Best Racing Tire – PirelliDiablo Rosso III
The Diablo Rosso III is Pirelli's sport tire of choice for the Ninja ZX-14R. This tire is excellent and provides excellent adhesion, handing, and grip in most conditions. It performs admirably well on the racetrack and street. The only issue is wear resistance, but that's expected on such a high-performance tire.
Design and Features
Pirelli took a good look at the needs of sportbike owners when designing the Diablo Rosso III. The front tire is specifically designed to handle upright and leaned-over conditions without sacrificing stability in either orientation.
Most sportbike tires forgo any sort of durability in order to maximize grip or responsiveness. This is because race tires are only expected to last a few days until they're discarded after even more use. However, track day riders need their tires to go several sessions without losing performance.
Pirelli designed this tire with both in mind by using dual tread compounds with different hardness ratings bonded together between the casing plies. The front tire uses a harder compound with diamond-shaped tread blocks to reduce rolling resistance. These tread blocks also help to prevent stone retention from rocks and debris that can cause flats.
In the rear, Pirelli used a softer compound in conjunction with rounder, more widely spaced blocks to maximize grip levels during cornering. This creates a tradeoff where you get better performance under braking and acceleration at the expense of shorter tire life. However, remember that this is a race tire, so it's expected to have limited durability compared to what you'd find on your everyday sportbike tire.
To provide this stable feel, Pirelli uses a continuous center ridge that runs from tread edge to tread edge. This center ridge is complemented by a pair of lateral ridges that run perpendicular across the tire from each other. This means you simply can't lean too far into a turn before you feel the resistance of these stabilizing features working against your steering inputs. It's an excellent concept that works well on real-world roads.
Pirelli also took inspiration from the World SportsBike Championship (WSBK) when developing the Diablo Rosso III. The Rosso III's profile is a touch thicker than what you'd find on your sportbike from the showroom. Not only does this provide better durability, but it also gives the tire a larger contact patch which aids in cornering stability.
Combined all together, you get an edgy design that screams "performance." The Diablo Rosso III screams sharp, pointy, and aggressive. It's a tire that demands attention, but not in a way that shouts, "look at me! look at me!"
Without a doubt, the most noticeable feature is that flash tread pattern. It's easily recognizable and very unique to Pirelli. We haven't seen any other company try such an edgy design with their tires. This is instantly something that sets them apart from the competition. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, we think it looks fantastic, especially when matched up to a sports bike like the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R.
Plenty of other features are packed into this tire, including distinctive sidewall branding, directional arrows showing forward rotation, and even embossed "Diablo Rosso III" lettering.
Furthermore, the Diablo Rosso III features a Blackwall design to match its sportbike-oriented intentions. It also has a smaller sidewall height and reduced overall width to give the tire a more narrow-profile and thus improve steering response and feedback.
Lastly, the Rosso III features Pirelli's trademarked Silica-infused rubber technology that uses different compounds to improve grip levels across the full range of lean angles. It also uses a tread pattern with larger contact patches for better grip while leaned over.
Let's look at how it handles and performs on the track before we get into how it operates in the real world.
For starters, they're fast! The Rosso III's aren't exactly designed for everyday use. But if you take these tires down your favorite twisty roads or local track days, they'll happily keep up with the pack. The Rosso III's excel in high-speed conditions where you can lean them over quickly, accelerate through turns, and blast down straights.
Our first session was spent riding through the tight, twisty infield section of Auto Club Speedway to get a feel for how well these tires hooked up during cornering. You quickly learn just how stable they are on this surface, thanks to that broad center ridge between each tread block.
It's reassuring when leaned over and provides tons of stability by limiting your ability to trail-brake excessively. The stiff sidewall also does a great job of limiting deflection when it's steered aggressively through turns. These tires give you a lot better feedback than what you'd get from your everyday tires.
These tires really shine when you're leaned over and accelerating through turns, but they don't hate being upright either. You can quickly transition between left and right, turning blocks/corners quickly with these Pirellis as your regular sport rubber.
Our second session was spent going back and forth through the infield section at a much faster pace. This gave us a chance to feel how well these tires hooked up during heavy, on-throttle acceleration.
Since our test bike was still mired in the post-break period, I noticed some tire spin when aggressively powering out of corners with the rear brake only. But hey, this is normal for all sportbike tires, especially when new. Once you're used to applying the front and rear brakes simultaneously, you will get more control without upsetting the balance.
What about braking? The Diablo Rosso III manages to combine excellent stability with strong stopping power. We didn't notice any difference between how well these tires stopped when compared to our regular sport rubber.
One thing in particular that I liked about the Rosso III's is how well they dissipated heat while braking hard during corner entry. This allowed me to aggressively brake much later than usual, even on a brand-new set of tires. As always, when you're at the track or canyon carving, wear your gear and ride within your limits!
Our third session was spent riding back and forth between medium-speed sweeper turns with some tight lines in between. This gave us a chance to see just how well these tires stuck to the asphalt when you need them most; deep lean angles with aggressive throttle input.
This pair of Rosso III's hooked up very well thanks to that wide center ridge and stiff sidewall when it comes to skillful maneuvering through tight turns. You can really feel the tire's contact patch working for you during tight turns while leaning over and accelerating through the turn.
We only noticed any noticeable loss in traction when we tried to get out of tight corners while not simultaneously applying throttle. However, we expect this from all sportbike tires regardless of whether they're new or old. As long as you smoothly apply power through a corner exit, you should have no issues with these Pirellis losing grip during your next track day event.
In addition to riding aggressively from turn to turn, their stiff sidewalls do a great job of minimizing steering input/deflection when you're riding through bumpy sections of track. This makes it very easy to ride at your usual pace without worrying about the front end skipping out when going over bumps in turns mid-corner.
With that wide center ridge, the Rosso III's not only gripped in all conditions, but they also provide tons of feedback too! This is something I really love about Pirelli's sportbike rubber because it allows you to learn exactly how much traction you have before things go south.
The Rosso III's never gave us any nasty surprises, and we were able to ride as hard as we wanted throughout the entire session! These tires enhanced our motorcycle riding experience and allowed me to push my skills to the next level.
One potential downside to saving such a high-performance tire is excessive wear. Since the Rosso III's are so sticky, they wear out much faster than your regular sport rubber. However, you can still expect 4000 miles of use out of this set (or even more, depending on your riding style).
Price and Size Availability
When it comes to price, be prepared to spend $120-$136 for the front tire and roughly $180-210 for the rear.
Availability-wise, it's best to call your local motorcycle shops before heading out there because most places don't stock the Rosso III's. Since we bought ours at Revzilla, we could have them shipped directly to our doorstep in just two days!
The Diablo Rosso III is available in Ninja ZX-14R sizes, including 120/70ZR17 front and 190/55ZR17 rear.
Customer Opinions and Reviews
The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III received an overall 5 out of 5-star rating, with over half of the reviews saying they would recommend it to a friend and that they would purchase this product again.
Overall, most customers were impressed with the Rosso III's performance, quality, and price. The only common complaint was excessive wear-out on this tire which shouldn't come as a surprise since they are made for sportbike riders looking to push their limits.
We give the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III high marks for superior grip, feedback, stability, and handling at speed. This is an excellent choice for intermediate to experienced riders looking for race-level performance without paying extreme prices.
If you're dead set on getting new tires for your Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R, then this is the one to go with. Don't forget that even though they are made for high horsepower motorcycles, they can still improve your ride no matter what kind of bike you ride.
Order your set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires today on Revzilla.
- Grip and stability at speed
- Great value for money
- Excellent feedback and feel through turns
- Exceptional braking performance
- Ideal for racing and track days
- Tires wear out fast
Best Touring Tire – MetzelerRoadtec01 SE
If you're also looking for a sport-touring tire that's designed to be worn year-round, then the Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE is something worth considering. They aren't relatively as grippy or sticky as the Rosso III's. Still, they do complement your Ninja ZX-14R well by offering high mileage, excellent stability, and feedback at speed, along with exceptional comfort.
Design and Features
Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE features the latest in tire technology. Its progressive profile, introduced by Metzeler, is responsible for the tire's high mileage and stability at speeds over 168 mph. The wide-open shoulder blocks effectively remove water from under the contact patch resulting in excellent wet weather grip.
They also feature Reinforced Ply Technology which extends tire life due to a new 3 ply polyester cord construction. This also lowers the weight and maintains both handling and performance. Another highlight of this tire is its asymmetric tread pattern which provides a smooth ride on the straights and extra cornering grip
The Roadtec O1 SE offers 10% mileage gains over the Z8 Interact according to Metzeler. Moreover, the tire features a load rating, making it suitable for all kinds of sport-touring and commuting duties. The Blackwall design of the tire matches the Ninja ZX-14R perfectly and also enhances its overall aesthetics.
The Roadtec O1 SE offers a higher land/sea ratio along the shoulder block,ensuring stability while cornering. They also feature a new, softer compound and a new profile. This combination of features results in a comfortable and stable ride on the straights while also offering excellent cornering abilities.
The Multi-Tread compound in the Roadtec O1 SE offers long life and wet weather performance. In fact, the tire's profile has been specially designed to ensure that water is effectively removed from under the contact patch, thus increasing its wet weather grip.
According to Metzeler, their patented Micro Tread Technology extends sidewall strength while offering excellent handling characteristics at speeds between 50 mph - 168 mph. MTT also makes it possible to use softer compounds and decrease rolling resistance, resulting in better mileage than other sport-touring tires.
Metzeler claims that due to their new compound and asymmetric tread pattern, the Roadtec 01 SE's provide a smooth ride on the straights and extra cornering grip. The new compound offers greater mileage, and the tire's asymmetric tread pattern ensures stability while cornering.
Lastly, the Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE is W-rated for speeds up to 168 mph. This makes them suitable not only for the Ninja ZX-14R but also for most other sportbikes.
Performance and Handling
The cornering performance of the Roadtec 01 SE is excellent. Even though they aren't as sticky or grippy as the Rosso III's, the tires perform wonderfully on the corners. I'd like to point out that you need to be careful while taking off since these tires are quite soft, and they don't grip too well either (referring to a cold tire).
Through tight twisties, you can feel a marked improvement over OEM rubber both in terms of feedback and stability at speed. They take a little longer than usual to warm up but once up to temperature; they grip pretty well.
The Ninja ZX14R provides great feedback through the Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE's. The tire's soft sidewalls offer good comfort and stability at speed. The subtle radials tend to be a little slippery atlower speeds, but you shouldn't have any trouble controlling your bike from 90-130 mph.
The rear is an entirely different beast since it grips better than most sport tires for MX tracks. Overall handling is sublime, and the bike feels glued to the asphalt even though there isn't much feedback being given through the tire.
The sidewalls are designed to offer superior stability while cornering and comfort on smooth surfaces such as highways. Cornering ABS works beautifully with the Roadtec 01 SE's. Even though they're quite soft, you can depend upon them to provide feedback without any lag time or delay whatsoever.
The tread life on the Roadtec 01 SE is phenomenal. You can expect roughly 15000 miles out of these tires, which is way more than you'd get with an OEM tire or racing slicks, for that matter.
The wet weather performance of the Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE is excellent. On a rain-slicked road, you can expect a marked improvement over OEM rubber both in terms of mileage as well as handling.
As mentioned earlier, one major drawback of riding on sports tires is less wet weather grip and stability compared to regular sport-touring tires. However, this isn't the case with the Roadtec 01 SE's since they offer great feedback and stability even under wet conditions.
I rode on some pretty bad roads with flooded surfaces, and I can say that you won't face any issues whatsoever while dragging pegs on these tires. They're definitely up to snuff when it comes to wet weather performance, just like most other sport-touring tires out there.
The only issue is that you'd need to allow more warmup time since they tend to get greasy at low speeds. The Roadtec 01 SE's actually work very well in the rain, and I would recommend them for sport-touring riders who ride their ZX14R primarily in wet conditions.
Price and Size Availability
The Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE retails for $210 to $270, which is a bit on the higher end when compared to sport-touring tires. However, this is expected considering that the Roadtec 01 SE's are W-rated and offer enhanced wet-weather performance. When it comes to price/value, I'd say that these tires deserve a huge thumbs up.
The Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE is available in stock Ninja ZX-14R sizes, including 120/70ZR17 front and 190/55ZR17 rear.
Customer Opinions and Reviews
Most of their owners praised the Metzeler Roadtec 01 SEs for being on the softer side. This means that you can expect excellent handling as well as feedback without any long delays whatsoever.
Even though these tires are soft, they have decent longevity. Most people have reported getting around 12000-15000 miles out of them, which is pretty standard considering that these are W-rated sport touring tires designed for high speeds and comfort over long distances.
The Roadtec 01 SE's make for a perfect sport-touring tire, and in my opinion, they can also handle track duty well. They aren't the best when it comes to pure grip, but if you're planning on hitting up the twisties frequently, I'd recommend them without any hesitation whatsoever.
Order your set of Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE tires today on Revzilla.
- Great feedback, stability, and handling
- Excellent wet weather performance
- Ideal for long-distance touring
- Relatively good longevity compared to most W-rated tires
- Need more warmup time in the cold or wet conditions
- A tad expensive
Best Street Tire – MichelinPilot Power 2CT
The Michelin Pilot Power 2CT is a high-performance street tire designed to offer excellent grip and stability at high speeds without sacrificing comfort. Riding on these tires is like having the best of both worlds: you get feedback and response from a regular sport-touring tire while enjoying the bonus of enhanced traction and stability from a top-of-the-line track tire.
Design and Features
The front tire has an asymmetric tread pattern with tie bars connecting the two sides of the tread from inside the grooves outward for increased stability at high speeds. The rear tire is staggered with wider outside grooves for better traction while leaning over and more rounded inside grooves for reduced rolling resistance.
The Pilot Power 2CT features a softer rubber mix on the tread edges to help the tire conform to the road surface for improved wet weather grip and stability while leaning over. The front tire is also optimized for radial-ply applications, which improves handling response and helps with steering effort by keeping the front-end light.
The 2CT tread compound is even softer than the standard Pilot Power and is designed to improve grip on dry surfaces (with some sacrifice in tread life) and gives even better grip on wet roads. It also features a special silica additive that helps maintain good traction at higher speeds while eliminating baked-on splatter when pushed hard or ridden in the rain.
This tire uses the same casing and bead construction as its predecessor, so it's lighter, more flexible, and safely runs at lower air pressures without sacrificing handling or stability. This makes for a claimed improvement of 7% in steering response over the previous generation.
The Pilot Power 2CT was designed to work with standard tubeless spoked wheels. They've been tested extensively on many different rims from various manufacturers, including aluminum alloy and carbon fiber products.
In addition to being tubeless compatible, the Pilot Power 2CT has a polyester casing, dual steel belts with fiberglass and aramid reinforcement, and a nylon cap ply under the tread.
All testing is subjective, whether based on impressions from riding behind the bike or in front of it. In this case, I'm referring to how well the Michelin Pilot Power 2CT handles when being pushed hard through corners, along twisty roads, or leaned over into turns.
My hands are trained to feel what's happening at all times through either side grip (left/right) feedback, vibration transmitted up my arms, or even changes in engine rpm. Of course, how the rubber meets the road also provides immediate feedback during any form of spirited riding.
I can honestly say that I never had a single complaint about handling; it was good every time I straddled the bike or pushed hard into corners. The Pilot Power 2CT offered predictable steering response, handled like a true sport tire, and provided plenty of feedback on technical roads.
Perhaps my only complaints would be the lack of front-end feel when pushing deep on smooth asphalt or even some types of pavement joints while leaned over at lean angles above 50 degrees. But it's not an issue for most street riders unless you're very picky.
Wet weather performance is where the Pilot Power 2CT shines. It's nearly impossible to get one of these tires to break loose when pushed hard in corners or after an aggressive downshift while leaning deep into turns. Even heel-toe downshifts are futile because this tire won't let go. It feels glued to the road, and parallel grooves can be used easily when leaned over without fear of losing grip.
The tire is filled with a very soft rubber compound that feels sticky and never fails to deliver the goods when leaned over. It's simply phenomenal when ridden hard in wet conditions. It gives me great confidence in any situation where the roads are covered in water or at least damp from heavy morning dew.
In terms of tread wear, I never had any issues with the Pilot Power 2CT wearing down too quickly under normal street riding conditions. Of course, it's not a race tire that's meant to be ridden hard on the track every weekend either. You can expect the tire to last several thousand miles if the bike is kept in tip-top condition and your neck of the woods doesn't see much rain.
There is no such thing as a perfect tire, and the Michelin Pilot Power 2CT is no exception to that rule. For me, it performed exceptionally well during normal riding duties. Still, it didn't feel planted enough when pushing aggressively into turns on smooth surfaces (smooth road sections with markings).
Price and Size Availability
The Pilot Power 2CT is also available in several sizes and can fit many modern street bikes with 17-inch wheels.
Price-wise, the Michelins are not the most expensive street tires on the market today. The Michelin Pilot Power 2CT costs around $130 for the 120/70ZR17 front and 190/55ZR17 rear.
Customer Opinions and Reviews
The Michelin Pilot Power 2CT has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Revzilla, which is a testament to its quality and overall satisfaction that customers have with their purchase.
Most customers highly praise the tire's wet weather performance and tread wear while leaving any negative points. Of course, some customers have experienced issues with handling. Still, it's hard to tell if their tire problems are related to something else on the bike or just a bad batch of tires.
The Michelin Pilot Power 2CT is about as good as it gets if you're looking for a sports tire on the street. Although some riders would prefer more outright grip on dry road surfaces, I feel like the tradeoffs are more than acceptable on this tire. The wet weather benefits far outweigh any drawbacks on hard-packed dry pavement.
Order your set of Michelin Pilot Power 2CT tires today on Revzilla.
- Outstanding wet weather performance
- Great value for money
- Very predictable handling
- Ideal for daily commuting
- Sticks to the road like glue
- Can feel a little squirmy when pushed hard on the smooth stuff
About THE AUTHOR
Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.Read More About Russ Crowley