Re: Great article about tires (RoadRacing World)
The high-performance street/track day test was held the next day, which was overcast and cooler but provided even more consistent conditions. The ambient temperature varied only two degrees, from 64°F to 66°F, and the track temperature only varied from 69.9°F to 76.8°F over the entire 2.5-hour test period.
Track Day Tire Brand One (Pirelli)
Atlas quickly built speed with the first test tire, but everything was not apparent to the naked eye. "Under real extreme braking, it had a bad chatter," said Atlas. "Especially if you got in deep and you had to pull it in that little bit more to pull the thing in, it was like guh, guh, guh! It was really unnerving. The tire wouldn't let you trail brake at all. So you had to make sure you had your braking done straight up and down.
"Once you got the thing tipped over and leaned into the corner it wasn't that bad. The thing had good roll speed. It went through the corner OK. It changed directions pretty well. It steered well. It didn't feel slow steering. It felt good steering. It held its line. If I needed to adjust mid-corner, it was fine.
"The rear tire was real good, had good grip going in, good grip mid-corner, good grip coming out. The thing it did best was at was full-lean, initial throttle grip. The side grip with the rear tire was good, real good. The front tire lacked a little bit of outright grip at big lean angles, but it wasn't anything that was unpredictable.
"Both tires felt like they had a stiff carcass, because the bike felt more harsh. I could feel every little bump a lot more so than the control tire. That downhill into five, there's a big bump there that would jolt my wrists every lap. They give good feedback what they are doing, but they were real stiff feeling.
'They came in pretty quick. It took two laps to get them up to temperature—the warm-up lap and the first flying lap then they felt good—and they never faded at all. They were consistent the whole way through."
After a cautious first flier (1:34), Atlas turned his the second-quickest time of the test, a 1:30.760, followed by four, consistent, low-1:31 laps. He then gave the tire high scores for Mid-corner Grip (front and rear), Corner Exit Drive Grip and Predictability/Consistency, and a low score of two for Trail Braking.
Track Day Tire Brand Two (Dunlop)
Atlas almost went quicker on his first flying lap on Street Tire Brand Two than his quickest lap on Street Tire Brand One. He then steadily lowered his times until he bottomed out at 1:29.539, the fastest lap time of his test, which he backed up with another 1:29 on the next lap. "It was good on the brakes, good trail braking, but it lacked a little feel trail braking," said Atlas. "I could trail brake, but I wasn't totally confident in it. It lacked a little bit of feedback, sort of. I didn't have that great connection with the front tire when I was hard on the brakes. "The thing that the front tire lacked the most on was its tendency to run wide and
the effort to steer the bike into the corner. I was using a lot of effort. I had to compensate with body English, hang off more and pull it down in some of the tighter corners, like turn three. There, you have to hug a tight line all the way around. It was
all the effort I had in me to get it to hold that line.
"Once you got the thing stood up and driving on the rear tire, you could pretty much get it to do whatever you wanted. The back tire was real good. It had good grip, good mid-corner, good entrance, good exit. I never had any moments with the back tire at all.
"I did notice that, whatever was different, I don't know if it was the weight, profile or what with the rear tire, the engine was lower in the rpm exiting the corners. (This brand had the third-heaviest rear tire.) It didn't get as good a drive. Like coming off of turn two, I was at 1500 rpm less. Normally, I come out of turn three and I just tap the rev-limiter (in third gear) before going into turn four, and this wasn't getting to the limiter. It didn't feel like it came off the corner as strong. I was opening the throttle sooner and harder trying to compensate for being lower in the Rs and it still didn't feel like it was getting the same drive off the corners.
'They were real compliant over the bumps. It felt like the carcass was real nice and soaked up the bumps. I don't know if part of that was the other tire before this one was so harsh, but
I was like, This is sweet!' The track has a hundred less bumps than on the other one. The other one you could feel every single (bump), and it was real fatiguing. This one I didn't feel the bump down the hill (to turn five) at all. The bumps weren't a big deal. It soaked them all up.
"The rear went away at the end of the run. It got greasy on both sides. The whole tire got greasy, and it was sketchy on the very last lap. I felt it squirming, and I was getting the thing to spin, and I definitely noticed a distinct fading of that tire."
Track Day Tire Brand Two got Atlas' highest marks, scoring eights in every category except Bump Absorption, which received a nine, and Steering/ Handling, which garnered a five for the tendency to run wide.
Track Day Tire Brand Three (Metzeler)
"Both tires lacked outright grip, big time," said Atlas. "I got
out there and got going, and I'm like, They've got to come up to temperature. They've got to come up to temperature.' Then I'm like, 'I don't think they're going to get any better. This is as good as they've got.' I'm sure they came up to temperature, because everything else has, but it felt like they didn't. I was pushing the front. The rear was spinning, and I had to use body English.
"Coming up the hill out of three, there's a fast kink. Every lap it was just Whooop! (spinning sound) And it wasn't real predictable, either. Both sides (of the rear tire), it was spinning. I would come off the corner. I would go to get on the throttle, then I would be, 'OK, that's all it's got.' Then I would back off to half-throttle, let the thing build, get it stood up and go to turn it on, and it would still spin a little bit straight up and down. It was definitely not confidence-inspiring at all.
"Braking was decent, but front end trail braking was not
very good. I had the front push in the last corner. I had the front push in turn three. One time it was like, 'Oh my gosh! I'm going to crash.' Another time it was like, 'OK, that's the limit right there. Alright.'
"They're kind of unpredictable. Some of the slides at the rear would be nice slides, like going up the hill, like the faster stuff, but in some of the slower stuff, the rear would kick out real quick.
"It changed directions well. That was its best characteristic. It's real flickable. Side-to-side was real good. Turn-in was good and fast, but I didn't have confidence in that front tire to flick it in hard. You could go in hard, but because you knew that front tire didn't have the grip you were looking for you didn't do it. It almost felt as if they never came up to temperature."
Atlas turned his fastest lap on Track Day Tire Brand Three, a 1:31.345 (the sixth-fastest time of the test), on his second flying lap, and backed it up with a 1:31.6 on the following lap. After that, however, he couldn't get into the 1:3Is again and finished the session with l:32s and l:33s. Atlas gave Track Day Tire Brand Three mediocre scores in most categories with the exception of Corner Exit Drive Grip (two) and Predictability/Consistency (two).
Track Day Tire Brand Four (Continental)
"Not a good tire," said Atlas after turning a best of 1:33.045 (the slowest lap time of the test, by far) on his third of six flying laps on Track Day Tire Brand Four. "It took a long time to heat up. Three-plus laps to get temperature in them.
"Once the front came up to temperature, it was good straight up and down on the brakes. It was fairly good tipping in trail braking. Mid-corner, I didn't rate it as well just because of how long it took to come in. That kind of messed my confidence up a little bit. It wasn't until the fifth lap that I really trusted that tire because I had the thing move so many times the first three and a half, four laps. You go out there on a tire and it grips right away, you can really get into it and get going. But when that thing is telling you, 'No, no, no!' for that long, it's hard for you, once it does come in, to say, 'Let's go.'
"The worst part was the rear tire. It was garbage, complete garbage. I had it back itself in going into turn one. I was like, 'OK, that's as fast as I can go there.' It had no grip going in, mid-corner or exit. It started out horrible with no heat in it, and it stayed that way the whole time. It wasn't good. That was the biggest limiting factor. The rear tire just lacked grip, big-time.
"They didn't affect the handling of the bike that much. They were a bit slower steering, going in and transition-ing back and forth.
'The biggest thing was the heat issue and the rear tire. It wasn't like a squirmy, Pirelli-type feel. It just didn't have grip. It felt like there was a coating on it that never came off."
Atlas gave Track Day Tire Brand Four average scores for the front tire and very low scores for the rear tire.
Track Day Tire Brand Five (Michelin)
Atlas had his knee down within three corners on Track Day Tire Brand Five and steadily lowered his lap times until he turned a 1:31.114 on lap five of six, good for the fourth-fastest time of the test. "That front tire was the best so far," said Atlas. "Good under braking, real good trail braking. I was trail braking deeper on that tire than any other. It turned well. It was stable. It didn't seem to adversely affect the handling of the bike at all. If anything, it helped it by quickening the steering, but it wasn't quick to the point where it fell in too fast. Directional changes and getting the thing to tip in on your knee, it was a lot less effort.
"The biggest fault of these was the rear tire corner exit grip wasn't the best. It wasn't bad, and it slid predictably, which is good. But it still spun on corner exit. You stand it up coming out of five, and even when the thing's stood up there pretty good you can still get it to light up. It didn't lack mid-
corner grip. It had good entrance and mid-corner grip. It was just drive grip at corner exit it was lacking.
"You could kind of compensate by riding around it, by going in deeper and using the front more, which was nice. I mean, you could put a lot of confidence in that front tire. It was pretty bitchin'."
Atlas gave Track Day Tire Brand Five scores ranging from eights for Trail Braking and Front Tire Mid-corner Grip to sixes for Steering/Handling, Bump Absorption and Corner Exit Drive Grip.
Track Day Tire Brand Six (Bridgestone)
Atlas instantly felt at home on Track Day Tire Brand Six and turned several quick laps, finishing the stint with the third-fastest lap time of the test, a 1:30.927. But observers could easily see he was feeling all of the bumps in the track.
"Overall, it was a good tire," said Atlas. "The front was real good. Not quite as good as the last front. It didn't give quite the same feedback, but it was still good. The rear was definitely on par. It wasn't spectacular.
"The biggest thing I noticed about the tires was they were really, really, really rigid. More so than any other tire so far. I could feel every single bump straight through my spine. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! And that took back on the level of confidence
because of how bumpy this track is, and some of the stuff is mid-corner. When I'm leaned over in turn four and I get that jolt through my arms, it's hard to go blazing through there. I think the front tire had the grip to go through there well, but it was so rigid it felt as if I were to push any harder it would start to skip. It felt like rocks were on the wheels.
"The grip wasn't an issue mid-corner. In the fast sweeping stuff without bumps, they felt really good. They gave good feedback, too, when I was leaned over. But when I hit those bumps, it was really jolting.
"The bike steered well. It changed direction fine. It wasn't hard to keep it on line. The thing stayed online well. They are good tires in that respect, and good in the grip department, as well. They came up to temperature right away, scrubbing in, no complaints there. They didn't fade at all."
Atlas gave Track Day Tire
Brand Six scores of seven in most categories, except for Front Tire Mid-Corner Grip, which got an eight, Rear Tire Corner Exit Drive Grip, which got a six, and Bump Absorption, which got a two.
Track Day Tire Brand Seven (Maxxis)
After a somewhat cautious out lap, Atlas quickly got down to business and turned a 1:31.345 (fifth-quickest of the test) on his third flying lap with Track Day Tire Brand Seven. However, he backed off just as quickly, ended up with only the one quick lap and the rest in the l:32s or higher.
'The tire came up to temperature fast and felt good. So I went for it on the third lap, had a couple of moments on the third lap. Then I toned it back because I knew that the pace I ran on the third lap I couldn't maintain on those tires. It was too sketchy," said Atlas. "It was harsh. The
front end skipped over the bumps. It would skip and re-grip, like jumping.
"Coming out of turn one, there's a bump there that I didn't even know existed until I rode that tire. It skipped and tried to tuck the front over that bump, and it scared me pretty good. That had a really stiff sidewall feeling.
"It would also chatter under trail braking. I could hardly trail brake at all. I'd come into the 'School House' turn, and every lap it was sketchy. It didn't do it straight up and down. It felt like something to do with the construction of the side of the front tire. When it's leaned over and it hits bumps, it's no good. When it's leaned over and you get on the brakes, it's horrible."
Atlas said the front tire displayed average grip in smooth corners and didn't negatively affect the steering of the motorcycle, but rear tire grip was not good. "The rear tire was spinning, and the worst part about it was it was very unpredictable," said Atlas. "When it would step out, sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad. And it definitely faded. Both front and rear faded."
Atlas scored Track Day Tire Brand Seven on the low side in every category. The highest marks it received were fives in Steering/Handling, Front Tire Turn-in Grip and Front Tire Mid-Corner Grip.
Track Day Tire Brand Eight (Avon)
After another cautious out lap, Atlas dropped down to a 1:32 followed by a string of l:31s on Track Day Tire Brand Eight. His fastest lap came on his fifth of six fliers, at 1:31.396, the seventh-quickest time of the test.
"They were average," said Atlas. "The front took forever
to come up to temperature. It wasn't until the fourth lap that I had any confidence in the front tire, which kind of affected me the whole way through because I slowly built my speed up. It was bad the first two or three laps. I had it fold two or three times in a couple of corners, had it push really good. Even when it got to temperature, it was only average. It wasn't great. Even on the last lap, I had it push one time a little bit.
"The rear was a little bit better grip-wise, but it wasn't very predictable when it slid. At the corner exit, it didn't really slide that much, but I rated it low because when it did slide it would just step out.
"I got a little bit of an oscillation through the forks under braking. It wasn't a chatter, but it was more like the tire was squishing and moving around under braking. That was something you had to get used to.
'They weren't bad over the bumps. They felt fairly compliant, not real stiff. I definitely didn't have any real complaints with them over the bumps.
Steering and handling was good. They changed directions just fine. They weren't spectacular. They were in the middle of the road compared to everything else. Neither of them faded, sort of speak, but the front took forever to come up to temperature."
As he described their performance, Atlas gave Track Day Tire Brand Eight average marks, mainly fives, with sixes for Rear Tire Mid-corner Grip, Corner Exit Drive Grip and Bump Absorption and a four for Predictability/Consistency.
Street/Track Day Tire
'The biggest thing that surprised me after getting off the bike was none of them were complete garbage," said Atlas at the end of his long test day. "I figured there were going to be two tires I wasn't going to be able to get my knee down on, where I was just going to be scared, and that wasn't the case, not at all.
"No tire stood out as like,
'Holy sh-t! This is amazing!' There was one tire I know was the best front, and one tire I know was the best rear. But the thing that surprised me the most, there wasn't one single tire that was complete garbage."
When all the times were compared and the scores added up, Track Day Tire Brand Two—the Dunlop D208 GP-A — was declared the clear winner with 97.2 out of a possible 120 points. "(The Dunlops) as a whole set was the best set of tires. Its rear was really good, and its front had the best grip, but it was the one I struggled to get it to steer. For me and the way I ride, with a lot of corner speed, outright grip is big. (The Dunlops) were really compliant over the bumps, and it was the least fatiguing of all the tires."
The Dunlop D208GP-As, which were last year's frontline AMA Supersport race tire of choice, clearly proved to be the best tires on the racetrack. But they're not really street tires in the sense the others are. Think of them as the ringers in this test.
Second place behind the Dunlops by 7.3 points, with 89.9 points, went to Track Day Tire Brand Five—Michelin Pilot Power, which might be the best choice if you plan to ride on the tires beyond the racetrack's front gate. "The front was tied for best with (the Dunlops)," said Atlas, "but the rear lacked a little bit of grip. Not horrible, but it wasn't great. It slid a little bit, but it slid pretty predictably."
Third place, with 87.7 points, went to Track Day Tire Brand Six—the Bridgestone BT014. "(The Bridgestone) was a pretty good all-around tire," said Atlas. "It didn't do anything spectacular. Its best feature was mid-corner grip, but I gave it a two in Bump Absorption because it was really, really stiff. This was the one that tracked over the bumps well, didn't skip, but felt really harsh."
Fourth place, with 75.0 points, was Track Day Tire Brand One—the Pirelli Dia-blo Corsa, which may be the best value among the contestants. "(The Pirelli) rear was really close to (the Dunlop). It was definitely close."
Fifth place, with 69.7 points, went to Track Day Tire Brand Eight—the Avon Azaro AV49/50SP Pro Series. "(The Avon) seemed to me to be a middle of the road tire," said Atlas. "After riding them all, knowing what was good and what was bad, it kind of did everything average. The outright grip wasn't great but wasn't horribly unpredictable. I gave the front a little bit lower score because it took forever to heat up, that was its biggest downfall."
Sixth place, with 68.5 points, was Track Day Tire Brand Three—the Metzeler SporTec Ml. The (Metzeler SporTec) rear was really bad," said Atlas. "There was no corner exit drive. Mid-corner it was OK, not great, not horrible. Entrance, same thing."
Seventh place, with 59.0 points, was Track Day Tire Brand Seven—the Maxxis SuperMaxx. "I didn't like (the Maxxis Super-Maxx) at all. It absorbed the bumps better than some tires, but at lean angle it skipped over bumps, and I hated that," said Atlas. "That other tire (the Bridge-stone) was super rigid, but it was able to come back across the bump and keep tracking and keep having grip. And the rear on this one was bad everywhere. Bad is all relative, because it's not garbage but it wasn't good at all."
Eighth and last place, with 58.3 points, went to Track Day Tire Brand Four—the Continental ContiForce Max. "The (Continental) rear tire, it was worse than (the Metzeler). It was horrible everywhere. This is the one that backed itself into turn one that scared me pretty good." RW
Manufacturer, model of tire, compound, size, manufacture date code, country of manufacture:
Bridgestone, Battlax BT002F Racing, Type 3,120/70-ZR17,0904, Japan
Bridgestone, Battlax BT002R Racing, Type 3,190/50-ZR17, 0704, Japan
Dunlop, Sportmax GP, 758,120/70-ZR17,4904, England
Dunlop, Sportmax GP, 313,190/60-ZR17, 0705, England
Michelin, Power Race, Medium, 120/70-ZR17, 3904, France
Michelin, Power Race, Medium, 190/50-ZR17, 3604, France
Pirelli, Super Corsa Pro, SC2,120/70-ZR17,4704, Germany
Pirelli, Super Corsa Pro, SC2,190/55-ZR17, 4004, Germany
High-performance Street/Track Day Tires:
Avon, Azaro AV49-SP Pro Series, 120/70-ZR17, 2904, England
Avon, Azaro AV50-SP Pro Series, 180/55-ZR17, 4202, England
Bridgestone, Battlax BT014F, 120/70-ZR17, 2704, Japan
Bridgestone, Battlax BT014R, 180/55-ZR17,2004, Japan
Continental, ContiForce Max, 120/70-ZR17,1304, Korea
Continental, ContiForce Max, 180/55-ZR17,1903, Germany
Dunlop, Sportmax D208F GP, 120/70-ZR17,4104, USA
Dunlop, Sportmax D208 GP-A JLB, 180/55-ZR17, 3904, USA
Maxxis, Supermaxx, 120/70-ZR17,1004, Taiwan
Maxxis, Supermaxx, 180/55-ZR17, 3204, Taiwan
Metzeler, SporTec M1,120/70-ZR17, 4003, Germany
Metzeler, SporTec M1,180/55-ZR17,4903, Germany
Michelin, Pilot Power, 120/70-ZR17,1804, Spain
Michelin, Pilot Power, 180/55-ZR17, 2504, France
Pirelli, Diablo Corsa, 120/70-ZR17, 3903, Germany
PirellLDiablo Corsa, 180/55-ZR17, 2204, Germany
1. Michelin Power Race 20 Ibs. 14 oz.
2. Pirelli Super Corsa Pro 22 Ibs. 1 oz.
3. Bridgestone Battlax BT002 23 Ibs. 10 oz.
4. Dunlop Sportmax GP 24 Ibs. 14 oz.
High-performance street/Track day Tires:
1. TIE, Avon Azaro/Metzeler Sportec M1 20 Ibs. 14 oz.
2. Pirelli Diablo Corsa 21 Ibs. 4 oz.
3. TIE, Bridgestone Battlax BT014/ Michelin Pilot Power 21 Ibs. 5 oz.
4. Dunlop D208 GP 22 Ibs. 11 oz
5. Continental Conti Force Max 23 Ibs. 1 oz.
6. Maxxis Supermaxx 24 Ibs. 1 oz.
Tire Test Air Pressures (Cold):
Bridgestone BT002F/R, 31 psi front, 30 psi rear
Dunlop Sportmax GP, 30 psi front, 27 psi rear
Pirelli Super Corsa Pro, 30 psi front, 28 psi rear
Michelin Power Race, 31 psi front, 22 psi rear
High-performance Street/Track Day Tires:
Avon Avaro AV49/50SP Pro, 30 psi front, 30 psi rear
Bridgestone BT014F/R, 31 psi front, 30 psi rear
Continental Conti Force Max, 31 psi front, 31 psi rear
Dunlop D208-GP, 31 psi front, 31 psi rear
Maxxis Supermaxx, 30 psi front, 30 psi rear
Metzeler SporTec M1, 32 psi front, 32 psi rear
Michelin Pilot Power, 31 psi front, 28 psi rear
Pirelli Diablo Corsa, 32 psi front, 32 psi rear
* All cold tire air pressures used were recommended by representatives from each respective manufacturer, except for the Continentals. Continental Tire North America Sales Manager Motorcycle Tires Greg Reich recommended we use 36 psi front and 42 psi rear, writing in an e-mail that the Conti Force Max rear was designed to run at a higher psi but gave us the option of using a lower air pressure. Leaning on thepast and vast experience of our staff and in the interests of safety, we decided to go with more conventional air pressure settings.
Changes Necessary To Restore Baseline Geometry Due To Differences Between The Sizes Of The Baseline Tires And The Sizes Of The Test Tires:
Race Tires (baseline tires Pirelli Super Corsa slicks):
Bridgestone Battlax BT002F/R, lower front 1 mm, no change to the rear
Dunlop Sportmax GP, lower front 6 mm, lower rear 2 mm
Michelin Power Race, raise front 1 mm, raise rear 6 mm
Pirelli Super Corsa Pro, no change to front, lower rear 1 mm
High-performance Street/Track Day Tires (baseline tires Bridgestone Battlax BT014):
Avon Azaro AV49/50SP, no change to front, lower rear 2.5 mm
Bridgestone Battlax BT014F/R, no change to front, no change to rear
Continental Conti Force Max, raise front 1 mm, raise rear 2.5 mm
Dunlop D208-GP, no change to front, lower rear 6 mm
Maxxis Supermaxx, raise front 2 mm, no change to rear
Metzeler SporTec M1, raise front 1.5 mm, lower rear 6 mm
Michelin Pilot Power, no change to front, raise rear 2 mm
Pirelli Diablo Corsa, no change to front, drop rear 5 mm
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