A couple of questions regarding the ME888. my history with the ME880 was nasty on tar snakes. How is the ME888 traction by comparison? Also, any reason NOT to mix brands front to rear (ie, Metzeler / Bridgestone F/R)? Does anyone have experience with the Metzeler Roadtec 01 or Michelin Pilot 4 GT on the front (neither is sized for the rear)?
I only have a hundred miles or so on my first 888 so I can't offer any comparison as yet to either the 880 or 020.
Mixing brands has the potential for trouble if one brand has really hard rubber for high mileage and the other is super soft sticky rubber or if the tread styles differ substantially. However, you likely would only see this during foot peg dragging lean angles.
The tires most often mixed on the LT seem to be a BT020 rear with an ME880/888 front. Since each offers the highest known mileage in their respective position (front and rear), this suggests both are pretty hard long mileage compounds and thus likely well matched in terms of traction.
My own personal hierarchy as to which tire parameters are most likely to kill you if not heeded is:
1. Construction. Not using radials or bias ply per the manufacturers' specification. This can cause dynamic issues leading to a tank slapper. This can take you down in a flash and often at high speed. And also special construction requirements like the REINF for the rear of the LT should not be ignored.
2. Tread style. Street, adventure, knobby, etc., should not be mixed.
3. Load rating. More people overload their bikes than run at high speeds, so I list this before speed rating.
4. Speed rating.
5. Brand match.
The wild card is that a given combination of the above parameters may provide other dynamic response benefits important to a given bike. For example, a bike maker may find that a tire with load and speed ratings appropriate to the bike's gross weight and top speed provides unstable high speed handling due to lack of stiffness, etc., but that by bumping up the weight and/or speed rating the instability disappears. Then Joe owner comes along and says that the bike maker really messed up by specifying higher than needed speed or load range and decides he is smarter and picks a tire "matched" to the bike's gross weight and top speed. He then gets squirrelly handling and can't figure out why.