Motorcycle track day tire choice.
Too many track day tire choices.
There are thousands of reviews on tire choices for road riding, track riding, weight of the bike and cost effectiveness. The last thing you want is to spend your hard earned money on a tire only to find out you are not happy with it or have no confidence in the tire and have to settle with it for the next 3000 or more miles.
Stick to the popular choices with proven records and have good reviews and write ups. If you are an adequate rider with good experience in riding, all the major brands tires will work. They have all had extensive research and development and have been put through a lot more than our skill will ever need unless you are a professional rider, in which case your tires should be sponsored and you don't really have a choice anyway.
What are the main tire applications?
First thing you need to figure out is what you want from your tire. Do not go and put slick racing tires on your bike if you are riding 100% on the road and in wet or slippery conditions. You will not bring the tires up to temperature and with no tread, you will end up off the road quicker than you can say "Wrong tire choice".
Your bike will also have a lot to do with the tires. If you have a heavy touring bike and spend all day travelling up and down the highways, you do not want soft track day tires as you will be changing them every month. Rather go for a harder compound GT tire such as the Michelin pilot road 4.
I would class tires in 4 main groups:
- Touring and mostly straight line highway riding - Harder compound GT touring tire
- Everyday use with 1 or 2 track days a year at a slow pace - regular everyday medium tire
- Everyday use with a track day every month or two weeks - harder to softer track day performance tire
- track bike that is never taken on the road
Touring and GT tires
Touring and GT tires
If you ever thought that tires cannot be used for the track if they are hard, think again. I have used both the Pirelli and Michelin on my CBR600RR which was mostly for road use on the track. It is not advisable if you are doing quick lap times or pushing hard but if you are just going to see what it is about then do not worry, you will not fall over. I drag my knee constantly with these tires and do not feel them let go at any time.
In the wet weather there is no better option. Both of these tires handle wet conditions like a dream. I hardly felt that the track and road was wet at all and had all the confidence in the world. A SBK or Moto GP rider would obviously suffer but your non hero everyday rider will find either of these tires up to the job.
Everyday tire with occasional track day.
If you are like me and head to the track once a month just for a fun outing, then I do suggest you start looking at a softer more track specific tire. I chop and change tires often as most tire options will do exactly what I need them to and keep me from going off the edge of the track when I push a little hard. These tires have been designed for road racing such as Isle of Man TT and I do not see any of use mere mortals performing like they do on a track.
Again stick to the leading brands and you won't go wrong. Pirelli Rosso Corsa's are amazing. They are not badly priced if you find them on special. I just put a new set on my bike for 340 Dollars front and back. With road riding you will get about 4000 miles with a couple hard track days thrown in so great value for money. Even the Metzeler M5 which is a little more in price is just as good and even the Z7 race. For everyday riders, you will not get these tires to the limit of what they can do and are very forgiving.
Track only tires.
These tires are designed solely for the race track. With very sticky compounds and little to no tread. Although the are a little higher priced than the road going track tire, they are the best for this application. You can push to your limits without fail and for the run of the mill rider, I do not see you reaching the tires full potential. They will take a little longer to heat up than your standard road tires so be careful on your warm up laps and try get in the extra hard braking to bring them up to temperature quicker. The Pirelli Supercorsa Sc1 is my favorite but the Dunlops and Bridgestone perform just as well. You will hear about quicker turn in and various other performance appraisals but again unless you are racing I do not think you will notice that much difference when the tires are warmed up.
If you do want to try these tires on the track and are worried about the price (please only use these on the track as they do not perform on the road as you cannot bring them up to correct temperature), Ask around at the track if they have any Ex race tires or used track day tires. We normally get a single rear tire for 30 dollars and the front 25 dollars depending on how used they are. That is super cheap for tires.
Track day checklist.
So you now have the correct tire for the track and conditions. check out the hub on track day checklist to ensure you have all the other items for your day out to the track.