BEST RUB­BER

For KTM’S su­perb 1290

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - richard.new­land@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

‘You won’t get more than 800 miles out of those,” said MCN’S tyre fit­ter as he ex­pertly ma­nip­u­lated a set of Pirelli Di­ablo Su­per­corsa SPS onto the 1290 GT’S rims. “They’ll be fine for at least 4000,” said I, and with over 2000 miles to nail in the fol­low­ing 72 hours I was re­ally hop­ing it was me with the up­per hand in the knowledge stakes. His face, though, sug­gested oth­er­wise.

But I’ve done a lot of miles on Su­per­corsa SPS since they were launched, run­ning them most re­cently on an 899 Pani­gale and an S1000RR – in each case to over 4000 miles – and felt con­fi­dent that while the GT is heav­ier than both, the 30bhp deficit to the RR would help re­dress some of the wear bal­ance.

With just 17 miles of bed­ding-in nailed, I pointed the GT south, and headed for Aus­tria. Three days and 2100-odd miles later we were back, and the SPS looked barely touched. It was a cruel cam­paign of abuse,

too. Mostly mo­tor­way, bro­ken only by a few hun­dred miles of Alpine amuse­ment, the SPS barely even had the op­por­tu­nity to cool down – the ride out, and the ride back both be­ing un­der­taken with noth­ing but fuel stops to pause the tor­ture.

Then over the six weeks that fol­lowed, the GT and I racked up an­other 2400 miles of com­mut­ing and week­end blasts. I didn’t go easy on them, ei­ther – and yet they re­sisted ev­ery­thing I could in­flict upon them. Af­ter 4500 miles they were still le­gal, while even my ado­ra­tion of them couldn’t mask the fact that the last 500 miles of their life had been marred by a squar­ing lip that ru­ined my con­fi­dence at mar­ginal lean, be­fore re­ward­ing push­ing past the lip with rock-solid cor­ner­ing ag­gres­sion.

You might balk slightly at the mileage, but the SPS turned the 1290 into an ag­gres­sive-steer­ing, glued- down superbike with pan­niers and day-long com­fort – and I’d hap­pily trade 1500 miles of tyre life for summers filled with cor­ner­ing heaven.

The SPS re­placed Pirelli’s An­gel GTS, which come as stan­dard fit­ment on the 1290, and which are close to fault­less. They only start to find their limit when push­ing on hard, where their de­sign brief can’t quite stretch as far as the KTM’S own ex­tra­or­di­nary skill set. They came off at 4000 miles, and looked fit to spin for an­other 1500.

And now I’ve moved on again, re­plac­ing the Su­per­corsa SPS with Met­zeler’s Road­tec 01. Im­me­di­ately there’s an ob­vi­ous re­duc­tion in steer­ing agility com­pared to the sharper pro­filed SPS, but I’m stunned by their ca­pa­bil­i­ties in wet/dry and warm/cold con­di­tions. They warm up with amaz­ing speed, needed al­most no bed­ding in (they felt mint af­ter just 15 miles), and once used to their ini­tial com­par­a­tive re­luc­tance to drop into a turn, they’re in­cred­i­bly sta­ble and se­cure mid-corner. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how they wear – but it’s al­ready clear why MCN’S test team voted this Tyre of the Year in our 2016 awards.

The one thing I’ve no­ticed on all three sets is how pres­sure sen­si­tive they are. Drop as lit­tle as 3psi be­low 36/42, and the GT feels tan­gi­bly dif­fer­ent. Get as much as 5psi down, and it starts to feel much worse. Re­turn the pres­sures to those fig­ures, and all is per­fect again. She’s a sen­si­tive old girl.

‘I’d trade 1500 miles of tyre life for days filled with cor­ner­ing heaven’

Pirelli An­gel GT, £240/pair Stan­dard fit on the KTM and it’s easy to see why. Near per­fect un­less rid­den very hard

Pirelli Su­per­corsa SP, £267/pair Coped with a vir­tu­ally non-stop blast to Aus­tria and back and made cor­ner­ing ut­ter bliss

Met­zeler Road­tec 01, £248/pair A rev­e­la­tion when it comes to cold and wet con­di­tions but at the cost of agility

The GT boasts an in­cred­i­ble mix of cor­ner­ing and dis­tance abil­ity…and needs tyres to match

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