Power is nothing without control. For Pirelli, it’s more than just a clever tag line as the Italian rubber factory offers an extensive range of motorcycle tires. From interstate touring escapades to sport rides during the weekend, and, of course race-grade grip for trackdays, Pirelli carries an ideal tire solution for any type of riding. Its range also includes practical offerings for scooters, and tires to enhance the ride quality on a V-Twin. Nevertheless, performance is at the heart of these speed-loving Italians and the reason why they have such an extensive line of street and sport riding tires.
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V2
Those seeking the utmost in handling performance from their street or sportbike, and aren’t overly concerned with outright durability, need to mount a pair of SP’s. Featuring similar carcass design as its outstanding Supercorsa race rubber, Pirelli’s top-of-the-line street tire is engineered for deep, g-force loaded lean angles and plenty of speed.
You’d assume an ultra-high-performance tire like the Supercorsa would demand a unique chassis setup, or only perform with a specific make and model, like other popular name brands. Truth is, these Pirellis function marvelously on any type of motorcycle, from Triumph’s Street Triple to BMW’s S1000RR rocket ship.
Compared to the race tire, the SP uses a more durable center compound, at the rear, which elevates wear resistance and mileage. But by no means is this a sport-touring tire, with it offering modest durability— lasting around 1000 miles— if you’re lucky, on a modern liter bike. Running higher tire pressure will elevate the resistance to wear. When done so this modifies the tire’s contact patch, reducing it slightly, especially at higher lean angles.
It’s give and take with tire pressure. Want more tire flex with an expanded contact patch, lower air pressure. Want added rigidity and/or resistance to wear? Add air pressure.
Adhesion from the single-compound front tire is also exceptional. Plus, because it isn’t subjected to the 170-some odd horsepower of a modern liter-bike, they typically last up to two times longer than the back tire.
Tires require carcass heat to perform properly and the SP’s compound generate pavement-sticking heat so quickly that they render tire warmers nearly useless. Even on a mild, but sunny, 70-degree day, these Pirellis are ready for knee down lean angles on the out-lap.
In the end, when outright grip and absolute performance is the priority, no other tire even comes close to the SP V2.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
Introduced last year, Pirelli’s Diablo Rosso III is the newest sport tire in the Rosso range— a multi-purpose and do-it-all tire family that first arrived in the US nearly a decade ago.
Designed with everyday street riding in mind, the Rosso III is a gentler and more durable version of the higher-spec SP V2. It sacrifices a degree of outright grip and snappy handling performance for greater mileage and performance in all conditions, including rain-soaked roads.
Yet don’t for a minute think this is a touring-grade offering. Although capable of performing on chilly, rain-soaked tarmac, the Rosso III is equally at home during fast-paced sport rides, including track days.
The rear tire also utilizes a dual-compound construction with softer edge compounds for added grip during cornering maneuvers. The rubber composition likewise uses a more versatile silica-infused composition (think sand) as opposed to the DSP’s and DRC’s racy and pure carbon-black ingredient. This facilitates a wider operating range with the tires able to reach operating temperatures in cool early morning spring and fall climates.
The carcass is compliant enough to tackle semitruck braking bumps, pot holes, and whatever else you typically run into on poorly maintained big city roads. Yet still offers that pleasing flex character that affords the Italian rubber so much feel. Pirelli does a good majority of its testing on the exceptionally mean (i.e. old, bumpy, slippery, dirty) streets of Sicily, so if they can perform on those heinous surfaces, they’ll ride well for us American riders, too.
Rosso III’s are available in a wider range of sizing, an important consideration, especially if you want to experience the Pirelli difference on smaller displacement motorcycles like Kawasaki’s Ninja 300R.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
The Rosso Corsa has been a staple in Pirelli’s tire model line-up for years. Positioned ahead of the newly coined Rosso III but below the premium DSP, the Rosso Corsas are also the OE tire of choice for a variety of Italian-made sportbikes including Ducati’s 959 Panigale.
Similar to the rest of the Pirelli family, the dimensions and profile of the tire complement and are compatible with virtually every motorcycle made from an old Buell/EBR to a Yamaha FZ-09.
Although they don’t employ the latest and greatest rubber technology like the Rosso IIIs, the DRC delivers a scant more sport performance and are a better choice for those spending more time cranked over on the side of the tire.
Like the rest of the Italian rubber family, they benefit from multiple tread zones at the rear, with the shoulders sourcing Pirelli’s older SC2 race-spec compound. In typical Pirelli fashion, the front tire is of a single-compound design that offers a good balance between adhesion, stability, wear, and most importantly feel behind the handlebar.
The DRCs feel very much like a hybrid between the two aforementioned round black sticky things. The profile is very similar-feeling with a hint more grip than the Rosso IIIs— but not by much. They still don’t offer the same brail like road feel of the SP’s but they are slightly more communicative than the IIIs. They also split the difference in terms of durability. Same story for warm-up time and wet weather performance. They also come in three different aspect ratios, including a 65-series for older sportbikes.
When it comes down to fitting a new set of Pirellis on your motorcycle price, intended use and service life will be the deciding factor in choosing your next set of Diablo tires. Regardless of choice, you won’t be unhappy with any of its sticky offerings.