Angels and Dragons
At last October’s Intermot show in Cologne, Germany, Pirelli displayed a prototype of a new tyre that was, to say the least, eye-catching. Called the Angel ST, the resplendent tyre at the exhibition was shown off complete with a unique tread design featuring angel or devil patterns. At the time, Pirelli product manager Federico Bodini explained that the tyre maker had utilised angels and demons in the tread pattern as “it translates how the consumer wants to use their motorcycle.”
The angel and devil tread pattern was of course just a show gimmick, reports Pirelli Metzeler Moto UK product and consumer marketing manager Steffen Baum. The final tread design that will feature on production examples of the Angel ST will differ considerably, he added. But nevertheless, the presence of this heavenly (or hellish) tyre at Intermot indicates the arrival of the all-new replacement for the Diablo Strada sport touring tyre is just around the corner. According to Mr. Baum, the new range will be launched onto the market this coming March or April following its March official launch in Italy. And while a release date still a couple of months away means that detailed information on the Angel ST is not yet available, facts gleaned from the Intermot show indicate the new product will be a single compound tyre that places a focus upon the Enhanced Patch Technology also used in the Diablo Rosso. Pirelli is also said to have conducted considerable testing in order to provide the Angel ST with a larger contact patch, thus improving grip levels.
This new product comes hot on the heels of another all-new arrival from Pirelli, the Night Dragon. Launched in the UK in the second half of last year, the Night Dragon range was designed to fill a hole in the line-up of motorcycle tyres that dealers were able to offer customers – namely, a tyre for pro-street, tuned, dyno-tested and other high horsepower motorcycles that have difficulty delivering power to the road. The result, following three years of development, is a high performance tyre for V-twin motorcycles that Pirelli says delivers more grip than any existing product. Available in both Harley Davidson and metric cruiser fitments, the range will ultimately encompass a total of 19 front and rear sizes.
According to Pirelli, the secret to the Night Dragon’s performance is in the exclusive design of its contact patch. This contact patch is of a new shape and also larger, allowing for new compounds that give increased durability and traction. Pirelli describes the proprietary compound used in the Night Dragon as being one ‘mixed from Pirelli’s racing laurels and street experience’ – in real terms this means a compound offering a balance between grip, ride quality and mileage.
The Night Dragon’s street-wise tread pattern blends biker style with riding performance. Its tread pattern is designed to maximise the contact patch for fast warm up. Meanwhile, the hydrodynamics of its groove placement, says Pirelli, ensures efficient draining in wet riding conditions; the Night Dragon’s front tread design is intended to cut a path through water for the rear, and the calibrated grooves of rear tyre disperse the residual water, for controlled grip in all conditions. Pirelli reports that the Night Dragon, when tested against (unnamed) competitors, displayed handling and straight line acceleration that was around 20 per cent superior, wet grip 10 per cent better and dry grip improved by around 30 per cent.
Several months after the North American launch of the non-radial version of the Night Dragon, Pirelli conducted the open-road final stage of testing for its radial version of the tyre, designed for rear-wheel fitments. This testing centred around a much promoted 6,000 mile tour from Alaska down to Florida during September 2008. Three members of the Giarre, Sicily based Pirelli Motorcycle Testing operation sat astride Harley Davidson bikes (Fat Boys and an Ultra Electra-Glide) fitted with the new tyres and rode through a wildly varying series of landscapes and road conditions that included ice, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes, deserts and urban areas in order to push the radial version of the Night Dragon to its limits in what Pirelli calls the “real life market for which it is destined”. The experiences of the three riders during the journey, which concluded in mid-September, were recorded on several websites and blogs, and the new tyre has received a healthy level of publicity through the test tour.