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Old 04-11-2016, 10:00 AM   #1
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Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review

A tyre for all conditions thankfully including torrential rain

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review



Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review
Confidence in the tyre grew with lean angle, and it even stopped raining for a while.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review


Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review
Heavy rain struck again for the track launch, leaving standing water on the circuit, but the tyre performed well.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review


Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyre review
The tread pattern is new


I FOOLISHLY opted not to take my waterproofs to the launch of the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III in Aragon, picturing only Spanish sunshine. Boy did I regret that choice.

The ambient temperature was sub-10°C with heavy rain forecast, but my misfortune was a great opportunity to really test the tyre. So often the first thing riders ask about a tyre is ‘What’s it like in the wet?’ And now I can tell you.

The Rosso III replaces the Diablo Rosso II. It’s aimed at naked and sports bikes, with a performance envelope somewhere between sports-touring and the track-focused Super Corsa. It’s do-everything rubber aiming to be competent on a commute, spirited weekend ride and the occasional track day. I tested it on the road and on a soaked track.

Road

It had rained heavily the night before the test ride so there was standing water on the roads as we set off in the morning.

I’m always cautious for the first few miles on an unknown tyre. The Rosso III is designed to offer grip in a wide temperature range according to Pirelli, but I wanted to feel it for myself before taking any chances.

There’s a series of roundabouts as you exit Aragon, on which the tyres felt firm and connected. A couple of miles down the road we were straight into tight switchback corners. The road surface offered the perfect testing ground, with sand, dust, patchy damp and standing water. It even dried out for a bit before raining again.

It didn’t take long before I was in the flow, corner to corner, speed and lean angle gradually increasing.

The first time I went through standing water at a lean angle, I held my breath, but confidence grew as the grip held. I wouldn’t like to try the same on a track-focused tyre.

The Rosso III has a bigger shoulder radius than its predecessor by 7%, which is said to increase contact area at a lean angle. You can’t tip into a turn as quickly as a track tyre will let you but it seems to roll in and out faster than the Rosso II.

The rear tyre is 60% harder than the front, so the back offers stiffness under drive while the front absorbs bumps. The combination works well and I felt connected to the road all the time. Braking hard for corners, the front felt planted and never gave any indication it would give up.

I experimented with carrying a bit of front brake into the bends to see how it would feel, loading the front edge under braking, and it remained stable. Dabbing the back brake or trailing it in hairpins never created any heart-skip moments either.

The rear is dual-compound, with a harder, 20% silica section in the middle for longevity and stability under acceleration. The shoulders are softer, with a 100% silica compound for cornering grip. The front consists of a single 100% silica compound.

The Rosso III also has a new tread pattern, said to allow movement in the tyre and aid warming.

Track

There was more heavy rain as we lined up in the pit lane and I was frankly nervous. Like many riders, I prefer not to be on track in the rain and I didn’t want to be the guy remembered for binning it on that tyre launch.

It didn’t help that there was standing water on the track, the tyres had not been on warmers and the ambient temperature was 7°C. Naturally the pressures had been dropped at both ends.

After a couple of cautious laps, I began pushing the lean angle further and further in each turn, half expecting the tyre to lose grip, but it never gave up.

By the end of a 15-minute session I was confident of leaning the bike, but still not entirely comfortable through the standing water or the downhill section of the circuit.

On my second session I started pushing harder, leaning further and braking harder and later. The tyre was smooth, stable and offered unexpected levels of grip. It’s very unlikely that you would push a tyre this hard in these conditions on the road.

If you want a track-focused semi-slick tyre with a steep, fast-turning profile, then explore the Diablo Super Corsa. If you are looking for an all-round, happy medium, best-of-both-worlds tyre then consider the Rosso III. You’ll be able to ride to the circuit, enjoy a track day and get home again without worrying about any unexpected conditions.

Product tested: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres

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