The king of tires does it again

These days, motorcyclists are fortunate to experience unprecedented advancements in tire technology. Every few years a new street bike tire emerges with innovations bred in the ultra-competitive world of motorcycle road racing, and once again Italian brand Pirelli is at the forefront with its new Pirelli Diablo Rosso II. This new high-performance tire is the successor to the original Diablo Rosso as tested in the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Tire Review. It blends racetrack-grade performance, everyday durability and mileage, and wet weather grip for those looking for the ultimate sport tire for the widest range of road conditions.

The Rosso II shares many of Pirelli’s latest and greatest features currently utilized in the design of its ultra-high-performance Rosso Corsa tire designed for hardcore street and/or track duty. The profile has been shaped in order to be compatible with the widest range of street and sport bikes, both new and old. The exterior tread zone now features an updated array of tread designed to not only increase the contact patch with the road but also flow more water on wet surfaces. The front tire still features tread throughout while the rear has a larger ‘slick’ area on the extreme edges to maximize the contact patch at high lean angles.

Both tires utilize Pirelli’s new Extreme Cohesion Compound technology, which consists of a mix of high molecular weight reactive polymers and silica that provides higher abrasion resistance and is supposed to equate to better durability and more mileage. Furthermore, the rear tire now features dual-compound zones with a softer, higher-grip compound flanking a more durable center compound on the shoulder areas. Aesthetically, Pirelli offers riders the ability to purchase custom rubber stickers (visit www.pirelli.com) that can be placed on the sidewall of the tires for an added personal touch.

Considering the high level of performance of the original Rosso, it comes as no surprise that this version doesn’t feel that much different from its predecessor. We tested the tires on a variety of late-model street and sport bikes, including Kawasaki’s Z1000, Honda’s VFR1200 and Ducati's 848 EVO, and they complemented each motorcycle well. Steering didn’t feel too sharp (a good thing), and the tires maneuver from straight up and down to full lean in a linear fashion. As usual stability is tremendous, warm-up time is extremely quick and the tires have a very neutral feel. The tires also have a slightly firmer, more rigid feel to them which is a similar trait we experienced on the previous generation.

Although Pirelli claims that outright traction on dry roads hasn’t increased, the tires certainly did feel like they had an elevated level of extreme-edge grip during cornering maneuvers. While it was impossible to notice this on the street, at the confines of the racetrack, it was readily apparent. Overall performance wasn’t quite as thrilling as its premium and racetrack-oriented Rosso Corsa or Diablo Supercorsa SP rubber, but based on their intended use and expected increase in mileage, the performance served up by the Rosso II is nothing short of impressive.

The Rosso II tires are available now in a wide range of sizes, including 110/70, 120/60 and 120/70 for 17-inch front rims and 150/60, 160/60, 170/60, 180/55, 190/50, 190/55 and a gigantic 240/45 (OE fitment on the ’11 Ducati Diavel power cruiser) for 17-inch rears.