Metzeler Tourance EXP – tyre review

The old Tourance was a classic. But that’s not a cry for the unattainable past, like the days when your mate down the pub had a tuned RD125 that could easily do 120mph…

No, the original Metzeler Tourance was a great looking ‘all-rounder’ tyre that offered good tarmac traction, punctured very rarely on gravel tracks, and somehow managed phenomenal mileages. Early GSs could see 15,000 miles out of a rear and A.N. other 650 dual sport could get 24,000 out of a front. They weren’t always cheap – I still wince at what I once paid for a 130/80 x 17 in Winnipeg – but for overlanding they were perfect.

And then they were upgraded…

Undoutedly grip increased with the arrival of the Tourance EXP, but the speed with which the tread disappeared, increased too. A cynic would say that a long lasting tyre doesn’t produce profits, which may be true, but we now demand incredible things of our tyres. Many big adventure bikes are now seen as the perfect allrounder, which means that they produce huge amounts of power, have great brakes and turn in to corners in a way their size and weight gives them no right to. Tyre technology is improving, but so are our performance expectations.

On that score the EXP is brilliant. I’ve been fortunate enough to cover almost 10,000 miles now on big adventure machines shod with this new improved Tourance and for grip (wet or dry), stability and cornering balance, I have to say, it’s faultless. It’s a tyre that provides so much confidence you can forget that it’s trying to be a dualsport tyre and that you are sat atop more than 250kilos of glorified dirt bike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarcass construction with its radial steel belt, means a very stable tyre through corners and a secure lean angle that’s only governed by whatever the undercarriage (or luggage) permits. That goes for both the Triumph 1200 Explorer and Yamaha’s Super Tenere. According to Metzeler the carcass belting ‘reduces the dynamic deformation under  centrifugal forces’ and it does this by varying the way the steel belts are wound in construction. Close and tight on the sidewalls to stop undue flex mid bend and yet farther apart on the crown to give a little elasticity and a more pleasant ride.

Both bikes also had ABS and traction control which meant the EXPs appeared to offer plenty of traction on gravel roads, but as for mud? Well this is never going to be an off-road tyre, so let’s not pretend.

The major disappointment is that on the Super Tenere, the rear EXP was absolutely exhausted in 10,000kms, or just over 6,000 miles. Yes, if you offer grip that lets the panniers rub on the ground it’ll be hard to provide longevity, but perhaps the former should give way to the latter. After all, on a long distance trip, with extra luggage weight, it’s the available mileage that matters most, and once out of the well surfaced Western World, priorities change.

Prices vary, so shop around, but if you plan to play in the Alps or enjoy the commute to work, you’d do a lot worse.

Available sizes FRONT

100/90 – 19 M/C 57H TL
100/90 – 19 M/C 57S
110/80 R 19 M/C 59V TL
110/80 R 19 M/C 59V TL
110/80 R 19 M/C 59V TL (B)
110/80 R 19 M/C 59V TL (C)
90/90 – 21 M/C 54S
90/90 – 21 M/C 54V TL
120/90 – 17 M/C 64S
130/80 – 17 M/C 65S
130/80 R 17 M/C 65H TL
130/80 R 17 M/C 65S TL
140/80 R 17 M/C 69V TL
150/70 R 17 M/C 69V TL (C)
150/70 R 17 M/C 69V TL (G)
150/70 R 17 M/C 69V TL (H)
150/70 R 17 M/C 69V TL (M)