Road To Track
Pirelli updates its sporty Rosso Corsa line with dual compound designs, sportier profiles, and various other updates.
Engineering the ultimate sport tire is no easy feat. Today’s market is tough—scratch that, it’s cutthroat. Consumers aren’t looking for the best of one world, they’re looking for the best of every world. High-speed stability, wet-weather grip, sporty racetrack performance, and longevity are required just to exist here. Missing one of those? Your tires will sit on the retailer’s sale racks, collect dust, and not make a dollar. It’s not an easy job for tire engineers.
By Michael Gilbert | Photography by Andrea Wilson
Pirelli, however, says that it can hit every sport tire mark just right—and then some. The Italian brand’s recent introduction of the Diablo Rosso Corsa II proves that.
Pirelli didn’t do the bare minimum in order to create a successful tire. In fact, the manufacturer tapped into its 15-year experience as the official tire supplier for the WorldSBK Championship to improve outright performance, as well as unveiling all-new technologies in the updated Rosso Corsa II.
In order to deliver a tire capable of handling both everyday riding and racetrack demands,
Pirelli employed a multi-compound design for the front and rear hoops. For example, the Diablo Rosso Corss uses a bi-compound structure up front, which is integrated in three different zones. The center compound is constructed of a 100-percent silica construction in order to provide grip in both wet and dry conditions, as well as straight-line stability. On each edge of the front hoop, a 100-percent carbon black compound is used to promote as much grip as possible, while providing enough feedback to the rider to boost confidence during spirited road or racetrack riding.
Pirelli engineers used a similar construction on the rear tire, except using three compounds over five different zones. The center portion is a compound is constructed with a high-silica content to achieve high mileage, high-speed stability, and even wear. Like the center compound on the front tire, the intermediate sections of the rear shoe feature a 100-percent silica construction, and the shoulder sections are built of a 100-percent carbon black compound with the same resins as used in the Diablo Supercorsa racing tires used in WorldSBK.
Unlocking true sport performance from the Diablo Rosso Corsa II meant pulling technologies from its racing efforts, including dual radius technology. The center of the updated Rosso Corsa II features a sharp radius design, which is meant to increase the speed of side-to-side transitions while remaining stable. Shaping of the profile on the tire’s edges transitions to a wider radius at 35 degrees of lean, helping create a larger contact patch while banked over. To ensure a balanced feeling between the front and rear, this transition between profile designs come at the same angle.
Also updated in the newest iteration of the Diabo Rosso Corsa is Pirelli’s distinctive “flash” tread pattern. Engineers started with the same pattern used on the street-oriented Rosso III, then modifying it to retain wet-weather performance while boosting outright grip. The aggressive treading is placed on the tire in zones from 10 to 30 degrees of lean, then disappear towards the shoe’s edge. Pirelli skipped cutting tread on the shoulders in order to extract as much racetrack performance as possible. The slick edges are said to boost stability characteristics at racetrack lean angles and under hard inputs such as trail braking and acceleration.
To showcase the new Diablo Rosso Corsa II’s capabilities, Pirelli invited Cycle News to its trackday at the renowned Laguna Seca circuit following the U.S. WorldSBK round. As the morning fog cleared way, we spun tens, even hundreds of laps aboard the brand’s newest creation on a variety of sport bikes. The results? Impressive—downright impressive.
The feel presented from the Diablo Rosso Corsa II’s front tire made an immediate impression on us. With the new Rosso Corsa, there’s no guessing where the limit of traction is. Push the new front tire as deep as you want into a corner, and you’ll know exactly how much grip there is left to work with through the feedback it gives at the handlebars. Simply, it feels planted underneath you at all times. Complementing the superb amount of feel is a strong feeling of stability under heavy braking, which has been a common issue with Pirelli’s of the past. The earlier tires would squirm beneath you, robbing confidence to push the limit.
Outright grip of the Pirellis was also impressive, especially at the front end. The Rosso Corsa II is more than adequate to handle the racetrack, hooking hard and carving the corner with ease. We wouldn’t go as far as saying they’re ideal for top-level racers, mainly because it will push wide under serious load. The rear grip proved worthy of race track application, although one of our only gripes with the tire is a subtle spin under initial throttle pickup at maximum lean. Again, this isn’t a true race tire, but it has to be said that some of the Rosso Corsa II’s competition doesn’t have this issue.
Pirelli’s use of the dual-radius design on the Rosso Corsa II makes the tire yearn for quick side-to-side transitions. Simply, look where you want to go and the tire will fall into the corner with confidence. The changeover from the sharp-radius center portion to the less-angled shoulder feels seamless.
While it’s impossible to comment on the street performance of the Rosso Corsa II because we have only ridden them on the racetrack, it’s easy to think they’ll conquer anything the roads throw at them. Even on the cold, dewy morning at Laguna Seca, the Pirellis heated up quickly with no issues. This means your chilly morning commute shouldn’t require a second thought.
With the introduction of the Diablo Rosso Corsa II, Pirelli has proven that it can create a street tire that is still capable of handling serious racetrack use. The Italian brand built upon an already-impressive tire with the experience it has accumulated through the World Superbike championship and delivered a damn grippy set of sport tires. It’s safe to say that if you’re an aggressive street rider with the desire to dip your feet in the track-day world, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa IIs might just be the perfect fit. CN