Tyre Test: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II World Launch
Pirelli's new Diablo Rosso Corsa II was recently launched in South Africa, including at Kyalami Circuit, here's the full launch report: Review: Kris Hodgson Images: Pirelli
It may be my motorcycling background talking but is there any more instantly recognisable premium/sport tyre brand than Pirelli? I recently head to the South African launch of the brand’s all new Diablo Rosso Corsa II (DRC II), which replaces the original DRC and offers some significant performance improvements to riders.
To put this in perspective, Pirelli are proud of applying their R&D and race development straight to the consumer market, in their ‘consumer centric approach’ and this is well represented in the DRC II, which eight years after the original renews their commitment to a high performance motorcycle option. This tyre sits below the very race centric Diablo Supercorsa SC and track centric SP options, but above the more road orientated Diablo Rosso III.
Between being lavishly fed crocodile and escorted on an epic safari through the Kruger National Park – where it was made obvious that while Australia has some dangerous animals, it wasn’t even in the ball park of the wilds of Africa – we were introduced to the new Diablo Rosso Corsa II and given the opportunity to test it on the road, and at the Kyalami Circuit.
So alongside learning the buffalo – which I’d thought of as a rough looking cow – was one of the most dangerous creatures in Africa, I was also educated on the many improvements the DRC II offers, and the thought process behind the tyre.
Tech Talk – Diablo Rosso Corsa II
If you’re not familiar, the original DRC offered a high performance road and track hybrid with a relatively balanced area of expertise. Essentially an option for those who didn’t want to go as hardcore as the Supercorsa SC/SP, where you’re trading off wet performance and the more road orientated properties, for race and track performance. Think ride to the circuit for track days for the more performance minded, and having a good crack on the weekends, with enough wet weather performance not to be deterred by a bit of cloud and the chance of rain.
The Diablo Rosso Corsa II continues this tradition and now features a dual compound (three zone) front, and tri-compound (five zone) rear with the shoulders of both tyres featuring the ‘Full Carbon Black’ compound, with the rear including race inspired wear indicators on the shoulders. That gives you an idea about how serious they are of track performance.
The centre of the rear is a 70 per cent silica compound which contributes to the DRC II’s claim to better road mileage, for when you’re cruising in a straight line, and between this and the Full Carbon Black compound on the shoulder is a full silica compound, which is also found on the centre of the front, offering strong wet weather performance and feel.
The carcass is essentially all new, while Pirelli’s continuous compound process is used with the interrupted lightning tread, offering a six per cent void to fill ratio, where a road tyre would more commonly be around 10 per cent. The void (tread) is optimised notably where the compounds meet, which provides for flex and deformation through transitions of the contact patch, and ensures tread is maximised where it’s needed most, while assisting in a quick warm up period.
Other features include dual radius technology, with what Pirelli describe as a sharp radius in the centre of the tyre and a wide radius on the shoulder, which benefits from profile harmonisation between the two tyres, ensuring the transition from upright to lean and visa versa is linear and smooth, rather than aggressive or unpredictable. Another boon is the improvement in lean angle to 52° from the original DRC’s 48°, boosting cornering speed where ground clearance is available.
Pirelli offered us a look at a pretty nifty illustration to represent the Diablo Rosso Corsa II’s performance in comparison to the original DRC and you’ll note that while high speed stability and track wear haven’t changed (with the latter particularly impressive considering their other claims), they are claiming a dramatic improvement in lap times, with two to three seconds gained compared to the DRC at Mugello by their test riders.
Also claimed as improved is performance consistency, which is perhaps an underrated metric for tyres, as we’re all familiar with that sudden and dramatic improvement in performance from new tyres even if we’re replacing like for like, with the drop off in performance at later stages of wear a subtle affair. So when someone’s promising better performance for longer, the answer is always yes please!
Other areas of improvement include racetrack handling, as well as both dry and wet handling, and of course mileage. Now for a premium performance orientated tyre, boasting a three-second a lap improvement, the assertion that racetrack wear hasn’t changed is pretty obviously a step forward.
A more expert approximation than mine suggested the rear tyres from our day at Kyalami were at about 50 per cent, which was with 30 crazy journalists riding flat out all day with most bikes out every session, while the fronts looked fresh. It’s safe to say for a normal punter at a track day, with the more limited sessions, you’d be getting a good number of track days out of these tyres.
So the question stands, how did my experiences with the Diablo Rosso Corsa II’s match up to Pirelli’s claims? Well the above description is somewhat technical, so let me start by saying these are a bloody good tyre.
As mentioned we had both road and track testing, and while I can’t speak to the longer term wear of these tyres right now (we’ll road test a set long term when they arrive in Australia), I can say that they truly exceeded my expectations in both areas, even having seen the Pirelli presentation prior to riding.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II – On The Road
Our road ride consisted of a loop of road in South Africa which sampled an early section of pothole dodging at more restrained speeds, followed by a more lively and well surfaced section, which transitioned through a variety of different road surfaces.
Setting off in the dry aboard a BMW S 1000 R, I knew I had a nice relatively relaxed bike (ergonomics-wise), with plentiful power and a great electronics package, so there was no concerns in that regard. Straight up the Diablo Rosso Corsa II offers instant confidence, the tyres are scrubbed in but the bikes have been sitting for a few hours, and in the mild conditions warm up is quick.
Once we pass the potholed section, the pace quickens and Pirelli’s claim of profile harmonisation becomes very obvious, the DRC II’s have a very natural, linear and friendly transition from upright to lean. There’s no sudden, aggressive drop onto the side of the tyre, but also no need to muscle the bike over, with the same characteristic observed when I switched to an RSV4.
The sharp centre of the dual profile also doesn’t translate to flighty straight line performance, there’s great stability while fully upright and at speed, with effortless, but not aggressive changes of direction.
Riding the various road surfaces on offer, the grip across the different compounds was unquestionable, with the tyre’s track orientated performance not offering any obvious trade-offs even when we encountered some well and truly drenched road surfaces – even though we managed to avoid the rain itself.
There was a couple of places where debris on the road had my slowing and being more careful, but I wasn’t actively reassessing my riding to match tyre constraints, and to me that’s when you know you’ve chosen the right tyre. Keeping in mind people’s needs and riding styles dictate this choice.
Switching to the RSV4’s more aggressive ergonomics actually added to the fun factor and feel from the DRC II’s, and gave me an opportunity to test the ride without electronic suspension, with no added harshness I could attribute to the tyre sidewall, keeping in mind the roads were still largely better than Australia’s…
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II – Kyalami Circuit
Now let me preface this by saying I’m not out there setting any lap records, but I do enjoy the opportunity to do track days, with the Kyalami Circuit a real treat, letting me test the DRC II’s, learn a new circuit and combine both with some impressive bikes.
It’s hard to image a better tyre for this challenge either, with the DRC II’s warming quickly when jumping on a bike that hadn’t been out in the previous session, keeping in mind there wasn’t a tyre warmer in sight for the entire day. Again the exceptional profile design was on display, with a linear and stepless transition onto the side of the tyre, coupled with great straight line stability at high speeds and on the gas. This balanced characteristic between the two tyres is particularly important as it allows full concentration on the track.
Add unquestionable grip, feel and stability out at the shoulder of the tyre, and you’re onto a winner with effortless changes of direction from full lean to full lean. Plus the confidence to get back on the throttle early, with good sidewall support on the rear ensuring doing so wasn’t standing the bike up as power comes back on.
The front tyre likewise provided incredibly strong support while hard on the brakes, even when trailbraking into a corner, while the overall feel from both ends was of the tyres being essentially glued to the track surface.
Whether I was on a BMW S 1000 R, S 1000 RR or Honda’s CBR1000RR those same performance characteristics were clear, and combined with the reactions of those far faster than me, like Steve Martin, and Pirelli’s in-house testing figures as to faster lap times, greater lean and greater corner speed, I think it’s safe to say that the brand have truly pushed this tyre to the next level.
Having mainly ridden on sports-touring style tyres, but also running quite a few sets of Pirelli sports tyres on my own bike, in the past including at track days, it was actually somewhat of a shock to find the significant increase in grip, feel and confidence on offer by this option.
Pirelli really have done an exceptional job with the Diablo Rosso Corsa II, pushing it even closer to a pure track tyre while retaining and expanding the road properties that are so important to many riders. Now if you trailer your bike to the track, this may not matter, but for many riders there’s the very real value consideration of fitting tyres, and the DRC II’s are simply an exceptional choice if you want track performance on the road.
We haven’t tested long term longevity as this stage, although as mentioned we will when they become available in Australia, but these look to be an amazing option for those who want the pinnacle of road and track performance.
That’s whether you wait for the perfect weather to take your sportsbike out to the twisties, are a full track day convert, or mix those two, with some regular duties in between, without overly worrying about a bit of wet, warm up times and wear. Plus these have been designed for the latest generation of off their chops superbikes, including extensive electronics and horsepower approaching 200hp.
A big thanks go to Link International, the Pirelli Motorcycle Tyre distributor for Australia, for the opportunity to attend the test, and sample these awesome tyres. Sizes available are as follows with availability in June (2018) with prices yet to be announced.
- Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II Front Size
- 120/70 ZR 17 M/C (58W)
- Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II Rear Sizes
- 160/60 ZR 17 M/C (69W)
- 180/55 ZR 17 M/C (73W)
- 180/60 ZR 17 M/C (75W)
- 190/50 ZR 17 M/C (73W)
- 190/55 ZR 17 M/C (75W)
- 200/55 ZR 17 M/C (78W)
- 200/60 ZR 17 M/C (78W)