One of the few issues we had with the Yamaha YZF-R3 was with the tyres. Yamaha opted for the MRF Nylogrip Zapper S (to cut costs, we suspect) and that touring-based compound substituted outright grip for longevity. While these tyres worked very well for the bikes they were designed for – like the Bajaj Pulsar RS 200 – it didn’t make sense for a motorcycle with the capability of the R3 and thus the first upgrade R3 owners made was to transition to Pirellis or Metzelers. To keep the faithful within the fold MRF has developed a new tyre – the Revz Steel SX2 – and we got them spec-ed on our long-term R3.
The front 110/70-R17 is the same size as the OE rubber but the rear is slightly wider at 150/60-R17 (the OEs are 140-section), the same size as the KTM 390 Duke. Luckily, the wider tyre doesn’t foul with any of the cycle parts. The tyres get a ‘W’ speed rating, meaning they will be capable of handling speeds of up to 270kmph.
The Revz Steel SX2 are MRF’s first steel radial tyres for bikes. The tyres are based on a hard carcass construction with a softer compound for the outer layer of rubber. The combination is quite similar to the Pirellis and one can immediately notice the improvement in the handling as the R3 now feels more planted and definitely more grippy. The cross-section is rounder than the earlier tyres and the curvature now allows the bike to tip in faster and more willingly into corners. In keeping with the enthusiast focus of this rubber the rear tyre has stars for lean markers, kind of like the arrows for Metzelers. On my first rideouts on the R3 with these tyres I am very near that third star and all throughout the bike has felt absolutely poised and planted with none of the fear of a washout that used to accompany the bike when pushed hard.
The front end also feels more planted and you can brake later before it locks up, this is a welcome addition to dynamic repertoire because the R3 does not get ABS and a grippier tyre that locks up later is a great factor of safety. I can also brake later and work the front tyre harder, carrying more speed into corners safe in the knowledge of the grip levels now being close to the standards set by the big international brands.
These tyre are designed for the KTM Dukes and should work well on the latest 390 Duke, given that it is not as manic in delivery. MRF is developing the same tyres for larger capacity motorcycles upto 800cc and given a few tweaks to construction should be a nice compound for bikes such as the Kawasaki Ninja 650, Z900 and Triumph Street Triple S.
These tyres will be available in the market soon and will cost 75 per cent the price of the Metzelers, which is good value for bikes like the R3 and 390 Duke. More updates will come later as we log on more miles on these tyres.