1. Can I fit a road tire and an off-road Pirelli tire on the same bike?
Pirelli produce motorcycle tyres with different profiles and treads and these are designed for different purposes. Off-road tyres have thicker treads and are designed for rough conditions. Road tyres are designed to provide maximum grip on smooth tarmac surfaces. The front and rear tyres in Pirelli sets are also designed to complement each other to provide balance and performance. You cannot fit a street tyre and an off-road tyre to the same bike as this can create serious problems in terms of traction, balance and performance. Also in most countries it is illegal to use an off-road motorcycle tyre in street conditions.
2. How do you care for motocross tyres?
Pirelli motorcycle tyres can provide you with optimum performance for off-road racing. You do need to look after your motorcycle tyres and wheels to ensure they last as long as possible and remain in top condition. Everyday pollutants such as road grime, brake dust, oil, sand and mud can all contaminate the wheel finish and also cause the tyres to dull. You must not forget to clean your wheels when you are washing down your bike to remove any dirt and grime. You can also treat wheels against corrosion with protective finishes. This is particularly important if you ride in sandy or salty conditions.
3. How do your clean motorcycle tyres?
Cleaning off-road motorcycle tyres and wheels can be tricky as they can get caked in mud, sand and dirt and the wheel sections often have fiddly spoke designs. You will need to use a non-acidic cleaner on your wheels and tyres and a soft brush so that you can get into all the tight corners and crevices. It can be a good idea to spray the bike over with some water and leave it to soak in for a few moments before you start. This will help loosen dried mud and grime so that it is more easily removed. You can buy cleaners that are specially designed for use on motorcycle tyres which will clear away dirt without degrading the surface of the tyre. Don’t use a hard bristle brush on your wheels and motorcycle tyres as this can cause scratching and damage. Make sure you wash off all the cleaning fluids thoroughly and leave the bike to dry before you put it away.
4. Is there any way to protect wheels from everyday contaminants?
Brake dust, tar, oil and salt can contaminate your Pirelli motorcycle tyres and wheels and cause them to wear more quickly. You can buy motorcycle wheel treatment finishes which can be applied over the wheel surface to form a protective barrier against corrosive elements such as salt and brake dust. These products can also provide a glossy finish to your wheel surfaces which will smarten them up and help you to keep them clean.
5. How do you store Pirelli motorcycle tyres?
If you are interested in competitive off-road racing then you will need some spare parts ready to use if anything gets damaged on race day. You should always have at least one spare motorcycle tyre in case you get a puncture. Spare Pirelli motorcycle tyres should be stored in a cool, dark place that is well ventilated. UV light can damage the surface of a motorcycle tyre so you should never leave them out in the sun. Oil and petrol can also damage the material compounds used in Pirelli motorcycle tyres so it is a good idea to cover spare tyres and ensure they are stored out of the way of any machinery to avoid potential oil or petrol leaks.
6. Is it easy to repair an off-road motorcycle tyre?
It is not recommended that you try and repair Pirelli tyres with standard liquid sealants as this can adversely affect the material compounds used and also hide secondary damage. You can repair small punctures temporarily with a mushroom head type plug and then you should take the motorcycle tyre to a mechanic to see if it can be repaired or whether you need a replacement.
7. Why is tyre pressure important?
To ensure your Pirelli tyres perform to the highest standards you do need to make sure the tyre pressure is appropriate to the conditions you are riding in. Tyres are an important part of your bikes overall suspension and the right pressure will ensure that you have optimum control and comfort as you are riding.
8. How do I check the pressure of my Pirelli tyres?
You can get affordable and portable tyre pressure devices that will allow you to quickly and easily check motorcycle tyre pressure. If you are entering a competitive event you need to check the tire pressure before you ride in each race (cold pressure reading) just to ensure you are starting off with optimum control and traction.
9. What tire pressure do I need for sandy off-road conditions?
You do need to check the pressure of your Pirelli tyres before you ride your off-road bike particularly if you have not used it for a while. If you are riding on soft surfaces such as sand and mud then the recommended pressure is around 10 PSI in the rear and 12 PSI in the front tyre (this may depend on your individual weight and bike). This is a slightly lower pressure in the rear than you would use on a hard track and allows the tire to get a better grip on the softer surface. By having a slightly flatter geometry on the rear you can improve tracking on shifting, sliding surfaces such as sand and mud. Don’t forget to adjust the pressure if you want to ride on harder surfaces.
10. What do the letters on tyres mean?
All motorcycle tyres are stamped with lettering. This will tell you essential sizing details such as the nominal section width in mm, the ratio between the tire section height and the nominal section width and the nominal rim diameter size in inches. You need to know this to make sure you are fitting the right tyres to your wheels and you can check manufacturer guidelines in your instruction manual.
Pirelli Off Road Tyre Range
1. What types of tyres do I need for Rally Cross?
Rally cross racing is basically cross-country for dirt bikes and involves traversing a range of different terrains including tarmac, gravel roads, dirt tracks, sand and even snow. You will need tough and durable dirt bike tyres for this sport and Pirelli make a tyre designed specifically for this, the Scorpion Rally (DOT) or Scorpion XC Range. These tyres are designed with a stiffer carcass for cornering precision and high stability. The tread pattern is optimised for off-road performance and durability and is ideal for cross country racing conditions.
2. What motocross race tyres do Pirelli offer?
Pirelli make the popular Scorpion MX range. These superior motocross race dirt bike tyres are a durable option which are resistant to wear from rough conditions and provide superior traction and braking. The Scorpion MX range offers a good compromise between strength and agility for race conditions.
3. Do you need harder tyres for harder terrains?
When you are racing off road you may have to traverse some very hard terrain such as dry river beds full of boulders, rocky surfaces and rutted dirt tracks. You will actually need softer dirt bike tyres for this type of terrain as this will provide you with the extra grip you need for control and agility in these conditions. You will also need to choose tread blocks that are spaced close together for improved traction on hard surfaces. Harder dirt bike tyres are more useful on softer terrains such as mud, loose dirt and sand. These harder tyres provide better grip in soft conditions and have larger spaces between the treads which allows mud and sand to be thrown free to prevent the tyre from clogging up and losing grip. Harder dirt bike tyres will also have slightly spiky tread patterns for better traction in soft conditions.
4. What tire should I choose for varied conditions?
Some off road courses will cover a variety of hard and soft terrains. You can get some effective intermediate dirt bike tyres that combine properties of both the hard and soft tyre options. This provides a good compromise and will allow you to ride through different terrains from dry dirt tracks to muddy forest trails without having to stop and change your tyres.
5. What are paddle tyres?
Paddle tyres are a special type of off-road tyre that are designed specifically for riding in the sand. These dirt bike tyres have a scooped, paddle style tread which digs into sand and throws it free from the tyre to provide you with ultimate traction for desert and beach riding. If you are taking part in off-road events located in sandy conditions then you will need paddle tyres to remain competitive. You will have to change the tyres though if you want to race in other track conditions as paddle tires are no good for other terrains.
6. How can I help avoid punctures in off-road racing?
If you take part in rally cross or trials riding then you will be at high risk of punctures due to the challenging conditions. This will slow you down and could put you right out of a race. You can help to prevent punctures by investing a heavy duty inner tube. Inner tubes are available in all different strengths and thickness so it should be easy to source a more durable option for your dirt bike tyres.
7. When should I replace my dirt bike tyres?
Rough off-road conditions can wear dirt bike tyres quickly so you will need to inspect them after every use and make sure they are still in good condition. Look for signs of cracking or wear around the edge of the tyre and also check the tread knobs to make sure they have not worn down. If the tread knobs are low this will reduce the performance of the dirt bike tyres. If you are a competitive rider then you should replace both tires at the same time and use matching brands to ensure balance and performance.
8. What air pressure do my dirt bike tyres need to be?
You should check your dirt bike manual for guidance on tyre pressure but as a general rule you will need a slightly lower pressure for softer conditions and a higher pressure for harder conditions. If the air pressure is too low when you are riding in hard terrain then the ride will be very uncomfortable and you may also risk damaging your wheel rims or getting a puncture. Here is some basic guidance on air pressure:
• Soft Conditions – when riding in mud or sand set the air pressure to around 11 PSI in the front and 10 PSI in the rear for the best traction.
• Hard Conditions – When riding across hard packed dirt tracks, rocky trails and rough conditions set the air pressure to around 13 PSI on both the front and back (no more than 14 PSI though).
9. What types of dirt bike tyres are best for snowy conditions?
If you want to go off-road in the winter or at altitude then you could experience some snowy conditions. Winter dirt bike tyres are available and these perform more effectively at lower temperatures and in difficult icy and snowy conditions. Winter dirt bike tyres will have a higher number of sipes in the tread pattern to help provide traction on the ice. You can also fit snow chains to dirt bikes to provide even more grip and control. Riding any two wheel bike in snowy and icy conditions can be dangerous but you can improve traction by using winter tyres and chains.
10. What off-road tyres are best for wet conditions?
Off-road riders often have to deal with wet conditions and will need dirt bike tyres that can reduce hydroplaning and provide adequate traction. Dirt bike tyres designed for traction under wet conditions have special tread patterns that are designed to channel water away from the tyre and reduce the risks of hydroplaning.
Pirelli Race Tyre Range
1. Why choose Pirelli tyres?
Pirelli slicks are one of the top choices for high performance competitive events. Pirelli are a major name in top level motorbike sports and have spent many years honing their manufacturing skills out on the track. The latest generation Pirelli slicks have been designed through the intense competitive conditions of the World Superbike Championship and the race track technology has been handed down to the rest of the Pirelli tyre range. This includes the new EPT (Enhanced Patch) technology, which maximises the tyre’s contact with the road surface to provide superior traction and performance. Pirelli can bring innovative design to standard and racing slick tyres to provide you with that competitive edge.
2. Can you use racing slicks on the streets?
Two wheel vehicles need reliable traction for safety in road conditions and slick tyres have a poor tread wear rating and need a lot of warming up before they provide adequate grip. Racing slicks will not have been tested to the relevant road safety standards so it is illegal to use them on the street. In wet conditions slick tyres are downright dangerous on the road and you will feel the wheels sliding out from under you when you hit the throttle hard or turn into a bend. Also everyday road tarmac is a poor comparison to the smooth surface of the track and racing slick tyres are not designed to deal with rough conditions and will wear out in just a few hundred kilometers.
3. What are racing slick tyres made from?
Racing slicks are made from a rubber compound that although is harder than normal street tyres when cold, is actually much softer when it has warmed up to track temperatures. This softer compound then provides greater adhesion to the road surface improving performance in acceleration, braking and cornering. It is difficult to get racing slicks up to temperature in normal road conditions or when the weather is colder and this is one of the reasons they are not suitable for street use. You will see race teams warming racing slick tyres before a race using special heating covers to make sure they are up to temperature from the very start.
4. Why do I need racing slicks?
Racing slick tyres are designed with no tread pattern. This increases the surface area of the tyre that comes into contact with the road and so improves traction. Slick tyres are perfect for track racing as they enhance steering and braking performance significantly. If you are racing in dry conditions then racing slicks can provide you with a competitive edge for your race bike.
5. Why can’t you use racing slicks in wet conditions?
Racing slicks do not have any tread and so cannot provide adequate grip in wet or icy conditions. Without grooves the tyre simply aquaplanes across the wet surface causing a dangerous lack of control for the rider. This is why racing slicks cannot be used in wet conditions and must be swapped for standard race tyres if the weather conditions change during an event.
6. When were racing slick tyres first invented?
The first company to produce slick tyres was M&H Tires back in the 1950’s. This was designed for the drag racing market and by eliminating the tread the contact patch with the road was enhanced creating significantly improved traction. These slick tyres could not be used in street conditions but an alternative design called the ‘cheater slick’ was developed in the 1960s for the hot rod world. This was similar to a slick tyre but had just enough tread grooves to make it legal on the road. In modern times tyre technology has evolved significantly and wide radial grooved tyres perform much better than the cheater slicks of the past, although these are sometimes still used to provide a more authentic, nostalgic look for classic hot rods.
7. Why do you have to warm up Pirelli slicks before use?
All racing slick tyres need to be warmed up before they are used on the track in race conditions. This is because without tread these tyres are less prone to deforming under load and so can be manufactured from much softer compounds which provide improved adhesion to the road. However these softer compounds take a lot longer to heat up which is why in competitive conditions they are warmed before the race in special heating units.
8. What racing slicks do Pirelli sell?
Pirelli sell a wide range of race tyres including racing slicks. These are designed using technology tested out on the race track for optimum performance. The Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC range is available from all good race tyre suppliers and is designed for optimum traction and stability under race conditions. You cannot use Pirelli racing slick tyres on the road but a good compromise is the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa. This versatile sport tire can be used on both the road and the race track and provides high performance in different conditions. The unique tread design offers a similar level of performance to slick tyres but with the additional strength and reliability of standard tyres in wet conditions.
9. What is rolling resistance?
As a tyre rolls the tread is slightly deformed when it comes into contact with the flat road surface. Rolling resistance is how resistant the tyre is to this kind of deformation. The more resistance the less power is required to turn the wheel and the higher the performance from the vehicle. Because racing slicks do not have any tread they are more resistant to deformation and this means that they can ‘stick’ to the road more effectively and provide improved traction and control.
10. Do I need hard or soft tires on the race track?
Pirelli offer both hard and soft race tyres. Hard tyres provide maximum grip to enhance acceleration and braking and are durable for constant performance from the beginning of the race to the end. Soft tyres offer great adhesion to the road in good conditions and this can provide additional stability and improved traction for that competitive edge. Soft tyres such as racing slicks are less hard wearing and will not last as long as hard tyres.