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2009 DOT Race Motorcycle Tire Shootout

Monday, November 2, 2009


We here at Motorcycle-USA are always striving to bring you more comprehensive and precise motorcycle and motorcycle-related comparisons. This is exactly why for our 2009 Tire Shootout we mixed things up – and in a big way!

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DOT Race Tire Shootout
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Check it out as Steve Atlas puts some of the top DOT Race tires to the test in our 2009 Motorcycle-USA DOT Race Tire Shootout video!
One of the biggest parts of any comparison is the rider’s opinion. And while this is very important, when it comes to something as similar as motorcycle rubber, using just rider opinion makes it impossible to be exactly accurate. Also, one rider’s preferences may not be that of another’s – especially when it comes to tires. Some like them soft, some hard, some in the middle. Not to mention certain riders are “front end” guys, putting higher value in front tire grip than rear, while you’ve got your big-bore liter-class riders looking for every possible inch of rear drive-grip possible.

These black and round pieces of silicon are worth their weight in gold – especially with racers – and are the link between man, machine and success and man, machine and disaster. Or so everyone thinks.

For this reason the aim in our tire shootout is to turn the rider from a variable to as much of a constant as possible, downplaying opinion in favor of data acquisition, lap times, weight and high-heat durability to determine the winner. We will still add impressions of the tires, so you are able to get an idea of the feel and the feedback given, as data can’t show that. But for scoring and ranking, numbers will take center stage for this mega shootout!

2009 Track Tire Shootout
Five sets of DOT-spec race rubber set to be put to the test in 100-plus degree heat at the infamous Willow Springs.
Behind the Scenes

Here’s the score. Five manufacturers submitted sample rubber to fit a lightly-modded Suzuki GSX-R1000 -- pipe, fuel mapping and suspension setup. Avon, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli all supplied their latest and greatest DOT-labeled race buns – 120 front and 190 rear – to go head-to-head and in a “blind taste test” style of comparison.

“Blind taste test” you say, what’s that? Think Pepsi Challenge from the mind-'90s. By this we mean that at no point was the rider allowed to see what tires he was riding on. The rider (myself) would be secluded while our lead technician Catalyst Reaction’s Dave Moss and Chris McGuire changed tires and put them on warmers. The rider would then mount the bike before the stands and warmers were removed, so as not to see the tread pattern or any logos to give the brand away.

2009 Track Tire Shootout
As you can see the rider was kept totally blind to which tire they would be on throughout the entire test.
Protocol was to do five flying laps on each set -- this being the max we could fit in while still having time to get through all five sets each day. And though this doesn't seem like much, in 105-degree heat it was enough to show early signs of wear, some more than others. Once back in the pits, the rider remained on the bike as it was put on stands with the warmers reapplied, then sent to seclusion again to take notes while the next set was mounted and heated. All tires were set at the manufacturer's recommended pressure settings, while being weighed and measured (with the exception of the Avons, which slipped through the cracks somehow) before they were used, as well as put on tire warmers for exactly 35 minutes each.

To continually even the playing field, tire order was changed from day to day, with the rider unaware of this until the test was totally complete. The rider would also be interviewed on video before knowing any info about the tires, so as not to change options any. Furthermore, a new set of tires from each brand was used each day with the exception of the Avons, who would only send one set because of “financial reasons,” thus they were used both days.



2009 Track Tire Shootout 2009 Track Tire Shootout2009 Track Tire Shootout
For data acquisition we enlisted the help of Kamal Amer from Kinelogix, who fitted the Suzuki with loads of parameters to give the most accurate possible comparison.
2009 Track Tire Shootout
Tires get baked for 35 min. each.
Willow Springs’s multiple racetracks played host to the test in the heat of the summer – mid-July – with Day 1 at Streets and Day 2 at Big Willow. The time of the year brought temperatures well above 100 degrees, really putting both the rubber and the rider to the test.

To gather the hard data, Kamal Amer from Kinelogix was on hand and fitted the Suzuki with their full bolt-on data acquisition system, measuring several parameters and mapping the entire track via GPS. This gave exact lap times, GPS track mapping and line display, as well as individual corner segment times and corner-exit speeds.

Moreover, a control set of tires was used to get a good overall base setup at the beginning of each day, which remained unchanged for every set of new rubber. Due to the large differences in tire profiles and circumferences, it would have been impossible to adjust the Suzuki to make all equal, so the GSX-R was left in the base setup position and remained as a constant for each set of rubber. So how did they stack up?

2009 DOT Race Tire Shootout Gallery
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Other Motorcycle Tire Review Articles
Bridgestone Battlax S20 Tire Review
Bridgestone trickles down MotoGP tire technology to the everyday rider with its Battlax S20 road tire but did the Japanese tire giant succeed?
Bridgestone Battlax R10 Race Tire Review
Motorcycle USA reviews Bridgestone’s latest competition-spec road racing motorcycle tire as used in our recent eight-bike Middleweight Supersport Shootout.
Dunlop Sportmax Q3 Motorcycle Tire Review
Dunlop releases the successor to its effective street/trackday Sportmax Q2 tire. We give the Q3 a pounding at its Huntsville Proving Grounds.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 Dealer Locator

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Comments
Kelly -Continental  February 11, 2010 10:20 AM
I've heard stellar reviews of the ContiRaceAttack Comp's at the track. Would have been great to see how they did in this review.
Gritboy -RE: Actually, I'd love to see a more complete review of all genres of tires  November 5, 2009 01:20 PM
Thanks Steve. That's awesome news... and even Shinkos! ;-)
Greg Gorman -David Moss - tire temps  November 3, 2009 09:28 PM
OK. That's new data for me. How does one go about determining optimum carcass temp? BTW, I have both of your DVDs good stuff in there.
Will -Continental tires?  November 3, 2009 02:54 PM
Where's Conti at??? I love my Continentals and would love to see how their Race Attacks would have fared in your comparison. I know they definitely would have done well in the price segment....
Oldrace -Weight  November 3, 2009 01:18 PM
Great article, cheers! Can you please post the weight of each tyre thanks!
Steve Atlas -RE: Actually, I'd love to see a more complete review of all genres of tires  November 3, 2009 11:12 AM
That exact test is on the way. Due to the need to street test each of those tires it's a bit down the pipeline, but hold tight because it's coming... Including the Shinkos!
Gritboy -Actually, I'd love to see a more complete review of all genres of tires  November 3, 2009 10:54 AM
Great tire comparison, but of limited focus. Actually, I'd love to see a more complete review of all genres of tires off track as well, since that's where most of us use 'em. For instance, how do the latest batch of sport-touring tires compare, not just from the big makers, but even the cheapies like Shinko. Likewise for sport, touring and dual-sport tires. Including in wet, dry, gravel and at various temperatures and bike weights/displacements.
Dave Moss, Catalyst Reaction Suspension Tuning -tire test  November 3, 2009 10:40 AM
Cold tire pressure was set according to what I had for data on these tires based on track day tuning experience (track surface and topolgy, track and ambient temp, rider ability). All these factors go to create optimum carcass temps and grip on that day wit that rider. The data re Michelin not increasing on pressure is a not accurate, as all tires gained pressure. I need to go back to the email send to Steve with all aggregated data to correct that.
Dennis -Pirelli  November 3, 2009 12:38 AM
Pirelli lists the SC's (SC1 to SC3) as 32f/28R (psi) cold. Hot 34.5 to 36psi front/rear.

I ran this on OEM SC's with great results. One sweet tire. 3400km total (200 in the rain) and 1.5 track days (Short/abrasive track). They gave all they had. The front feels a little squishy/sticky, but in a good way. Slides controlled when pushed. The rear backs out nice, feels planted, with tons of grip.
Dennis -Pirelli  November 3, 2009 12:38 AM
Pirelli lists the SC's (SC1 to SC3) as 32f/28R (psi) cold. Hot 34.5 to 36psi front/rear.

I ran this on OEM SC's with great results. One sweet tire. 3400km total (200 in the rain) and 1.5 track days (Short/abrasive track). They gave all they had. The front feels a little squishy/sticky, but in a good way. Slides controlled when pushed. The rear backs out nice, feels planted, with tons of grip.
Dennis -Pirelli  November 3, 2009 12:37 AM
Pirelli lists the SC's (SC1 to SC3) as 32f/28R (psi) cold. Hot 34.5 to 36psi front/rear.

I ran this on OEM SC's with great results. One sweet tire. 3400km total (200 in the rain) and 1.5 track days (Short/abrasive track). They gave all they had. The front feels a little squishy/sticky, but in a good way. Slides controlled when pushed. The rear backs out nice, feels planted, with tons of grip.
Greg Gorman -Tire Pressures  November 2, 2009 06:29 PM
First, well done on consistent laptimes for two days of boring ass testing. Ride fast enough to be respectable but don't toss the bike away on unknown tires. That is a tough job. I wonder how many people actually respect that. You have the Dunlops listed at 21/26 cold/hot on the front and 19/24 cold/hot rear (24.5 at the streets.) That is not what is recommended on the Dunlop site http://www.dunlopracing.com/fitment-2009.html or in the PDF they send with all tire orders. Pressures should be 30/33 F and 21/23 R. Also, were geometry changes made to the bike to account for the 17.5mm total difference between the Dunlops and Pirellis?
Greg Gorman -Tire Pressures  November 2, 2009 06:29 PM
First, well done on consistent laptimes for two days of boring ass testing. Ride fast enough to be respectable but don't toss the bike away on unknown tires. That is a tough job. I wonder how many people actually respect that. You have the Dunlops listed at 21/26 cold/hot on the front and 19/24 cold/hot rear (24.5 at the streets.) That is not what is recommended on the Dunlop site http://www.dunlopracing.com/fitment-2009.html or in the PDF they send with all tire orders. Pressures should be 30/33 F and 21/23 R. Also, were geometry changes made to the bike to account for the 17.5mm total difference between the Dunlops and Pirellis?
Michelin Power One -Willow Springs  November 2, 2009 05:16 PM
Am I right in reading that the Michelin Power ones did not warm up even 1 PSI from cold to hot? 31 cold - 31 hot front?
Steve Atlas -RE: Tire Test  November 2, 2009 02:02 PM
No problem Tim. Your Avons will be okay, but be careful after 5-8 laps as they go off very quickly. As for my lid, in this test I have a stock X-11, but the X-12 that you've probably seen on some of my other stories as done by the talented and surprisingly always on-time Tagger Designs. I would recommend them very highly. Gp to: www.myspace.com/taggerdesigns for more info. The quality if top-notch, price not too high and for the first time in my life I've found a painter with good turn-around time!
Tim -Tire Test  November 2, 2009 01:04 PM
Steve thanks for responding back this report on DOT race tires was timely, I just acquired a set of Avon Viper Extremes for trackday use but after reading your report I don't think I will be using them. I read the report and watched the video on the new Q2 launch and it appears that the Dunlop street tire out performs the Avon track tire on the track, man tires have come a long way since I began riding. By the way who did the paint on your X-12?
Steve Atlas -RE: Tire Test and Pressures  November 2, 2009 08:23 AM
Tim - the exact test you are looking for is on the way! As for pressure, those are the manufacturers’ recommend settings and vary based on carcass construction as well as the type of belting used, etc.
Trevor -Pressures?  November 2, 2009 07:33 AM
Your cold tire pressures vary by s much as 10psi. How does that make this test at all valid?
Tim -Tire Test  November 2, 2009 05:24 AM
Steve excellent report with great information. Now how about a hypersport / trackday tire comparison Bridgestone BT 003 RS, Dunlop Q2, Pirelli Diablo Corsa 3, Metzler Race Tec, Michelin Pilot Power 2 CT / Power One, Avon VP2 Supersport. Since alot of us only have one bike for street and trackdays this type of test would be extremely relevant not to mention the price factor between DOT race and trackday tires for those of us who have a tight budget. Thanks.