Tyres are one of the most important components of a motorcycle. They are the parts constantly in touch with the road that you are treading. They are the parts that talk to the road and transmit the information to you so that you can ride your motorcycle accordingly. Tyres are a part of almost all the aspects attached to the handling of the motorcycle such as traction, steering, camber thrust, slip angle etc. So the understanding of tyres and choosing the right type of tyres can make a lot of difference to the riding experience and sometimes it can be a life-saving affair.

The importance of good tyres is highlighted even more when one plans to go racing. On the track, the motorcycle is being pushed to its limits constantly. High lean angles, hard acceleration, harder braking etc. demand a lot from the tyres. If the tyres are not able to cope with that, the rider will never have the confidence to push farther. There*fore, a good understanding of tyres, their types and the technology in general, is very important for a motorcycle racer.

We will start the discussion with what is probably the most important attribute of a tyre, grip. The term itself is rather self-explanatory so we are not going to try to define grip for our readers. Instead, we’ll jump to the application and what a motorcycle racer should be looking for in that department. Obviously the more the grip, the better and grip is dependent on the compound of the tyre, tread, construction etc.

We have all seen the tread-less tyres in MotoGP and know about the phenomenal grip that they offer. They are called slicks and they are the tyres used in track racing at the top level. These kinds of tyres, stick to the tarmac like glue, usually do not last long because of the soft compound used and are available on the top end of the spectrum. Therefore, these tyres are not fit for budding motorcycle racers who have to start with smaller bikes. The other end of the spectrum has tyres made of harder compounds that last longer but have obviously compromised on the grip and therefore, are not a fit for racing at all.

Another factor, apart from the compound, that affects the grip offered by a tyre is the size. A common misconception among riders is that wider tyres mean better handling which is not always the case. When the tyres are really wide the handling actually becomes a bit difficult because the turn-ins are slower, more input on the handlebar is need*ed to dip into corners and keep the bike there. They are also hard on the suspension as there is more un-sprung weight that is to be controlled.

But does that mean smaller tyre sizes are ideal? Ideally yes, but then it depends on the size of the motorcycle, the purpose and most importantly, the power being transmitted to the rear wheels. A MotoGP motorcycle, if shod with skinny tyres, will eat the tyre up in less than a lap! So, it’s all about balance when it comes to the tyre size. And that’s something that the motorcycle manufacturer has already figured out for you, so it is always advisable to stick to the stock tyre size. But the question still remains, what kind of tyres one should be looking at if they are looking to start motorcycle racing?

It is quite obvious that one starts motorcycle racing with smaller bikes. And since slicks are out of the question for smaller motorcycles, what we are left with are road-going tyres. And road-going tyres does not always have to mean compromised grip. There are sport-touring tyres in the market that have a longer life, more treads in the middle to deal with wet conditions and decent corner grip. So, are sport-touring tyres the way to go when one starts racing? Not quite, because some manufacturers have come up with high-performance tyres that are fit for street use. Therefore, these tyres are the best bet for someone who is looking to start motorcycle racing.

On that note, we went around India for a 4000 km ride to the 4 (3 ride-able) race tracks in India. It was a 4000 km ride, in addition to riding on the tracks, with the purpose of #tRacingTheRoots of motorcycle racing in India. Our motorcycles, two TVS Apache RR 310s were shod with the Apollo Alpha H1 tyres which we used for both, riding on the tracks and the roads and they have left a lasting impression on us!

Firstly, the Apollo Alpha H1 is India’s first steel radial tyre. This provides the tyre with structural rigidity even in extreme conditions. On the roads, the high temperature and duration for which the tyres are run, and on the track, with the extreme riding and high temperature, the tyres undergo structural deformation. But the Apollo Alpha H1 deals with it using a zero degree steel belt which makes for minimal deformation and thus, excellent stability at high speed.

The tyre compound is a combination of Silica and Carbon Black. The centre of the tyre has more Silica content for stability and mileage, while the shoulders are Carbon Black to facilitate fantastic grip even on high lean angles. Another feature of the Apollo Alpha H1 that makes it a great choice for track riding, is the profile.

Dubbed as Dual radii cavity profile, the tyre enabled our motorcycles to be quick on its feet and eager to lean into the corners. This made riding on the track a whole lot of fun as we thrashed around the motorcycle and put the Apollo Alpha H1s to test. And the tyres are W rated i.e. they’ll hold their own even around 270 kmph! With the unique tread design, the tyre also manages really well in wet conditions too. So, if one is out in the market looking for a set of tyres for your track jaunts, long tours and street runs, they cannot go wrong with the Apollo Alpha H1.