15,000 miles and counting on Michelin’s new heavyweight
touring and cruising tires

Words by Mitch Friedman

Photos by Friedman and courtesy of Michelin

Two issues ago we previewed Michelin’s new Commander III cruiser and touring tires direct from the Daytona Beach press introduction during the early part of Bike Week (which sounds absolutely otherworldly given our current Coronavirus lockdown and how much things have changed since March). The Commanders use the company’s latest technology and know-how to boost grip, mileage and feedback for both iterations, and while we only got a day or two on them during the shortened Bike Week, we promised to report back when got some miles on our own test bikes – and now we have.

Back in January I swapped the Michelin Commander IIs on my 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited and 2018 115th Anniversary Heritage Softail for new Commander IIIs. As you’d expect, I use the Ultra for longer-distance runs and the Softail for commuting, or when I want a lighter weight machine when venturing into the Southern California mountains.

I was pretty happy with the Commander IIs on both bikes, but especially on my Ultra, as they wore slowly and lasted a good, long time – 18,000 miles, to be exact. Still, the change to the Commander IIIs made me smile even harder, which bodes well for both Michelin and touring and cruiser riders everywhere.

Our tire-test motorcycles were a late-model Heritage Softail and Ultra Classic tourer. We’ve put 15,000-plus miles on these new skins and they’re still going strong.

As we wrote in the April issue, the initial hello from the Commander IIIs at slow speeds is crisp and direct on both bikes, which is good when you’re aboard a 700-plus-pound motorcycle. They’re also plenty compliant and controlled on rough pavement or when you hit a pothole, and that helps boost confidence straight up or leaned over.

Speaking of leaned over, the CIII is noticeably better than the CII while cornering at speed. There’s more confidence, especially on the heavier touring machine, and even in the rain they remain planted and confidence-inspiring. Doing long days on the Ultra was a pleasure on these tires, rain or shine.

I have put nearly 13,000 miles on the CIII touring tires, and they are wearing wonderfully. Seems as if I’ll get more than the 18,000 miles I was getting with the CIIs. I have ridden on all types of road surfaces with them, from smooth pavement to really crappy and rough Route 66 stuff in the California desert. Even on dirt and gravel the tires handle well. I have done a few Saddle Sore 1000 rides on them and they soak up road grooves like they’re not even there. 

I’ve only been able to put about 2000 miles on the CIII cruiser tires, but so far they feel every bit as nice as the CIII touring skins. Blasting through the canyons isn’t an ideal situation for a big and heavy cruiser like the Heritage, but knowing you can lean the bike way over and have them feel like race tires is a darn good feeling. I haven’t done much wet-weather riding on them, but given the contact patch and tread design efforts and technology Michelin put into them (as with the touring tire), I suspect the good feedback I got on the slick and wet LA freeways will last a good long while. I really like them over the stock rubber that came on the Heritage. 

From upright-cruise boulevards of Daytona Beach to the grippy-edge asphalt of Southern California’s backroads, these new Michelins do the trick on both heavyweight cruisers and touring bikes. Get more information at motorcycle.michelinman.com

Michelin’s new Commander IIIs come in Cruiser and Touring variations and use a host of useful technologies, including 100% silica in the compounding, techy tread grooving for optimal water dispersal and what Michelin calls Amplified Density Technology.


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