Tyre launch: Pirelli Diablo Rosso review

Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso tyres caters specifically for riders of sportsbikes and street bikes

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Niall Mackenzie Catalunya, Spain 13 February 2008

One hundred years ago Pirelli trounced the opposition by winning the 17,000km Peking to Paris rally, not a bad achievement considering it was their first entry into a major motor sport event. 100 years later and the passion is stronger than ever as Pirelli tyres will be fitted to every bike in every major class in the WSB and BSB paddocks. You might wonder where they fit in time to develop new tyres, but with over 27,000 employees’ world wide the motorcycle tyre testers never rest covering 1,000,000km in over annual 3600 tests.

Brand new for 2008 and in the shops now is the Diablo Rosso, a tyre designed specifically for the sports bike and street bike segment. Since 2002, when the original Diablo was launched, bikes in this segment have seen significant performance increases prompting Pirelli to develop a tyre to compliment the latest machines. Pirelli claim although warm up time and maximum mileage remain the same, handling, stability and wet and dry grip is much improved.

Compared to the original the biggest difference is the ‘nude shoulder’ which in normal language is the untreaded part on the edge of the tyre that is only ever used in dry conditions. Sex sells I guess but this ploy of getting a tyre to arouse me didn’t work - however the lady in the add campaign is a totally different story. Otherwise the tread pattern is of the same style if slightly elongated.

Presentation over and it was on to the very chilly roads of Northern Spain to see if  indeed the tyre could cope with some of the best bikes on the planet. Because temperatures were so low (frozen fountains were noted while passing through some villages) some of the journos argued that the hundred miles or so we rode was pretty inconclusive. I could see their point but as we rode at a brisk pace, sometimes in cold and wet conditions, the fact that no one had any moments and arrived safely for lunch said stack for the Diablo Rosso. I split the ride between the mental but fun ZX-10R and Aprilia Tuono and on both bikes enjoyed solid rear grip and excellent stability. My only negative comment would be a lack of confidence with the front, but as other riders were clearly faster than me it could well have been lack of bottle on the salty shiny roads.

The next part of the day was much more suited to me as we spent an hour blasting round the fabulous Catalunya GP circuit. Pirelli were keen to stress that while the Diablo Rosso will be fine for the occasional track day rider the serious track day enthusiast would be advised to consider the Diablo Corsa 111 or Super Corsa. My first session on the cold track was with the new Ducati 848 and even by the end of my 20 minute session I can’t say I was particularly enjoying myself. Again I had no issues with the rear tyre but I spent the first 10 minutes tentavily increasing lean angle but never really felt like I could commit properly at any corner.

After chatting with the Pirelli technical staff they suggested lower tyre pressures would help and are usually advisable on cold days. Next up was my old mate the ZX-10R which, possibly down to more front end weight bias, felt much more planted after three warming up laps. Every lap I saw 299kmph before braking for 2nd gear turn one and that is something that can’t be down with a rubbish front tyre. There were tiny wriggles out of some of the slower corners but considering the conditions and the amount of horse power on tap I was well impressed.

I’d like to do many more miles in sensible weather to judge these tyres properly but my first impression the Diablo Rosso was good. Available in all the popular sizes, are safe and stable on the road, they are more than adequate for the novice or intermediate group on a track day. And with £30 cash back from Pirelli if you buy some soon that’s not a bad deal!


The Diablo Rosso is available in the UK now in sizes 120/70 ZR17, 180/55 ZR17 and 190/50 ZR17. The rest of the range will follow over the next few weeks. Expect to pay around £210 - £220 per set. For more details contact Pirelli Moto UK on 0845 609 4949, e mail: tyres.moto@pirelli.com or www.pirelli.co.uk