Review: 2018 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres
CycleOnline.com.au tests the 2018 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres.
Words: Steve Martin
Tyres. Everybody hates shelling money out for a new rubber, but the black hoops of truth have the power to make a big difference to the outcome of your day. Making the perfect tyre is not an easy task with increasing grip and control the goal, which benefits in reducing accidents. Creating the perfect rubber is not as simple as fitting a softer compound though, as durability, warm-up and feel all come into the equation. Pirelli is one of the biggest hitters in the industry and has been the official supplier of the Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) since 2004, allowing them to get their testing input from the world’s best riders. Development never stands still and the release of the new Diablo Rosso Corsa II proves that.
Where we rode:
Choosing the perfect location to test a tyre is a difficult task, especially when taking into consideration the enormity of gathering the world’s finest journalists together in a central place with the amenities needed to perform the task at hand. South Africa is always a favourite location with many tests being performed there over the years. Spectacular scenery and perfect riding conditions are always prominent and starting off the launch in the Kruger National Park with a day riding around the surrounding area and then heading to Kyalami circuit for day two would allow us to test the new Pirelli’s to the fullest.
The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II released for 2018 is the successor to the original that was first released in 2010. The original version was designed for two roles with a 50/50 split between track and road use. The new tyre retains the same 50/50 orientation but due to major improvements in material, technology and building processes it works over a much broader spectrum than before. That means it’s much improved on the road and better on the track. Tyres are made of many different components and materials but starting from the outside it’s easy to see why this Rosso can role play. The rear has three different compounds of rubber creating five zones working over the face of the tyre. The centre section of the tyre covers the surface of the tyre from the middle line out until the lean angle gets to 35 degree. That centre strip is made of 70 percent silica which gives it good wet weather grip properties. Pirelli has also managed to work some magic and strengthen the compound by adding a cocktail of materials to help on the durability and warm-up. The next 15 degrees has a full silica strip that provides even better grip than the centre section of the tyre, especially in the wet, but being full silica it has less durability. That doesn’t matter though because that part only comes in to play when the bikes on the lean. The final part of the equation is the edge, where a full carbon race compound is used to give race track like performance to the Rosso II and an even greater lean angle (52 degrees) compared to the old tyres’ 48. The front has just the two different compounds with the full Silica middle section and full carbon black for the edges as wear is not as big a factor, but grip is. The compounds not all that’s changed with information flowing through from the race paddock being used to redesign the carcass and the shoulder of the tyre. The black art of building a tyre is complicated, especially when it comes to building the base, this new tyre uses the latest advanced technology and Pirelli’s secret weapon Lyocell. Lyocell is a patented Pirelli developed material used instead of the industry standard Rayon to make the radial belt which is weaved around the tyre creating the radial. The Pirelli chemists found it’s more solid and doesn’t stretch like Rayon, making it a much more stable product to use. This new-found stiffness creates a better stability and feel also under acceleration. The new tyres come in just the one front size and six rear sizes from 160 through to 200 to suit a broad spectrum of bikes.
The roads in South Africa’s Kruger National Park region are majestic and filled with high-speed sections and plenty of mid-speed corners. The surface is not billiard table smooth prepared new bitumen, but rather quite rough and bumpy with many different surface changes, potholes and obstacles to contend with. I drew the keys to BMW’s S 1000 R, which seemed like a pretty good choice to put the front and rear through their paces. The initial comment is one of praise, straight from the first wheel rotation I had a feeling of confidence and a feeling of grip. There was no warm-up period needed, these tyres seemed ready to go from the start. On our 165km road run there was a 10km stretch of dodging potholes, serious potholes and that meant a lot of weaving changing directions even on the straight. Instantly the bike felt light and nimble in the way it flicked from side to side and I knew that good things were to come when we got to the real roads by the solid feel and feedback I was getting. When we got to the famous biker Sabie 22 stretch of road I was able to open the taps and ride the Beemer as it was designed to be ridden – fast. Even before you start driving hard off the turns or hitting the brake hard the initial feel is one of feedback. These tyres let you feel the tarmac below and I would go as far as to say they let you read it. It’s certainly confidence-inspiring. Turning the traction control off let me put the rear to work when I got going hard and the rear handled the aggressiveness extremely well. The stability is what I liked the most though, being able to roll from one angle to the next with out tyre distortion just makes the bike steer exactly where it should. It handled the bumps well and hung on incredibly well considering how dirty the surface was. The front backed up the rear perfectly with probably the biggest notable feeling being the way it let the bike be precise and turn into the corner and how trail braking seemed effortless. In hard braking it was incredible and very hard to get anywhere near the limit. Overall, I would say a massive improvement has been achieved over the outgoing Diablo Rosso Corsa on the road.
Kyalami is steeped in history having run both GP and WorldSBK in the past. It’s had a complete revamp in the last couple of years, bringing it up to international standard and with it comes the perfect testing ground for the Diablo Rosso Corsa II. With perfect conditions awaiting us and another mega fleet of bikes, we hit the track with each bikes recommended tyre pressure set at factory specs. That put them on the high range compared to what you would usually use on the track, but I have to say even with the standard pressures this is one impressive tyre. I started off on yet another BMW, the S 1000 RR, and spent a couple of laps re-acquainting myself to the track and the amazing RR. Never the less I was scraping my knee on the first lap with no tyre warmers being fitted, a testament once again to the warm-up. The track itself is made of very fast and mid-speed corners that half of them are blind. I turned the traction control off from the start as I wanted to get a good feel of the rubber without any traction control intervention. The first thing I noted was how precise I could be on the wide Kyalami track. The carcass held its shape well and there were no weird feelings, just confidence inspiring feel from bank to bank. The front had a great amount of grip also that let me tip in just that bit more if I was off line with out having any heart in your mouth moments. I chose the new V4 Panigale for my next outing, specifically because of the reputation this machine has gained as a powerhouse. It really is a nice toy to slice up the track with and with a few sessions on the tyres I was interested to see if the stability remained. Even with the full power race mode the rear hung in there well, there’s a long right hander where the rear gets spinning up just nicely and sits just like a slick does. The spin helps the bike turn well and the feel is incredible. These tyres suit the Panigale perfectly and it’s no wonder they are fitted as standard equipment. After riding both bikes flat out on several occasions at the circuit, I had nothing to fault which is a testament to the technological advancements of the tyres.
So, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II is better than the original and by a fair margin. It feels just like a race tyre on the track, but with less grip. That’s not bad, because that’s the feel that you need to have to enjoy the ride. The other on-track advantage is the tyres stability over the course of the day. It did every session non-stop with guys that know how to ride and still, the Corsa II stood up to the task. On the road, I can’t find a bad word to say with the bike braking, gripping and steering well even on dirty bumpy surfaces. We ran recommended pressures throughout the test and didn’t lower them for the track. The Diablo Rosso Corsa II will be at the forefront of the hypersport class for a long time to come, because its performance is a step forward and puts its users in good stead providing improved safety and grip. They’re scheduled to land in June, with pricing remaining to be confirmed. For more information, visit www.linkint.com.au.