Have customers asking what's new in tire technology? If you're a dealer supplied by Parts Unlimited, here are some product highlights from nine of the distributor's tire vendors.
Dunlop has two new tire models for sportbikes: the Sportmax Q2 road tire, introduced as a replacement for the Qualifier; and the Sportmax GP-A track tire.
Available beginning the first week in September, the Sportmax Q2 features Dunlop's Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) technology in the rear tire for greater linear steering at all lean angles and dual compound Multi-Tread (MT) technology featuring a long-wearing center compound and stickier lateral-grip compound on each shoulder for superior cornering traction. It'll be offered in two front and six rear sizes.
How good is the Q2? When tested at Virginia International Raceway on a GSX-R1000, it outperformed the Qualifier by three seconds per lap and achieved a maximum lean angle of 52.3 degrees or seven degrees better than the Qualifier.
Designed for club racing or track-day use on 600cc and 1000cc machines, the Sportmax GP-A comes in a 120/70ZR-17 front and 190/55ZR-17 rear. The rear tire is available in soft/medium and medium/hard combinations to match any track condition.
For dealers looking for the MX51 off-road tire, Dunlop National Sales Manager Scott Dewey says the model is being shipped from Japan and should be in stock by late September.
Also, Dewey says to look for a forthcoming American Elite tire (130 front/180 rear) for the 2009 H-D FL models and a Quadmax hard surface radial tire for side-by-sides.
Check out Dunlop's channel on YouTube for application videos.
Designed with the least amount of grooving the DOT allows for street-legal tires, Michelin's new Power One tire is the closest thing to a race tire that the company has ever built for the road.
Three years in development, the Power One range is the product of true torture testing, covering some 35,000 laps on over 30 circuits around the world under the relentless pace of more than 130 different test riders on both production bikes and 200-horsepower race bikes.
Available in two front and four rear sizes, the tire features four all-new tread compounds (two for the front and two for the rear) that help to dramatically improve damp/wet grip, warm-up time and low temperature performance compared with previous Michelin tires, and tread grooves covering only 5 percent of the tire's surface help maximize rubber contact with the track and facilitating lean angles approaching 60 degrees.
Did you know sister brands Pirelli and Metzeler have special no-cost tire guides available for dealers in an effort to reduce technical and fitment questions? You may need them, because there's a bevy of new product for 2010 that you may want to know about.
Among the Metzeler highlights: expanded cruiser fitments for the ME 880 Marathon; greater availability of the Tourance EXP for big, road-legal enduros; and more sizes of the Roadtec Z6 Interact for sport-tourers.
Dedicated to cruiser and heavy touring bikes, and already supplied in 33 front sizes and 32 rear sizes, the ME 880 Marathon is also to be offered in fitments for the 2010 Harley-Davidson FL series, Triumph Thunderbird and Rocket III Touring, and Honda VT750.
Touring enduros are increasing in popularity, so Metzeler plans to boost availability of its Tourance EXP to satiate demand for tires that fit these bikes. BMW's OE tire choice for the 2009 GS, the Tourance EXP comes in two front and four rear sizes.
Finally from Metzeler, the new-for-2009 Metzeler Roadtec Z6 Interact sport-touring tire, which features a new highly efficient silica/carbon compound mixing technology for improved stability in various weather conditions, returns in 2010 with multiple new sizes — four front sizes and seven rear sizes.
From Pirelli, the standout new product comes in the form of the Angel ST EMS (extended mileage sport) tire, designed to replace the Diablo Strata but offered for the same price.
Approved for the Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki Concours 14, and also to be offered in fitments for bikes from Buell and Ducati, the Angel ST set a world record in Nardo, Italy, on March 15 when riders traveled 3,190.8 miles at an average speed of 132.9 mph on one set of tires — something Pirelli engineers say is equivalent to 8,000 to 10,000 miles on the street.
By the way, through Sept. 4, dealers who purchase Pirelli and Metzeler tires from Parts Unlimited receive this month's 30 percent discount special PLUS an additional seven percent discount from the supplier.
Also, through Sept. 30, consumers who buy one set of Pirelli Night Dragon tires for American and metric V-twins get a Night Dragon long-sleeved thermal, a sticker kit and a Night dragon jacket patch, and are registered for a chance to win a $4,000 prize package including Performance Machine wheels, Danny Gray seat, Roadhouse exhaust system, Boyesen Power X-Wing carburetor divider, Kicker audio speakers and another set of Night Dragon tires.
The marketing strategy for Germany's Continental is to be the lowest priced premium tire in an effort to offer dealers good margins and consumers a quality product. "We don't sponsor high-priced racers like Valentino Rossi, so we spend our money on R&D," says Greg Reich, sales/marketing manager for Continental Tire North America.
Continental's newest tires include the ContiRace Attack Custom, Conti Gelande Sport Intermediate, ContiGo! and ContiMotion.
With a rear tire size of 240/40ZR-18 and a speed rating above 168mph, the ContiRace Attack Custom is designed for high-horsepower custom sportbikes; the Conti Gelande Sport off-road tire was designed to provide optimum stability, traction and steering during braking and cornering thanks to its triangular positioned side knobs; the ContiGo! is a general purpose sport-touring cross-ply tire perfect for updating older machines; and the ContiMotion is an economy sport-touring radial.
Continental's top 5 best-selling models in 2008 were the Road Attack sport-touring radial, TKC-80 dual-sport, ContiForce economy sport-touring radial, Milestone premium tourer, Sport Attack hypersport radial and ContiTour premium tourer. For 2009, top-sellers have included the TKC-80, ContiGo!, Milestone, Sport Attack and ContiForce.
Until Sept. 4, dealers who buy five tires from one of the following models — Sport Attack, Road Attack, ContiMotion, Milestone, ContiGo! and Conti Gelande Sport — receive one additional tire of the same model line free. Also, dealers who buy 10 of the tires receive two additional tires of the same model line free.
Bridgestone, which claims 60 percent of the motorcycles that come from Japan roll on its tires, says its sales this year are up compared to 2008.
The six tires responsible for the bulk of Bridgestone's business include the BT-016 high-performance radial, BT-21 sport-touring radial, G851/G850 cruiser radial, M403 front/M404 rear off-road tires, the BT-45 bias-ply sport-tourer for bikes built from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, and the S11 for bikes built between the early 1970s and late 1980s.
While the company is planning no changes to its off-road tire line in 2010 and not supporting motocross factory teams next year, Steve Turner, a motorcycle products consultant for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, says there are two road tires that dealers and consumers should watch for: the new Battlax BT-003RS (MSRP: $169.50-$280.77) and the BT-016 Hypersport.
The BT-003RS, the successor to the BT-002RS and BT-090, is a street-tuned dual compound radial derived from the BT-003 used by all teams taking part in MotoGP. Designed for middleweight and large displacement supersport bikes, and offered in three front and six rear sizes, it utilizes steel belt construction in front and rear tires for superior bump-absorption and line-holding, a high-grip center compound designed for wear-resistance, and a new "Ultraction" shoulder compound to exert optimal stability and traction in deep lean angles.
The BT-016 Hypersport — OE on the 2009 Triumph Street Triple, Ducati Monster 1100, Kawasaki ZX-6R and Suzuki GSX-R1000 — comes in 11 front and 14 rear sizes and compares to the Dunlop Qualifier, Michelin Pilot Power/Pilot Sport HPX, Pirelli Diablo/Rosso and Metzeler Sportec M-3/M-1.
The BT-016 front tire's dual compound and parallel S shaped grooves offer stable wet performance and give optimal cornering force to improve stability, linear handling and absorption; the rear tire's triple compound and L shaped grooves enhance shock absorption and rear-end steering. Groove location not across tread center area provides wet performance, strong traction and maximized high-speed durability.
The five new tires from Avon Tyres this year include the Storm-ST, Cobra, Venom, Roadrider and VP2.
Storm-ST offers long-lasting, all-weather performance, the Storm-ST incorporates Avon's "Reactive Footprint", meaning the tire's contact patch changes size and shape depending on lean angle; and has a front tread pattern optimized for shorter stopping distances in the wet and an Enhanced Aqua Flow (EAF) pattern on the rear tire for increased safety and confidence in wet weather conditions.
For cruisers, customs and tourers, the Cobra features special construction to deal with heavy loads and is available in a wide range of sizes, incorporating fitments for Harley Davidson's V-Rod, Triumph's Rocket III, Honda's Goldwing and Valkyrie, plus some sizes for custom bike applications.
For heavyweight cruisers, the Venom is designed to offer low noise levels, long life and comes in a large range of sizes — some of which feature whitewall options.
For everyday use on mid-range bikes or as a performance upgrade for classic and vintage motorcycles, the Roadrider has a 149mph speed rating and comes in a comprehensive range of sizes.
Finally, the VP2 comes in three versions: VP2 Extreme for trackday use, VP2 Supersport for road and track and VP2 Sport for road use.
ITP<>ITP, a unit of Carlisle Tire, has opened a new 700,000 sq. ft. warehouse and distribution center in McDonough, Ga., and plans to open a new production facility in Knoxville, Tenn. The two new operations add to the company's existing facilities in Clinton, Tenn. and Ontario, Calif.
ITP introduced four new tire models and three new wheel models for 2009. New tires in the line-up include the TundraCross, BajaCross, UltraCross and Holeshot SxS, and new wheel offerings include the System Six, SS312 and SS212.
The TundraCross is a stand-out tire, as it is marketed as the ATV industry's first production snow and ice tire. The six-ply constructed tire features nearly 100 carbide-tipped steel case studs strategically placed on fully sipped lugs designed to grab in loose and slippery conditions and comes in sizes 25x9-12 and 25x10-12.
The System Six is arguably the most unique of ITP's wheel offerings. Available in a 14x7 and offered in a diamond-cut machined finish or dramatic matte black, it's perfect for riders who seek complete customization. Interchangeable colored aluminum wheel spoke inserts (in red, blue or polished) provide a vast array of customization possibilities and can even be individualized by applying graphics, paint, decals, wraps, etc.
Also, don't forget about ITP's lifetime structural warranty: if any of the company's 12-inch, 14-inch or 15-inch wheels are bent or broken, they'll replace 'em.
Familiar with Duro Tire & Wheel? No? Founded in Taiwan in 1945, Duro currently produces tires for ATVs, motorcycles, scooters, passenger cars, golf carts, trailers, bicycles, the lawn and garden market, skid steers and more.
The company also produces tires for other, better-known tire brands, and recently signed an OE agreement to supply tires to a certain Minnesota-based ATV and side-by-side manufacturer.
Duro operates two production facilities in Taiwan, two in Thailand and two in China, and distributes product in the United States out of a warehouse facility in Covington, Ga.
Why buy Duro? According to the company's Steve Richardson, consumer decisions tend to be based on Duro's lower cost vs. the competition mated to product quality and available tread designs.
Richardson says the HF-296C Boulevard is the best-selling motorcycle tire, alongside seven other on-road tires and five off-road tires; the DI-2025 Power Grip is the best-selling ATV tire, alongside 14 race tires, 11 all-terrain tires and seven mud/sand tires; and the HF-912A is the best-selling scooter tire, alongside 14 other scooter tires.
Rath Racing is using the DI-2025 Power Grip ATV tire in the GNCC, and Nick Lee — who currently holds the record for the world's longest burnout at 16.5 minutes — is using the HF-296C Boulevard tire on his Harley-Davidson Sportster.
—Submitted by Guido Ebert