The average sport-touring tire used to be a lot more touring than sport, a sort of rolling compromise that didn't make anybody happy. Here's the problem: Generate enough grip for the supersport set and your tires don't last, but bump up the mileage and grip evaporates. Not anymore. Since the global tire giants started pumping in more research and development dollars over the last couple of years, high-end sport-touring radials such as Pirelli's new Angel STs come closer to doing it all than anything else on your dealer's rack. Modern sport-touring covers just about any sort of riding you can do on public pavement, which means sport-touring tires have to do the same.
The Angel STs are designed to replace the familiar Diablo Stradas. They use an evolutionary version of the zero-degree steel-belted radial construction Pirelli developed in 1993 to soak up bumps in the road and distribute weight evenly across both contact patches. Everything else is new, starting with a tread pattern that puts more rubber on the ground at any lean angle, pumps water away from the contact patch more efficiently, delivers more stability on the gas as well as under braking-and even doubles as a logo. The new profile is designed to optimize the amount of rubber on the ground from the entry of a corner to the apex. Pirelli's latest mix of resin, carbon black and high-density silica allegedly lets the rubber itself adapt to conditions: fast, slow, wet, dry and the various permutations in between.
Long, variable-depth grooves channel water away from the contact patch while short ones to
Packing all that into one reasonably priced, long-lasting set of tires is a seriously tall order, but after two days sloshing around North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains-Great Soggy Mountains during our visit-first impressions are encouraging. Scattered showers made dry pavement scarce, but after a half-dozen bends it was clear these angels are your friends. Mounted up to a selection of '09 Triumphs for the occasion, Pirelli's latest turn in easily and stay neutral all the way around, even when a large, wet wild turkey wanders across your Speed Triple's chosen trajectory. Excellent feedback inspires enough confidence to deal with standing water and various forms of rural North Carolina wildlife, at least two of whom were driving a Ford F-250 pickup. Even in the wet, the Angels generate enough grip to do things you shouldn't, like wheelying over hotel speed bumps.
We'll be able to tell you more about how well the Angels stick to dry pavement and how long they last once we spoon a set onto a long-term testbike. For the moment, it's safe to say they're a giant step ahead of the old Diablo Stradas for about the same price. If fast, aggressive track days are a big slice of your particular pie, there are probably better choices at the local purveyor of fine motorcycling rubber. If you expect one set of tires to handle just about anything else, put Pirelli's Angels on your short-list.
Pirelli Angel St Sport Touring Radials
Price: $171.95 front, $211.95-$246.95 rear
Contact: Pirelli Tire North America
Verdict 3.5 stars out of 5
Long-playing Italian rubber that puts the sport back in sport-touring.