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Tyre Compound Vs Lap Times Vs Tyre Wear


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So in my circle of friends we ride track days at various levels. For this conversation I'll use Philip Island because that is where we ride 100% of the time. As everyone knows it's also a new surface with humongous amounts of grip. These are track bikes, so no road use. The three of us quite often discuss tyres and bike setups. We have setup our bikes suspension as best we know given all our knowledge we have gained from reading and learning from others. Rebound, Rebound, Rebound...

 

Can we talk tyre compound vs. lap times vs. tyre wear. Let's assume I have a good setup and am getting the most out of my tyres. My reasoning for this is, my tyres wear patterns seem right on the money and don't show signs of hot/cold tears etc. once a couple of sessions are run. Not from what I can tell anyway. I use tyre warmers and run lap times around 1:49-1:51 at Philip Island fairly consistently. As always after every session, we check pressures, tyre temp and visually inspect the tyre for wear patterns. tears etc. If we notice something we adjust accordingly. 99% of the time its pressure as the day unfolds and warms up from the morning to the afternoon. You can see the tyre cleans up after each session as you get closer and closer to the optimal setting. As we ride the same track all the time, other suspension settings rarely get touched. Rebound maybe if the temperature is really cold in the morning.

 

Spending lots of $$ of race slicks or super sticky compound tyres seems to me a waste if I'm not running even near the limit of less sticky road based tyres. What I am trying to understand is at what point do these super sticky tyres have a benefit over less sticky, road based tyres and ones riding ability? I can buy a tyre that will give me 6-8 tracks days, maybe more if I push right to the wear indicator, or a super sticky tyre that gets me 3 track days, but in either case, my lap times are the same because of my ability.

 

Currently I run about 33psi hot on the front and 24psi hot on the rear. Front is a Diablo Rosso Corsa and rear is a Battlax race slick 190/645R17 I got from someone who had raced it. I've done 3 track days on it now and it needs replacing. What I am trying to understand and maybe see if I am off the mark here is, do all these different tyre compounds etc. only make a difference when you are near or close to the limits? If I'm 15-20 seconds off what my current tyres can do am i wasting the tyre?

I've been told I should go for a medium compound for grip, but I think I should go for a hard for longevity. For me, using less tyres is better for costs. I would think if I was running in the 1:30's and looking for tenths of seconds I would look at compounds etc.

 

Does this make sense to those out there? I guess my point is people say get the sticky rubber its better, but is it really for the average track day rider?

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If you don't ride hard enough to get proper heat into the stickiest tyres, they will not stick and they also generally gives far less warning before they let go than less sticky stuff. You want tyres that give you enough grip with a little slip, nothing more, really.

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Are you as comfortable on the tires that give you 6-8 track days as the ones that give you 3? You already mentioned your lap times are the same - do they also provide good handling and plenty of grip? If so, what is making you wonder if you need the sticker tire? (That is a real question, not a sarcastic one. )

 

Some tracks have so much grip that they eat softer tires and it becomes impractical to run them; have you talked to a local tire vendor about what makes sense for that new surface? You'll probably have to be very specific in your questions, as it is likely to the tire vendor's advantage for you to buy the expensive super sticky tires that have to be replaced more often. :)

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I'm a slowish Novice track day rider at the moment. I always buy the stickiest tires I can get that will stay warm at my pace. Most of the time they are DOT track day tires as I don't run warmers. I have read the logic of "you don't need X Y or Z tire at your pace" but personally I would rather spend the extra $$$ on tires than on bike repairs and hospital bills if something goes massively wrong or if I make a mistake.

 

One day I'll become more comfortable with sliding but until then I feel safer on reasonably sticky tires. Of course if I started "burning them up" I would talk to the tire guy and get his advice on a better choice.

 

Speaking of sliding. I took my MV Agusta to a track day at the last minute (my regular bike was not cooperating) and spent a small fortune on the suspension. My tires "looked" brand new but they were several years old. The old tires had lost a lot of their grip and the MV with it's massive power was sliding around in the turns. It ruined my confidence but if it had not been for the really good training I got at the Superbike School I probably would have freaked out and crashed. The very next session I bought new tires and the difference was amazing.

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I'm doing ride school level 2 and 3 in Jan when ride school starts up again so I'll try out the Dunlop D211 Hard which I know is soft compared to road tyres and see how they last. Maybe if I get down to the low/mid 1:40's I'll definitely need some track worthy tyre's. Perhaps its better to not hit the limit before its too late :)

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I'm with Hotfoot on this one. She is spot on.

 

You have really answered the question yourself. You are going 15-20 off the pace and your lap times don't change with a higher performance tire. So stick with that tire and get more tire life. The tire is not what is holding you back.

 

When you up your pace and start to slide the street tire, then step up to the higher performance tire. Or if you want more insurance step up to the performance tire now at the expense of more tires usage. Its ultimately your call.

 

Don't overthink this.

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