We heard rumors of this tire at the beginning of the year, and finally we can talk about the new Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tire. A knobby dual-sport tire made for adventure-touring machines, the AX41 means that Bridgestone finally has an offering for ADV riders.
It is surprising to think that the Japanese brand has been without a tire for such an important market segment for so long, but that is water under the bridge now, with the Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tire debuting at INTERMOT and coming to American dealers at the start of next year.
When I was a new rider, I cut my teeth on Pirelli Corsa tires (and later on the Pirelli Corsa III), and as I got into doing track days, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa became my tire of choice, both as a track tire and also as a street tire.
Almost as grippy as “the good stuff” and considerably cheaper than track-focused tires of the time, the Diablo Rosso Corsa hit that sweet spot of performance and price that my relatively unexperienced two-wheeled-self required.
Best of all, after a few track days, I could swap-out the rubber on my track bike for road duty, and thus had a nice supply of new rubber for my street biking needs.
As Asphalt & Rubber became a larger part of my life, this tire strategy had to give way to trying other brands and other tires, but I was recently intrigued when Pirelli told me that they were updating this stalwart in their sport bike tire lineup, as there isn’t a lineage of tire that I am more familiar with on the market.
Creating the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corse II tire for the 2018 model year, the Italian brand first invited A&R out to South Africa to see if this new incarnation of the Corsa lived up to the high-water mark its predecessor left behind. In short, it did.
But, only a couple days with a new tire can be tough to use to form an opinion. Not content to be so easily swayed, I have since spent a considerable amount of time on this new Pirelli.
Riding three more trackdays (on three different tracks), trying six bikes in total, and plowing down a thousand street miles later, I can honestly say that the Pirelli Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corse II might be the best sport bike tire on the market. Let me explain.
Pirelli will continue to supply tires to all classes in the World Superbike Championship for the foreseeable future. The Italian tire manufacturer has extended its current contract with Dorna, through the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Pirelli first took on the role of single tire supplier in 2004, and sparked a revolution in motorcycle racing.
With the favoritism of competing tire factories for sponsored teams removed, and a much more level playing field for privateer teams, the World Superbike model would come to be replicated in many different road racing championships, with MotoGP eventually following suit in 2009.
Vintage racers know all to well the difficulty there can be when it comes to finding appropriate tires for the race track, as the odd rim sizes of classic motorcycles are often outside the sizing parameters of good modern sticky tires.
This leaves many racers using street-focused tires for their racing needs, but that could all come to an end, as Metzeler is expanding its Racetec RR Range to include 18-inch wheel sizes.
The Misano round of WorldSBK was dominated by talk of tires. As such, following a weekend fraught with failures, Pirelli will revert to an older specification of tire for the Laguna Seca round. The move sees Pirelli at a crossroads, after a series of high profile incidents during the scorching weekend in Italy.
This includes Michael van der Mark’s crash from the lead of Saturday’s race, after a tire failure saw the Dutch rider robbed of his chance to claim his first podium for Yamaha.
One has to remember too, Jonathan Rea also crashed out of the lead at the previous round in Donington Park, as it was a shock to see the previously robust Pirelli fail once again.
Michael van der Mark suffered a rear tire failure during the closing stages of Race 1 at the Misano WorldSBK round.
The Dutch rider was leading the race at the time, and had a firm chance to claim a first career victory in the class, when his rear tire suddenly failed and pitched him off the bike through the series of fast right-handers at the end of the lap.
For Pirelli, it is the second round in a row where they have seen a tire failure affect the outcome of a race, after Jonathan Rea suffered the same fate at Donington Park.
If you are in a region that gets all four of the seasons, you are likely counting down the days to the coming snow-thaw.
As such, this article might be coming to you a little late for this season, but for next winter you should consider mounting some winter traction tires to your motorcycle. Yes, such things exist.
To be fair, I too was unaware that you could get a motorcycle tire that met the criteria from the DOT, in order for it to carry the “mountain/snowflake” symbol, but apparently Turkish tire-maker Anlas has such tires in its line-up.
That’s right, for regions of the world that require special tires during the snowy months, there is a tire out there to keep you riding all-season.
As we reported on Tuesday, changes are to be made to Race Direction. At a meeting in Geneva on Thursday, the Grand Prix Commission decided to change the way disciplinary matters are handled by Race Direction.
For this season, a separate body is to be set up to handle all incidents on track requiring disciplinary action.
These issues have been handled by Race Direction until now, but the incident at Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez led to calls for such decisions to be taken away from Race Direction, to allow quicker decisions to be made.
From the start of the 2016 season, all disciplinary matters will be dealt with by a separate panel, consisting of three people. One of those will be Mike Webb, who as MotoGP Race Director is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the MotoGP race.
Mike Webb will be joined by two stewards appointed by the FIM. Those stewards have yet to be appointed, and the press release issued by the FIM does not make clear whether the stewards will be appointed permanently, for a full season, or for each race individually.
In the case of an incident which needs to be investigated by the panel of stewards, Mike Webb will hand over his duties as Race Director to a newly appointed deputy, Graham Webber.
If being the official supplier to a racing series is a double-edged sword, then being the sole supplier of equipment as essential as tires is doubly so.
Leaving aside the complexities of exactly what a four-edged sword would actually look like, being official tire supplier to MotoGP is a role that offers massive opportunities for raising the role of a brand, and having it associated with the most famous names in motorcycle racing.
It gets your brand name and logo in front of many tens of millions of race fans and motorcycle enthusiasts every weekend. It also sees your logo plastered all over just about every photo which appears in magazines and newspapers about MotoGP, as well as filling thousands of column inches on websites and in magazines.
If you had to pay for the same exposure – a concept known as equivalent advertising value – it would cost you many, many times the €25 million Bridgestone were rumored to have paid for the contract.
There is a downside, of course. It is extremely uncommon to hear riders heap praise upon your tires spontaneously. Bridgestone had to announce they were pulling out of the role as official supplier to receive the praise they deserved, riders immediately paying tribute to just how good their racing tires actually are.
Michelin is stepping up preparations for 2016 by scheduling an extra tire test in December. The French tire maker has invited the MotoGP factories to spend two days at Jerez before Christmas, testing new front tires in cold conditions, according to GPOne.com.
Three manufacturers have accepted, Ducati, Honda, and Aprilia preparing to send their test riders to put in some laps on the latest iteration of tires at the Spanish circuit on 21st and 22nd of December.
As the test falls in the middle of the winter test ban period, contracted riders – that is, riders who will be permanent MotoGP entries for 2016 – are forbidden from riding, and only the official test riders can take part.
The final day of testing at Valencia was a repeat of the first day: a lot of crashes on the Michelin tires, the factory Hondas, Yamahas, and Ducatis working on the brand new spec-electronics, the satellite bikes, and the Suzukis working on their own 2015 electronics.
For the Suzukis, that was not such a problem. The new electronics were likely to be an improvement on their own electronics, both Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro said, so missing out now was not such a problem.
Suzuki have another test planned at Sepang at the end November, at which they plan to switch the 2016 unified software. With two days of Michelin testing under the belt, testing the spec-software should be easier.