Subscriber Feature: Dissecting Tires - Comparing Pirelli, Bridgestone, And Michelin

The Suzuka 8-Hours is dominated by Bridgestone tire. Why is that? And what is the difference between a Bridgestone a Pirelli, and a Michelin at this iconic race?

Even the most talkative factory riders get tight-lipped when the topic of tires is raised. Jonathan Rea was asked after securing pole position for tomorrow's Suzuka 8-Hours about the feeling he has with Bridgestone tires, compared to using Pirelli rubber in WorldSBK. The three-time world champion sidestepped that landmine with customary ease by saying, “both are very high performance tires.” It was a similar situation when talking with MotoGP riders about comparing to Michelin tires in recent years.

There are, however, some outliers in the paddock. Riders with experience of Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Michelin tires, and who are able to speak about the contrasts. Both Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli have plenty of experience on all three brands, with Laverty even acting as a MotoGP test rider at the time when the French manufacturer was building their initial batch of tires for their return to Grand Prix racing.

Speaking about the contrast between the Bridgestone-shod front-runners at the Suzuka 8-Hours and the Pirellis on his BMW, the Northern Irishman offered his thoughts on the differences in riding styles. “The biggest difference is the drop off in lap time with a Pirelli is significant, and in the hotter temperatures here in Suzuka, it's quite difficult,” said Laverty. “In Europe, the temperature isn't quite as hot, so you can compete."

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Tires, there is a subject we could discuss endlessly. The art & science of making rubber rim protectors. It is a black art of course.   Tyres or tires ? I think it was Graeme Crosby at one of the Castrol six hour races at Amaroo park, Croz said "they have made us a special tire, it's round & black" I'm hoping for a good race at Suzuka today.

Interestingly uninteresting how little most riders say due to contractual necessity. Even Guintoli above says nothing particular. We can synthesize bits and data to see more.

The "feel"is so very different for each. Each can feel better for a particular rider given their preferences upon initial experience. There is subjectivity, much like set-up. However, at certain tracks and within given conditions we see clear better and worse tires. The Bridgestone holds up, both stability and durability.

Careful about saying it is a better tire. There is a huge range of bikes, riders, tracks and conditions out there. I prefer sweet accessible confidence inspiring feel for a track day, something that comes to me where I am at rather than asking me to come to it. That was initially the oh so accessible workhorse Dunlop. Then Pirelli made me smile more with increased feel.

No Dunlops in endurance eh? So predictable, I would think them a decent option.

Hey, anyone have a link to some coverage?

I have no bias towards any tyre however I am interested to know why you're surprised by the non appearance of the Dunlop in endurance racing. Why do you thnk they are not used?


I have no idea why they aren't. They have been a good compromise of feel and stability, and when they drop off from wear they give a bit of warning rather than suddenly plop.

I was wondering if anyone else the dunlop just uncompetitive against more advanced and technically researched compounds and constructions giving it a small operating window for temperatures and surface types or has it got a durability issue?

A number of teams were running Dunlop tyres at Suzuka this year.  The BS shod bikes certainly performed better, but I think it's disingenuous to say there are 'no Dunlops in endurance'.

... topic, I hadn't realized Bridgestone more or less owned the 8hrs. The Bridgestone front was a unique moment in MotoGP, an almost physics-bending moment.