There are two types of motorcycle trackday tyres; Road legal treaded motorcycle track tyres and Slick motorcycle tyres. If you’re riding your motorcycle to the trackday, then you need to use treaded tyres as slicks are not road legal.
In this guide we’re going to help you choose a great pair of road legal trackday-focused tyres. You’ll be able to ride to the track on them and they’ll offer good road-going performance but you’ll also be able to push them hard on track, with or without tyre warmers and ride home at the end of the day.
So let’s run through a few basics before we get to the tyres.
Do you need motorcycle trackday tyres?
You don’t need to have specific track-focused tyres to ride on track. Ex-GP racer Ron Haslam can lap Donington Park on a CBR500R Honda on Bridgestone touring tyres faster than most of his track students can lap on a FireBlade on sticky sports rubber.
Of course, a sticky tyre will give most riders more grip and more confidence and therefore faster lap times. However, a grippy track-focused tyre doesn’t always equate to faster lap times.
A trackday tyre, whether a slick or a treaded tyre is designed to offer the ultimate in grip. However, the more track-focused a tyre is, the more temperature and pressure sensitive it is. If conditions aren’t perfect; for example the track is cold, slightly damp or your tyres aren’t warm, then any advantage of a super grippy tyre is diminished.
If you’re riding to a trackday then a Sports tyre is a great option. It’ll warm up faster, still offer loads of grip and be less sensitive to changes in track temperature or tyre pressure.
Do you need slicks?
Opinions on this vary but as far as we’re concerned, if you’re just into trackdays and not top-level racing, then you don’t need slicks. If you’re not in the fast group, then you definitely don’t need slicks. Of course, if you want to run them, it’s no problem if you do but there’s probably no advantage in using them.
A decade ago, slicks were the grippiest tyres by far but they were aimed at racers, not trackdayers. They were expensive and tricky to get hold of. They were also stiff, fickle and very sensitive to pressure. They used a different compound of rubber that needed a careful warm-up procedure. Their stiffness could throw out a previously well-setup bike, so they needed expert input in order for the rider to extract the maximum from them. Do these sound like a lot of fun for the typical trackday rider? Nope? Exactly.
These top-end slicks still exist and are still used by professional racers with a team of experts to help them get the best from them. However the tyre manufacturers also produce a range of slicks that are based on a softer carcass. Essentially they are built on the same carcass as the firm’s stickiest treaded road legal trackday tyre but with a slick outer.
There’s no doubt motorcycle slicks offer marginally more outright grip than their treaded siblings but for the average fast-group pace rider, a treaded tyre has more upsides. They offer more feel and feedback due to the tread pattern, they are also less temperature and pressure sensitive than slicks. Finally, they don’t go off the boil as quickly as slicks. If you slow down for a lap or two on treaded tyres, you have less chance of there being a loss of temperature enough to lose traction.
There is less than 1mph difference in the lap records at the Isle of Man TT between the bikes on treaded tyres and the ones on slicks.
What you need to check when you ride on track
Whether you’re a total novice or a TT winner, you need to check your tyre pressures before and after each session. So make sure you pack a tyre pressure gauge and know your pressures. We have published this in-depth guide to motorcycle trackday tyre pressures. If you’re not sure on the day, you can always ask the tyre fitter at the track or go and ask for help from one of the track instructors.
If you’re running tyre warmers, you should check your pressures once the tyres are up to temperature. If you’re not running tyre warmers, then check your pressures when you come in at the end of a session to ensure your tyres aren’t running too high a pressure. It’s worth mentioning that you can rent tyre warmers from most trackday organisers. You’ll rent the warmers and paddock stands. It’s worth doing as you’ll then be able to go straight out on warm tyres and get more track time, with less chance of crashing due to a cold tyre.
What are the best motorcycle trackday tyres?
We don’t think there is a ‘best trackday tyre’ because different riders like the different qualities of the various tyres on the market. They’re also all priced differently and wear differently. Just because your mate swears by the tyres he or she’s on, doesn’t mean they’ll work well for you. The tyre that someone won the TT on might not be the best tyre for you either.
All the major manufacturers produce top-quality trackday tyres. There are over 30 different types of treaded and slick track-focused tyres on the market and they come in a variety of compounds too. So there’s a lot of choice but that choice can be a bit overwhelming.
So instead of claiming to know the ‘best motorcycle track tyres’ we’re going to talk about each manufacturer’s offering and tell you which ones our customers buy the most.
Avon Trackday Tyres
Avon might not be the first manufacturer you think of when you’re considering trackday tyres but this plucky British brand is no slouch when it comes to track rubber. They are already very popular in classic racing circles, winning multiple different championships and dominating classic race events like the Manx GP.
However they also produce a range of quality trackday tyres for modern bikes. Their development riders test their tyres at race circuits across Europe but their HQ, as it were, is Castle Coombe.
The 3D Ultra Evo is a great tyre for fast road riding and trackdays. If you’re looking for a bit more grip and flexibility then check out the 3D Ultra Xtreme. It’s a race tyre that is available in 3 different compounds: AC1 = Supersoft, AC2 = Soft, AC3 = Medium.
And one last point to mention. These quality track-ready tyres are all made right here in the UK.
Our Sports tyre pick: 3D Ultra Evo
Our Track-focused pick: 3D Ultra Extreme
Bridgestone Trackday Tyres
Bridgestone are on a roll with their track-focused motorcycle tyres. It’s no surprise that they’re a force to be reckoned with because they’ve spent millions (and millions) developing tyres for MotoGP (as the sole supplier from 2009 to 2015). It’s only logical to assume they’re looking to get a bit of a return for that investment, and we’re the beneficiaries. Messrs Stoner, Rossi & Co’s feedback at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing has trickled down into the tyres we can buy today.
The S22 is the latest generation tyre for fast road riding but it’s also a peach of a tyre on track. If you’re riding to the track and you’re not going to run tyre warmers, then these are the tyres we’d go for. If you want a little more grip, then the RS11 (Racing Street) is the one to go for. It’s road legal so you can ride on it to the track but this wouldn’t be our first option as a road tyre. As a track-focused tyre it’s a good’un and even better if you can sling some tyre warmers on them.
Our Sports tyre pick: Battlax S22
Road-legal Trackday tyre: RS11 Racing Street
Our treaded race tyre pick: R11
Continental Trackday Tyres
It’s fair to say that Continental are big in the car world but not as well known in bikes. They are a huge company, with a wide range of products and an extensive set of R&D facilities. They’re well known in Enduro and Adventure-bike circles and their TKC range of knobbly motorcycle tyres has a loyal following.
It’s perhaps the fact that Continental don’t sponsor any major motorcycle racing series that keeps them slightly under the radar of most track riders but the quality of their motorcycle trackday tyres is right up there.
For fast road riders, we recommend the Conti Sport Attack 4 which offers a fast warm up and plenty of grip. It’s a great choice for the occasional trackday too but if you’re a trackday regular, consider the Road Attack 2 Street. If you run a dedicated track bike then check out the Race Attack 2 which is available in Soft and Medium compounds.
Our Sports tyre pick: Conti Sport Attack 4
Road-legal Trackday tyre: Conti Race Attack 2 Street
Our treaded race tyre pick: Conti Race Attack 2
Dunlop Trackday Tyres
Dunlop are the current holders of the Isle of Man TT lap record – at 135.452mph – thanks to Peter Hickman and his awesomely fast Smiths BMW S1000RR. That’s enough for some people to stick a set of Dunlops on their track bike – and who can blame them?
While we might not have Hicky’s talent or a 230bhp superbike, we can still benefit from Dunlop’s extensive motorcycle racing experience to help shave a few tenths off our best lap. Not only do they support the TT but they’re also the tyre supplier to the MotoGP ‘support’ classes, Moto2 and Moto3.
Some riders find Dunlop tyres stiff and more fickle than other brands when it comes to track and tyre temperatures but there’s no denying the outright grip you get from their D212 and D213 models.
Our Sports tyre pick: Sportsmart TT
Road-legal Trackday tyre: D212GP Racer
Our treaded race tyre pick: D213GP
Michelin Trackday Tyres
Michelin are the current tyre suppliers to the premier MotoGP class, they’re all over four wheeled motorsport and they make great road tyres for motorbikes but for some reason, they’re not the go-to brand for track work.
Some people at Michelin think it’s the fact they don’t sponsor British Superbikes and other production-based motorcycle racing championships that affects the perception of their tyres among the trackday and club-racing fraternity.
And that’s a shame because there’s no denying Michelin’s track record at the top flight of almost any racing series in two wheels or four over the past few decades. Their motorsports tyre knowledge and R&D is arguably second to none. Their Power range of tyres is aimed at fast road riders all the way up to racers. The Power 5 is their fast road tyre, while the Power GP is the slightly-confusingly-named road legal trackday option. For full-on trackday nuts or racers, the Power Cup 2 is the stickiest road legal tyre Michelin produces.
Our Sports tyre pick: Power 5
Road-legal Trackday tyre: Power GP
Our treaded race tyre pick: Power Cup 2
Metzeler Trackday Tyres
Metzeler only produce motorcycle tyres, so there’s no questioning their commitment to two wheels. They’re also owned by Pirelli, who are arguably the go-to brand for motorcycle trackday nuts.
While Pirelli are aimed at out-and-out performance Metzeler is the slightly more sensible sibling. But don’t confuse that for lower performance. Metzeler were for years the tyre supplier to the British Superbikes Superstock 1000 series, which is one of the most competitive championships anywhere in the world. If a tyre’s good enough for 30 nutters wringing every last drop of performance from a litre-class superbike then it’s good enough for us.
Metzeler’s Racetec range is track focused while the M7RR and now M9RR are their tyres aimed at fast road riders. The Racetec RR K3 is a great choice for road riders who like to have the occasional spin on track but to be honest the M9RR will be more than good enough for a rider of Fast group pace.
If you run a dedicated trackbike then check out the Racetec RR, which is available in a K1 and K2 compound. They offer great grip and feedback and better tyre life than a lot of their rivals.
Our Sports tyre pick: M9RR
Road-legal Trackday tyre: Racetec RR K3
Our treaded race tyre pick: Racetec RR (compounded)
Pirelli Trackday Tyres
Pirelli have worked hard to become the go-to tyre for trackday riders and racers. They are the tyre supplier to World Superbikes, British Superbikes and other domestic race championships around the world. However it’s not just a case of Pirelli writing the biggest cheques; the product itself is also very good.
The technology used in top-flight racing doesn’t just trickle down, it positively floods in to the tyres that you and I can buy for trackdays and road riding.
Corsa is Pirelli’s nomenclature for their road-focused tyres and although the Corsa 2 is aimed at fast-road-riding, it’s plenty grippy enough for track action. The SP range of Supercorsa tyres is aimed at trackday riders and the slightly stickier SC tyres are aimed at ‘competition’ use. These tyres are used in classes like the Ducati TriOptions Cup and National Superstock 1000 and are capable of lap times that are knocking on the door of what the riders on slick tyres are capable of.
Our Sports tyre pick: Rosso Corsa 2
Road-legal Trackday tyre: Diablo Supercorsa V3 SP
We’re here to help
If you’re in the market for a new set of sticky tyres and you’re not sure what’s best for you, give us a call on 0207 205 2205 and we’ll help you choose a great pair of tyres for your fast road riding or on-track adventures.