The Pirelli Diablo Shows How Racing Improves The Breed



Pirelli recently introduced the Diablo Rosso IV, the fourth generation of the popular tire intended for spirited road riders who also may find themselves attending the odd trackday here or there. By now, sport riders all over the world are likely familiar with the name Diablo – and they are certainly familiar with the name Pirelli – but that all had to start somewhere.

The genesis of the Diablo family dates back to 2002 when Pirelli introduced the first Diablo. Since the beginning, the Diablo’s purpose has always been to provide maximum performance for sport riders on the road while being strong enough to handle the racetrack. The original Diablo succeeded in this mission, but it also produced an unintentional byproduct: fans fell in love with the aggressive tread pattern and how it enhanced the appearance of their motorcycle. The following year, in 2003, the Diablo Corsa was born with dual-compound technology to cater to sport riders who wanted something just a little more track-focused while still giving great grip on the roads.

In 2004 Pirelli became the spec tire supplier to the World Superbike Championship – a distinction it still holds today. Making tires for the fastest production bikes and some of the fastest racers on the planet means innovations and technological breakthroughs become the norm. These are the lessons that get passed down to the consumer tires you and I can buy, and this is when the Diablo family really comes into its own.

The original Diablo was replaced by the Diablo Rosso in 2008. By 2010 the Diablo Rosso Corsa joined the family, providing a more balanced street/track tire. New generations were coming out fast and furious after that, with the Diablo Rosso II debuting in 2011 and benefitting from EPT (Enhanced Patch Technology). This race-derived tech increases overall grip in dry conditions by optimizing the tire’s footprint on the ground at all lean angles. Also, the distinctly aggressive tread grooves became identifying figures, as they reached to the shoulder of the tires, giving a strong visual to other riders. Personalization was also an option, as riders could get custom labels printed on the sidewalls of their tires.

The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa was good enough to be chosen as the OEM tire for several motorcycles, including the EBR 1190RX.

Another race-proven technology, FGD, or Functional Groove Design, increased what’s called the land/sea ratio by 2%. Basically, this meant the new orientation of the grooves resulted in more rubber on the road at all times.

After five years of success with the Diablo Rosso II, the Diablo Rosso III made its introduction in 2016. Five years later, in 2021, this tire is still commercially available. Why? Because it is still excellent at achieving the original tire’s mission statement: delivering a tire equally at home on the roads or the track. By 2016, however, the crop of sportbikes had gotten lighter and faster than ever before, and more of them were incorporating electronic aids to keep the rider safe.

The Diablo Rosso Corsa was never meant to be a rain tire for the track, but here it performed admirably on a very wet road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Just as those aids were developed on track, so too were the Diablo Rosso III tires. Designed to outperform the Diablo Rosso II tires in both dry and wet conditions, not only does the DR III introduce a race-derived profile, but its compounds have been reformulated to achieve better grip in all conditions with slightly better wear characteristics, to boot. The softer edge compounds make up 40% of the tire’s sides and are 100% silica based for excellent performance right off the bat. The 20% remaining in the center is a harder compound to provide better durability.

As always, the tread pattern features a derivative of the lightning bolt (or flash symbol) used on the Diablo Supercorsa DOT race tire. In Diablo Rosso III guise, however, the flash pattern also proves to be good at evacuating water, so you can have rubber on the road in wet conditions.

The latest evolution in the Diablo Rosso family, the Diablo Rosso IV.

This brings us to the Diablo Rosso IV, and the next evolution of the hugely popular tire family. How popular? Wrap your head around this: Pirelli has sold 5 million tires from the Diablo Rosso family since its introduction in 2008. You don’t sell that many tires if people don’t like them. This success can be attributed to many things, not least of which is Pirelli’s dedication to racing.

But it’s also attributed to necessity. Motorcycles keep getting better, faster, and more advanced. Not only that, the different niches within the genre of sport riding keep changing. From supersports to nakeds, big displacements to small, the type of motorcycle one can ride and still enjoy some sporty fun is huge. The rubber they ride on needs to meet their needs, too.

You expect a sportbike to benefit from a tire like the Diablo Rosso IV, but sport riding is done on all kinds of bikes, like the Ducati Multistrada.

It’s not surprising to know that Pirelli developed the Diablo Rosso IV to meet and exceed its predecessor’s performance in all categories, but a sign of the times is to discover the technical specifications of the Diablo Rosso IV were developed specifically for each of the individual sizes it’s available in. Using lessons learned from racing, of course.

What does this mean? For starters, the profiles have again been fine- tuned to deliver optimum handling characteristics so you have smooth transitions from fully upright to max lean, and back again, without any disruptions.

This image is slightly dated, as it’s from the Diablo Rosso Corsa II, but it’s a good illustration of the different zones of both the front and rear tires and how the compounds differ between them.

Rear tires up to the 190/55-17 size use a bi-compound Cap&Base design, where the harder central compound extends to the edge of the tire, but is used as the base that the softer compounds on the edge rest on top of (or “cap”).

Rear tires 190/55-17 and bigger incorporate three compounds and five zones. The center is still a harder silica compound, the intermediate shoulders are still full-silica but slightly softer, while the edges are the same compound as the Supercorsa SC3 race tire, composed of all Carbon Black for maximum grip.

While this chart was produced prior to the Diablo Rosso IV’s introduction, it’s a good illustration of the different Diablo families and where they align on the performance hierarchy.

The front tire hasn’t been forgotten either. Now with a dual-compound design, it’s still 100% silica, just with different compositions from the center and the edges for better grip and handling.

It’s taken 20 years of racing to reach this point, but with 5 million tires sold – and a further commitment to racing at the highest levels – there’s no reason to believe the Diablo Rosso IV won’t live up to the reputation built by its predecessors. This, and the entire Diablo family of tires, are proof of what’s possible when you apply lessons learned in racing into the products everyday riders can take advantage of.


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