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!