Michelin Press Release - Michelin To Develop 17-inch Tires In MotoGP

Below the press release from Michelin on becoming official MotoGP tire supplier:

Michelin to become MotoGP tyre supplier from 2016

Dorna Sports, promoter and organiser of the MotoGP World Championship, which is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), has announced that Michelin will be the sole supplier of tyres to teams participating in the series from 2016.

“Our policy of carrying over our technologies from track to street fits perfectly with the new technical regulations which are due to be introduced in 2016 and which will dictate the use of 17-inch wheels. That is why Michelin decided to submit a bid following the tender process instigated by Dorna Sports. We take this opportunity to thank the governing bodies for the confidence they have placed in us today. Their confidence recognises Michelin’s expertise and the 26 Riders’ world titles it has secured”, says MICHELIN Motorsport’s Director Pascal COUASNON.

The MotoGP World Championship features the discipline’s most technologically sophisticated bikes, the power output of which exceeds 250hp. The level of performance they deliver both mechanically and dynamically is very high. The series also stars the world’s best riders and their efficiency is notably due to the confidence they have in their machines, particularly their tyres. The discipline consequently serves as an exceptional proving ground for the technological innovations of tomorrow.

Thanks to the MICHELIN Total Performance concept, which consists of constantly and simultaneously pushing the envelope in all the areas that influence tyre performance, Michelin is geared to providing the riders with increasingly higher levels of grip in dry and wet conditions alike.


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Why are they going back to 17" wheels? They used to use 17" wheels and found that the 16.5" worked better. Now Dorna are specifying 17" as the new standard, forcing teams to re-engineer their bikes, knowing full well that it's a backward step.

I'm not going to weigh in on the single supplier argument, or which company it should be, but I just don't see the point of changing wheel sizes.

(1) Is a 17" tire larger by 1/2" in *outside* diameter, or is the larger rim size offset by a lower aspect ratio? I would guess the ideal aspect ratio would be about the same, meaning the 17" tire is larger on the road, but just a guess.

(2) Why does 16.5" work better than 17"? Why is this change a "backward step?"

Mostly because Garry McCoy started running 16.5" rims and did quite well. If someone is running at or close to the front, everyone else wants what they have got.

The 16.5 offers a microscopic advantage due to reduced gyro effect, but the change to allow larger rotor diameter offsets that. So, might as well go to a slightly slower-to-turn rim size at the same time.

Actually, wouldn't the 16.5 increase gyro effect? Tire has more mass than wheel. It's my understanding that the overall circumference of the tire/wheel combo is the same, so the advantage that the 16.5 offers is a larger contact patch on the side because the tire itself is taller.

I'm no tire engineer, so I may be completely wrong on all of this, but I've always thought of tire profile design as a compromise between grip and harshness of transition. You want a big, meaty flat(ish) center on the rear and nice, big flat(ish) spots just off the edge where your drive and trail-braking are done. The bigger you make these patches, though, the "steeper" the transition between the two, leading to twitchy steering or a bike that falls into turns.

Now, assuming that overall tire diameter is the same (I know, even tires the same size differ in diameter slightly from brand to brand, but I'm generalizing here), a larger wheel will result in a shorter tire sidewall and, therefore, a pointier, "steeper" tire. That extra 1/4" of sidewall from the 16.5 allows for either fatter drive/braking patches on the edge or a smoother transition between the edge and center.

The downside of all of this being a slight mass increase in overall wheel/tire package due to more rubber and less magnesium (aren't the MotoGP Bridgestones particularly heavy in order to achieve their stiffness? I remember reading that here somewhere, but maybe I'm just making that up as well).

Again, I'm wide open to being totally wrong here, so let me have it if I am.

It's 17 inch wheels that are used on road bikes, d'oh
That's what World Super Bike did a couple of years back too

I know this has nothing to do with Moto GP but a couple weeks ago I tried Michelin's Power Cup tyres in a club race and they worked awesome. Also why is it because road bikes use 17 inch wheels that means Moto GP must use them also? That makes no sense. What ever happened to "prototype motorcycle racing"?

Only one reason why. 17 inch is what Michelin bid for, and they're the only ones who bid.

It must be cheaper for them somehow to not make 16.5 just for motogp. Or maybe they just want to have the advertising so people associate more what they buy to what is raced.

Because the supplier can more easily put what they learn into the tyres they sell, OBVIOUSLY

There is no reason at all that whatever is learned from racing 16.5's can't be used in making 17's for street or club racing tyres. Obviously.

The tyre manufacturer which invented the radial racing slick is now back in its rightful place. It was stupid management decisions in 2006 and '07 that caused the problem with the previously world leading Michelins and led to Rossi spitting the dummy, with Dorna placating him with the single tyre rule. Michelin, thoroughly disenchanted with the cancellation of supplier contracts with Rossi, then Pedrosa, did not bother to bid for the single tyre deal and went off and poured what it had learned into fantastic racing tyres anyone can buy. They are considered the best in the few jurisdictions where there is open tyre competition.

Nearly every rider that I know of currently in MotoGP that was also around in the previous Michelin era has stated that the Bridgestones were instantly a massive improvement over the Michelins. Based on how they Michelin has fared recently in racing at all levels (where there isn't a mandated supplier) around the world, I don't see much to be excited about.

And I also see nothing good in the switch to 17" wheels. What is the point of having a prototype class if you are moving it closer and closer to WSB every year (with it's emphasis on "street relevance")? I'm sorry, but WSB is boring compared to MotoGP. On TV, and especially in person.

My understanding is that the 16.5 inch rear was introduced as it offered a technical advantage during the tyre wars.

The circumference of the wheel and tyre combo is the same for both however by having a 16.5 inch wheel changes the tyre profile creating a larger tyre footprint when leaned over effectively giving more grip through the corner.

I believe that Dorna wanted to change back to 17 to limit corner speed by reducing lateral grip. This was only possible is a single tyre situation, the advantage is that Michelin was keen to go down this route as the compounds developed on the track directly applicable to the road. Personally I think it's good as the 16.5 does nothing for the show, if anything it makes the racing more processional as the grip means more movement and that means more chance to overtake. It may not be liked by some riders though as the 16.5 was a favourite of Rossi...

Better this than tyres that shed all their rubber after a few laps like F1. Roll on 2016...

Didn't read your comment before posting mine above. I'm glad I'm not totally out in the weeds and somebody else agrees with my understanding of this.

I remember KRJR saying in a Soupkast once that when his Suzuki was on 17s he could be competitive because they had enough power to use all the available traction. Once they went to 16.5 more traction was available, Suzuki didn't have enough motor to use the added traction, and Honda and Yamaha walked away. So it sounds to me like they lose some side grip, and those who can stand it up quickly and put the power down will be at the advantage. Which sounds to me more Marquez than JLo. And more Honda than Yamaha.