HOW TO – Top 10 tyre questions | Gassit Garage | How To
Our dummies’ guide to getting the best from your track tyres
When it comes to track rubber, some people are more knowledgeable than others – in a lot of cases it depends on how experienced you are. For those of you starting out in racing or trackdays, here are some basic tips from Pirelli tyre technician Dave Fuller on how to get the best performance from your tyres.
One of the most useful things you can do is also one of the cheapest: keep accurate records. Write down your pressures for every session and start to build a database you can refer back to.
Bear in mind that the subject of tyres can become very complex very quickly and this article is only intended as a starting point.
Go ahead and write in if you would like us to cover a specific topic.
1 Should I pay to have my tyres fitted or buy the equipment and do it myself?
To do a good job you need the right equipment, and that can be expensive.
If you use a fitter, have a spare set of rims – budget permitting, of course! When it starts raining at a race meeting or trackday, everybody wants wets fitted. If you have a spare set, you can avoid the queue.
2 Do I need to prep my tyres to remove any factory wax coating?
Scrubbing in tyres or getting rid of greasy compounds is a thing of the past. With modern tyres it’s best to simply use a set of tyre warmers, set the correct pressures, then take a couple of laps to get a feel for the grip.
That’s where most of the tech advances have been focused in recent years, developing a quick ‘heat-up cycle’.
3 What about tyre pressures?
First, buy a good gauge and look after it. Don’t lend it out or drop it; it’s a precise tool.
Check your pressures before you ride, then again maybe halfway through the day. Aim for 35psi at the front and 27psi rear when the tyres are hot. Expect about a 4psi difference between hot and cold.
4 How long do I use tyre warmers for?
Generally you should leave tyre warmers on for an hour and 15 minutes at most.
It’s common to see people leave tyre warmers on all day – bad move. Also, don’t leave your bike in the hot sun with the warmers on as it will cook the tyre.
Always check your warmers are working. Many accidents have been caused by mistakenly believing the tyres have been warmed. Check the cord is plugged in!
5 What’s the best tip for looking after tyre warmers?
Make sure you set an alarm because it’s easy to forget you’ve left them on. It’s not good for the tyres or the warmers.
6 Straight after a race or session, what should I check?
The main thing you want to check is wear. Tyre wear patterns can often be difficult to decode – it’s a story best left for another day!
7 What are some tips for tyre pressure in cold weather?
Believe it or not, you need a little bit more tyre pressure when it’s cold. It’s about maintaining the correct shape – if you have better tyre shape by adding maybe 1 or 2psi, you can prevent things like cold tear.
8 Tips for hot weather?
It’s the reverse – you need to come down in pressure by 1 or 2psi. You can also lessen the tyre warmer temperature.
9 How should I use tyre warmers with rain tyres?
Similar to cold weather – the fall-back rate is very quick. The main idea is to get the tyres just hot enough to give you some confidence when leaving the pits, it’s about all they will have the chance to do. Generally speaking, 20 or 30 minutes at 40º is enough.
10 How should I store my tyres?
Don’t keep your tyres for too long. If they aren’t being used, wrap them up in black plastic and keep them out of the sun and away from any fuels.
If your tyres are stored correctly they can last for years, but technology advances mean you should really replace them every 18 months to two years.
Words & PHOTOGRAPHY MATT O’CONNELL