I have a problem: my bike likes to eat tires for breakfast. Ok, so maybe it’s more a problem with my right wrist, but whatever the case may be, I normally go through a few sets of tires a year. My riding consists of commuting to work every day, weekend blasts in the twisties, longer distance moto-camping trips, and the occasional track day. My do it all bike is the venerable Kawasaki ZRX 1100. She’s a bit of a heavy girl, but she has a great personality. The 1100 puts down its fair share of power (hence the tire eating), and since I ride every day, I need a tire that will last and not wear out in just a few weeks of riding. I also need a tire that will give me the traction I need for the kind of riding I like to do.
But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, there is a definite tradeoff between tire life and available traction. Tire manufacturers are always trying to squeeze as much traction and tire life as they can out of a given design. Obviously there are dedicated sport tires with traction being the number one priority. If the majority of your riding consists of track days and weekend corner carving, they can be a great choice and offer an amazing amount of stick. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have touring tires that can last 10,000 plus miles on a big heavy touring bike; but those tires aren’t made to withstand the forces of really aggressive riding. Right in the middle you have the sport-touring class of tire, a compromise of tire life and traction that makes them more affordable to run (because you aren’t replacing them every 2,000 miles), and sticky enough to enjoy on a good weekend spirited ride. Well, the folks at Pirelli have decided to create their own tire category: Extended Mileage Sport (or, EMS for short). Pirelli proved that the new Angel ST tires live up to the EMS moniker at Italy’s Nardo ring back in 2009. They installed a set of Angel ST tires onto a Suzuki Hayabusa and a Kawasaki Concourse 14, both big, powerful motorcycles. They went on to set 7 FIM world duration records by running non stop for 24 hours at an average speed of over 130mph and for a distance of 3,200 miles on a single set. That’s impressive, but how do they handle in the real world?
I currently have over 5,000 miles on my set, with a bit of tread still to go on the rear. The last tires I ran were showing cords on the rear tire at 3400 miles, so I am very happy with the tire life. BUT! The real kicker is how they FEEL. I have never felt more confident pushing my bike hard on a “sport-touring” tire. The front end has great feedback, turn in is smooth, easy, and predictable, and stability at high-speeds and high lean angles is very good as well. Last month I took my ZRX to a track day at Road Atlanta. July in Atlanta can be brutally hot, and this particular day was no exception. The Pirelli Angel ST tires did extremely well, with only one little wiggle out of the rear all day – which was probably due to the extreme heat and an imprudent application of throttle. Just this past weekend I put another 1,000 miles on the tires riding through North and South Carolina and Tennessee. I rode some of the twistiest roads in the country, with some of the best scenery it has to offer.
Sunday turned out to be a wet, rainy day, which was the perfect scenario for testing their wet weather grip. Keeping the speeds up, the tires never once lost any feel. The tread pattern disperses standing water very well, and Pirelli claims the high silica content in the rubber gives the bike a more planted feel in the wet. I can attest to this, as even full throttle application in lower gears didn’t break them loose. I was impressed. And tired… the last two hours in the pouring rain weren’t much fun, but the tires never skipped a beat there either. If you are a rider who enjoys all aspects of riding and racks up the miles, take a really close look at the Pirelli Angel ST EMS tires, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Check out our Pirelli Angel ST EMS Tire Video Review here!