New tyre review: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II

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Many sports tyres will tolerate the odd trackdays and some trackday rubber can be used on the road, but here at its world launch in South Africa on the road and at the Kylalami circuit near Johanessberg, it’s clear the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II shines at both.

Designed for fast riding and more than the odd trackday, the Rosso Corsa II replaces the eight-year-old Rosso Corsa and rivals the Michelin Power RS and new Dunlop Sportsmart TT. It sits nicely between the Pirelli’s Rosso III sports tyre and the trackday-tastic Super Corsa SP.

Despite the dip in sportsbike sales, popularity for this genre of tyre has actually grown over the years, as more riders fit them to their naked and sports adventure bikes.

The Rosso Corsa II particularly impresses on the road and transforms the BMW S1000R we're riding. It lightens the steering and makes it feel more and alive, but at the same time remaining stable. This agility is thanks to the new front and rear profiles, which are pointy at the crown for easy steering, but flatten towards the edges for a fat contact patch, like a race tyre.

Gluey grip rear grip comes care of a new triple compound construction. At full lean you’re on the ‘slick’ part of the tyre, which is constructed from the same sticky SC3 racing compound you’ll find in Pirelli’s endurance and trackday slicks.

Lift the bike up out of a corner and you’re onto the mid-shoulder area, which is harder compound to handle full throttle acceleration. This part of the tyre is 100% silica and that’s the stuff that makes tyres grip in the wet. Straight-line durability and stability is taken care of by a hard compound strip in the middle of the tyre.

A dual compound front is soft on the edges, hard in the middle and a new tread pattern has just 2% more grooves than a Super Corsa. Slick-style wear indicator dots on the edges are a cool touch, but gimmicky on what’s essentially a road tyre.

The original 2010 Rosso Corsas were class-leading in their day, but they never had to handle the electronically enhanced 200bhp sportsbikes we have now. Happily the Corsa II takes everything you throw at it on the road and track, dry or wet. There’s more grip than you’ll ever need on the road and even on the track, riding Pirelli’s Blade SP, R1 and S1000RR test bikes, you’ll need to be going like the clappers, knocking on the door of race pace, to get them to misbehave.

Front grip and confidence is sublime and while you can get the rear slipping on track, it’s only when seriously provoked. There’s loads of feel at the limit and little signs of tearing or wear after a day being pulverised on the circuit.

In Pirelli’s own tests at Mugello they say the Rosso Corsa II is 2-3 seconds a lap faster than the old version, generating more lean and faster corner speeds. But away from the track, as well as its extra agility and grip, the new tyres have a sporty, but plush ride and warm up quickly.

Arriving in dealers now the Pirelli Rosso Corsa II come in 17” sizes, 120/70 front with the rears ranging from 160/60 to a 200/60 for the new Panigale V4.

Serious trackday nuts should still head for road-compound track rubber and road riders will be better off with sports, or sports touring tyres, but if you’re a swift road rider and don’t hang about on track, these new Pirellis will be perfect.

Pictures by Miagro

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II £278.00 per pair (120/70 x 17 & 180/55 x 17)


Quality Five stars

Value Five stars

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Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.