The main appeal of the Shinko Stealth tires is the design’s low MSRP, with a thrifty rider able to buy a full set for less than the cost of a pricier rear from the bigger brands.
The relationship between a rider and the road is only as good as the tires between them. So when the task of evaluating the revitalized Shinko sport tire became my own, it was not without a bit of apprehension that I mounted the matching set of Shinko Stealth tires to our 2008 Buell Super TT for a Pacific Super Sport Riders trackday at Thunderhill Raceway Park. The knowledge that Shinko tires incorporate the technology, equipment and rubber recipe it purchased from Yokohama motorcycle tire manufacturing division is just enough reassurance that the odds of surviving the afternoon unscathed are decent. With that in mind, I set out to uncover the truth about Shinko premium rubber.
This is Shinko’s top-end performance tire, with a tread pattern resembling something more like a dimpled slick than anything else. After logging a full day of track use the tires show only average signs of tire wear despite being pushed about as hard as the multi-purpose V-Twin is capable of around the three-mile 15-turn road course. To date these tires are becoming increasingly popular with the custom bike and drag bike scene with the tire’s combination of low cost and surprising level of traction being too difficult to pass up. My research revealed Shinko tires are often found on amateur drag race machines during Friday Night Drags where the burnout exhibition is all part of the experience and sloughing off 250-bucks of soft compound premium race rubber gets old quick. The argument, as I see it, is that any tire is capable of doing well at the strip with a healthy dose of VHT capable of making a circa 1980 bias-ply bun feel like a wrinkle wall, but how will the hold up on the road course.
My first few laps were taken warily as I eased my way up to speed because I had no experience with the Shinkos and what I have experienced in the past with cheap rubber is that often you get what you pay for – which is usually not very much. Without any support from Shinko distributors, I chose a very standard 31 lbs in the front and 30 in the rear tire. After getting the initial scrub-in laps out of the way, I slowly brought the cornering speeds up. In an attempt to get rid of the brick-like feeling from the front tire I dropped the front tire pressure down to 30 lbs and the rear to 28 before calling it good. I could not, and still have not, been able to get any official word on recommended tire pressure, so in the interest of safety we recommend anyone going to use these for performance riding should stick with 31-30 until someone tells you otherwise.
With the assistance of suspension-guru Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction Suspension, the Super TT was dialed in as good as it could be at this track on this day and, much to my surprise, the Shinko Stealth’s were up to task as the Buell set-up improved lap after lap. Not only did they offer up a surprising level of grip but the very few times the rear end did break loose it did so in a very predictable manner. Keep in mind the low horsepower and flat torque curve inherent to the American-made V-Twin when you are making any judgments regarding the stickiness of the rear.
In order to test the durability of the Shinko Stealths, we ran the budget buns on our Buell test bike during a Pacific Super Sport Riders trackday at Thunderhill.
Eventually I got more bold with the throttle and lean angle, dialing in more juice at steeper and steeper leans until I managed to get it to break loose – regularly on the exit of the fast T-Hill Turn 6. On a more powerful bike this should be more common at less aggressive lean angles so take note and ease up to the limits on your bike. The Shinko front tire only pushed through the bumpy Turn 1 apex when entry speeds were over 100 mph but it regained traction every time. At any speeds around 90-95 mph the front remained planted all day long, or so it seemed. I never could tell what it was doing, but I never fell either. With the PSSR-mandated outside passing rule in effect, the Shinko’s cornering prowess were on display as I made my way around many a slick-shod Supersport rider, and there is no arguing that is a testament to these tires offering comparable grip.
Not everything is exact with these tires though. The Shinko rear tire profile is flatter than I prefer in a track tire so it tends to fall into corners at maximum lean. Like I mentioned before, I never did get overly confident with the feedback from the front either. Although the front readily stuck to the bumpy T-Hill track, it was always vague and only after I gave in and said ‘to hell with it’ and pushed a bit harder, did I begin to gain confidence in the available grip. Charging harder and carrying more corner speed through the tighter turns proved they are up to task on this bike, but I still wonder how the Shinkos would do with more horsepower propelling them to the edge of available traction.
So where does this tire belong in the grand scheme of sport tire options? Exactly where Shinko wants it to be. This is a very affordable low-cost alternative to the bigger-buck tires on the market today. For the street rider on a budget this a fine alternative to buying take-offs or less expensive touring tires if the cash flow is not conducive to the $300-400 per set price range of the Big Four brands. For beginner trackday riders on smaller-displacement sportbikes the Shinko Stealth should also be considered as an option because it appears to be capable of offering plenty of grip and durability over the course of at least two full days at the track, possibly more depending on how hard the rider is on them. As it is I have to report the overall experience with these budget buns is favorable.
Buy It Now: Shinko Stealth tires