Driving Force: Dunlop Is The Official Tire Supplier Of MotoAmerica

With five production-based classes making up the new MotoAmerica series, Dunlop’s technicians will be changing dozens of tires over the course of a three-day race weekend.

Like MotoGP and World Super­bike, MotoAmerica has a spec tire supplier, offering the same choices to all. In the US, that supplier is Dunlop—K448 front and K449 rear slicks in Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Super­sport, treaded DOT-approved rubber in Superstock 600 (GP-A Pro) and KTM RC 390 Cup (Alpha 13).

When riders near the limit of traction, more power can’t help them. What they need is confidence. They can get that from tires that behave in specific ways, giving clear warning of where the limit is and how much harder the rider can push. This is engineered into the tire.

Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport race on slick tires. Superstock 600 and the KTM RC 390 Cup use treaded DOT-approved rubber.

Yet tires are contradictions. The fabric carcass gives the tire its shape and must be strong enough to transmit the forces of acceleration, braking, and turning. Yet it must also be soft enough to spread out a generous contact “footprint” on the pavement to generate grip.

Likewise, the tire’s tread rubber must be soft enough to mold itself to the texture of the pavement for peak grip. Yet it also needs high tensile strength so its grip on the pavement is not torn by the forces being transmitted.

To be soft enough to give peak grip, rubber must be hot. On pit lane, you will see teams wrapping their tires in electric blankets before the race to give riders grip as the tires warm up in the tricky first three laps. Yet heat is also the enemy of rubber. Make it too hot and the rubber begins to lose its peak properties. Engineering matches tires to conditions.

Three things heat tires: 1) temperature of the track; 2) friction of sliding; and 3) constant flexing of the rubber.

Top riders manage their tires during the race, adapting their style in small ways as they feel the beginnings of grip loss. Riders unable to feel this overheat their tires, costing them positions. Tires make our sport more complicated than just “goin’ for it.”

With five production-based classes making up the new MotoAmerica series, Dunlop’s technicians will be changing dozens of tires over the course of a three-day race weekend.

Like MotoGP and World Super­bike, MotoAmerica has a spec tire supplier, offering the same choices to all. In the US, that supplier is Dunlop—K448 front and K449 rear slicks in Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Super­sport, treaded DOT-approved rubber in Superstock 600 (GP-A Pro) and KTM RC 390 Cup (Alpha 13).

When riders near the limit of traction, more power can’t help them. What they need is confidence. They can get that from tires that behave in specific ways, giving clear warning of where the limit is and how much harder the rider can push. This is engineered into the tire.

Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport race on slick tires. Superstock 600 and the KTM RC 390 Cup use treaded DOT-approved rubber.

Yet tires are contradictions. The fabric carcass gives the tire its shape and must be strong enough to transmit the forces of acceleration, braking, and turning. Yet it must also be soft enough to spread out a generous contact “footprint” on the pavement to generate grip.

Likewise, the tire’s tread rubber must be soft enough to mold itself to the texture of the pavement for peak grip. Yet it also needs high tensile strength so its grip on the pavement is not torn by the forces being transmitted.

To be soft enough to give peak grip, rubber must be hot. On pit lane, you will see teams wrapping their tires in electric blankets before the race to give riders grip as the tires warm up in the tricky first three laps. Yet heat is also the enemy of rubber. Make it too hot and the rubber begins to lose its peak properties. Engineering matches tires to conditions.

Three things heat tires: 1) temperature of the track; 2) friction of sliding; and 3) constant flexing of the rubber.

Top riders manage their tires during the race, adapting their style in small ways as they feel the beginnings of grip loss. Riders unable to feel this overheat their tires, costing them positions. Tires make our sport more complicated than just “goin’ for it.”