Richard Morgan from Cambrian Tyres has been in the tyre trade for many years and has tried a number of different bikes, but always seems to come back to single cylinder trail bikes as they suit his riding style. Living in one of the most stunning parts of Mid Wales with many of the best riding roads in Britain at his doorstep Richard considers he is very lucky and try’s to get as much riding in as possible when the weather allows. A thirty mile ride home instead of four is quite normal in the summer months.
It’s never easy setting your alarm for 02:30, for me it was worse knowing I had to fly as well. I am not a comfortable flyer put it like that. I was however looking forward to the event that Metzeler had planned for some of its UK trade customers, namely to familiarise us with their products especially the Z8 Interact.
Because it was dark when we got to Sicily and drove over to the hotel, it was a very pleasant surprise to wake up to the stunning vistas that the hotel enjoyed. Hills and rocky out-crops surrounded the hotel and it was great to see the difference in the vegetation out there. Huge cacti are not an every day sight for us here in the UK…. Neither is bright blue sky. The weather was perfect, cool and crisp with perfect clear blue sky, it was going to be pretty epic on the track in conditions like that.
We had a short technical presentation from Steffen Baum, the UK’s technical manager. He liaises with the R&D team headed by Alessandro Abate who is possibly the luckiest man ever. Not only does he live in one of the most stunning countries, but he tests motorbike tyres for a living! He and his test team ride pretty much all day every day come rain (in Sicily?) or shine (mostly shine) testing tyres for Metzeler, clocking up nearly a million km’s a year! They also have a couple of test tracks where they can go and do endless laps all in the name of perfecting Metzeler motorcycle tyres. Lucky so and so’s.
It was one of these test tracks in the small town of Pergusa pretty much smack bang in the middle of the country. The bus ride over there was fascinating, with stunning views of Etna over our shoulder and huge rocky cliffs surrounding us.
I had chance to try most of the bikes and tyres but I did miss out on the BMW S1000RR, that was busy all day and I never managed to time my sessions to get on it. I had a go on the BMW K1300 that was shod with Z8 Interact tyres. These tyres and I have to say, that although I found the bike uncomfortable with my lanky frame and badly fitting borrowed leathers it was a doddle to ride and I would put that down to the tyres. Very predictable, very neutral and very confidence inspiring. This is very nerdy, but I love the Pi symbol in the tread. It helps disperse water and greatly improves wet grip and of course is essential in the calculations for anything round! Deservedly, these tyres will prove to be extremely popular and I will be recommending them to everyone asking for a top notch sports touring tyre.
The day ended with a coach ride back to Catania with a smoking Mount Etna dominating the view for the entire drive back. We had a final meal together at the hotel where we shared our thoughts about the day and then we headed off for an early night as we were flying back at 7:15 the next morning.