TIRE COMPOUND MYSTERY: STREET OR RACE?
Over the years I’ve had many people ask me if they could buy some of my used race tires, and I’ve sold many a set of these tires, but only to those that tell me they are going to use them on the race track. Many people believe that a race compound tire is stickier and allows them to ride faster and with more confidence, and for those that ride on a race track, this is true. For those that are looking for the extra grip on the street, I do not recommend using a purpose built race compound tire, simply because it is almost impossible to get these race tires up to their correct operating temperatures while safely riding in a street environment. A purpose built race tire has a lot more traction then any street compound tire on the market, but it only offers you this enhanced grip when it is within its optimum operating temperature, which is usually well above 50 degrees Celsius. In order to get a tire to that type of temperature you need to be continuously working that tire with a combination of hard acceleration, high cornering forces and hard braking, which is impossible to do safely on the street. Even the fastest street rider is probably not (and should not)be able to get a race tire up to its optimum temperature to reap the benefits of the added traction.
If the majority of your riding is on the street you should stick with a street compound tire, designed for your particular type of motorcycle. The street tires are purposely designed to come up to temperature quicker, withstand hundreds of heat cycles and operate better at the lower temperatures that are normally associated with street riding. If you feel you need that extra grip, you can now get dual compound street tires that offer improved traction for when you are on the edge of the tire in the corners, but they have a harder compound in the middle so they last longer, which is ideal for street riding. You get the best of both worlds all in one tire.
When it comes to that time to replace your old worn out tires, you need to honestly evaluate the type of riding you do and make your decision based on that information. If you mostly ride up and down the straight open highways with an occasional weekend spirited ride to the twisties, you’re probably going to want a tire that offers good mileage. If you do the majority of your riding on the track at local track days, I would recommend you get yourself either a set of race tires and some tire warmers or a good performance oriented sport tire. Regardless of what type of riding you do, and what type and brand of tire you choose, remember to regularly check the pressures and keep the correct air pressures in them. It will allow you to get the most out of your tires and ride with confidence knowing you’ve got the correct rubber beneath you.