Today we have some interesting news regarding tires, as Metzeler has released a unique track slick into the market.
Called the Metzeler Racetec TD, the German brand says this slick has been made with the track day enthusiast specifically in mind, and one of its many features is that it doesn’t require a set of tire warmers to be used properly.
The Metzeler Racetec TD is sort of a sister tire to the Pirelli Supercorsa TD, which is a DOT-legal street tire that has been optimized for track use – and also without the use of warmers.
As you can imagine, the Metzeler Racetec TD is a track only slick, but it follows the same line of logic as the Pirelli Supercosa TD.
Both the moves from Metzeler and Pirelli (both brands have a common ownership, mind you) are a reaction to the same market trend: namely that track days are growing in popularity, while club racing is dwindling.
As such, the Metzeler Racetec TD is an attempt to make a track slick that keeps the track day enthusiast in mind, rather than racers. This means most importantly that the tire heats up very quickly (within several turns, according to Metzeler), and thus don’t require the use of tire warmers.
This makes the slick tire format more approachable for riders who aren’t doing the lap times necessary to keep heat in a set proper racing slicks – which are often developed to have peak performance in a narrow window of operation.
To make the package even more approachable for track day riders, Metzeler says that tire proportions have been kept as close to OEM as possible, meaning that the Racetec TD should be a direct swap for street riders, without needing any fiddling of the knobs to find correct setup (avid track riders should already know that tire sizes are more like guidelines, rather than rules, when it comes to slick design).
Also, the Metzeler Racetec TD features a symmetric rear construction, which means that the rear tire can be flipped and used “backwards” for when at tracks that have especially high-wear on one side of the tire, thus adding more life to the tire’s use.
With all of this considered, we get the impression that the Metzeler Racetec TD might be the ultimate “B Group” slick for track riders, and that certainly intrigues us.
We haven’t had a chance to spin some laps on the Racetec TD yet, but Metzeler tells us that the tire is not just a slick version of the Pirelli Supercorsa TD, and it features a different construction as well as a slightly harder compound than its sibling.
As such, tire life on the track should be better than the Pirelli Supercorsa TD, though it should exhibit the same quick warm-up characteristics. Having just spent two weekends with the Pirelli Supercorsa TD on the race track, this author can confirm that this news bodes well for the new Metzeler Racetec TD.
It is super interesting to see this pivot by Metzeler and Pirelli to the creation of track day focused rubber, though it seems like a smart reaction to the market.
While many brands have tires that work very well for track day riders, these are the first that we have seen that addresses the track day part of the market directly. Though, we imagine as track days continue to supplant club races, we might see more tire manufacturers following suit.
In the USA, Metzeler is only selling the Racetec TD through Moto Garage, and then the German brand is importing only a few select sizes into North America: 120/70-17 fronts and 180/60-17 & 200/55-17 rears.
However, our friends across the pond will be able to enjoy the Racetec TD in a few more rear tire sizes: 180/55 -17 and 190/55 -17. This should open the tires to include bikes that have a 5″ wheel, as well as some older liter bikes, whereas the American offering is focussing on 600cc supersports and newer 1000cc machines.
Interestingly though, Metzeler does not have sizes for small displacement machines, nor is the German brand using the 200/60-17 size that Pirelli has popularized via the WorldSBK Championship. Still, considering the sizes available, Metzeler seems to have the bulk of the US market covered.