Racing Street Motorcycle Tyres
What are Racing Street Motorcycle tyres?
These are tyres that are designed for use on motorcycle track days. Track days are events held at motorcycle circuits where riders can ride freely without the restrictions of the public roads. They do not have to observe speed limits, but they must stay within the scope of their own capabilities and comply with all the regulations of the circuit. Track days are a form of motorbike adventure that is entirely different from off-roading, where the challenge of unpredictable terrain is the main attraction. One of the biggest joys of a track day are the virtually unlimited speeds you can enjoy, without having to think about manhole covers, potholes, junctions, speed cameras or opposing traffic. It’s where the motorbike really comes into its own.
The tyres that riders commonly use at such events are known as racing street tyres or track day tyres. These are something of a hybrid design which makes them perfectly legal for road use but with specific properties which also suit them to the track. Although racing street tyres are perfectly appropriate in either setting, when they are fitted to top end replica motorcycles for track day use, they will benefit from having longer warm up times than in normal circumstances.
Virtually every manufacturer of motorcycle tyres produces a racing street range and we stock high-end brands including Michelin, Pirelli and Metzeler. Specifications vary from hyper sport tyres for track days to full race slicks and wets, for dry and wet track conditions respectively. Suitable tyres are also available from Avon, Bridgestone, Continental and Dunlop.
Track day tyres fall into two categories, track tyres with road-legal treads and slick motorcycle tyres. Both are ideal for circuit riding but if you need to ride to the venue you’ll need to use the road-legal models: it is illegal to use slicks tyres on public roads.
Racing street tyres are intended to give the best grip, stability and confidence in order to achieve the fastest lap times but there isn’t a straightforward correlation between the two. A tyre that is designed specifically for track riding tends to be more sensitive to pressure and ambient temperature than road tyres. In the right conditions this is a major advantage but if the track is cold or wet, or you haven’t allowed sufficient time for your tyres to warm up, then these track-gripping properties will be reduced.
In fact, there is no requirement to use any particular type of tyre on a circuit. If you opt for ordinary touring tyres, that’s a perfectly legitimate choice. You may lack the technical advantage of racing street tyres but if you have advanced skills these can more than compensate.
How to choose the best Racing Street Motorcycle tyres for your usage
Clearly there is no ideal choice for all situations and every level of skill. We’ve already seen that touring tyres have their place even though they don’t provide the kind of edge riders might prefer. Sports tyres are a good alternative because you can use them on the road to get to the circuit and when you take to the track you’ll benefit from their faster warm-up time, their superior grip and their resilience to changes of tyre pressure and track temperature. However, on balance, most riders will find that racing street or track day tyres will give a consistent, dependable performance.
Many riders strongly favour the use of slicks but these are really only essential in high-level racing events. On a standard track day they are an unnecessary luxury and if you are not riding in the fastest groups there is no benefit to be derived from them. Slicks do have remarkable grip but were only ever aimed at racers who had access to expert mechanics who were able to fit them without disrupting the balance of a bike on account of the stiffness of the rubber compound used in their manufacture. The situation today remains largely unchanged.
In recent years, we have seen many manufacturers developing slicks with a wider application. These are built on the same carcass as the stickiest track day tyre but they incorporate a slick outer, which is the point at which the tyre delivers its superior traction.
Slicks undoubtedly give you more grip than the alternatives but unless you are riding at the highest levels, a more conventionally treaded tyre is a better option, which is why it is the choice of the average fast group pace rider. For one thing, the tread pattern makes it easier to feel and respond to the track conditions. For another, fluctuations in temperature and pressure have much less effect on performance. Here’s a salutary statistic: at the Isle of Man, the speed difference between the lap records of motorcycles fitted with treaded tyres and those equipped with slicks is just 1 mile per hour. That speaks volumes.
Getting the Most From Your Track Day
One of the most important things to remember, whatever tyres you’re using, is to make frequent, regular checks of your tyre pressure. These should be done before and after every session. Make sure you have a pressure gauge with you and a note of the optimum cold and hot pressures for your tyre size. If in doubt, don’t take chances. Ask the trackside tyre fitters or other circuit officials on the day. Having the correct pressure not only ensures good performance but it protects you from the hazards of high-speed riding.
Many riders use tyre warmers to accelerate the warm-up process. If you choose to use these, be sure to check the tyre pressure once they have been warmed up so you’ll get the correct reading and can adjust as necessary. If you don’t use tyre warmers and rely on normal riding conditions to warm the tyres then you should measure the pressure at the end of each session to determine whether it has risen above the advisable level.
Racing Street Motorcycle Tyre Load Index
Racing Street Motorcycle Tyre Speed Index
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We supply track day tyres and racing street tyres in virtually any specification to suit all budgets. In addition to our substantial and varied range we can also provide advice on all matters of maintenance, preparation and safety. For a truly comprehensive racing street tyre service contact us today.