Power Is Nothing Without Control: South African Episode

Power Is Nothing Without Control: South African Episode

Text: Karan Singh Bansatta with product experiential inputs from Sundeep Gajjar
Bikes ridden by Sundeep Gajjar

Test locations: Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and country roads of South Africa

Bikes Ridden: Suzuki GSXR1000 and BMW S1000RR on the road. Aprilia Tuono 1100R, BMW S1000R, MV Agusta F3 800 and Yamaha R1 on the track. All shod with the new Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 tyres.

Tyres are one of the most important, yet one of the most ignored  parts of a motorcycle. The level of negligence regarding tyres among motorcyclists is almost criminal. We all have come across a lot of motorcyclists to whom the only things that matter are the way a motorcycle looks and the power-torque figures on paper. And then the mileage, all right I am joking!

Even if someone does bother about the tyres, it’s just the size of the rear tyre that matters (entirely for aesthetic purposes). You might know about the actual purported reason behind Paul Walkers  fatal accident – they were old tyres which looked new. There are so many things depending on tyres that it is sometimes unbelievable. In fact your whole experience of a road trip depends on them.

A motorcyclist must understand that tyres are the ONLY parts that consist of the contact patch between the motorcycle and the road. It’s up to the tyres to transfer that ‘on paper’ power-torque to the road. And therefore, there are a lot of things other than the size that matters when it comes to tyres. The type of the motorcycle, the terrain frequented by the rider, the weather conditions etc. So it’s no less than a science to figure out what tyre suits a motorcyclist.

One of the common favourite among motorcyclists are sportsbikes be it naked street fighters or faired track monsters. Be it from the middleweight class, litre class or the ‘Hayabusa’ hyperbikes category. These bikes can be ridden on the roads and they feel  quite at home on the track as well. The track requires a stickier compound with a lot less tread than the road tyres, where conditions can change dramatically with every corner.

Slicks are race-use-only tyres that do not have any tread and are made of the stickiest of compounds to offer phenomenal grip in dry conditions. But because they are made of soft-compounds, they do not last very long and because they aren’t treaded, they cannot dissipate water and therefore do not offer any grip in wet conditions. A slick with even minimal water on the road will aquaplane. When the tyre is unable to dissipate the water from below it, the rubber actually sits on the water and not the asphalt. The result of which you have zero grip, not something you would want on the road or track!

Road tyres on the other hand have to deal with far more variable conditions and therefore they have to have treads and are usually made of slightly harder compounds to make them last longer. But if a motorcyclist uses his sportsbikes on both roads and tracks, changing the tyres every time they switch from track to road or vice-versa is troublesome and time-consuming. So what do they do? Pirelli, one of the oldest tyre manufacturers in the world have come up with a solution to this – The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II.

Pirelli, one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturing company, is based in Milan, Italy. It was founded in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli. Pirelli has been sponsoring sport competitions since 1907 and they are the exclusive tyre suppliers for the FIA Formula One World Championship and the FIM World Superbike Championship. It is also the official tyre supplier for parts of Italian automotive royalty such as Lamborghini, Ducati and many other automotive manufacturers worldwide.

The new Diablo Rosso Corsa II is a special  product from Pirelli. The Diablo Rosso Corsa was first introduced in 2010 by Pirelli in the pursuit of a tyre that works on the road just as well as it performs on the track. These tyres offered the best of both worlds. They provided the handling and grip that almost equals track tyres and road tyre characteristics that made them safe in varying weather conditions and were long lasting. The Diablo Rosso Corsa II takes it to a different level altogether.

Pirelli claims “We sell what we race and we race what we sell”. Pirelli has always upheld that claim by integrating their World Superbike Championship experience and knowledge, into the development of products available for the road-going motorcycles. The same experience and knowledge plus a whole new technology has been used by Pirelli to develop the Diablo Rosso Corsa II – Pirelli’s first ever, multi-compound motorcycle tyre. It is developed for sportsbike riders who enjoy a sporty riding style not just on the track but the street as well. That would need tyres that are agile, warm-up quickly, offer excellent grip, offer consistent performance and are versatile enough to offer top performance even on the road. The Diablo Rosso Corsa II does just that. The series’ front tyres are made of two compounds that are applied in 3 zones on the tyre. The rear tyre on the other hand uses 3 different compounds applied in 5 different zones in order to create the ideal combination of track and road performance for modern day motorcycles.

The central zone in the rear tyre that forms 1 of the 5 zones is made of a compound with high silica content which ensures excellent stability at high speeds, uniform wear and good mileage. The next 2 zones are the intermediate zones (one on each side of the central zone), made with a formulation of 100% silica to provide excellent chemical grip on dry and wet surfaces, supported by a harder compound in the substrate to provide stability and precision while cornering. The compound on the shoulders of the tyre i.e. the remaining two zones is 100% carbon black compound that offers quick warm-up, has a broad working temperature range and ensures grip and stable performance regardless of the load. The front tyre has also been designed to work in harmony with the rear tyre. The central compound forming 1 of the 3 zones is made of 100% silica and the compound on the shoulders (the remaining two zones) is 100% carbon black.

The tyres also feature profiles derived directly from racing. The profile of the front tyre features a racing-derived, multi-radius design that enhances handling, inviting the rider to lean in earlier and facilitating quick changes in direction. The rear tyre follows the same pattern and similar geometry ensuring a harmonious feeling from the pair of tyres. The tyres offer a wide slick zone on the shoulders and thus guarantees superb grip as well as precision and stability at high lean angles. Wide, interrupted grooves prevent tread deformation, enhancing overall compactness and, consequently, ensuring better, more uniform wear under both road and track conditions. The shape of the grooves has been specially designed to achieve rapid warm-up and excellent drainage of water under wet conditions.

To help riders who also ride on the racetrack determine product wear, Pirelli has inserted a Racing Wear Indicator (RWI) on the slick shoulder in addition to the regular Tyre Wear Indicator (TWI). To achieve the full potential of the tyre, a high-modulus Lyocell fibre casing was adopted for the rear tyre, a casing with a significantly lower deformation ratio than that of the fibres normally used in street tyres. The new casing also responds perfectly to roughness in the asphalt, ensuring a good degree of comfort and helps latest generation motorcycles achieve better performance when the rider shifts their weight between front and rear, a characteristic more evident at greater lean angles.

Diablo Rosso Corsa II is perfectly positioned between Diablo Supercorsa SP and Diablo Rosso III. The Diablo Supercorsa SP has been designed to be used mainly on track and therefore does not offer very good wet grip and road mileage. Diablo Rosso III has a balanced behaviour between road performance combined with high mileage and excellent wet behaviour. Diablo Rosso Corsa II offers better track performance than the Diablo Rosso III. It offers more mileage and behaves better than the Diablo Supercorsa SP in wet conditions thus creating a perfect balance between the two.

DIABLO ROSSO CORSA II will be available in seven sizes, one for the front tyre and six for the rear.


120/70 ZR 17 M/C (58W) TL


160/60 ZR 17 M/C (69W) TL

180/55 ZR 17 M/C (73W) TL

180/60 ZR 17 M/C (75W) TL

190/50 ZR 17 M/C (73W) TL

190/55 ZR 17 M/C (75W) TL

200/55 ZR 17 M/C (78W) TL

We spoke to Samuela Bracco, Marketing Director, Pirelli Motorcycle Tyres, in South Africa. Here’s what she had to say about the company’s presence in India:

India is an emerging market and it’s a very important market for you. You entered India earlier with CEAT, but that didn’t work out and this is the second time you are coming to India. Is there a definitive marketing strategy that you have in place?

Yes for us India is for sure one emerging and very important market, we have concentrated our focus on it. And in fact in the last year we have changed our distribution so we are sure that we are able now to offer our product in the main channel in this market. For example we are also in the best e-commerce channel in the Indian market. So I think that now also Indian consumer can find Pirelli tyres and can live the emotion and the passion that this kind of tyres can give them with the most important and nice motorcycle that they can ride in the world.

Will you be only present in the premium tyre segment or compete in the commuter segment as well?

We have spoken also in this day during the presentation of the brand new Diablo Rosso Corsa II the target of Pirelli motorcycle is the high value market. So we are talking about passion performance but we are talking for very premium market also from motorcycle point of view. In any case in India we are entering also with partners like KTM, Bajaj and Royal Enfield. So these are the two focus that we will have that are more linked to that market. But generally speaking we will maintain our focus on the high value giving the most performance tyres also to that market.

Are there any plans for supporting local racing events in India?

For the moment we are concentrating our strategy above all in the brand awareness that we want to have over there. From this point of view as I told you we will work a lot on the digital platforms that means e-commerce but means also social media in order to give to the users the possibility to know Pirelli as a brand for a more close point. And also we will work on the traditional market with point of sales which we want to have our presence and in which we want people to find Pirelli as a brand. From a racing point of view we are working on it and I think we will have some good news in the next period.

Kyalami Grand Prix Track

Kyalami Racing Circuit is a motor racing track located in Midrand, Gauteng province, South Africa. Surrounding the circuit is the commercial suburb of Johannesburg. Kyalami is considered the centre of motor racing in South Africa. The name Kyalami itself means ‘my home’ in Zulu. The circuit has been used for Grand Prix and Formula One races and has been the host of South African Grand Prix many times. The circuit has also hosted many rounds of the Superbike World Championship. The circuit has gone through many upgrades in the past and now exists as a 16-turn 4.522 circuit. And as a result of that, the Kyalami also serves as a convention centre and a platform for outdoor exhibitions of international standards. Living up to its reputation as the core of South African motorsports scene, Kyalami will host the South Africa Bike Festival 2018 in May. Kyalami hasn’t hosted a Grand Prix since 1992. The South African Grand Prix itself is has been missing from the MotoGP calendar since 2004. But hopes are still there that considering the upgrades, the FIM will give the track ‘Grade I’ again so that we get to see some stunning new chapters of MotoGP racing in the African continent as well.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest wildlife reserves in the African continent. It is spread in an area spanning 19,485 sq. kms. The Kruger National Park lies in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the north-eastern part of South Africa. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. The climate is subtropical and summer is humid and hot. The Kruger National Park officials mark September and October as the driest periods, culminating in rains late in October. It is home to one of the most diverse rosters of wildlife. Kruger National Park has black rhinos, white rhinos, elephants, hippos, and big cats such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards etc. Some of the fiercest reptiles also live in the Kruger National park including Black Mamba, African Rock Pythons and crocodiles. The diverse flora and fauna makes Kruger National Park one of the most famous tourist destinations in South Africa. The park has many rest camps and restaurants for tourists and also has 9 different trails (some in complete wilderness with no set trails) on offer for the adventurous ones.




Sunny for xBhpians and Motographer as a professional, Sundeep Gajjar is the founder of xBhp.com and the Editor of the xBhp magazine. A man driven by sheer passion for motorcycling and photography, he is restless without his two wheels and the camera. Sunny has motorcycled in numerous countries across the globe and on the best imaginable machinery.

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