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Michelin tire technology continued....
Besides multi-compound technology, the Power Race copies a number of other features found in Michelin MotoGP tires. Power Race tires are made from a rubber formula specifically developed for the racetrack, known as C-RAO (Compounds-RAcing Optimization). It’s a combination of three 100% synthetic components identical to those used in MotoGP tires during the 2004 season: proprietary Michelin Racing Synthetic Elastomers (MRSE) and two additives, Macro-Molecular Compound (MMC) and High-Technology Synthetic Compound (HTSC).
In addition, virtually the entire Power Race range is manufactured using Michelin’s highly secretive C3M process, the same used to make MotoGP tires. Michelin won’t say much about C3M (which stands for carcasse, monofil, moulage et mechanique), but they will concede that the process consists of a single step, instead of the seven used in conventional tire production.
Test riders have achieved lean angles exceeding 50 degrees with the Michelin Pilot Power–remarkable performance for a street tire.
With C3M, Michelin can make the tire on a solid insert mold, so that the raw tire has the same shape as a cured one, which isn’t the case in traditional manufacturing. This means that precise quantities of tread compound can be applied with pinpoint accuracy–a feature of critical importance in the manufacture of a multi-compound tire like the Power Race.
Capitalizing on all this technology, Michelin has produced a tire that is not only multi-compound, but also one of the lightest front tires on the market (8.5 pounds on average). This minimizes rotational inertia, for better acceleration and braking performance. What’s more, the combined weight of front and rear tires is lighter than any other DOT racing tire (21.4 pounds on average), minimizing unsprung, rotating mass.
It already looks like Michelin has a winner on its hands. The Power Race won Roadracing World’s on-track shootout test of DOT race tires, featured in the magazine’s June 2005 issue. Suggested retail for the Power Race ranges from $377 to $526 per set, depending on sizes and compounds.
The Power Race and Pilot Power are positioned at the top of the Michelin line of performance tires.
Michelin MotoGP technology is also available to non-racers in the form of the Pilot Power tire. Aimed at performance-minded sportbike riders and especially those who take part in track days, the Pilot Power’s rubber mix incorporates synthetic elastomers that were originally developed for MotoGP racing. This C-RAO rubber gives the Pilot Power incredible grip, and especially quick warm-up time, while delivering mileage comparable to that of the highly regarded Pilot Sport tire, which it supersedes.
The Pilot Power uses a semi-slick tread pattern with a void area (land-sea ratio) of just 13.28 percent on the front tire and a mere 11.58 percent on the rear. A lower void ratio promotes greater tread rigidity, which minimizes tire deformation and enhances grip in aggressive riding situations.
The stable tread pattern also helps extend tread life, allowing the Pilot Power to employ the softest rubber compound of any comparable performance tire, without compromising mileage. And the rubber mix remains soft at cooler temperatures, providing excellent adhesion even at the start of a ride.
Despite its minimalist tread design, the Pilot Power is more than just a dry-weather tire. On the Michelin test track at Ladoux, France, riders were able to lean a Pilot Power-equipped bike to an amazing 41.9 degrees in corners–in full wet conditions! In the dry, they achieved an equally remarkable 50.6-degree lean angle.
Aiding this cornering proficiency is a new casing profile that has also been inspired by MotoGP development. The Pilot Power’s more pointed profile, compared to the Pilot Sport, increases the size of the contact patch at full lean for improved feedback and handling.
But even with all this technology at your disposal, the question remains: How well do they work? Steve Atlas, a championship-winning racer and an editor for Roadracing World magazine, tried the Pilot Power on the road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and had this to say: “…the Pilot Power just plain works. Outright grip was great and the tire heated up quickly. And by quickly I mean dragging a knee in the first half-a-lap, starting from cold tires, in mid-60 degree weather…The front Pilot Power had feel and grip rivaling that of any of the latest DOT-labeled race rubber, and turned almost telepathically.”
Later, after the Pilot Power served as the control tire in a shootout track test of 1000cc sportbikes, Atlas commented, “These are the best street tires I’ve ever ridden in my life.” Suggested retail for the Pilot Power ranges from $305 to $355 per set.