The job of a sportbike tire is a tough one. Considering the performance – and variety – of today’s modern sporting machines, an ideal tire needs to be able to warm up quickly, offer good grip in both wet and dry conditions, transfer feedback to the rider, and provide good handling capabilities. Thankfully, all the major tire companies work tirelessly to improve their tires to meet these demands. Of course, longevity is a concern as well, but compared to a sport-touring tire a sportbike tire won’t quite measure up with all the other duties it has to perform.
Here, we’ve gathered seven different tires that are great at handling it all. We’ve focused on street-based tires, since that’s where the majority of sportbike riders spend their time, although all of the tires here are more than capable of handling the occasional trackday or two. If you’re the serious trackday/racing type, we’ll have a separate guide for you coming soon. And now, in alphabetical order…
Avon 3D Ultra Sport $126 – $173
The Avon 3D Ultra Sport tires aren’t as widely known as other brands, but offer impressive performance. The 3D in its name refers to the sipes cut into the tire with three-dimensional points underneath that interlock and limit tread flex, thus allowing for quicker warm-up times and better stability. Avon’s variable belt technology places the steel cords close together in the center for stability and even wear, while the cords are further apart at the edges to give as big a footprint as possible while leaned over. And, of course, a bigger footprint means more grip.
Triple Extrusion tread compound features more durable compound in the center of the tire for longevity and a softer compound at the shoulders for – you guessed it – better grip. A third compound underneath the two binds them together and helps with cooling.
Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 $153 – $225
If the Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 sounds familiar to you, maybe it’s because our own Evans Brasfield just finished sampling them at the Jerez circuit. The latest in B-Stone’s street-focused sportbike tire lineup, the S22 takes the popular S21 and makes it better through the use of new compounds, new tread patterns, and more. With two different compounds in front and three in the rear, the S22s are able to perform over a wider range of temperatures.
In the rear, Bridgestone engineers shrunk the size of the silica molecules, providing more silica for the same surface area. This means more contact with the road (though at a granular level). Bridgestone’s ULTIMAT EYE technology, a proprietary tire dyno that allows engineers to measure contact patch grip and slippage in a controllable/repeatable manner, the designers were able to test a wide variety of compounds and profiles. Through this testing, the slippage at the back edge of both front and rear contact patches was reduced. The payoff for this effort is increased cornering grip and lessened tire wear. Needless to say, check out the review link above for even more details about this very capable tire.
Continental Sport Attack 2 $150 – $229
Entirely made in Germany, the Continental Sport Attack 2 tires are another option worthy of consideration. Unlike other tires here which use different compounds to achieve results, Continental uses its Multigrip technology with the Sport Attack 2, which allows for a single compound to be used throughout. Temperature-controlled curing of the tire is what allows it to achieve more mileage in the center with better grip on the sides. By using a single compound there’s a smooth, continuous transition from upright to full lean.
Continental’s TractionSkin technology puts a micro-rough surface on the tire via new mold coating method which eliminates the need for release agents. The result? Virtually zero break-in time. Lastly, the zero-degree belt ensures excellent stability from the tire, especially at high speeds.
Dunlop Q3+ $120 – $186
Dunlop made a good street/track tire with the standard Q3, but then it went and made it even better with the Q3+, redesigning 80% of the old tire. Our own John Burns reviewed the Q3+ when it was released in 2017. The big change is a new silica-enriched center tread section. Much of the credit for the Q3+’s increased longevity goes to this new compound, which will add many miles to the tire without sacrificing grip, says Dunlop. The CFT, or Carbon Fiber Technology, first seen on the Q3 returns on the +, which provides reinforcement in the sidewalls for exceptional cornering stability at high lean angles, responsive and precise steering, and predictable, smooth transitions. Changes in construction and compound contribute to increased tire stability while maintaining the current tire profile, giving the Q3+ a 3.5% to 6% bigger footprint and therefore more grip at max lean angles.
The Q3+ was designed and manufactured in Dunlop’s Buffalo, New York facilities, right alongside the company’s proven racing tires, so you know it comes from a rich pedigree. You can read John’s review linked above for all the nitty-gritty details on the Q3+ and see if it’s right for you.
Metzeler Sportec M7 RR $113 – $189
As one of the most dominant tire manufacturers at the Isle of Man TT, Metzeler knows a thing or two about making sportbike tires that perform well on the street, especially at racing speeds. With the Sportec M7 RR, you have a tire incorporating the lessons learned from the TT. Metzeler paid a lot of attention to making a tire that can perform in both wet and dry conditions, hence the amount of grooves (and their placement) compared to other tires here. Evans provides a more detailed explanation of the grooves, why they are placed where they are, and why they are important (among several more details) in his review of the M7 RR.
Performance in varying conditions is also dependent on compound, and the M7 RR uses a dual-compound rear with 100% silica on the edges for quick warmup (the front is 100% silica). A harder compound in the central portion of the rear tire not only provides longevity, but also helps with stability during side-to-side transitions.
Michelin Pilot Power 2CT $102 – $165
Michelin’s Pilot Power 2CT is one of the first tires to incorporate multi-compound technology in a sportbike tire, and still remains a good choice in rubber. Michelin’s own propaganda material states the 2CT, “uses three new silica-reinforced tread compounds. Developed from MotoGP rain tires, the silica component helps provide grip and progressive responsiveness on cold, wet surfaces… The front tires integrate a soft compound, while the rear tires are made with a harder compound that can withstand greater demands during acceleration. The rear tires also have a slightly softer section, part of which is in contact with the ground even when the motorcycle is fully upright. This facilitates warmup, and, consequently, grip.”
Speaking of grip, Michelin’s test riders were able to achieve 51.2º lean angle (in the dry, of course) on the test track – an impressive feat. We reviewed the Pilot Power 2CT on, of all things, a Kawasaki ZX-11 and came away impressed.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II $142 – $240
Pirelli says all the new safety technology on today’s sportbikes has allowed the average rider to ride faster and safer than ever before. But going faster typically means carrying greater lean angles. To keep up, Pirelli updated is beloved Diablo Rosso Corsa into this – the Diablo Rosso Corsa II. This is a significant tire because it’s the first Pirelli to feature multiple compounds, in as many as five different zones (for the rear) consisting of full carbon black, full silica, and a 70% silica makeup in the center (the other 30% being a combination of resins and polymers for stability and longevity). The front uses three zones of either full carbon black (edges) or full silica (center). The profile of the new tire is different, too; the more triangulated shape enhances quick transitions and maximum stick at full lean where the shoulders are broader for a bigger contact patch.
All of this is a long way of saying Pirelli has incorporated everything its learned from being the sole tire supplier for World Superbike into a street tire – a street tire more than capable of handling track duty. It warms up fast, provides plenty of stick, and delivers great feel at the edge. It even lasts a while, too. How do we know? Because John reviewed the Diablo Rosso Corsa II at Laguna Seca in 2018. Read the review to learn more.
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