Q What is silica and why is it now so com­mon in bike tyres?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Mcn garage -

An­swered by Mark Sears, Mo­tor­cy­cle Prod­uct Sup­port Man­ager for Dun­lop

Silica, oth­er­wise known as sil­i­con diox­ide, is a ma­jor con­stituent of sand, so there is plenty of it around. It is an in­gre­di­ent used pri­mar­ily to de­liver wet-weather per­for­mance and pro­vide flex­i­bil­ity through lowheat build-up.

Silica is used widely, but it wears quite fast, so it needs to be mixed with a sub­stance called ‘car­bon black’ to sup­press wear rates whilst silica pro­vides trac­tion in the wet.

Tyres with per­for­mance cre­den­tials in wet con­di­tions, such as our new Dun­lop Road­s­mart III, use more silica than car­bon black, while a road/track tyre such as our Dun­lop D212 GP Pro would have a higher level of oil and car­bon black.

Silica was in­tro­duced to mo­tor­cy­cle tyres in the early ’90s and was first seen in the rac­ing arena, where it was one of the key fac­tors in re­duc­ing lap times in the wet. For ex­am­ple, if a rider was achiev­ing a 1min 30sec lap time in dry con­di­tions with a slick tyre, he would be able to achieve within 10% of this lap time in wet con­di­tions us­ing a wet tyre with silica. Lap times im­proved by 2-3 secs straight away and the ex­tra grip made sharper pro­files pos­si­ble.

This tech­nol­ogy quickly made its way into road go­ing prod­ucts and as bikes have be­come more and more pow­er­ful, silica is play­ing a ma­jor role in trans­mit­ting the power.

To­day’s bril­liant wet weather grip per­for­mance is made pos­si­ble by silica

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