A suggestion from Stan was that we run a Tyre Comparison post where we can all discuss our pros and cons of the tyres we have used in the past. I'm sure he wanted a more detailed comparison than what I am about to write but in order to do that I would have to have ridden extensively on every brand of tyre under review, which, must to my dissapointment, no-one has paid me to do..... yet
I think the next best thing to do is for everyone, including myself, to get up here punch out some words on what they think of they're favorite, and not so favorite, tyres. But before I strart rambling on about the black sticky stuff I think it's well worth checking out this free and extremely comprehensive, comparison by Superbike Magazine http://www.zinio.com/express2?issue=206338267
found and posted by Alex in another thread. It contains loads of valuable info on all the top rating Street/Race tyres on the market and a blab about the Pilot Road 2.
Through the course of producing Bitch'n Bitumen we were sponsered by Michelin (Yay!) which, lucky for us, was our brand of preference.
We were both on 05 R1's and the Pilot series is the series designed by Michilen to fit our requirements.
Back then there was four street legal tyres in the series: Pilot Road, Pilot Sport, Pilot Power and Pilot Race, all of which were designed for specific applications depicted in part by their names. Since then the Pilot Sport has been canned as it was deemed to be bridging a gap between the Pilot Road and the Pilot Power that didn't really exist and the sales reflected this.
I have also Ridden a bit on Bridgestone Bt 014's so I'll wriet a bit on those as well.....
The Tyre that we did most of our riding on and one that we were in love with was the Pilot Power. At the time it claimed greatest lean angle, superior wear and fantastic grip which in my opinion is all true. Powers on my R1 would last around 5000km a rear and almost twice that for the front and that's not taking it easy either. More often than not we would be ripping the shit out of them but they allways seemed to last well. As far as lean angle goes, once warm and on a good corner they would take me all the way the pegs with out too much which is about as far as anyone needs to go on a public road. They great thing about this is that when you know that your tyres will hold on to this point, as long as they are warm and the road maintains a suitable surface, the confidance injection you get is awesome! It can also help to get you out of alot of trouble if your too hot, but it's a double edged sword, if your too cocky it can get you into trouble as well.
The Powers also come up to temp very quickly and although you do still have to put a bit work into warming them up first, they seem to be more sure footed in a street environment than some of the semi-race tyres I have run but they can handle a track day or two. That, coupled with the fact that they wear reasonably well and have a quick-turning front profile means that for the street they are my tyre of choice!
Up the Spur on Pilot Powers
Part of the deal with guys at Michelin was that we ran and reviewed a set of Pilot Roads during the course of writing the book. To cover all the interstate stuff we needed to take off on a month long trip up North so we decided that this would be the best time to fit the Roads. I will be the first to tell you I wasn't too happy about this and did my best to get out of it but with no avail.
Pilot Roads are really designed for sports tourers like VTR's FZ1's and Superdukes. They are essentially the same tyre but with a harder more durable compound. And you guessed it... Harder compound, less grip.
The first thing I noticed about the Roads was the imediate lack of grip on corner exits. As I rolled the throttle on out of a corner, the rear would occasionally spin up much earlier than a Power. The second thing I noticed was that this tyre spin was fairly predicatble and almost a bit of fun. By the end of the trip I was confidantly sliding the rear out of every second corner. Now, I'm sure that this is ot what these tyres were designed for but it's proof that although they don't have the same grippy qualities as a Power, they are still predicatble and manageble in the right hands. Another thing I enjoyed about them is that they seemed retain the same profile as the Power. A tyre profile, especially on the front, is what helps a bike turn quickly or feel stable in a corner. If you have a slow curve on the front, the bike will turn slowy but feel a bit more stable mid corner. If you have a fast or steep curve on the front, the bike will turn quicker and feel more 'flickable' but loose a bit of mid corner stability. The Pilot Roads turned as quickly as the Pilot Powers which is something I liked. Most manufacturers with slow the front profile down on there Sport/Tourer tyres so that they feel a bit more stable but the Pilot Roads still had that flickable feeling.
Impressively, these tyres actually put up with 10,000km of hard riding which is a feat in itself. And don't get me wrong, you can still go knees down on these things, you need do be able to handle the flutters that come with it. All in all they are a great tyre if you are a spirited rider and most people are, but if your a hard core knee slider junkie... Stick with the Powers, you'll feel safer.
Knee down on Pilot Roads
Pilot race a tant amount to a street legal groved slick. They are a sweet tyre for someone who does a good mix of track days and hard street riding but can't be arsed chnaging from slicks to streeters evertime they get off the track. I've been known to fall into this trap in that past and will often run Pilot Race's up the spur on one day and on the track the next. They are and awesome tyre!
Pilot Race's feel very much like a Pilot Power on the street. They turn quickly, they hold good corner speeds and lean angles and the look imperssive as hell, especially after you've ripped the direction arrows off the edges! There is, however, on major flaw that I have only recently been becoming aware off... They need to be hot! Most street riding, even knees down up the spur, won't run the kind of temps into a semi-slick that it really needs to operate well. Also, these tyres need to operate a specific pressure hot which is usually around 38psi. This same temp cold can be anywhere as low as 28psi so the problem that often occurs is that people inflate the rear to say 34psi, but by the time they flogg enough temp intro the tyre to get it working it's up around 42psi which is too high. I have personally almost highside a friends bike up the spur by spining up a Pilot Race that I believe was over-inflated at the time and it scared the shit out of me. It's for this reason that I have gone back to the Powers for the street and slicks for the track.
A while ago I got my hands on a few cheap sets of ex-jorno 014's for myself and a few of my mates. 014's are pretty much Bridgestones Pilot Power equivelant. They are about the same compound hardness and they make a 16" front (not available in a the pilot range) which makes them a popular choice for early model CBR Blades etc that run a 16" front wheel.
The thing that put me off these tyres is that they have a slow turning front profile. I remember the first time I went up the Spur with a set of these tyres on I though there was something wrong with my suspension. I kept fiddling with my damper tyring to get the bike to turn quicker with no success. I ended up just excepting the fact that my bike now felt a little sluggish into corners. The other side of the coin was that it now felt like you could serve up an English breakfast mid corner the bike felt so much more stable.
My advise is that if you are a new rider or if you have a really quick turning bike like a K7 GSXR 750 or 600, throw on a set of these tyres and see how you go. They feel more sure footed than a Power but what you gain in confidence you loose in flickability.
Getting down on 014's
I have often been asked what the difference is between running a 180 and a 190 rear on a big thou like a R1.
If you run a 190 rear corners become more a point and shoot affair. You have a slightly bigger contact patch at the rear which assist with grip as you power out of a corner. The drawback is that the bike will not turn quick as quickly.
Running a 180 rear means that you can turn a bit faster but will have less drive out of corners, which is more conducive to running higher corner speeds.
190's are bit easier to handle than 180's becuase of the larger grip area.