at the center-most portion of the rain groove is approximately 3.0 mm; on the new tire it is 4.0 mm.

As you’d expect, the rear tire is showing somewhat more wear than the front, but is still in very good condition overall. The contour of the 2013 tire (150/80 B16 M/C 77 HREINF) is noticeably flatter than the new (140/90 R 15 M/C 76 REINF).

The tread depth in the rain groove on the 2013 tire measured at ¼” from the center-most end of the groove is about 2 mm. The depth at the same point on the new tire is approximately 6 mm.

Michelin Commander II Review Sportster
The new Commander II reveals the smooth curved profile the tire starts out with.

Overall, the Commander II tires have performed very well, including some hard cornering on old, not-so-smooth blacktop roads, and a few unplanned very hard brake and evasive maneuver wildlife in the road episodes.

The riding has not included a lot of interstate or two-up travel, but what high speed riding has been done has been smooth and comfortable. In the wet, cornering and stopping has been sure-footed, though I will admit to being a conservative rider on wet pavement, no matter what tires or bike I’m on.

Stay tuned to Ultimate Motorcycling for further updates on how these products fare as the miles roll up and we compare how the two sets of tires are affected by the power characteristics of the Sportster’s low RPM grunt V-twin and the Honda’s high-revving V-four.

For complete details, visit Michelin Motorcycle.