Tyre Review: Weekend away with the Metzeler Karoo Street
Joining a long list of ADV tyre choices, the Metzeler Karoo Street offers something a bit more comfortable but without much compromise.
Adventure tyres might seem a dime a dozen but really, how often is it that you truly find the perfect blend between on-road manners and off-road performance?
So in our continual quest, we threw a set of the latest Metzeler Karoo Street on our BMW R1200 GSA and a set of the Karoo 3 over the BMW R1250 GSA and took off up to Yengo National Park for a 400km circuit run. We were hopeful the new Streets might just be that Goldilocks formula.
In all, we covered a mix of about 70 per cent sealed road and 30 per cent offroad, including river crossings. The unsealed roads had camber, ruts, washouts and soft mud, and it had recently rained so the roads were damp, with plenty of water on sections plus causeways that were following over the road by 200-400mm. Fun stuff for a weekend ride.
As we’ve previously found, the Karoo 3s are certainly a more off-road-biased set of hoops but they do have merit around the city. The newer Karoo Streets suggest they can provide improved on-road comfort but without much expense when heading off-road.
The science behind the Street is a new high-silica and carbon black compound that promises to be grippy in both wet and dry situations, along with a new tread pattern. It’s a swept tractor-style design and not as aggressive as the 3’s lugs. If we had to call it, the Karoo Streets are probably about a 65/35 ADV tyre.
And on-road comfort is certainly up. There’s a noticeable improvement in road comfort when jumping onto the Streets from the 3s. In particular, on the sealed sections, the extra comfort and compliance provide confidence to push the bike that bit harder through corners. The rolling tread pattern gives a constant contact patch both on centre and edge blocks. This traction was evident in both dry and wet conditions when flicking the throttle coming out of bends, with enough grip to feel stable.
Compared to the 3s, the Streets are living up to their name, and as a tyre that will give you some comfort on sealed roads, it’s a very nicely balanced compromise. Turn-in is neutral and natural from the front and the rear has predictable levels of grip when pushing along.
But that’s not to say the Street is all that compromised for off-roading at all. The riding that we encountered was well within the Karoo Street’s capacity; the Karoo Street tyres were easily able to keep up with the Karoo 3 on unsealed roads.
On gravel corners grip was confidence-inspiring and on wet dirt, it kept muck out of the treads efficiently.
Had we have experienced gnarly off-road conditions then I am sure that the larger spaced tread pattern of the Karoo 3 would have come into their element, but the Streets are more than competent with loose wet soil and mud.
Sticky clay-based mud would certainly be its undoing, but then again, those conditions are always challenging even with full off-road tyres, like the Karoo Extreme – and those are also a set of tyres with nowhere near the level of compliance and comfort on-road as the Street.
And with a deluge of water the day before, the causeways were all overflowing and provided some fun between sections, rushing through about 400mm high on the bikes. Neither tyre was unrooted.
But best of all? A good trip out with a mate and discovering something new, which was Myrtle House in Wollombi. A great spot to stop for some seriously great food (Myrtle House Burger is worth an attempt) and a coffee on your way through.