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Pirelli Symphony 2019 -
The perfect tyre

Pirelli and its range of high-technology tyres, suitable for every motorbike, for every speciality and for every rider, from the knobby tread to the specialist tyre for track use: we tried them out in Sicily, during a long test on the road, on the track and off-road
by Luca Bono

Home road Pirelli Symphony 2019 -
The perfect tyre
Pirelli Symphony 2019 -
The perfect tyre

Over five hundred kilometres covering the road, the track and off-road; twenty-five motorbikes, from the maxiscooter to the race replica; seven types of tyres, from the one featuring a knobby tread pattern to the street racing specialist tyre: Pirelli performed an exceptionally comprehensive two-day test to show off a range that accommodates the needs of all motorbikes (and scooters) with medium to large displacement and in any category, from on-off, to sport touring, to touring and also the naked sport and supersport bike.

This Sicilian event allowed us fully to understand the extreme differences between Pirelli’s various road products, designed with the utmost attention and technical variety according to the often diverging needs of different bike types. We tested them on trails devised by the Pirelli Experimental Centre team headed by Salvo Pennisi: roads, tracks and dirt trails chosen carefully thanks to the experience of the Team both with the products and with the terrain, a multi-purpose and strict test bench which allowed us fully to understand the personality of the seven different Pirelli tyres, the pros and cons depending on the type of tyre (there are no flaws).

The purpose of this test was not to find the best all-round tyre, but instead the “perfect tyre” for us, the one that best suited our bike and our lifestyle, as a hardened sports rider or a fan of long trips, road trips, sport riding or off-road biking.

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Scorpion Rally STR

The Scorpion Rally STR is a tyre with a knobby tread pattern conceived for the latest generation of adventure, dual purpose and street enduro bikes, capable of handling long trips on all terrains. It is designed to provide outstanding performance both on and off the road in a versatile product with an aggressive look that is capable of guaranteeing grip, safety on wet surfaces, mileage, stability and comfort.

For this test, we were able to use Honda X-ADV and Africa Twin ADV Sport, KTM 790 R Adventure and BMW F 850 GS ridden on a mixed trail of both asphalt surface and dirt road. On the scooters, we tested it on large pebble tracks and mud puddles; on the enduros, on technical and fast mountain trails with a good surface.

In these situations, the Scorpion Rally STR proved to be at ease both on the asphalt surface and off-road, where it surprised us for its grip on dry and compact terrain (very close to the road holding of the Scorpion Rally), whereas it suffered a little on mud, where the treads filled up and lost traction. On the road, its main asset is precision: it is not as quick to lean in as a Scorpion Trail 2, but once on the trajectory, it transmits maximum safety and the only precaution to take for safety is to open the throttle only slightly when leaning in on slick asphalt surfaces with poor grip. Outstanding when braking, truly a Pirelli textbook tyre: the carcass does not bend, it recalls a street tyre, and it allows you to lean into the bend with the brakes in hand. The duration is approximately 6/8,000 kilometres depending on the road surface on which it is used and on the driving style.

Scorpion Trail II

The Scorpion Trail II is suitable for the latest generation of touring adventure and street enduro bikes, conceived for long trips with a few light off-road detours, but with a street sports soul, with the aim of offering superior mileage, constant performance throughout its entire life cycle and in particular first-class behaviour on wet surfaces.

The fleet of bikes used for this test was impressive: Ducati MTS 1260 Enduro, BMW GS 1250 ADV, KTM 1290 Adventure R, Moto Guzzi V85TT; the terrain was a mixed fast trail with an excellent surface, with beautiful bends to tackle, excellent for showing off the value of the Scorpion Trail which in fact proved fantastic, providing the three key features you would want from a tyre: grip, precision and stability. It warmed up in a jiffy, thereby providing superior grip during acceleration at maximum lean straight away. Since the bikes on hand had generous HP values, we truly put them to the test by opening the throttle fully when leaning in, and when forced, they responded with linear grip loss, skidding progressively and predictably. Excellent, in this case too, when braking, with the bike both upright and leaning. It remained stable and precise off-road too, obviously on compact terrain; there are no tread knobs, so it is best to avoid wet surfaces, or worse, mud.

Duration of 10,000-12,000 kilometres.  

Diablo Rosso III

The Diablo Rosso III tyre concept is the result of experience on the track and it is perfect for high-performance naked bikes, supersport bikes, as well as supertourers. They are suitable for aggressive, sport riding styles, to enjoy the thrill of the track on the road too, and they offer outstanding performance levels on the racetrack as well.  They are conceived to offer great handling and excellent grip in all situations. This is why the profiles are racing-derived and the rear tyre has a dual-compound construction with a higher percentage of silica. Good mileage (for supersport tyres).

For this test, we were offered the Ducati Monster 1200 S, the Yamaha Tracer 900 and the Honda CB 1000R, and an amazing mixed mountain trail: the ride up Mount Etna, a road through the woods where you feel like you are dancing, with perfect asphalt surface and a sequence of a thousand bends to enjoy, the perfect place to understand the personality of a tyre, to assess its grip and handling qualities.

The Diablo is an old friend and it confirmed its extreme qualities, first and foremost its excellent grip, which thanks to the dual-compound construction is associated with outstanding durability. It has very quick warm-up times and is therefore immediately ready for maximum lean and to enter a bend aggressively, with the brake callipers fully enabled; just like a racing tyre, it conveys superior safety and maintains the trajectory line without squirming.

It proved excellent on wet surfaces (thanks also to the silica component), with superior grip to that of the Scorpion Trail 2. It is practically faultless.

Angel GT II

We changed bikes at the top of Mount Etna, but this time there was a Pirelli helicopter waiting for us to fly over the Island and take us to the coast, to the small Madonie Circuit; there were BMWs waiting for us there, picked to celebrate an anniversary: exactly ninety years ago, Paul Köppen won the Targa Florio for the second time, astride a BMW fitted with Pirelli tyres.

Let us now move on to the new models we put through their paces, the Angel GT II, dedicated to the Sport Touring segment. The aim of the new model is to guarantee maximum grip in all road conditions, trajectory precision and linear behaviour when changing direction. It has an innovative variable stiffness carcass, with compounds featuring a high percentage of silica combined with the new tread design. This is a long-haul tyre, for big tours, and so it has to guarantee considerable mileage, comfort and safety on wet surfaces, assets which must be mixed with the splash of sportiness that has always distinguished Pirelli tyres. The new version in fact embraces technology and is conceived to optimise the effect of electronic driving assist systems.

For this test, the motorbikes we used were the BMW R 1250 GS, R 1250 R, S 1000 XR, and the Targa Florio circuit was the perfect test bench for the Angel GT II, - it has it all: a mixed slow trail with highly technical fast points, with variable radius bends that are often narrow; an uneven stretch completed the trail. The Angel tyres needed to demonstrate they can mirror the uneven terrain, guarantee comfort and driving satisfaction, maintain the line and close the trajectory with the brakes in-hand.

The first quality we noticed was comfort, which is however teamed with superior performance. The Angel GT II is stable at high speed and provides considerable grip. The touring cut is noticeable when you open the throttle, as the softer carcass makes it harder to lean in when cornering with the brakes on, compared to the Diablo Rosso III.

Subsequently, we also tried it on the circuit in Pergusa, where it proved stable at high speed (240 km/h) but absolutely breathtaking on wet surfaces: both on the R 1200 GS, as well as on the S 1000 XR, where our knees actually skimmed the road surface when leaning in, it demonstrated stopping distances almost on a par with those on a dry surface (thanks to the high percentage of silica in the compound and to the grooves on the tread designed for the water to flow away). As far as grip is concerned, it recalls a Rain tyre but is less soft and “rubbery”.

Duration of 10,000-12,000 kilometres.

Diablo Supercorsa SP V3

We moved from the Madonie Circuit to the one in Pergusa: closed to traffic, it allowed us to drive and make the most of the top performance offered by our bikes, both the engine and the rider.

We started with the Diablo Supercorsa SP V3, which constitutes the ultimate expression of Pirelli technology and was developed with Supersport and Superstock riders from the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. It is therefore a street-racing tyre, suitable for use on heavyweight naked bikes and supersport bikes (it is the original equipment on the brand new Panigale V4) and guarantees outstanding performance on the road. At the same time, it is excellent for use on the track, aside from the Diablo Supercorsa SP there are only compound racing tyres. The SP however is type-approved, which means you can travel to the circuit on your bike and ride it there, without missing anything. 

The specifications are top-of-the-range: the rear tyre profile maximises the road grip at maximum lean and exploits the dual-compound construction technology (there is the same SC2 used for slick racing products on the shoulder); the front tyre is conceived to give its best: from feedback (feeling of safety and control), to solidity and sturdiness and cornering speed.

We tested them on the Ducati V4 and Aprilia RSv4 1100. A generous HP to tackle, on top of a fast and very technical track.

When put through its paces, the Diablo Supercorsa SP V3 demonstrated its top-performance racing product qualities, allowing us to achieve leaning angles of a true superbike in complete safety; at the same time, it is an easy tyre. It shows a few limitations during intensive use when the temperatures rise, but only on large bends at 220 km/h and after a few laps we felt the rear tyre slip, but we are still taking about superior performance levels. The SP too, and more so than the others, allowed us to brake aggressively and lean into the bend with the callipers on without squirming.

Diablo Rosso Corsa II

The Diablo Rosso Corsa II is another racing-derived product conceived for use both on the roads and on the track. It is ideally positioned between the Diablo Supercorsa SP and the Diablo Rosso III, and was designed - profile, carcass and tread pattern - with the aim of producing a road tyre with a particular focus on mileage and behaviour on wet surfaces, and of guaranteeing good track performance levels.

It stands out for its tread: dual-compound for the front tyre and triple-compound for the rear tyre, with an innovative combination of full carbon black racing compounds on the shoulder and high/full silica in the centre, to ensure excellent grip in all conditions (at various leaning angles, on wet and dry surfaces), and it delivers safety on the road and on the track, consistent performance levels and up to 20% more mileage.

We tried it on the Aprilia Tuono 1100 Factory and on BMW S 1000 XR and S 1000 R, street bikes with the performance of a sport bike.

In Pergusa the Diablo Rosso Corsa II had a similar behaviour to that of the Diablo Rosso III, with a lower performance on wet surfaces but faster on the track; on the contrary, it was not as fast as the Diablo Supercorsa SP — which we would like to remind you was conceived for use mainly on the track - but it offered better performance on wet surfaces. The mileage value lies in the middle; in this case it is close to that of the more street-grade Diablo Rosso III.

Angel GT 2 vs Scorpion Trail 2

The track allowed us to compare the Scorpion Trail 2 with the Angel GT 2, fitted on the BMW R 1200 GS, on wet surfaces. The Angel GT provided more feeling, as we felt better how the front tyre worked in the centre of the corner better, and how the rear tyre had more grip as we opened the throttle at maximum lean, while the leaning on cornering was more progressive, and the stopping distances on braking were reduced. On wet asphalt, the two tyres are very similar, the difference being noticeable when there is a lot of water on the asphalt surface: the design of the Angel GT really helps the water flow away and the silica content guarantees better grip.

La stessa impronta

Today motorbikes, especially top-of-the-range models, have reached exceptional technical levels, but the same applies to tyres: it is difficult even to compare them with what was available to us just a decade ago. During these two trial days, we tried a truly extensive range, from the knobby tread pattern tyre for off-road use to street-racing tyres, extremely different products which however share a common soul, that can be seen in the ease, immediate feeling, super-speedy warm-up, outstanding performance, great stability, excellent grip, progressive lean-in and absence of self-straightening effect when braking with the bike leaning. It is the Pirelli imprinting.

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