There are two main types of tyres for track riding. You can either fit a road-legal Sports tyre or a Slick.
Of course you can do a trackday on a Sports Touring or a Touring tyre, you just won’t get as much grip out of those choices. I’ve seen Ron Haslam riding a CBR500 fitted with Touring tyres and dusting up Fireblade riders at Donington, so it’s more about the rider than the tyre.
That said, a good tyre will give you confidence to explore your bike’s limits. Trackday tyres aren’t just about lap time potential; you need a tyre that gives you plenty of feel and feedback as without those, you’ll not have the confidence to push on.
For an experienced rider, the difference between the best Trackday tyre and a Slick tyre is only a second or two. In fact professional road tester Michael Neeves tested Dunlop’s trackday range and lapped the Dunlop test track in 1.21.6 on their full-on slick and 1.23.6 on their treaded trackday tyre.
What was really interesting was the fact he lapped in exactly the same time on the Trackday Slick (not the full-on Racing slick) as the Trackday Treaded tyre. So that goes some way to proving that it’s not about whether a tyre is slick or not it’s about the compound of rubber that’s used.
As mentioned above, some of the manufacturers offer two different varieties of Slick. One is aimed at the Trackday rider and the other at full-on racing. The difference is that the trackday option tends to be the same carcass as the manufacturer’s sticky treaded tyre but with a slick outer. The full-on racing slick will use a grippier rubber compound and usually a stiffer carcass too. Sometimes they’re referred to as a motorsport tyre but they’re still used on trackdays. Warning: they can be very expensive!
Choose Your Tyre Type
How to choose the right tyres for you
The key to enjoying yourself on track and bagging better lap times is to ride on a tyre that matches your pace and your ability.
It’s no good riding on slicks and thinking that will automatically make you quicker. If you can’t keep the tyre up to temperature or can’t interpret the feedback from the tyre, you won’t be going anywhere fast.
Likewise, the wrong compound might cause you to get through tyres at a rapid rate, with no noticeable improvement on your lap times.
The ultimate lap time difference between a Slick and road legal Track tyre is minimal but the price difference and wear rate is worth factoring in. Professional racers might use a particular type of tyre but then most of the time, they’re not paying for them…
Read on to find the best motorcycle trackday tyre for you.
Trackday motorcycle tyre chooser chart
If you’re not sure of the best tyre for your next motorcycle trackday, then check out the chart below. We’ve put some common scenarios in the table to help you get a better idea of the category of tyre that you’ll get on with.
|Riding Scenario||Recommended Tyre Type|
|I’m a fast road rider and I might do one trackday a year.||We’d go for a Sports or Sports Touring tyre as it’ll have a fast warm-up, long life and plenty of grip. Sure, it won’t have quite as much grip as a Road Legal track tyre but in terms of mileage, you’ll get better value for money out of this than a Hypersports tyre.|
|I’m a fast road rider and I do the occasional trackday.||Stick with a Sports tyre if you also ride on the road. A stickier track-focused tyre might offer a touch more outright grip for those laps when you’re chasing the stopwatch but you won’t get a sensible amount of wear out of the rear on the road.|
|I do quite a few trackdays but I ride to them.||Stick with a Sports tyre if you also ride on the road. A stickier track-focused tyre might offer a touch more outright grip for those laps when you’re chasing the stopwatch but you won’t get a sensible amount of wear out of the rear on the road.|
|I do quite a few trackdays but I van my bike to them.||If you don’t need a road-legal tyre than you can go for a Slick if you want to experience an ultra-grippy tyre. However the real world difference in lap-times for a decent rider on a road bike on a Slick compared to a treaded Track tyre is negligible. Some riders prefer a treaded track-focused tyre over a slick, as they tend to give more feedback, especially on a bike with standard suspension, and so they can push a bit harder on them.|
|I have a dedicated track or race bike.||If you want to get the maximum from your bike and shave tenths off your lap times, a Slick tyre is a great choice. Even though your lap times on a Slick will be close to what they are on a sticky treaded tyre, the feeling you get from a slick – and how much you can get away with on one – is unlike anything else. So it’s worth running a set just to experience the ‘ultimate’ in grip.|
Best Road Legal Trackday Tyre
If you ride to trackdays you need a road legal tyre and you have a couple of decent options. I took the picture above at Spa, having vanned the bike there that very morning. On the previous trip to Spa, I rode there on M7RRs, a sports-touring tyre, which didn’t offer the same outright grip but the sticky K3s probably would have seen their best miles on the motorway on the way there. It’s always a compromise.
Either you go for a road-legal but track-focused tyre, or you go for a Sports tyre.
The main difference is that a track-focused tyre will offer a bit more outright grip but it won’t last as long as a Sports tyre.
If you are a fast road rider but you want to do the occasional trackday, you might be better with a Sports tyre. It’ll still offer loads of grip but it’ll be better on the road in real-world conditions (think downpour on the way to the trackday) and it’ll offer better wear rates too. So you’ll be able to ride to the trackday, do the day on track and get a decent amount of miles out of the tyre on the road afterwards.
If you ride to trackdays, remember most companies will be able to rent you paddock stand and tyre warmers, so whatever tyre you’re running you’ll be able to get it up to temperature, meaning you won’t risk a cold-tyre crash and you’ll get better wear out of your tyres on the day, especially the rear.
Grippy, long-lasting Track-focused
Combining a great blend of outright grip, long-lasting performance and a fast warm-up time, the Pirelli Rosso 4 Corsa is a road-legal Trackday tyre that’s capable of winning races. Introduced in 2022, it’ll take over from the Pirelli Rosso Corsa 2 and sits just below the Supercorsa SP. Fast road riders will like the quick warm-up time and longer-lasting nature of this tyre and trackday riders will love the fact they can easily get a couple of trackdays out of a set.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running a road legal Trackday tyre: BMW S1000RR, Aprilia RSV4 RF, Yamaha YZF-R6
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Wheeling their bike out of a van at their local trackday or heading to their favourite biker cafe on their weekend blast.
If you want a more track-focused tyre, try a: Bridgestone R11, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa V3 SC
Other great tyres in the Sports category
If you’re mainly riding on the road and you want something that’s super-grippy but will warm-up quickly, last well and also deal with a downpour, check out the options below.
Michelin Power 5 – One of the best Sports tyres on the market. A recent winner of RiDE magazine’s Best Sports Tyres test (along with the M9RR).
Bridgestone S22 – For me the S22 is the benchmark of a good Sports tyre; quick to warm up, good in all conditions and the rounded profile offers stable and predictable handling. A great real-world option for pure road riders.
Metzeler M9RR – A great Sports tyre (joint winner of RiDE magazine’s Best Sports Tyres. The M7RR was a big-seller due to the fact it was a tyre that warms up quickly, works well in the set and has a lovely sharp profile to aid turn-in. The M9 promises all of that and some.
Best Slick Motorcycle Tyre
You’ll never forget the first time you ride on a Slick tyre. Especially if it’s a full-on racing slick (sometimes referred to as a Motorsports slick). That’s me riding a BMW HP4 around Jerez and loving every second!
You’ll have to reset your braking markers, your internal lean angle sensor and your belief in how much throttle your rear tyre can take!
However a Slick tyre isn’t for everyone. The lack of tread means the tyre is naturally firmer. Some riders complain that a slick tyre feels numb. This is usually down to the stiffer carcass, which can also affect your suspension, making it work harder.
You can get a Trackday slick, which is a half-step between a road-legal track tyre and a full-on racing Slick. A trackday slick has similar characteristics to a racing slick (more precision when tipping in or changing line and the ability to brake harder when leant over) but they also offer slightly more feel than a stiff racing slick.
Of course, most models of track tyre are available in at least two different compounds, which enables you to find the perfect balance for your bike.
Bi-directional slick with loads of feel
One drawback of slicks is that they can be stiff and offer less feel than treaded tyres. Not the TD Slick. It’s essentially a slick version of Metzeler’s stickiest road-legal tyre. The grip is there and I know some club racers who’ve got on the podium with these. If you’re a regular trackday rider, you’ll know how frustrating it is to get through a rear tyre before you’ve even got to the last session but the TD Slick is bi-directional, meaning you can swap it over to get even more use from it. A great bit of kit.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running a Slick tyre: Anyone lining up for the Senior TT, Ex-BSB bikes on trackdays, two-stroke racers.
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Twiddling with their suspension or analysing their data on a laptop in between sessions.
Other great tyres in the Racing category
If you’re after a slick for your trackdays or racing, then take a look at the options below.
Dunlop KR106 front + KR108 rear – Full on motorsports slicks as used by some of the top Isle of Man TT racers. They are pricey and hard to get hold of but they’re as good as it gets.
Continental Conti Track Slick – A much underrated tyre but unlike the other manufacturers, Continental have good stocks of these, including 200-section tyres. They were used in the German Superbike Championship until recently, so they’re well-proven.
Bridgestone V02 – Trackday junkies will know the V02; it’s a proper bit of kit. However stocks of these have been low for the past 12 months and they’re hard to find. If you do find them, prepare to shell out!
Best Wet Weather Track Tyre
If it rains at a trackday, for most people it’s game over. But if you’re racing, you have to roll your sleeves up and get the wets on.
You have to be seriously in to your trackdays to justify having a set of wets on wheels (WoW) but if you do, you can maximise your track time and your fun.
No-one wants to lob their bike into the gravel but with a decent set of wets you can have more fun than in the dry. Sure, ultimate grip and lean angle is out but you’ll feel like a hero as the rear slides out of corners and the bike starts to move underneath you. Riding in the rain teaches you a great deal about your throttle control (or lack of it).
Using the same tread pattern used in MotoGP
Bridgestone were the sole tyre supplier to the top tier in MotoGP. During that time they developed the tread pattern now used on their W01 wets. During Bridgestone’s own tests, they claim the W01 is 2-seconds quicker per lap than their E08Z on a 2-minute lap. Some claim. A fast warm up and good longevity makes them a reliable choice when the weather turns.
Motorcycles you’d expect to see running a Wet Weather tyre: A full on British Superbike getting some testing in, a battered SV650 minitwin racer
The rider’s most likely to be seen: Switching visors prior to going out or fitting their wets on wheels in between track sessions.
Motorcycle track tyre pressures and tyre warmer guide
The table below gives you a decent idea of the tyre pressures to run on track and the time your tyres need to be in their warmers in order to be fully up to temperature.
Motorcycle tyre specialists Two Tyres have gone one better and produced an excellent guide to motorbike track tyre pressures. It really is in-depth, so check it out.
Every tyre manufacturer’s recommendations differ, so always check your pressures and don’t just run what your mate says is correct.
It always makes sense to check your tyre pressures with an accurate tyre pressure gauge before you go out and when you have come back in. If you do this for the first session you’ll be dialled in.
Cold Pressure (psi)
Hot Pressure (psi)
50 mins @ 80°c
50 mins @ 80°c
50 mins @ 80°c
50 mins @ 80°c
30 mins @ 80°c
30 mins @ 80°c
Trackday Tyre Wear Guide
You can read a lot from how your tyre is wearing, especially the rear. The image above shows a tyre that’s worn very evenly, meaning the tyre pressure are ideal and the suspension has been well setup for the rider and the bike.
Below are the common issues you’ll encounter when it comes to unwanted trackday tyre wear.
Caused by oils used in the tyre coming to the surface. Don’t worry, it doesn’t affect the tyre’s grip. It can happen to any tyre, not just a track one. It’s common on track tyres as they reach a high temperatures.
The colour is usually at its most obvious when a tyre has reached a high temperature and then been allowed to cool quickly. The discolouration doesn’t mean the tyre is spent; it will usually disappear during the next session on track. However it is more common as a tyre gets worn, as the oils in the tyre get deposited on the surface as the tyre wears.
One of the best ways to prevent this happening is to put your tyres back in the warmers (even if the warmers aren’t on) after every session, to allow the tyre to cool slowly.
Cold tear is caused by a difference in tyre temperature between the surface of the tyre and the carcass. If the surface gets hot, while the carcass stays relatively cool, the rubber on the surface can ‘tear’ from the main body of the tyre.
There are two main reasons behind this. The first is that the tyre hasn’t been in the warmers long enough. The second is that the tyre is overinflated therefore reducing the amount that the tyre can flex and spread the heat being generated.
Hot tear is one of the most common trackday tyre wear issues. It is usually most visible on the rear as this is being subjected to heavy acceleration forces. The tear is usually a band that starts around 1-inch from the edge of the tyre and is roughly 1 to 2 inches wide.
It is caused by an underinflated tyre, which runs too hot, causing the tyre surface and the carcass to get too hot. The rubber is then liquefied and it flows to the outer edge of the tyre due to centrifugal forces. This tyre isn’t actually that bad but you can see the rubber flowing towards the edge of the tyre.
Your suspension setup can be at the heart of your tyre wear issues. An incorrect spring weight can cause the tyre to work too hard (especially if the spring is too hard).
If you have too much rebound on the rear shock, for example, the load will be taken off the tyre too quickly when exiting a corner and this will allow the wheel to spin as the rider picks up the throttle and drives out of the corner.
In the picture on the right, you can see the tyre has been worked hard an inch from the edge. This is probably down to the front end having too much rebound.
You will always see a certain amount of wear on a front tyre, especially near the edge of the tyre. However if the bike’s geometry isn’t correctly setup (which can come from using a different profile rear tyre), the wear on the front tyre might be more pronounced.
If there isn’t enough weight on the front tyre, it can skip across the surface which can manifest itself as front-end chatter. Too much weight, which can be caused by not having enough front-end rebound, and the tyre can be subjected to too much force during cornering, causing excessive bobbling of the tread. The image shows the tyre has been under consistent high load when corning.
Motorcycle track tyre questions
Can you run a slick and a treaded tyre?
You won’t find many people recommending it but some people do. An example might be if you’re racing earlier in the day and the track is cold, you might want a treaded front to help you build up temperature in the tyre, where a treaded rear might go off before the end of the race due to being over worked. In that case a treaded front and slick rear would solve your conundrum.
Can you reverse a slick tyre?
You can on some slicks but not on others. Check to see if you have a directional arrow on your slick. If you do, then you shouldn’t reverse it. The reason being is that the rubber is wound onto the tyre in one direction and with some tyres you can risk ‘unwinding’ the rubber, especially under heavy braking.
What does carcass stiffness do to a bike’s handling?
The stiffer the carcass the more force gets transferred into your chassis. Also a stiffer carcass usually means the tyre needs more work to stay at operating temperature.
How long do you need to put a tyre on warmers?
See the trackday tyre warmers chart above. A minimum of 30 minutes is advisable for a treaded tyre or slick. Ideally 50 minutes. A racing wet or intermediate requires less time, usually 20 minutes as a minimum.
How long do trackday tyres last?
This all depends on the tyre, the bike, the rider and the surface. You should be able to get a wear ratio of two rears to a front, if not three. For a typical three-day European trackday you could probably get away with one front and two rears but three if it’s a soft rear, you’re aggressive on the throttle or the surface is abrasive.
How long do slick tyres last?
This all depends on the tyre but you’ll usually get more wear from a slick than a treaded tyre.
Do slick tyres last longer than treaded tyres?
Yes, due to the lack of tread pattern the rubber isn’t worked as hard. You should be able to get 25% more wear from a slick than an equivalent treaded tyre.
What slicks do they use in MotoGP?
Special motorsports slicks that allegedly cost around £800 a tyre.
What slicks to they use at the Isle of Man TT?
In the Senior TT in 2019, race winner Dean Harrison used the Metzeler Racetec RR slick and second and third place riders, Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison both used Dunlop Motorsport slicks, the KR106 and KR108.
Can you repair a puncture in a slick?
It is possible but it’s not recommended.
If I reduce the pressure in my tyres will they work better in the wet?
If they’re slick tyres, it won’t make any difference – they’ll be horrible in the wet. If the tyre is a treaded road-legal tyre or a full-on racing wet, you don’t want to reduce the pressures in the wet. This just closes up the tread pattern, meaning the tyre can’t cut through and disperse the water.
What tyres do they use in MotoGP?
MotoGP sells the rights to supply tyres to a single manufacturer in each class and currently Michelin have those rights to supply the top tier MotoGP bikes until 2023. Previously it was held by Bridgestone. Dunlop hold the rights to the Moto2 and Moto 3 classes.
Years ago, tyre choice was open and this lead to the ‘tyre wars’ era. This was where competing manufacturers would go to incredible lengths to supply tyres to teams and riders. Some manufacturers would take feedback from the Friday tests and produce a bespoke set of tyres for a rider and ship them overnight to the track, so that the rider had a ‘perfect’ qualifying tyre.
This massively increased the costs to the teams and reduced the ability for some teams to compete and so Dorna stepped in and the single-make rule was applied.
Each GP the riders have the choice of Hard, Medium or Soft slick tyres. Over the course of a weekend a rider has an allocation of a maximum of 10 front tyres and 12 rears. Riders who progress from Q2 to Q1 are given an additional front and rear in any compound they choose.
For wet conditions teams are given 6 fronts and 7 rears per rider, in Extra Soft, Soft and Medium compounds.
It’s hard to put a price on a MotoGP tyre. Michelin claim to spend £1,000,000 a round supplying tyres. This includes tyres, logistics and staff. If you consider there are approximately 1,000 tyres used per weekend, that equates to £1,000 per tyre!
What tyres do they use at the Isle of Man TT?
Tyre choice at the Isle of Man TT is open. Riders and teams can choose any tyres they like from any manufacturer. However Dunlop and Metzeler invest serious amounts of time, effort and cash into the TT. Both manufacturers are battling it out to become the number-one choice.
These manufacturers see the value of proving themselves at the TT, the world’s toughest motorcycle road race. The TT effort transitions to creating a better road-going tyre that will sell to the likes of you and I.
In 2019, Dean Harrison won the Senior TT, riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R on Metzeler Racetec RR Slicks. In the Superstock TT, Peterhickman won the race on a BMW S1000RR with Dunlop D213 GP Pro tyres.
So if you want to be like Dean Harrison or Peter Hickman, you know what tyres to go for!
Motorcycle tyre FAQs
What Is The Legal Requirement For Tyre Tread Depth?
Here in the UK, the legal requirement is that the tyre tread depth be no less than 1.0mm around the circumference of the middle three quarters of the tyre.
Once your tyre reaches this limit, it must be replaced. It is advisable though, to replace tyres before they reach their legal limit, as their ability to provide traction will be heavily compromised.
Many organisations and companies advise changing at 2.5mm tread depth because at lower than this tread depth, you will notice a decline in your motorbike’s handling ability and stopping distance.
Riding around on tyres with a lower tread depth also makes you more susceptible to punctures, nasty loose nails and other damage to the tyres as they are wearing paper thin.
Do I need to scrub new tyres in?
You always had to scrub your tyres in but have modern methods of tyre production removed the need to do this?
In short no. However it’s less about the release agent used to get the tyre out of the mould. That used to be an issue and it could mean the tyre surface wouldn’t grip well until it was worn away.
These days some tyre manufacturers, like Continental, use Teflon moulds meaning you don’t have to scrub your tyres in. However that doesn’t factor in transport, storage and fitting, which can all leave unwanted substances on the tyre which could reduce adhesion. It’s always a good idea to go steady for the first few miles.
However a tyre still needs bedding in for the first few miles. During the fitting process the bead undergoes enormous forces and the first few miles allows it to properly seat on the rim. Going steady for the first few miles also allows the steel belt and aramid fibres to settle-down and start working properly.
How should I store my bike if it’s not being ridden
Your tyres will lose pressure over time. If you’re storing your bike for a month or more, it pays to keep it on paddock stands rather than sat on its tyre on the sidestand.
As the tyre loses pressure, it will deform and can form a flat spot, especially if the floor it is on reaches near-zero temperatures. It can cause this part of the tyre to become brittle.
If you don’t have paddock stands, then pump the tyres up to their maximum pressures and as silly as it sounds, roll the bike onto some carpet to keep the tyres from being subjected to extremely cold conact.
How long do tyres last?
All tyres will have a production date on the sidewall. From the moment they’re manufacturered, they’re guaranteed for 5 years but they will last around 10 years. So if you fit a pair that are unused but four years old, you’ve got around 6 years of usable life in them. If you don’t get through them in that time, perhaps take up a new hobby?
To see when your tyres were made look for the final four numbers after the DOT code. The first two numbers designate the week of the year and the second are the year. So a tyre with the code 3419 was made in the thirty-fourth week of 2019.
Thanks to the following who helped us research and write this guide to the best motorcycle tyres: