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Why Are Racing Bike Tyres Smooth?

Why Are Racing Bike Tyres Smooth

Racing tyres are different from the standard ones for a whole lot of reasons. The below article explains why racing tyres are smooth.

One of the most popular recommendations you have ever heard for a street tyre is to observe the condition and prevent it from getting worn out. And for a street bike, a smooth tyre means it has worn out and needs a replacement for deriving better performance. But on the flip side, the thing with the racing tyre is quite opposite. Why? We will find out below.


  • 1. The Grooves

    We all know tyres have grooves, which are needed to disperse water. Without grooves, the water would decrease the size of the contact patch and result in the loss of grip. The racing tyres are known as slicks, which mean tyres without grooves. They are also known as dry condition tyres. The absence of grooves or tread in the tyre increases the rubber area on flat tracks, therefore, increasing the grip on smooth surfaces, especially when rain is not expected.

    As the grip is necessary for generating force that allows a vehicle to accelerate, corner or brake, the lack of proper grip limits these aspects of performance.


    2. The Manufacturing

    As mentioned, racing slicks have no grooves or tread to optimize the contact patch on dry surfaces. So, these tyres are specially manufactured using unique and soft rubber compounds for increasing the grip. However, during the rainy season, racing bikes typically switch to rain tyres with grooves for quick water dispersal. But as soon as the surface dries up, the rain tyres are changed with the slicks, often in mid-race.

    Many racing tyres last only a few laps and are often changed during the race as the soft rubber compound wears out very quickly. These tyres are manufactured to adapt to different temperatures, asphalts, and motorcycle setups.


    3. The Heat Factor

    Another important that contributes to the smoothness of the racing tyres is the type of rubber compound, along with the tyre’s intended purpose of riding at a particular temperature. The fact is that racing tyres don’t perform adequately until they get slightly warmed up. This heat further makes the tyre’s rubber compound soft and enhances traction.

    All-season or summer tyres for highway bikes will have a harder compound best suited to address the heat build-up and warmer temperatures. In the cold season, these tyres will not be as good as they were in summer until they get warmed up by driving a few miles.

    On the other hand, winter tyres will have softer compounds to deal with the fact that the tyres don’t ever get fully warmed up in cold weather. Driving the winter tyres in summers can result in high tread wear due to heat build-up and may end up in deformation or failure.

    That is why many smart drivers will have a different set of tyres for varying weather conditions. Tyres made of a hard rubber compound will wear slowly, but the softer ones will give more grip and performance at the cost of longevity. In racing, the teams would have to find a balance between the grip and wear rate by considering certain situations such as circuit design, weather, race laps, no. of pit stops, etc. and devise a strategy accordingly. For instance, a tyre made of a softer compound offers faster laps initially but slows down or wears out in the final laps. On the other hand, a harder tyre provides slower initial laps but faster speed in the final laps.

How Racing Tyres Are Recognized?

How Racing Tyres Are Recognized

In MotoGP racing, the tyres are typically colour coded to recognize the type of tyre being used by the rider.

  • Black or no marking means medium
  • Yellow means harder
  • White comes under the soft category

Moreover, modern-day racing tyres are now being developed, keeping in mind, certain performance qualities at a particular temperature. They become sticky when they accumulate heat, providing greater adhesion to the surface, and offering amazing levels of grip. Due to this reason, the tyres are typically covered with warmers to restrict the tyres at specific temperatures, offering the best possible grip to the rider.

Due to the absence of tread, the slicks have a large contact area, which in turn, increases the friction between the tarmac and the tyres. This is the reason racing tyres are broad, as increased friction generates more heat, and this heat is dissipated across the wide tyre area.

Overall, the racing slicks are considerably faster than any other type of tyre. The smoothness of these tyres can boost the performance of the bike to dramatic levels. However, the wear rate is higher than standard tyres.

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