MILAN, Italy - Mumbling some unintelligible Italian after coloring my hair, I left for the racetrack intent on going faster than I ever had before.
Yet even with the replica lid and new Michelin rubber - Valentino Rossi I ain't. What I did learn from the experience is that I look stupid with red hair, my Italian sucks, an expensive replica lid will eventually get scratched, there will always be someone faster, and Michelin Pilot Sport tires absolutely kick ass!
Most mortals will never acquire the talent displayed by the Italian multi-champion, but Michelin can get your wannabe racers one step closer with their proven Grand Prix-winning performance. For serious on-track competition, Michelin offers Pilot Race H2s. But for occasional track day attendees and weekend canyon racers, according to Michelin, their Pilot Sports offer supreme grip and stick and an enduring quality that should out-mileage competing brands, a claim verified by my daily fantasy GP/work commute.
Mounted on my finicky Triumph test mule, it's immediately apparent whether a new type of tire is complementary. Too tall a profile, and the Union Jack machine falls into corners; too short and the Daytona steers like a push mower. The right height (measured from the top of the tire's sidewall to its crown), which the Pilot has, provides controllable mid-corner adjustments by allowing me to smoothly change lean angles. When exiting, the rear accepts a handful of horsies without a sudden loss of traction. If the tire does break free, it's gradual and well-behaved, not unexpected and alarming.
Riding an S4R Ducati while in Italy for the EICMA show was an opportunity to test the same tires on a different machine. Bending the Duc through 1,000 miles of twisty Italian countryside cultivated a deeply rooted affection for this rubber. In terms of streetable sportbike performance, the word "flawless" comes to mind.
Due to the prevalence of motorcycle GP racing in Europe, Michelin tire sales over there greatly overshadow those of its U.S. counterpart. In fact, damn near every premier class GP race of the last decade has been won on Michelin tires. Sharp dealers should use this accolade to their advantage. Grand Prix is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. If Michelin is good enough for them, their tires should be good enough for your customers.
Closer to home, Michelin offers plenty of incentives, such as discounts, POP materials and complete open house packages, to encourage dealerships to become a Michelin Performance Center Dealer. For more information on enrolling, talk to your favorite tire rep, or call the Performance Center hotline at (877) 242-3325.