Pirelli Angel GT tyre review

We test Pirelli's new touring tyre on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and at the Nardo test track. Can a pure touring tyre really deal with an R1 on track?

Posted: 18 April 2013
by Ben Cope
Z1000SX prepared for take-off. Over.
Angel GT vs Angel ST
Angel GTs felt great on the F800R
Tread pattern similar to Angel ST but grooves now run all the way to the edge of the tyre
Not exactly 'gran turismo' but the Angel GTs dont mind getting stuck in

THAT'S me on the flight deck of Italian aircraft carrier, Cavour 550, on a Kawasaki Z1000SX on Pirelli's new Angel GT tyres: the start of a very unusual launch for what I thought would be a fairly normal tyre.

The Angel GT is, afterall, just a touring tyre. It is, according to Pirelli: 'the evolution of the Angel ST, stretching the concept of Sport Touring into Gran Turismo'.

The three words used to describe the Angel GT project brief are: safety, stability and mileage, nouns which are thrown around on every touring or sports-touring tyre launch, so not much that's new so far. Pirelli claim the Angel GT offers the best mileage in the segment (as tested by the independent Motorrad TestCenter, the place most tyre manufacturers go to).

As bikers, we're getting older and moving away from sportsbikes towards large nakeds, sports tourers and tourers. Pirelli and all the other tyre manufacturers for that matter, have taken note and that's why we have such a wide range of quality sports-touring tyres, from Bridgestone's BT-023 to Michelin's Pilot Road 3, Metzeler's Roadtec Z8 and more.

The Angel GT takes over from the Angel ST. I felt like this was a cushioner for a rock-solid tyre built for gargantuan touring motorcycles that boast engines bigger than those on most normal cars. The standard formula for a longer-lasting tyre is: use a compound that doesn't grip that well. It's that simple. Well, I think it used to be that simple.

Today, the focus has shifted from sticky rubber to sports touring, touring and 'real world' tyres. Long gone are the days when a tyre was either grippy but lasted a few miles or built for distance but horrendous in the wet. Back then, you could have one but not the other. Now it seems, you can have it all.

While the tread pattern looks similar to the Angel ST it has been designed to the channels flow from the centre to the outer edge of the tyre, designed to move water away faster. The profile has also been changed so it's now wider, with a 14% larger footprint when upright than on the Angel ST. Pirelli also claim the new profile allows the Angel GT to offer 5% more lean angle do to the profile of the tyre not dropping off a cliff on the edges.

The tyre's carcas is also stiffer which allows the rubber compounds on the edges to be softer. The front tyre is all one compound while the rear is two. The central compound is 70% silica; a harder rubber for higher mileage while the shoulders are 100% silica for better grip, especially in the wet.

Pirelli claim the Angel GT offers 30% more mileage than the Angel ST. Based on some sums on the back of a beermat and depending on your riding, you're looking at anything between 5,000 and 8,000 miles.

Essentially it's an Angel ST with better wear and wet weather characteristics.

So after all this talk of higher mileage and a stiffer carcas, the last place Pirelli would want to prove this tyre would be a track of some sort. You definitely wouldn't go to the handling circuit at the Nardo Test Center and you'd be mad to lay on a fleet of some of the least track-capable motorcycles on the market and let people like me out on them. Oh,that just happened.

With only a handful of tourers available, they were snapped up quickly, leaving me with a less out-and-out set of grand tourers but still bikes people go touring on. I chose the Street Triple, CB1000R, F800R and R1.

I was concious of not getting carried away in the first session, afterall this is a touring tyre on a track and... my reputation precedes me. I gradually built up speed on the Street Triple and while not intentionally pushing the tyre, the pegs went down a couple of times. Each time they touched down, I reacted in the same way you did when you first got your knee down: even though you knew it was on the cards, you still scared yourself when it happened.

In session two and three on the CB1000R and F800R, all thoughts of Gran Turismo faded into the back of my mind. The tyres aren't slow to turn in, the pegs go down without any fear of being on the edge of available grip and you can't get the tyres to give up when you're hard on the gas.

However, what I did think a few times during the first three sessions was: "This all feels a bit too good to be true and therefore I must be on the edge of falling off".

Hopping on the R1, it was time to see just how close to the edge I had been. The R1, with its bundles of torque, loves to torture a rear tyre.

Picking my way through tourers that were grinding out panniers on their way through a corner. Running rings around gutless flat-twins sparking their cylinder heads on the tarmac, the pace on the R1 felt like it had doubled compared to the F800R. While corner speed probably hadn't changed all that much, the drive out of corners had.

I was purposefully trying to get the R1 to break traction on the exit of corners but once the tyres were up to temperature - which only took a lap - they wouldn't budge.

They were really impressive on track: the grip and stability were perfectly predictable, they didn't take more than a lap to warm up and at the same time, they didn't cook themselves either.

That said, I wouldn't choose to do a trackday on Pirelli's new Angel GT because there are better track tyres out there but at the same time, I wouldn't be worried about them giving up halfway into - or out of - a corner. They dealt with everything I could throw at them.

For a 'normal' touring tyre, that's fairly special.

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Discuss this story

I recall riding on the road and racing on the track (winning a few cheques and a cup)using the same tyres back in the early 70.
Dunlop TT100s were the tyre of choice for those of us club and many national racers that could not afford proper race tyres,triangulars were the racing tyre of the day then.
I know power levels have more than doubled so tyres are far more stressed now but in the day the TT100s did all that the Pirelli Angel does now.
It would be interesting to see how they work on a bike of yesteryear,I suspect rather well would be the answer.

Posted: 19/04/2013 at 09:48

Would have been interesting to see how they work on a range of bikes, like a touring bike, rather than the most fun bikes on the track?

Posted: 19/04/2013 at 10:37

As per BigDaveRR - would have been a useful addition to test a bike in the sector the tire has been designed for, and to get a view of how a 250 kilo+ bike copes on them.

Its like this guy is still the kid in a sweetshop when there is more than one bike available on test - rather than considering that some of the audience may not give a toss how an R1 can overtake tourers on track. Surely we can all guess the outcome of that without the need to test it?

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 13:10

Why isn't an R1200RT a "real world bike"? It's a far better all rounder than the other bikes mentioned and still goes around corners pretty impressively. An R1 is about as far removed from a practical real world bike as you can get.

Posted: 23/04/2013 at 23:18

Off-topic, but I'm very glad to see your tester use a Leatt brace.

Posted: 14/05/2013 at 05:57

nice to see a tyre made for something more then bmws... some of us have not made it to that time of life yet so want to enjoy nakeds and slightly sporty bikes (thinking CBR600F, SV650 etc) and have track like grip with decent millage!

Agree that it is UTTERLY pointless testing this on the track.... how about A-Roads in the summer and then in the rain? followed by motorways?

And not with a blooming BM FREAKING W R1200RT FFS!!!

here is a list of suggested bikes for the sub 40s

Duke 360 690
Street Triple
Speed triple
Er 6N
Monster 696

Posted: 20/05/2013 at 18:20

PS Pirelli call these SPORTS tyres with extended millage, made for nearly 70% of riders. There are plenty of sports touring tyres for larger bikes

Posted: 20/05/2013 at 18:21

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