What struck me more than anything having raced on all the different treaded competition hoops, is how close this class still is. The perception is that Pirelli, Metzeler, and Dunlop are way ahead, and Dunlop have to fight to be remembered in a control-tyre crazy world.
The reality is that the tyre war is far from over; it’s become a cold war, an arms race with little real fighting head-to-head on track. The gap between the most and least impressive isn’t a lot. At the highest club level, any of these can be competitive.
We have a verdict though, and here it is, along with a reminder of each tyre’s pros and cons, and a proprietary score out of ten as we do for bikes:
1 Dunlop D211GP
10/10 + everything, the new benchmark – nothing
2 Metzeler Racetec
9/10 + grip, stability – less feel than Dunlops
3 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa
9/10 + edge grip, slick feel – wear, less drive when spinning
4 Bridgestone BT-003
8/10 + trail braking, drive grip – edge grip
5 Michelin Power Race
7/10 + edge grip – less feel, Michelin can do better, old
How we tested:
Tyre testing is almost impossible to do fairly. You can always pick holes in any method and find variables. What we were certain of, is that blindfolding is a gimmick (does any mag test bikes blind?), race tyres deserve a race bike with race suspension, and that trackday testing with one session per set of tyres wouldn’t probe deep enough.
I used each type of tyre for a whole race weekend in the ThundersportGB national series, riding my GSX-R1000 K4 Powerbike that has pukka K-Tech/WP suspension by RaceLab and 180bhp with which to shred tyres. While this meant that I rode all the tyres on different tracks, it allowed me a lot of track time on each, plus the chance to fit fresh tyres and continue getting to know the tyre instead of further learning being capped by wear. We used 120/70 fronts and 190/55 rears, the manufacturers’ recommended pressures, and soft fronts and medium rears. It’s a system that worked well, and leaves us confident in the appraisal of each tyre.