Pirelli Angel GT: Yes, Tires Can Be Fun!

Aug 14, 2013 View Comments by

Pirelli Angel GT: Yes, Tires Can Be Fun!What do an Italian aircraft carrier, a Porsche test facility, and motorcycle tires have in common? I found out the answer when Pirelli hosted a world press event in Southern Italy, which involved all three.

Reportedly, Pirelli did some market research and discovered that more than 30 percent of European replacement motorcycle tires are sport-touring designs. Yet, only 12 percent of the motorcycles sold there are sport-touring models! The reason, it seems, is that riders want better handling and traction (and longer wear) than sportbike rubber delivers.

As a result, Pirelli revamped its Angel ST sport-touring tire and introduced the Angel GT series, which is designed for longer wear and better traction. For the occasion, we had the chance to check them out in Southern Italy for two memorable days. Giacomo “Ago” Agostini, Italian multi-time world champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer, was there and chatted with us. Ago is the all-time leader in victories (in motorcycle Grand Prix history) with 122 Grand Prix wins and 15 World Championship titles. He’s a nice guy, as well.

ConstructionPirelli Angel GT: Yes, Tires Can Be Fun!

The new GT’s tread design brings more rubber into road contact than the ST as the “land and sea” (rubber-to-groove) ratios are increased by 10 percent in front and 16 percent at the rear. Groove depth is reduced on the shoulders for better edge grip in dry conditions and increased stiffness. For better water evacuation, the GT center tread replaces two rain grooves with one larger, more continuous groove.

The GT’s tread is slightly flatter near the center, with a slightly sharper radius near the edges than the ST. Research showed that tire squirm is one of the major causes of premature wear, and Pirelli found that the larger footprint spreads out forces more evenly, improving tread wear.

Front tires employ a 100-percent silica compound. The rear gets a dual compound, with the center strip consisting of a 70/30 mix of silica and carbon black to ensure a fast warm-up and long wear with good grip. Rear-tire shoulders share the same silica compound as the front.

Wet Grip

We were taken to the Mediterranean port of Taranto. Our task was to perform wet-braking trials riding 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000s fitted with Angel GTs on the flight deck of the Cavour, Italy’s flagship aircraft carrier.

To start things off, Pirelli’s test rider Salvo Pennisi first demonstrated Angel GT’s grip by doing a stoppie on the wet flight deck while the sprinklers were going. Each journalist got three runs; our mission (if we accepted it), was to accelerate as quickly as possible on the flight deck and at 60 to 70 mph, brake as much as we dared to experience firsthand the GT’s wet grip. Although the Ninjas were equipped with ABS, I could visualize myself tumbling down the deck with the bike chasing me if something went badly. To my relief the Angel GTs quickly brought the bike to a rapid halt without skidding. Whew!

Braking distances were unrealistically short as Pirelli engineers said the Cavour’s flight deck had a 0.9 coefficient of adhesion, which is 50 percent stickier than the 0.6 on average roads. Although stopping on a flight deck might not equate to the GT’s grip on the street, it certainly was one of the most unusual things I’ve ever done on a motorcycle!

Dry Grip Testing

On our second day we got to ride the 3.7-mile track at Porsche’s Nardo facility with a great choice of models, including the BMW R 1200 R, R 1200 RT, Yamaha FJR1300 and YZF-R1, Triumph Street Triple, and Kawasaki Z800, all shod with Angel GTs. Again, I was depending on the Angel GT to save my hide.

Starting with the slower models, I worked up to the R1 to really test grip. The GTs warm up fast, and soon I felt secure enough to get a knee down and begin riding harder. On initial turn-in the back tire’s broader profile requires a little more effort, but once leaned over, the tires allow the rider to take them all the way to their edges with confidence.

The final sessions aboard the R1 sold me on the tires. Despite the Angel GTs being sport-touring tires, they performed unexpectedly well on the track. When pushed to their cornering limits, the GTs provided sufficient feedback by sliding just enough to let you know it’s time to ease off a tad rather than completely losing grip suddenly. (I hate when that happens.) Under very hard braking they did the same thing; I could feel them begin to slip and reduce brake-lever force accordingly. They were also stable, even at 170 mph. Although the GTs may not have the ultimate grip of sport tires such as Pirelli’s Diablo, they should perform well on the road.

Pirelli Angel GT: Yes, Tires Can Be Fun!Wear

We couldn’t effectively measure wear during our short time with the Angel GT tires. However, after a hard day of track use, the tires exhibited surprisingly little wear (not the ragged rubber on the edges and tread usually exhibited after such torture). Pirelli had the independent German Motorrad Test Center perform a wear test that compared Angel GTs with competitive sport-touring tires. Testing was conducted in Spain using six Suzuki Bandit 1250 motorcycles fitted with Angel GT, Bridgestone Battlax BT 023, Conti RoadAttack2, Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart II, Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interact, and Michelin Pilot Road 3 tires. The Angel GTs were found to have the least wear compared to these competitors. With its new tread pattern and dual-compound rubber, Pirelli reports that Angel GT gets 30 percent more mileage over the ST, and stopping distance is reduced by approximately three feet at speeds of 47 mph.

Final Thoughts

The Angel GTs worked better than expected, and they should be a good choice for riders in the market for sport-touring rubber. Angel GTs are available now in popular 17-inch and 18-inch sizes. For more information visit www.pirelli.com/moto.

Angel GT series Tires

Sizes: 17-inch and 18-inch


By Ken Freund

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