If you’re primarily a street rider with an eye toward hitting up a trackday soon, listen up. First, don’t listen to anyone who tells you to get a dedicated race tire before going to a trackday, especially your first one. While it used to be true that road rubber and track rubber were two worlds apart, those days are long over, and the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa is proof one tire really can do it all.
We’ve tested with this tire numerous times with great results, with Ed-in-Chief, Kevin Duke, detailing the intricacies of the tire’s construction during its launch in 2010. He explains the use of Multi-Compound construction thusly: “The rubber employed in the shoulder area of the rear DRC is borrowed from the SC2 compound used in World Superbike competition. The edges feature ‘high-dispersion carbon black,’ while the more durable center of the rear tire has new resins and plasticizers for durability and optimum balance between wet and dry grip, using what Pirelli describes as ‘high-resistance differentiated carbon black.’” The front tire, meanwhile, makes generous use of silica for quick warm-up times and wet traction.
Italy, Meet Austria
This backstory is important because when it came time to conduct our track testing for our 2014 Ultimate Streetfighter Finale, we decided to equip all three bikes with the same rubber to even the playing field. Since the Aprilia Tuono and BMW S1000R are equipped in stock form with the Diablo Rosso Corsa tires, it was a natural choice to fit the KTM Super Duke R with the same.
On the surface, the pairing of tire and bike makes sense: sporting streetbikes spend the majority of their time on public roads, yet they are more than capable of holding their own at the occasional trackday. The same holds true for the Diablo Rosso Corsa. The big question here was how the Pirellis would fare under the load of 96.5 ft-lbs of torque delivered by the Super Duke R. Lord knows the stock Dunlop SportSmart tires sure had a rough time.
We are happy to report the Pirellis handled everything the KTM (as well as the Aprilia and BMW) threw at them with nary an issue. During our trackday at Auto Club Speedway, the tires came up to temp quickly, without warmers, allowing for knee-down lean angles before even finishing the first lap. The tires also felt composed all day long under braking, which is especially important at tracks with a few critical braking zones like Auto Club.
At the other end of the spectrum, all three bikes routinely tickled the 160-mph threshold by the end of the huge front straight, with power delivered to the ground without any noticeable slip coming off the last corner and onto the banking. Edge grip is impressive considering it is, essentially, a street tire. So much so that I felt like I could have trailed the brakes a little deeper, or got on the power sooner in each corner.
“The Super Duke really benefitted from spooning on the the Pirellis,” says MO’s Editor-in-Chief, Kevin Duke. “The KTM’s stock SportSmarts were a bit of a handicap when we tested it at Chuckwalla in the first round of streetfighter testing, lacking the edge grip of the Pirellis on the BMW. But at Auto Club, the DRCs endowed the Super Duke with more sure-footed adhesion that allowed us to drag its footpegs, which wasn’t an issue while on the Dunlops.”
Those same impressions continued during our street ride, held only days after our trackday. A full day slogging on the freeway then romping through the SoCal canyons left us appreciating the DRC’s neutral steering characteristics and confidence in their traction, soaking up whatever these brutish streetfighters could dish out.
The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires are available in virtually all popular sportbike sizes. Fronts carry an MSRP between $193.95 and $202.95, while rears range from $248.95 to $329.95. However, a simple web search reveals the actual going price is roughly 30% less. Meanwhile, competitors in this category include the Michelin Pilot Power 3, Dunlop Q3, Bridgestone S20 and Continental Sport Attack 2. Of the five, retail pricing for the Pirellis is among the highest of the group.
While any of these tires will be able to handle a day at the track in the fast group and a ride home afterward, our time on the DRCs lead us to believe they’re at or ahead of the pack. Pirelli has built a quality street/track tire in the Diablo Rosso Corsa, offering performance more than good enough for the vast majority of riders. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.