Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

I always used to have a (possibly unfounded) hatred of Pirelli tyres.  It was probably more from having ancient tyres on my very first Yamaha TZR125 that had all the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic watching a bad Kubrick film.

Despite this, I was impressed by their claims and marketing when they brought out their brand spanking new Angel ST tyre – I was first aware of these in early 2009.  They promised more grip in the dry and wet, better cold performance, and claimed to see over 9000 miles from a rear tyre on a Hayabusa!

Oh, and they had a funky picture in the tread of an angel, that wore down to become the image of a demon.

I’ve used many tyres on many bikes, so am fully aware of just how far tyre technology advances in the space of a few short years, and so decided to take a chance on them being fitted to my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R C2.

I very quickly found that they met all these claims of more grip, and even when running them in (personally I think more like 10 miles to run new tyres in, rather than the idiot-proof 100 miles they recommend) they were well behaved and inspired confidence.

Over the next few years I found they offered at least all of the grip of other sports-touring tyres on the market, and can also confirm that where I got 3000 miles from a rear tyre such as an Avon AV56 or Bridgestone BT021, the Angels give me at least twice that, of very hard road riding all year round.

I even tested these tyres on snow and mud and ice.  They were crap, of course, but I didn’t fall off and tear my petticoat!

Recently, I had decided to do a trackday on my ZX9R, and not having the funds to switch to track tyres, decided to try out the Angels.

I thought that they would overheat and slide, or just fall apart at track temperatures, as they warm up so quickly on the roads.

I’m no Rossi on track, but usually run at the sharp end of Intermediate groups, laying down 2min laps around Oulton Park and around 1:03 at Mallory on 600cc hire bikes.

Well I can now confirm that at a super-abrasive Rockingham International circuit, they gave absolutely no problems, and I even put in a lap in the low 1:40s – with warped brake discs meaning I was making up the time through corner speed and very heavy trail braking up to the apex of corners!

They wore extremely well, with no tearing and just a bit of balling-up at the edge of the tyres.

I heard from several people around 5 years ago that the sports-touring tyres of the time (before the Angels came out) had the equivalent grip of the best Grand Prix level race tyres of the late 1990’s.  Now, with that in mind, and considering they had a lot more to give when I tried them on track, then WHY exactly does anyone believe they need some super-sticky tyre for the road that only lasts 500 miles?

I think you could happily run in the fast group, and they would be enough for 90% of trackday riders – let alone road riders…

What Tyre Pressures Do You Run?

That’s an important question that I missed!  Everyone in the pub is an expert on tyre pressures.  Almost always these ‘experts’ will tell you to run low pressures for grip – probably because they heard it off a racer sometime.  Well, even if they are on a track, they’re probably wrong!

Generally, I’m a believer in the Universal Standard road tyre pressures of 36psi front and 42psi rear.    I may run a 40psi rear because I don’t take many pillions these days, so don’t need the extra psi.  Sort out your suspension and riding/body position first before touching your tyre pressures!  And here’s why…

I consulted a REAL tyre expert at Rockingham, and was advised to run pressures of 34 front and 32 rear on track.  The reason they’re not much lower (as I’d expected to be told) is that tyres like these aren’t designed to run lower pressures, and so by lowering them below that, you overstress their structures as they move beyond their intended limits, causing not just less grip but the potential for a total failure.  You don’t want this on a racetrack, and you definitely don’t want this on the road!

24 thoughts on “Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

  1. Hey I’m so happy I found this entry as I’m about to run some Angels at the track in a day! My first so I was wondering if these would be a hazard during track conditions. I’m happy I found a positive entry as other forums were against using sport touring etc etc

    So 34/32 eh? How much did you weigh at the time. I’m pushing 200. Maybe 34/34?

    Did you ever run them more than this one time at the track?!?!?!


    • I weigh just under 13 1/2 stone – so I think that’s close to 200lbs? The best thing is to get the advice at the track from whoever’s there selling tyres – they’ll know how to adjust it for weight and temperature etc. I doubt they’ll tell you to raise pressure at the rear, though – it’ll probably be about the same settings.

      I haven’t used them on track again yet but definitely would without hesitation. And when I did that trackday my front tyre was almost worn to the limit, so was probably past it’s best and still performed perfectly!

      The truth is that these tyres have around the same grip levels as the slicks used in Moto GP races 15 years ago, and if anyone says that isn’t enough for them to use on a trackday they’re fooling themselves – and they’ve been conned by the manufacturers into buying the more expensive ‘sports’ tyres that will wear out 5 times as quickly!

      Please post again after you’ve done the trackday – I’d be very interested to see if you found the same. And hope you have a great day!

      • HEY it’s me again. !!! Sorry to fail on following up! So I only got to do half a trackday. The person that trailered my bike had their spouse crash and they packed up at lunch time and headed for hospital. FFS

        Regardless. They did just fine!! I put 3k or so more miles on them in 2 months and was searching for this thread again for the tires pressures because I’m going back to the track on the 22nd God Willing.

        So I have been torn. Should I replace the tires with something stickier but there is so much tread still left. So I think I’ll run another trackday with them… Hopefully they hold up just fine with the 34/34 tire pressure.

        Here is some vid of the trackday!

        • Thanks for coming back again and hope your friends were ok?

          When I did my Rockingham trackday my front tyre had done well over 10,000 miles, and had not much over 1mm or tread left. I was torn between getting it replaced or just going for it figuring if it did shred it I could just buy a sticky front at the track. I did the trackday and another few months of road riding!

          That looks like a very fast track – open sweeping bends with a good rythm to it. I want a go! 🙂

          • Yeah that’s New Jersey Thunderbolt. They just built it in 2008… almost all right handers so it really is a very technical and flowing track for all of us who LOVE left handers!!! which I assume is every single motorcyclist!

            As for the tires I just did a 500 mile trip through some seriously twisty stuff and the bike just feels so weird when I have them inflated to 35 front 39 rear… I brought them down from the 36f 42R because it felt like I had very little feel and grip.. maybe the track 34F 34R is gonna feel different.

            But I have this set of 5 year old Dunlop Qualifiers that only have like 1,000 miles on them. But they are 5 frickin years old and I just don’t trust that…

            So torn right now.. I’m this close to getting a set of michelin 2ct’s for this trackday and the upcoming Winter…

              • Actually everyone HATES left-handers over here – most people get their knee down the most on roundabouts, so of course they go around to the right over here… Except all the people who live in the same area as me! We grew up with The Redditch Cloverleaf…. (have a look for it on YouTube) 😉

  2. Great write up, by this I tottaly agree since I also tried em on the track! For those folks that do a few fun trackdays this is more then enough and as long ure a real beginner don’t waste ure time on those sport tires… U aint pushing them far enough annyway. I had mine on a BMW S1000RR and they held up fine! These tires can take a serious beating! Annyhow just gonna copy/paste what I wrote on another forum

    Ok, had my first trackday yesterday ever! Had the angels slapped on. Grip was fine, at the end I had no more chicken strips and they balled up/melted at the sides. After the noon they placed me in another group comming from my times at the morning. Placing me from the beginner group in the second fastest group (though was 3/4 from the top there). I asked that I could be placed one group lower since it was my first time and didn’t want to be in the way of some folks. The wear is great! I started to love how they fall into the corners and grip is damn good on the track for a 1 CP tire. Sport touring tires seem to have come a long way since 15 years go!

    edit: don’t run these tires to hard! they really don’t like it!(well I didn’t, I once almost overshoot a turn cuz the front was by accident at 2.65bar cold wich gives u bad grip))
    Running them on 2.15 Bar at the front and 2.3 at the back. Wich would be 31 and 33 PSI

    • Thanks for commenting!

      Where did you do your trackday? The great thing about the Angels is that if you have to ride to the circuit the motorway miles won’t square the tyre off, either. To be honest, even if I had a dedicated track bike that I trailered to the circuit I’d still probably use them because they’ll last you about 10 days on track lol!

  3. Did a Cadwell trackday on Angels on my trusty 1993 CBR600 and was advised to run 32 rear too (cant remember front – too excited!).
    It was only my 2nd trackday and I loved it – plenty of confidence thru the fast right at Charlies, and never a moments worry (apart from my own lack of ability of course..!)
    Have just booked another Casdwell Day on the 13th Sept and will be dropping the tyres to 32 again!

    • Great to hear it! I was wondering if they’d work so well on a lighter bike like a 600 – glad to hear they do!
      I still haven’t done Cadwell yet, but I intend to remedy that as soon as I can…

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  5. Hi, I’ve just got a pair of Angel STs fitted after the patched up rear Diablo Strada leaked again. Though I am still just running in the tyre (scrubbing in?), they already feel better than the Strada. Thanks for the article as I was wondering how the Angels fare on track and the tyre pressures to run. So I guess 34/34 would be a good start?

    • I run the universal standard of 36f 42r on the roads (maybe more like 40 on the rear but I like hard acceleration and don’t mind the rear moving around, so heat the rear up quickly). It does everything I ask of them Summer or Winter, and to be honest you won’t really notice much difference with tyre pressures on the road even if you ride like a loon!

      • I’ve been very happy with the Angel STs so far. Have been running them for about a week and am in love with them already. They were the last piece of the puzzle in the setting up of my bike. She is now really nice on the road.

        I read that you went to track with the Angel STs. Were you running 34 Fr and 32 Rr? Did you need to tweak your suspension settings for this pressure? Also, could you describe the differences when you were riding with 36 Fr/42 Rr vs 34 Fr/36 Rr? Thanks!

        • I spent a lot of time playing around with suspension settings to get them right for me. I like hard suspension for the feedback, and so my road setup was fine on the track, but most people will probably want to firm things up a click or two.

          The main reason for dropping tyre pressures is that the tyres get hot and expand back to the regular pressures, anyway, so there’s very little point changing suspension settings to suit tyre pressure. It might make a difference in a Moto GP bike but us mere mortals would never tell any difference!

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  7. I just had my first track-day a couple days ago, and used these tires on my 06 GSX-R 1000. I had about a year and 4.5K miles on them before the track-day. They did hold up really well, and I was the fastest in the beginner group. Even got my knee down for the first time! I wish I had seen this site before my track-day though! I usually run 36/42 psi for the street, and never had them slip, and I do ride pretty aggressively. Before my first session, I lowered them to 30/34 (was trying to keep the front lower than rear since that’s how it is on the street). Air temps were pretty cool, low-mid 50’s F. By the end of my 3rd 20 min session, I was sliding around even though I didn’t feel like I was pushing any harder. When I got back into the pits, I checked the pressure, and the rear was all the way up to 45 psi. I suspect that’s why it started sliding, so I lowered it again down to 40 psi (hot) but I didn’t get a chance to go back out after that because it started raining heavily. Next time I think I will try using 34/32 cold and see how that works out. I’m just glad that I’m not the only one that has taken these tires to the track!

    • It definately would have been that rear pressure!

      The main reason for higher pressures on the rear in street use is so you can take the extra load of a pillion without messing about too much. As you found out, on track, being the drive wheel, the rear pressure will go way up after a few laps.

      What track were you at?

      • The track was Spokane County Raceway in Spokane, WA USA. The only thing I wonder though, is that if I would’ve lowered the cold pressure in the rear to 32 instead of 34, wouldn’t that have made the tire even hotter therefore increasing psi even more? I’ve been reading that you want to see an increase of about 5-7 psi from cold to hot. I saw an increase of 11 psi cold to hot. So according to other theories, I would actually need to RAISE my cold psi, so the tire wont get so hot, and hopefully gain only 5-7 psi. However, raising the psi from an already high-ish 34 just seems too high for track use. Seems that I’m stuck either way. And like I said, air temps were pretty cool too so hotter weather would’ve made the situation even worse.

        I would like to blame it on the tires themselves not being cut out for track use and over-heating, but with people saying they are as good as GP tires from the 90’s it kind of blows that excuse out of the water at my skill level lol. So now I’m not sure what to do? Raise cold psi, lower it, adjust suspension which is a whole new can of worms, or maybe its just my riding style that needs work. Too many variables!!

        • Tyre pressures are the same kind of black art as suspension – if you change pressures too much in one direction it does the opposite. I’d have dropped another few psi if it was cooking my tyres, but didn’t need to.

          I should also say that changing suspension settings will make a massive difference in comparison to tyre pressures, and you should get that sorted out first. At most UK tracks there are experts there who will set the suspension up for you – and it’s ALWAYS worth paying the money for that at least once! It’s about the best modification you can make to your bike.

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