Conti may lurk in the shadows of the mighty Michelin and Pirelli, but their SportAttack tyres are set to be big contenders
Having already added the capable RoadAttack all-season sport-touring tyre to head the existing ContiForce model range, the low profile German manufacturer is out to prove they can now mix it with the more glamorous names in rubber. But they'll have to fight hard to muscle the SportAttack in on the act currently dominated by big hitters like the Michelin Pilot Power and Pirelli Diablo Corsa.
With Continental hosting the SportAttack launch at their own Contidrom test facilities near Hanover, I wanted to get a good indication of the performance potential before trying them at home in familiar surroundings.
First stop was the twisty little 'race' track in the complex centre. Flat and not too demanding on the chassis but with excellent high-side potential, I opted for the feisty ZX-10R and brutal GSX-R1000 as either would prize a bogus tyre from the asphalt within a split second, with potentially hilarious consequences. Neither managed it, though both could induce a gentle slide with a fairly keen throttle hand, as you'd expect. More impressively, the Attacks were extremely stable under severe acceleration and braking.
Not a bad start for the Contis and on to stage 2 - the awesome 2.5km oval with 90° of gut-wrenching banking at either end - ideal for testing both high speed stability and extreme nausea tolerance. Pulling a 'G' is not something you associate with bikes but at around 260kph we were apparently topping more than two. I now know how a frightened puppy feels as, despite already being on the floor, it tries to find reassurance by pressing its belly even lower before wetting itself. The forces applied to the tyres on the Yamaha R1 under these conditions are incredible - imagine putting the equivalent weight of another R1 and two more adults on top of my bike - then going for a top speed blast and you get the picture.
I'm pleased to say that once more the tyres remained utterly composed. Okay, I'm officially impressed now but the proof of the pudding comes with a back-to-back test on home soil (Donington) with some competitor rubber on hand for comparison.
I have a funny feeling that although Continental are hardly moving the whole game forward, they're going to surprise everyone and maybe even put a few noses out of joint. More realistically, I doubt if you could fault them for road use in any conditions. They're available now. www.conti-tyres.co.uk
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