Tires play a crucial role, second only to the rider, in preventing mishaps and ensuring your bike stays intact at the apex of turn one. Think of them as a form of relatively affordable insurance, saving you from the potential financial blows of bike repairs and medical bills, especially in the demanding world of track riding.
Here, the choice often boils down to road-legal, treaded tires or the sleek precision of slicks, each catering to distinct preferences and performance needs. And the decision isn’t just about lap time potential; it’s about finding a trackday tire that goes beyond – one that offers a precise feel and responsive feedback. Without these crucial elements, the confidence to push your limits becomes an elusive prize.
Presenting the Top 7 Best Motorcycle Track Day Tires
|Bridgestone Battlax RS11
|Best Wet Weather
|RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
|Michelin Power Cup 2
|Best Warm-Up Time
|RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
|Continental Race Attack 2
|RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
|Metzeler Racetec RR
|RevZilla | CycleGear | MotoSport
|Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa V4
|RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
|Shinko 008 Race Slicks
|RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
|Avon 3D Ultra Xtreme Slicks
|RevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon
I may not be a professional racer, but my passion for track riding spans nearly 50 years. And as a seasoned track enthusiast, I believe my extensive experience equips me to discern the nuances of how the best track day tires perform, providing valuable insights for fellow riders. Here are my top motorcycle trackday tires available today:
1. Bridgestone Battlax RS11: Best Wet Weather
With a prestigious six-year tenure as the official MotoGP spec tire spanning from 2008 to 2015, Bridgestone’s tire prowess underwent a transformative journey. What was once a paddock punchline evolved into the preferred choice for elite riders, exemplified by the compelling influence that led Valentino Rossi to compel the Yamaha Factory Racing team to adopt Bridgestone in 2008 and Dani Pedrosa’s mid-season switch with Repsol Honda.
The impressive performance-driven transformation resulted from substantial research and development (R&D). And Bridgestone’s expertise in tire-making, initially reserved for racing slicks, gradually permeated into sports, touring, and adventure motorcycle tire segments. The journey began with the launch of the Bridgestone Battlax RS10 on November 6, 2014.
The Battlax Sport Touring T30 EVO and Battlax Adventure A40, unveiled on the same date, also reaped the benefits of this infusion of racing technology.
From RS10 to RS11
But as the Battlax RS10 aged and called for an upgrade, Bridgestone took a bold step, introducing the new RS11 in March 2020. Remarkably, the RS11 outshines its predecessor in every performance aspect while maintaining a price point even more attractive than its competitors.
MotoGP Tech at Your Fingertips
Embedded within the RS11’s performance arsenal is the trickle-down of MotoGP technology, featuring Bridgestone’s proprietary “Ultimat Eye” system for enhanced grip and consistency. The Variable Mono Spiral Belt optimizes rigidity, contributing to superior cornering, while the new tread pattern aids warm-up time and grip.
Unlike most DOT race tires, both front and rear RS11 tires have tread grooves near the edge, deviating from the conventional design.
Fine-Tuned for Precision
Refinements to the trademark Mono Spiral Belt introduce the Variable Mono Spiral Belt (V-MSB), incorporating different wire cord spacing for optimum rigidity. The front tire strategically places closer wire cords in the center for a stiffer carcass during braking, while wider spacing towards the edges allows more flexibility for improved feel and grip during cornering.
Larger rear R11 sizes showcase a new GP Belt, initially seen on Bridgestone’s V02 racing slicks, further enhancing tread stabilization and drive grip.
The culmination of these advancements results in unparalleled grip and consistency. Even after navigating challenging laps during my inaugural ride, the Bridgestones maintained excellent grip at all lean angles. The gradual drop-off in grip after numerous laps remained consistent and easily manageable, offering superb traction in all cornering scenarios.
Impressive Lap-Time Gains
Bridgestone boldly asserts that,
“The new R11 shaves off an impressive 1.5 seconds per lap compared to the R10, a claim substantiated by testing on a Honda CBR600RR at the Oschersleben circuit in Germany”
I must agree, that’s a substantial performance enhancement on the racetrack!
You’ll be enamored by the RS11’s excellent steering habits, featuring quick turn-in, ease in trail-braking, and seamless midcorner line changes. Tire feedback is communicative, providing a firm yet compliant feel that keeps riders attuned to the contact patch. Outstanding stability during hard braking, coupled with minimal tread squirm, adds to the tire’s commendable performance.
While the firm carcass might be more susceptible to bumps compared to the Battlax Hypersport S22 tire, the R11 remains composed and tracks straight over pavement imperfections. Wear rates, especially on the rear of powerful literbikes (1,000cc), are moderate, considering the race tire nature.
Your Personalized Performance
For the front, you can choose from 110/70R-17M/C and 120/70R-17M/C, and for the rear, sizes range from 140/70R-17M/C to 200/55R-17M/C. Except for the 110/70R-17M/C front and the 150/160 rear tires, both the front and rear R11s are available in either soft or medium compounds.
2. Michelin Power Cup 2: Best Warm-Up Time
From the moment I laid eyes on the Michelin Power Cup 2, it screamed track-ready with its minimal tread marks down the middle, a clear successor to the Power Cup Evo. The 5% void ratio reinforces its track-centric design, boldly claiming a 90/10 ratio for track and street use, while still earning the Department of Transportation’s approval for legal road use – an unexpected but welcome perk.
I mean, if KTM trusts these bad boys enough to slap them on the 890 Duke R straight out of the factory, there’s gotta be something special about them.
Instant Heat for High Performance
What truly stood out was the tire’s impressive ability to heat up quickly, eliminating the need for tire warmers and allowing for immediate high performance on both road and track – a major plus for someone like me who prefers hitting the road without much ado. The secret? A flexible carcass and soft sidewalls, courtesy of Synthetic Component Technology (SCT).
I remember the moment I first mounted them on my Kawi 400 – my hands practically sunk into the tire sidewall as I fitted them. That tactile experience alone hinted that I might have stumbled upon something extraordinary.
Dual Compound Technology for Optimal Traction
Beyond the necessity for flexibility to generate heat, Michelin’s dual compound technology – 2CT for the front and 2CT+ for the rear – ensures maximum traction on the sides and extended life in the center. The front tire boasts 39% carbon black on the sides and 23% in the middle compound, while the rear has 37% carbon black on the sides and 29% in the middle, with the rest of the compound mostly silica.
Perfect Sync and Responsive Riding
The tire’s neutral profile, especially upfront, is sure to make a huge difference in you rides. For me, it felt like the tire, and I were in perfect sync, responding precisely to my lean angle inputs. Adding a bit of brake pressure during leans was effortless, even on a slightly bumpy section on the track where I was beginning my lean while applying brakes. And the soft sidewalls maintain a reassuring connection to the road no matter how aggressive you get with the throttle.
I had the traction control dialed down to its lowest setting, and the Power Cup 2 performed so impeccably that I hardly noticed the system in action.
The Stickiest Choice in Michelin’s Lineup
Comparing it to Michelin’s other sport-oriented offerings, like the Power 6 and the Power GP, the Power Cup 2 is my favorite for the stickiest, track-ready, road-legal tire.
3. Continental Race Attack 2: Best Endurance
The Race Attack 2, a proud member of the illustrious “Attack” family alongside the Conti Race Attack Comp, Race Attack Slick, and Race Attack Rain, share a common construction. Sporting a similar tread pattern and the trusted zero-degree belt construction, Continental promises enhanced feedback and stability during intense braking and corner exits.
Notably, Conti claims a tweaked front tire profile, departing from the Sport Attack and Road Attack, ensuring a broader footprint at extreme lean angles.
If I hadn’t experienced it firsthand, I wouldn’t have believed it. Having ridden with other tires in this genre, seeing more than 800 track miles from a set was a rarity. Yet, the Conti Race Attack shattered expectations.
Remarkably, after a punishing 1,200 miles of hard track use, the edges showed signs of wear, prompting thoughts of retirement from track duty. Astonishingly, as they are street-legal tires, there was still an abundance of tread at the tire’s center that wouldn’t compromise on traction or stability.
One Piece, Multiple Benefits
Continental adopts the ‘MultiGrip’ technology, avoiding the patchwork of three different grip level rubbers. Instead, they opt for a homogeneous grip grading within a single compound, achieved through temperature-controlled curing during production. This results in a single tire surface with no transitions, offering softer sides for grip and harder middles for extended mileage.
Continuous Compound Magic
The Race Attack 2 proudly introduced Continental’s Continuous Compound Technology, where a single compound cures at varying rates and temperatures across the tire’s profile. The flexible shoulder area delivers enhanced grip, while the wear-resistant center avoids any abrupt transitions between the two. It’s continuous – do you get it?
Adding to the tire’s arsenal is Continental’s TractionSkin, a revolutionary micro-rough tread surface eliminating the need for a tire break-in. Surprisingly effective, I found myself confidently leaning into turns with my knee almost touching the ground after just half a lap on cold tires.
Yet, when pushing the tires beyond track-day speeds into dedicated race-pace territory, a hint of vagueness creeps in. The front tire, particularly, seems to amplify this sensation during steering, causing inputs to feel a bit sloppy and abrupt. Confidence takes a hit in these moments.
Best Suited Rider
In my assessment, the Race Attack 2 excels for track-day riders focused on skill mastery rather than proving supremacy, as they will appreciate the tire’s longevity, swift warm-up, consistent feel, and the favored tire profile.
4. Metzeler Racetec RR: Best All-Weather
Revolutionizing its lineage, the Racetec RR surpasses its forerunner, the Interact, with fresh profiles, innovative compounds, and an updated tread pattern. The groove layout is made to deliver dry grip, efficient water drainage, and improved cornering stability simultaneously.
In fact, Metzeler boldly claims it as an all-weather champion, drawing on its formidable road racing heritage, with battle-tested runs at the Isle of Man, North West 200, Southern 100, and Ulster Grand Prix, championed by riders like the renowned Guy Martin.
Tailored Compound Options for Ultimate Control
My personal experience involved riding the RR’s equipped with a K1 soft compound on the front and K2 medium on the back, while Metzeler also offers a K3 hard variant more suited for road riding. The front tire mono compound is infused with 100% silica, while the rear dual compound offers 100% silica on the shoulders for optimal chemical grip on both dry and wet surfaces.
Longevity and Predictable Wear
Enduring two full track days, the tires showcased commendable and predictable wear. The front tire appeared barely scrubbed in, while the rear exhibited even wear across its surface. Notably, there was no sign of cold tear.
Running at a hot pressure of 27 psi for the rear and 30 psi for the front, I am confident these tires could endure additional track days and approximately 700 more road miles. Traditionally, two rear tires are consumed for every one front, and Metzeler claims a 20% increase in mileage compared to the Interact.
On the road, the Racetec RR warms up swiftly, instilling confidence within the first few miles.
Confidence-Inducing Grip and Stability
The tire’s profile is engineered to facilitate swift leans while expanding the contact patch mid-corner. In comparison to the Interact, the Racetec RR’s grip is nothing short of exceptional. During hard braking with the rear wheel off the ground, the front exhibited unwavering stability.
Even at full lean, the tire provided a solid foundation, allowing comfortable movement in the saddle. Purposeful drops onto the knee to test potential sliding revealed the tire’s resolute grip.
The radial carcass, made from a special rayon, imparts heightened rigidity, maintaining its shape under intense stress. Compared to its predecessor, the RR’s stability is significantly improved, thanks to a radial structure reinforced with a zero-degree steel belt for added stiffness. This reduced flex translates to enhanced grip, sharper responsiveness, and an increased sense of control.
Exceptional Feedback and Progressive Grip
The RR delivers outstanding feedback, creating a tangible connection to the road. The progressive grip allows for nuanced responses, signaling the onset of a slide when pushing the throttle. It requires substantial effort to even initiate a slide, providing a secure and predictable experience, particularly when navigating tight corners.
5. Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa V4: Best Handling
Pirelli introduces the fourth generation of the Diablo Supercorsa, the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa V4, tailored for the most avid motorcyclists, combining street and track prowess with an innovative dual-compound design on the front for the first time. While the new ‘flash’ tread pattern, strategically aligned with lateral forces during braking and accelerating, guarantees consistent performance and contributes to reduced warm-up times—an advantageous feature for riders keen to swiftly hit the road or track.
Dynamic Tire Options
Choose from the road-focused SP or the racier SC options, as Pirelli asserts its position as the brand’s sportiest street and fastest treaded track tire to date.
The SP variant is structured based on tire size, optimizing performance in relation to width, specific profile, compound proportions, and tread pattern arrangement. The slick shoulders enhance cornering grip, and the unique bead construction allows for a relatively low pressure of 30PSI when hot during track days. The SC variant offers three compounds (SC1, SC2, and SC3) catering to diverse weather conditions, track surfaces, and riding styles.
The structural advancements in the SC variant mirror the Diablo Superbike slick, incorporating wider section structural cords made from braided textile fibers. The design enhances rigidity and shock absorption, providing you with superior control on the track.
Breaking away from conventional design, the new front end features a silica base compound that spans the entire profile of the tire. A groundbreaking approach that provides you with enhanced confidence when leaning on the front end, thanks to the consistent grip offered by the silica-infused rubber.
The rear tire embraces a softer central compound with wider sides made from the same SC3 rubber found in the racing version. Despite this, it maintains a uniform base compound similar to the front tire. The dual-compound strategy ensures optimal performance, combining agility and stability.
6. Shinko 008 Race Slicks: Best Entry-Level
Let me cut to the chase: if you’re a rider finding your way through the novice or intermediate levels, diving into slicks might seem like overkill. A solid 2CT, such as the Michelin Pilot Power, handles speeds under 150 mph just fine and comes with the added bonus of being cost-effective, especially considering unpredictable wet weather conditions.
But if the allure of slicks has you hooked (after all, even the pros started from the bottom), the Shinko 008s, boasting a 149 mph rating, could be a reasonable choice for speeds around 150 mph on your local track if you crave that extra grip or the precision that slicks bring to the table.
Insights from the Track
Supporting this notion is an insight from a verified Amazon Purchaser, Ann Kelvia:
“My first time at the track, I ran Shinko 008s, and they held up just fine. But after two track days, they started sliding on me, though. I’m not sure if it’s because I progressed in my speeds or the tires’ makeup gave out.”
Stability at High Speeds
Now, you might wonder about the stability at high speeds. Would a peaky profile make it challenging to transition from full lean to straight up? Going from full left to full right or vice versa, does it offer a smooth, flowing, and predictable experience? These are valid concerns.
A Visual Insight
Addressing the tire profile, the Shinko profile isn’t vastly different from the Michelin Pilot Road 4. Having seen both firsthand, they appear quite similar. While the difference becomes evident when compared to the Michelin Power One, in my opinion, the Power Race proved to be excellent – not quite as forgiving on turn-in as the Power One’s, but a close contender.
Yes, Shinko tires may lack the trophies and historical prestige associated with some slicks from more renowned brands, but they come with a more budget-friendly price tag. A brand’s popularity alone shouldn’t be the sole criterion for judging quality. A prime example is Continental, a reputable brand that offers the cost-effective Conti-Motion, albeit criticized by some as being on the cheaper side. Likewise, Pirelli caters to the economy-minded with a lower-cost tire, often described as so-so.
As with everything, the age-old adage holds true in this scenario: you get what you pay for.
Track-Ready, Not Street-Ready
For the seasoned riders eyeing the Shinko 008 Race, it boils down to assessing the seriousness of your need for speed. If you’re not aiming for competition glory and just want to enjoy a casual track day, I’d say they’re okay.
Keep in mind, they perform best in hot weather, proving a bit tricky to reach optimal operating temperature. If you have tire warmers, that’s even better. It’s crucial to remember, though – this is a track tire, not meant for the streets.
7. Avon 3D Ultra Xtreme Slicks: Best Budget-Friendly
The Avon 3D Ultra Xtreme sets the stage for an exceptional trackday experience, emphasizing superior performance in dry weather. With an expansive footprint at extreme lean angles and a swift warm-up process, this tire is positioned as the pinnacle of Avon’s trackday offerings.
To gain firsthand insights, I opted to replace the Bridgestone R11s, renowned for their outstanding grip and favored by racers, with the fresh Avon hoops on my Yamaha R6. Despite the R11s’ remarkable grip, a mere three 20-minute track sessions were sufficient for me to feel a heightened comfort level with the Xtremes.
Balancing Stability and Turn-in Speed
While the Avon’s profile may lack the sharpness of the Bridgestone’s, it prioritizes stability, albeit potentially sacrificing some turn-in speed—a choice contingent on individual riding preferences. But the Xtremes extend beyond exceptional grip, offering abundant feedback, particularly at the front.
Performance in Focus
Following two days of rigorous riding in 27-degree sunshine, the front tire exhibited a pristine condition, while the rear showed no signs of excessive wear, indicating promising longevity. To unlock the tire’s full potential, the consideration of tire warmers may be pivotal.
Priced at $230 per set, the Xtremes emerge as a cost-effective alternative, presenting a favorable economic proposition in comparison to competitors such as Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, and Metzeler.
Michael’s Summary and Conclusion
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations:
- Michelin Tires
- Continental Tires
- Dunlop Motorcycle Tires
- Shinko Tires
- Avon Tires