Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires MC Tested

Stick to the street and lay off the throttle and you'll be fine.

motorcycle tires
Solid street performance, but there's not enough grip for trackdays to offset the rapid tread wear.
Buy It Now!
Julia LaPalme

No research. That’s how I rolled into the evaluation of Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso IIIs. Besides an understanding that the Diablo family has a sporting bent, I didn’t know anything about the tires’ intended purpose or technologies. The sticker on the Aprilia Tuono’s swingarm provided recommended pressures, so what more did I really need to get started?

To get a feel for the Rosso IIIs’ character and capabilities, I set off on a multi-day romp around California. During the following 1,000-plus miles I rode everything from arrow-straight freeways to mountain switchbacks, and throughout it all the Rosso IIIs tracked true and stuck like glue with quick, direct, and linear steering. A pre-dawn departure from Lake Tahoe offered the opportunity to test the tires’ cold grip, which proved to be excellent. Warm-up is rapid, as confirmed by placing my ungloved hand on the tread after only a few miles of riding. Later that day in the Sierra foothills, the temperature spiked to 100 degrees while the road tightened up on itself, and besides a few squirms over sun-softened tar snakes, the Rosso IIIs never strayed from my intended line. The only conditions I wasn’t able to test the tires in was rain, and ironically it poured at the office one of the days I was away.

MC Garage Video: Streetbike Tire Categories Explained

After the trip and another 500 miles of commuting, I checked the tread depth as a means of monitoring wear. As usual, the center of the rear tire was the most worn, registering at half of its original depth. That suggests a lifespan of only about 3,000 miles, at least when used on a powerful bike like Aprilia’s Tuono.

That’s not a lot of mileage, but it occurred to me that maybe the Rosso IIIs kick ass on the track? Many of today’s sport tires are also designed for occasional track work, but since I didn’t read any Rosso III marketing materials, I couldn’t be sure. Diligent researcher that I am, I suited up for a trackday at Auto Club Speedway.

The Rosso III front worked well and remained stable up to the Tuono’s maximum velocity of about 160 mph. It also felt anchored while trail braking and seemed to have good grip. I say “seemed” because there wasn’t a lot of feedback coming from the contact patch. The rear didn’t work well at all. I struggled with edge grip and had to wait to get on the gas until I’d picked the bike up onto the center of the tire. Worse yet, the slides I experienced were abrupt and difficult to control. In the end, I turned the Tuono’s traction control up and slowed down.

Several other riders whose opinions I respect reported similar grip issues from the rear at the track, plus odd feedback (or a lack of it) from the front. If knee dragging is on your agenda, you’ll be happier with Pirelli’s Rosso Corsas or the Diablo Supercorsa SPs. Yes, both of those models are more expensive than the new Rosso IIIs but also offer significantly better traction and feedback, with approximately the same life span.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
Contact: pirelli.com
MC Grade: C+
Summary: Solid street performance, but there's not enough grip for trackdays to offset the rapid tread wear.