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2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike Tire Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

Pirelli, the official supplier of Supersport and Superbike tires at the international level, came up this spring with an improved version of its Diablo Superbike slick tire directly derived from the WSBK.

As a pillar of the Italian manufacturer's racing tire family, the popular Diablo Superbike is rapidly leaving a mark in Canada through the official supplier of the CSBK, Orion Motosports.

This company also carries a wide selection of tires for track day enthusiasts across the country. Beginners, intermediate riders and experts can all find what they're looking for with a specific range of track-oriented, street-legal compounds that includes the Diablo Rosso II, Dragon Supercorsa Pro, and Diablo Supercorsa DOT. As for the Diablo Superbike, it is exclusively designed for the track and racing.

2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike Tire
Photo: Pirelli

Aiming for perfection
Through advanced research and development both in the lab and on the track, and with the help of some of the world's top riders, Pirelli has managed to create a durable slick tire that achieves very high levels of performance and also proves surprisingly friendly for ordinary riders. That's probably why more and more Pirellis are being used by track riding clubs.

Instead of focusing on a multi-compound solution like its competitors, Pirelli worked on other technical aspects such as an advanced compound mix and a larger contact patch to optimize performance and durability.

Three types of tire compound

With ideal temperatures and track conditions, it's easy: Most compounds will do the job; it's just a matter of tastes and the type of bike you ride. However, at low temperatures or when strong winds throw sand and other debris onto the track, you have to avoid using an overly soft compound in the rear, and instead rely on a more durable SC2 compound that will better cope with the lack of grip and the abrasive surface. SC1 should be used when the weather is hot and remains hot, and SC0 exclusively under scorching temperatures when the track is extra sticky.

Something a little bit different when choosing the front tire. How hot is the weather? Is the track slick or rough? Will there be a lot of hard braking? That being said, SC1 rubber up front is more suited for low temperatures and slick tarmac, while SC2 is best left for a hotter, more abrasive track (see chart).

Three tracks, one bike, one tire brand had the opportunity to test the 2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike at the Calabogie Motorsport Park in Ontario, as well as the Circuit Mont Tremblant and Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec. The bike? None other than the formidable, 193-horsepower BMW HP4 Competition, which happened to rank 2nd in our recent Top 10 highest-performing bikes on the market.

Mindful of the all-important air pressure, I started the day with 22 psi in the rear and 28.5 psi up front (with no tire warmer). That way, I wouldn't exceed the maximum pressure of 26 rear/32.5 front (at the end of session)  psi defined by WSBK engineers and crew chiefs.

With or without tire warmer?
Even without tire warmer, every time I got back onto the track, I always enjoyed good traction after just half a lap. The 2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike (SC1 front, SC2 rear) warmed up quickly and proved, well, diabolically grippy and steady. Entering corners at high speed with a hint of trail breaking didn't pose any problem; the bike remained in control and easy to handle.

This tire also provides excellent feedback at both ends and makes its limits crystal clear. Such a level of communication goes a long way toward boosting one's confidence on the track. Average Joes who must go back to work on Monday morning, preferably in one piece, will appreciate that.

After lunch, I attacked the sun-drenched track with just as much assurance, knowing I would be able to put my right knee down in the 6th corner at Calabogie and the 8th at Tremblant -- right on the first lap and without tire warmer.

2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike Tire

How much better?
Still, I wondered: How exactly is the 2013 Pirelli Diablo Superbike better than the 2012 model? I found the answer after a long, uninterrupted stint on the track near the end of the day, when the tires were showing perfect wear.

The new Diablo Superbike proves even steadier lap after lap. When it gets too hot, gently ease off the throttle for half a lap to regain its optimum riding temperature. Additionally, the 2013 model is about 25% more durable than its predecessor, allowing you to push hard all the time until the tread wear indicators disappear.

While it won't last as long as the best tires out there, the Pirelli Diablo Superbike now offers the industry's quickest warm-up period. As far as track days go, I believe there's no match for its combination of performance and forgiveness.

The decision by Pirelli and WSBK officials to go with a 17” tire (the most popular size on the road and the track) instead of 16.5” like in 2012 will allow Pirelli to assess the tire's performance and improve on its design. The company is further moving toward the idea of “We sell the tires we race with, and we race with the tires we sell.”