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2010 Street Motorcycle Tire Comparison

Monday, November 1, 2010

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2010 Street Motorcycle Tire Comparison Video
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Motorcycle USA puts 10 different high-performance street motorcycle tires to the test. Find out which tire comes out on top in the 2010 Street Motorcycle Tire Comparison Video.
Motorcycle tires are the most critical link between rider and machine. They are one of the primary performance aspects of a street or sportbike and the connection to what’s happening between road and handlebar. These days riders are fortunate to experience remarkable advancement in tire technology. Tire manufacturers invest millions of dollars in hopes of creating the perfect shoe for your bike and it’s all done to deliver the best possible product for a multitude of road conditions. From the street to the racetrack and even on wet surfaces, today’s high-performance street tires can truly do-it-all. Still the question remains which tire is the best? Considering the sheer number of offerings on the market today, determining which tire is right for you and your street bike is almost impossible. That’s where Motorcycle USA comes in with its inaugural 2010 Street Motorcycle Tire Comparison.
We contacted six major industry players including: Avon, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli and Shinko and asked them to submit its latest and greatest production DOT-legal sport rubber in sizes 120/70-17 front and 190/50-17 rear for fitment on a current generation Honda CBR1000RR. We specified that the tires had to be compatible for use in all sport riding environments (street and racetrack) as well as in the wet. The reason we selected Honda’s Superbike as a test platform is because it is endowed with one of the best and most versatile chassis of any contemporary sportbike (in stock form) which would allow us to hone in on the nuances of each tire instead of the intricacies of the motorcycle.
If price wasnt an factor Waheeds favorite tire would be Pirellis Diablo Supercorsa SP as it felt the most like a race tire than any of the others.
We tested 10 sets of the latest road-legal street and sportbike tires to help you decide what might be the best rubber to sling on your bike.
Each of the tires were pre-heated for 20 minutes before heading out on track.
The Dunlop Sportmax Q2s serve up authentic race-grade levels of performance.
Out of the 10 tires we tested you simply can’t pick a bad tire. Yes there are some substantial differences between each model yet they still deliver a high-level of performance for your street or sportbike.

Both Avon and Dunlop chose to submit a single model for the comparison. Avon delivered its VP2 Supersport while Dunlop gave us its recently released Sportmax Q2 (read our individual assessment in the Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Product Review).
The remaining tire manufactures all submitted two different models of rubber. Japanese tire giant, Bridgestone wished us to test its Battlax BT-016 (learn more about this tire individually in our Bridgestone Battlax BT-016 Review) and its top-of-the-line and more-track oriented Battlax BT-003RS.
French tire manufacturer, Michelin provided the more affordable Pilot Power 2CT and top tier Power One 2CT tires which we tested last year (in race-only compounds in the Michelin Power One 2CT Tire Review) as a part of our 2009 Supersport Shootout VII. Unfortunately its recently released Power Pure tire wasn’t available when we first began the test.
Next up was Italian tire conglomerate, Pirelli with its base Diablo Rosso road tire (which we tested individually in the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Tire Review) and premier Diablo Supercorsa SP hoop that comes as standard fitment on Ducati’s latest generation 1198 Superbike and Triumph’s Daytona 675. Similarily to the Power Pure, Pirelli’s new Diablo Corsa Rosso tire was not available at the start of the test.. Lastly, Japanese-designed and Korean-built tire maker Shinko gave us both its base Advance 005 and more performance-oriented Stealth 003 road tires. Find out more about the Stealth in the Shinko Stealth Tire Review.
Testing was split between the track and public roadways in and around Southern California. We began by spending two days at Willow Springs International Raceway. Day 1 was on the 1.3-mile Streets road course. With its copious bumps, heavy braking and acceleration zones, not to mention banked low-to-medium speed corners it is an excellent circuit to simulate a real world riding environment. Day 2 we moved to the ultra high-speed 2.5-mile main course. Affectionately known as The Fastest Road in the West, the big track features a long fifth-gear pinned straightaway (on a liter-bike) and a number of triple-digit speed bends that subject tires to the most severe conditions imaginable. Adding to the chaos was the 100-plus degree ambient air temperature which heated the pavement in excess of 130 degrees.
In order to keep the racetrack portion of the test as fair as possible and mitigate rider bias we utilized a “blindfold” protocol for the test. After each tire was weighed and measured each set was segregated into three control groups based on price point. The “A” group consisted of each manufacturer’s top-of-the line tires including the Avon VP2 Supersport, Bridgestone BT-003RS, Dunlop Q2, Michelin Power One and Pirelli Supercorsa SP. Group “B” were made up of the Bridgestone BT-016, Michelin Power and Pirelli Rosso. Lastly, group “C” was comprised of the Shinko Advance and Stealth.
After acquiring a suitable base suspension setting with the standard OE tire, the test tires were then randomly mounted to the CBR according to group while the rider was out of sight. No additional suspension changes were allowed. Cold tire pressure was set at 32 psi in the front and 30 in the rear and then each set was pre-heated with tire warmers for a period of 20 minutes. The motorcycle was then fully re-fueled to ensure minimal changes in the weight of the bike.

Doesnt get any easier to wheelie than the Honda CBR1000RR.Brakes. The 2010 Honda CBR1000RR has a good set-up.
Motorcycle-USA leaves nothing to chance testing tires—at times on one wheel—in
order to find out which street tire is truly the best.
The test rider (author) sat on the bike before the tire warmers were removed so he couldn’t see the tire and then put in exactly five laps. Data including lap times was acquired using a compact GPS-equipped Track Day Data Logger mounted underneath the rear seat courtesy of Kinelogix. As soon as he returned to the pits the rider handed the bike over to the mechanic and would walk away out of eyesight of the motorcycle. This procedure would then be repeated for the remaining sets of tires. Each day the order of the tires was switched.
After the racetrack portion of our test was completed we began logging street miles on each set of rubber. Cold tire pressure was set per Honda’s recommendations for unloaded solo street use (36 psi front, 42 psi rear). We rode in dry conditions (unfortunately it almost never rains in Southern California) on a variety of different riding scenarios including short-distance touring on the freeway, urban use through the city as well as spirited riding on some of our preferred backroads. Due to the sheer number of tires we needed to run through we were unable to successfully record mileage life on all of the tires. So without further ado, discover what tires you need to purchase for your bike as Motorcycle-USA brings you its most comprehensive tire comparison test to date.

Street Motorcycle Tire Comparo Photos
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Drive-grip was ample and allowed easy lofting of the front wheel without even trying.
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! 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…

Read the full review in the 2009 DOT Race Motorcycle Tire Shootout

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Ray5961   October 27, 2012 03:36 AM
I don't think these guys know how to work their scale. I have a brand new set of Q2's sitting here in the shop and I just used a gram scale to weigh them. Here are the weights in Kg and lbs. Front 120/70 is 4.66 Kg or 10.273 lbs. The rear 190/55 (not 190/50 as used in the article here) is 7.14 Kg or 15.74 lbs. I also just received an e-mail from Pirelli Italy and they state that their Supercorsa SP in 190/55 size is 13.86 lbs.
Mark -No Power Pures?  November 27, 2010 05:43 AM
Where's the Power Pure?
satyride -Shinko 009  November 9, 2010 03:24 PM
The strange world.I just punctured a 190x50x17 Dunlop M sport which I will replace and patch myself since no one wants liability(tiny mid tread 1//8 screw,no leaking of air, as they would much rather sell -demount/balance a new one. A fine country I fought for,eh? As it were after 60 yrs of riding world wide I know a bit of wrenching,etc and this tire is on a VERY built Kawi MStreak 2006.Out of Me and ny 24 bikes were out of USA since 1973.This is not one of my rockets of course but after 3 rears the Dunnie was the best, so it will be patched as tread life is another 4-5k.A spare kept in the garage.I was so happy to see the tire test as I just ordered a Shinko 009.The review and impressions were as expected from my research. Being on a sport cruiser with flat roads in Fl.it should be fine.Great spec layout for every mfgr.They should all do this .I reasearch every tire for my many bikes and it is frustrating to find many tires with no info available.Great job.
nathan j fama -king of the house  November 7, 2010 04:51 PM
I don't understand the discrepancy in the stated weight of the Q2. I had a 180x55 and the manufacturers rep emailed me back that it was 14.8lbs. Now in this article, the Q2 190x50 is 13.02lbs. To add to the confusion, the 180x55 Q2 was the same arc the across the tread dimension as the BTO-16 190x50. doesn't make sense to me..... and this is not consistent among manufacturers. In simpler terms, Dunlop made their 180x55 Q2 the same size as the other manufactures 190x50s, and there is a huge discrepancy in stated weights, 14.8 vs 13.02. Add 1963mm vs 2035mm circumference variation for one size. Smoking mirrors to me. We need better information from impartial reporters on all tires in terms of dimensions per size and some rationale for the discrepancies.
desmo demon -Tire test  November 6, 2010 10:07 AM
I ride A KTM Superduke R modified some. Has kick ass touque out of curves. Our group rides agressively on country twisty roads and the Dunlop Q2 has super good traction and rider feedback !!! Also had same results on my Ducati. Bought several sets when they were on sale for 200 bucks a pair. Great price, but the wear factor is no better than the others even with the dual compound tread. We get about 3000 miles, then there toast!!!! I put 34psi in front and 32 rear, this gives fast warmup and traction action. One mag test stated this was the best pressure to use as these tires are very sensitive to psi.
W1LLPARK3R -I wanna see...  November 5, 2010 12:23 PM
full on SLICKS tested on public roads ala ur own little TT race..
Tim -Tire Test  November 4, 2010 03:51 PM
Adam, great job, thanks.
GhostRider -Thanx Adam-MotoUSA  November 3, 2010 05:05 AM
Great choice for a test machine!I have a '09 white CBR1000rr (with OEM Dunlops) and the stock suspension settings are pretty good as you mentioned. Many average street riders don't even attempt to adjust their bikes to suit them anyway... they just slap a set of tires on and go! This review helped me confirm my previous final 2 choices... the Dunlop Q2 vs the Power Pures which were not available. Not sure if you rode on the PUREs so I think many of us would respect your opinion on them! Dunlop tires were said to have great performance but not longlasting wear potential!? Has anyone else come across this? I was a Bridgestone-guy before and never had the slipping problem that I had with the Michelins. I will get the Q2s for my '09 CBR. Adam, when possible, post some test/review info on the Power PUREs because I plan to slap a set on my '05 CBR. Thanx in advance.
Jake -Tire Test  November 2, 2010 08:32 PM
Another awesome test guys. But I want to know which tire lasts the longest? Maybe you can include this in your next test.
ChWelch -Mileage?  November 2, 2010 10:05 AM
This is a very good review IMO. I throughly enjoyed reading through ever page of the review. I'm currently running Pirelli Tires and have for awhile but after the review of the Q2s I think they would be worth trying out a set. The only thing that wasn't addressed in the review was how the tires wear. I ride an average of 15,000 miles or so a year so tire life is a another thing I consider when purchasing tires. Other than that, Great job guys!
TG -Slight nit-pick  November 2, 2010 09:08 AM
Great article, awesome detail. However, even as we are talking about high performance tires, what's the wear like? I know you had to get ten tires tested, so you wouldn't have had a lot of time on each. But in reality, the high end Pirelli's are way off my list due to cost/mile.
JeffD -Joe - There is a difference  November 1, 2010 10:33 PM
Joe - points well taken, I did retract my earlier critical tone. However, you need to understand that there are significant differences in how tire manufacturers approach design. Adjusting geometry is a critical element in setting up suspension. It is something that you should do with you own personal machinery when you replace OEM tires with other makes, even if they are the same size. Do some research, you will realize how important this is. For a TRUE comparison making judgements on handling impressions and lap times, the most fair way to have conducted the test is to have equalized the CBR1000RR's geometry for each tires variance. That said, for the resources M-USA had - 1 bike/rider (read my 2nd post below), this indeed was a great read. Jeff
Joe -User comments; overly critical.  November 1, 2010 08:24 PM
Jeff D. "Not compensating for different tire circumferences...have at least the same geometry for the same bike." This is in the 2nd paragraph. "asked them to submit..in sizes 120/70-17 front and 190/50-17 rear for fitment on a current generation Honda CBR1000RR" The responsibility is on the tire manufacturer (not the reviewer) to submit the correct tire requested for review. Bob: "not adjust the rear ride height to correct the chassis attitude?" This was also in the article. "acquiring a suitable base suspension setting with the standard OE tire...no additional suspension changes were allowed." This is standardization (something that is required on any well designed study) removing as many variables (suspension adjustments,PSI,temperature,etc) is the only way to generate consistent, reliable data. You are comparing tires against each other, not trying to find the best setup for each tire on this specific bike. "do the tire pressures used in the test seem a bit high (36F/42R)?" Again, it's in the article. "Cold tire pressure was set per Honda’s recommendations" Please try to consider the scope and purpose of the article before you start criticizingly, at the very least read the whole carefully before rushing to judgement. As far as I can read, this was an excellently designed trial, going so far as to even "blind" the rider to correct for possible bias (which I have yet to see done elsewhere). This was a very, very good article. Finding a true tire comparison (not just an individual tire review) is rare, especially when you consider the price for the reader. Cheers MotoUSA, this reader is very satisfied!
JeffD -Kudos to Adam and +1 on Tire Pressure Question  November 1, 2010 07:54 PM
Adam, I apologize for my tone in my earlier post. Someone must have pissed in my cereal this morning. I was indeed a lot of testing to be done by one rider on one bike, so I can appreciate that you would have run out of time trying to optimize each tire to the bike with proper chassis adjustments. Great job on the article and amount of "work" you had to do (let me know next time if you need help in riding on bikes and tires I didn't pay for) to get all these impressions, it is indeed a good article with articulate descriptions of the differences with the tires. I agree with Bob that the tire pressures you used at the track were a bit high. I understand that those pressures are what you would run on the street but you were indeed on the track, where most people would run lower pressures. Each manufacturer could have given you the recommendations for track use. I also agree with Bob that the Q2's could have done even better at proper pressure, especially since their stiffer carcass more mimics race tire construction and lower pressures could have had the compound working even better. Next time... Thanks again and keep up the great work! This is now my favorite bike site. Jeff
MotoUSA - Adam -No Suspension Adjustments to Compensate for Different Tire Circumference?  November 1, 2010 04:20 PM
guys it would be impossible to set-up the bike for 10 different tires and do the track test in the alloted time. regardless, these tires were designed with versatility in mind. engineers knew that 99% of folks aren't going to set-up the bike to the tire so they made the profile versatile for a wide range of models...
Bob -Tire Pressure  November 1, 2010 04:04 PM
Is it just me or do the tire pressures used in the test seem a bit high (36F/42R)? That sounds like the max pressure rating as printed on the sidewalls to me, not solo riding.

On the street, I run Dunlop Qualifiers (the 1st Gen because I can still get them) and run 32F/38R on the 120F/170R sizes for a 500 lb bike with a 225 ld rider. Any higher, they slide. Any less, they feel sloppy. The race tires on my track bike are significantly lower.

Too high of a tire pressure can prevent the tire from keeping heat in the rubber because the carcass isn't flexing enough, not to mention the reduced contact patch.

Does the newer generation of tires really require PSI this high? I'd be interested in an article on tire pressures in the future. Preferably with the manufacturers providing their side of the story.
Bob -I agree with JeffD  November 1, 2010 03:49 PM
Why would anyone in their right mind (especially someone conducting a so-called test), at a bare minimum, not adjust the rear ride height to correct the chassis attitude? This would allow a more fair comparison, even leaving the clickers alone, by allowing for the same chassis geometry across the board. For example, I think the Q2 would have done better, given that the front is bigger and the rear is smaller compared to many others.

However, any review is better than none. We just have to read between the lines.
JeffD -No Suspension Adjustments to Compensate for Different Tire Circumference?  November 1, 2010 02:25 PM
This appears to be a fundamental flaw in your review, as according to the article "After acquiring a suitable base suspension setting with the standard OE tire, the test tires were then randomly mounted to the CBR according to group while the rider was out of sight. No additional suspension changes were allowed." Not compensating for different tire circumferences will create geometry changes to the bike setup that could drastically affect the handling. Pretty disappointing as this renders your data and rider opinions very suspect as each tire did not have at least the same geometry for the same bike, not to mention different damping characteristics that could benefit the construction differences between tires. Seems like a pretty rookie mistake and if I was a tire manufacturer I would be disappointed and likely wouldn't send you any more tires for future amateur reviews... Just sayin'
MotoUSA - Adam -These aren't racing tires  November 1, 2010 02:13 PM
These are high-performance street tires.
McFrak -Uhhhh....  November 1, 2010 01:42 PM
Maybe I'm missing the point here, but arent these race oriented tires, being tested on a track? And, the article is called STREET motorcycle tire comparison? Point is, I was really excited to see the article, cuz I'm down to the cord on my SV's rear, & am not sure what to buy. I see tire warmers, why does a true street tire need warmers? Pilot Powers & Supercorsa's were NOT was expecting to be reading about...