Motorcycle Tires - Part III

TIRE GUYMotorcycle Tires for Sport and Race


When you’re talking about sports motorcycles, the Kings of the road are the Super bikes. Main players like Ducati, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda have been serving up bikes that are ruthless and punishing on motorcycle tires.

For more than 15 years, the Super bike class of machines have been getting lighter in weight while the engines get more and more powerful. This provides enthusiasts thinly disguised race machines with devastating power for use on public roads.

Power to weight ratios are at extreme proportions and all that horsepower, torque, maneuverability and braking power relies on the quality of the motorcycle tires mounted.

Tire Wear and Compound Types

Super sport and Super bike classes have very aggressive seating positions, with the rider sitting well forward over the front wheel as opposed to a more upright position for a tourer or cruiser. The riding position can really bring out the worst in back complaints after a couple of hours ride time.

The rider position and maneuverability makes Super bikes hard on the front tires. The acceleration they are capable of makes them almost as hard on rear tires. It is also common for riders to be harder on one side of the tire than the other, wearing out a left or right side of the tread first.

Tire brands and compounds are subjective. Riders may prefer a dry weather tire and avoid riding in the rain, dry weather tires have fewer grooves in the tread than wet weather tires and this equates to more rubber on the road. Tread builds up heat within the tire, so choosing between grip and durability can be a trade off.

The dry-road rider will prefer a super sticky, soft compound tire for dry conditions. Some riders use their bikes in circumstances that are more practical and look for a good all-round tire with a medium to hard compound.

Tire Costs

There’s no way to sugar coat the cost or importance of quality tires for these machines. An enormous amount of research is put into Super bike handling and traction, so it is definitely not advisable to start changing the manufacturers tire specifications to save a few bucks.

Z rated, radial tires are the norm for good stability, heat resistance and dampening. Tires fitted as standard are very low profile and expensive, but you get what you pay for. A tire fitted to a new Yamaha R1 or Ducati 1098 has to get a lot of horsepower to the ground per square inch of contact and the forces generated in cornering and braking are extreme.

A Little About Racing Tires

Super bikes may be King but MotoGP is God. The average MotoGP race tire lasts 100km, however a qualifying tire is only good for 5km. There are 150 components used to make a motorcycle tire and those used in MotoGP will reach 350km/h.

See Also:

Motorcycle Tires, Part I, Motorcycle Tires, Part II, and Tourer/Cruiser articles.


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