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YellowDuck

Faster On Slicks?

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Off-season philosophical question (this place is a bit dead lately!).

 

2014 will be my first race season, after three years of track day riding. Last year I used Dunlop Q2s which were wonderful. I never used warmers and it only took one lap to heat them up. They did get pretty hot and melty at times though...

 

For this season, I will be on race slicks (Bridgestone V01-R) with warmers. Here's my question...given that, at my pace I rarely if ever slid the Q2s (excluding cold tracks, damp asphalt, etc), will I likely go faster on the slicks? In other words, if the tires weren't clearly holding me back, can "better" tires be of any use? Do we somehow sense the limits of the tires even when they don't actually slide, and (usually) stay within those limits, or does no sliding = you don't need better tires yet?

 

It seems that nowadays the high performance street tires are so good that you can be near the limits of cornering on them anyway (near ground-clearance-limited lean angles with decent body position), so why the need for race tires? Also, on street tires with good technique braking force seems to be limited by geometry (endoing the bike), not traction, so its hard to see how race tires help there either. I am thinking that the biggest benefit might be the ability to get on the throttle harder exiting corners without spinning up the rear (if there is any benefit at all). Maybe club racers at my level are just fooling themselves that they can benefit from DOT race tires or slicks?

 

Opinions?

 

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I bought a track bike that came with slicks so I considered this question myself. At first my logic was "more grip is always better" and I started looking into it further. I soon realized with a bit of my own research that at my slowish track day pace I would probably not be able to keep them up to full operating temps and might end up in situations where I had less grip than a standard DOT tire. Add in the fact you have to run warmers and have to change tires if it rained and it did not make a lot of sense for me on a track day. Those slicks are still sitting in my basement. I have seen lots of bikes on slicks at track days including Novices.

 

Racing of course changes the game entirely and I have nothing really to add there. They certainly are worth a try just to see if you like them. Why not? :)

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Ran Q2s a couple of seasons ago all year (did about 8-9 tds that season + all the street riding) with no real issues of grip. Figured if they were good enough for the instructor bikes of CSS and STAR, they were good enough for me....but always had that wonder in the back of my mind how good street tires REALLY were. Made the change to 211 GP-A DOTs (non-slicks) last season (got my race license in June) and never ever questioned grip, of course except in the wet where it was non-existant, lol.

 

Made the decision to head out to CSS next month at Willow with Q3s on the bike instead of wearing a fresh set of GP-As. Mainly because at the pace that I should be riding at to learn/process the material and what I'm doing out there, there is no way I'll be outriding those tires.

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Yellowduck,

 

Great question that I think many folks have. I think there are many misperceptions out there on this subject. Here's my opinion:

 

I'd say there's a reasonable bet you will go faster on your new tires, although not necessarily because of the tires. Most folks go faster than before when they start racing vs. doing track days. The extra motivation to go fast that you gain from racing alone will usually make you push past your current limits and ride faster. Perhaps your probable increased pace will be more than your previous tire selection can handle, perhaps not. I suspect you won't know until you re-mount your old Q2s after a few races and see if they slide at your new pace.

 

Generally, though, I agree that there are a LOT of folks who swear they need stickier tires who really don't. I've seen plenty of guys at the track who feel they need to at least be on GPAs if not slicks, yet I'm 10-15 seconds a lap quicker than them on my stock R6S with Q2s and like you, I'm rarely sliding on them. I would generally say that if your tires are not sliding too much, there's no benefit to spending the money for "better" tires. They won't make you faster because actual traction (vice perceived traction) isn't what is limiting your lap times. As you say, they may even make you slower if you can't get them to their proper operating temperature range. The possible exception to what I've just said is if the change in tires FEELS better to you due to actual or perceived differences, then the change may make someone go faster because they're more comfortable. Although, they still may not be riding anywhere near the actual limit of either the new or old tire.

 

I would even argue that there's much to be gained by putting crappier tires on and doing a couple of wet track days so you can learn the cues your bike gives you as it's reaching it's traction limit, but do so at a slower, less scary speed. If you fear losing traction (as we ALL do), you'll never overcome that fear by not facing it and learning to overcome it. The limit of traction will always be some mysterious, terrifying beast lurking out there in the dark. Stickier tires keep that beast in the dark. To learn to feel the limits of traction you must learn the individual skills that make up a good corner and give you predictable traction (throttle control, good line, relax, etc.). Once you can make traction predictable, you can explore its limits easily, especially in the wet on crappy tires. That big scary monster in the dark suddenly becomes just a little yippy dog you can punt, if that's your thing. My message to all is... don't get stickier tires, get better training & ride in the rain on crappy tires for a while.

 

Good luck in your racing Yellowduck. Let us know how it goes & what you learn.

 

Benny

 

Note: no little yippy dogs were harmed in the typing of this post.

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Thanks for the helpful replies!

 

The plan is to have a "test and tune" day in April, not at the track where we will be racing, but at a different track where I have tons of experience and know exactly what lap times to expect. Other than the tires I haven't done any performance mods to the bike - I just want to get a day of experience playing with tire warmers, getting the right pressure in the slicks, making sure my exhaust isn't going to melt through the new bellypan, that kind of thing. But, that day should also provide the opportunity to assess whether or not the slicks make me faster in a typical "track day" (not race weekend) environment.

 

Not totally scientific though, since I have also lost nearly 20 lbs (off me, not the bike)....that's gotta be worth a few tenths, don't you think?

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The new Q-3 is even a step up from the Q-2. The DOT race tires (seem to be a slick in street clothes), will ultimately have a little more than the street tires. Also, they will turn a little differently as the profile is not the same (though the 3 is closer to a slick profile than a 2 was).

 

We could post this up to Steve and see what he says in terms of outright lap times, but I don't think many guys run the 2's or 3's racing.

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It all comes down to what you expect out of your racing, If your hoping to challenge for podiums and wins, your going to need the better rubber, If your just looking for a fun experience thats a step up from normal track days and are happy to mix it up mid pack then Q3's will do just fine.

 

While Q3's have plenty of grip, more than enough to drag hard parts with proper technique you will lose out someone with Slicks on corner exit. In my very limited racing experience, 6 races entirely on Q3's, I've already run into a situation where I was behind someone that was slower into the corners, and slower mid corner, but was able to put down more power out of the corners and trying to match his exit would result in spinning up the back tire. My next race weekend, whenever that is, I will be moving up to GPA's.

 

Also while the one lap warm up time on Q3's might not seem like much, its 15% of a 6 Lap race, and giving up 3 or 4 places to slower riders on the first lap cause your tires were still warming up makes it much harder to chase down the riders who are slightly faster that you.

 

Tyler

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Thanks Tyler, confirms my suspicions about the difference on corner exits!

 

And of course, in a race situation, you would put even the Q3s on warmers, yes? I know I would.

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At the time I didn't have warmers or a generator to power them, I believe that Q3's don't respond well to warmers, but don't quote me on that

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Lots of good answers to this question - I especially like Benny's post, lots of good info and advice there. The only thing I would add is that sometimes when you change tires, you may find that you have to adjust suspension a little also, especially if the new tires have a much stiffer carcass - if the new tires aren't wearing properly or if they feel really harsh, take a look at the suspension settings.

 

Regarding runnig Q3s with warmers - we should post a new topic on this in the tires section to ask Steve. I know the Q2s weren't so great on warmers but I'm not sure that is still true with the Q3s.

 

Good topic, YellowDuck!

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The only thing I would add is that sometimes when you change tires, you may find that you have to adjust suspension a little also, especially if the new tires have a much stiffer carcass - if the new tires aren't wearing properly or if they feel really harsh, take a look at the suspension settings.

 

 

 

Thanks, good point - another reason to have a good test and tune day before the first race weekend. I am pretty comfortable working through suspension adjustment - fair bit of experience there. I expect at the least I will have to remove some rear ride height, since the slick is 190/55 whereas the Q2 was 180/55. But we will see!

 

Yes, very interested in the Q3 / warmer question, as we have Q3s on the endurance bike. Or, at least we will if we ever get it built!

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Just throwing this out there for additional perspective.

 

I raced (sprint) my r6 at JenningsGP on Q3's without warmers. They did just fine with a semi-hard sighting lap to get em up to temp. This was after a track day the day before on them at A group pace. They held nicely and gave me plenty of notice/feedback before letting go. I only noticed slips on exit when I was greedy with the throttle, they would step out just a lil bit, hook back up, grip and was solid there after. I couldn't run podium pace against the cats on slicks though, every time I would push them that hard, they started to feel greasy and I would have to back off the pace a bit. Race time air temps were in the low 70's and sunny, but it was a bit cooler during the AM practice sessions.

 

Full disclosure: This was my first time running/racing the Q3's but have had plenty of track day seat time with Q2's under me. My normal race tires are the mich cups or slicks.

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Just changing from sport tires like the Dunlop Sportmax Sportsmart to Dunlop D211 GP Racer "track day" slicks give me about 3 seconds quicker laptimes (from 1.18 to 1.15) on the track I ride the most. Mostly because my bike steers much better with the more aggresive profile that the gp racers have compared to the sportsmarts. Or maybe it is just because the bike "feels better"

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Just changing from sport tires like the Dunlop Sportmax Sportsmart to Dunlop D211 GP Racer "track day" slicks give me about 3 seconds quicker laptimes (from 1.18 to 1.15) on the track I ride the most. Mostly because my bike steers much better with the more aggresive profile that the gp racers have compared to the sportsmarts. Or maybe it is just because the bike "feels better"

 

It would feel like Xmas morning if saw that much improvement just from tires! But I'm not counting on it....if it was 1 s I would be very pleased.

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Just reviving this thread to mention that, sadly, the weather around here was not conducive to any April testing, so my first outing on the bike with slicks and warmers will be this Saturday. Unfortunately that will not be at my "home track" so I won't know how my lap times compare to my previous bests.

 

We will however also have the endurance bike on hand with Q3s mounted so I can at least compare the tires to some extent...although the bikes are very different (2006 Ducati Sport Classic, which is a 1000-cc air cooled twin, vs a 2003 GSXR600). Still, it should be interesting.

 

This might be a real trial by fire for getting used to the slicks. 5 days out the forecast says a high of 15 C, and also a chance of rain. Obviously, if it rains I am not going out on the race rubber, but even if it is dry I will be curious to see if I can keep heat in the tires with 15 C air temperatures.

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hmmm...hope it gets warm enough, let us know!

 

CF

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Two days out and the forecast has improved considerably....so excited.....been watching tons of video on the track layout we will be running (new to me). I can already see every apex in my head...

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Well, that was a great day, but the results could not have possibly been less conclusive.

 

The V01-R slicks were slippery for the first two laps but once they were scrubbed in they were perfect. There was literally nothing I could do within my comfort level that was going to make those tires lose traction. Encouragingly I easily met my lap time target on what was a new track layout for me. With those times I could actually campaign this 1000 cc 2V air-cooled Ducati in the rookie 600 class. I may well give that a go. But for sure I will be competitive in Battle of the Twins.

 

During the 4th session my oil cooler broke and oiled my left boot. So of course I got right off the track and let them come pick me and the bike up with the trailer.

 

That left only the 2003 Gixxer 600 to ride, which was on Q3s - my brother rode it intermediate and I took it out with the fast guys. My best laps on that bike were 2 - 3 s off what I could manage on the Duc. I wasn't expecting that. Was it the tires? Or the fact that I had never ridden an inline 4 on the track before and it took me a while to convince myself to wring it out properly? Also, no slipper clutch which I am also not used to. By the last session I felt like I had it working pretty well, but the times just didn't reflect that. Maybe the Duc was just better suited to that track layout.

 

So, who knows. I sure would love to test slicks and Q3s back to back on the same bike.

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