I’ve been running a set of Michelin Power Pilot 2CT’s on my track Daytona 675 for the past year. In that time I have done 15 track days in all weathers from cold wet to super hot and these tyres have never missed a beat. I’ve done nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) on them and as you can see from this shot of the front taken after first session of my 15th track day on them, they still have quite a lot of rubber left on them.
I’ve found the 2CTs to be brilliant in the dry in temperatures ranging from 12C – 35C (53F – 95F). Some users report that the tyres grip, grip and grip and then break away suddenly. I’ve personally never found this to by the case but this could be helped by a combination of the following:
- I always warm the tyres up for one to two laps depending on the track and temperatures
- The Daytona 675 only puts out about 112 horsepower at the back wheel so the rear isn’t be likely to be suddenly overloaded by 150+ horsepower of a litre sports bike
- my riding style is pretty conservative and I’m not overly aggressive on the tyres in corners and out of them
Despite the above, I have occasionally been quite aggressive on the front tyre under braking and I’ve never had the slightest scare from the front end. In fact I can sometimes hear the front tyre “howl” when turning in for a corner. In short the 2CT is an amazing track day tyre. If you’re the kind of rider that is likely to encounter both damp and dry conditions and is starting out on track days as I was last year, then I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value for money and competent tyre than the 2CT; a pair of which will set you back around £185 (US$ 300) in the UK.
Because I’m off to Spain next week for four days on track at Cartagena, I decided that I would fit some new tyres before I went out because I didn’t think my existing 2CTs would last 4 days on such an abrasive track. Since there’s always a strong chance of rain in October and November, I wanted a track tyre that would offer me good handling in both dry and wet conditions. I initially looked at the Michelin Power Supersport, but I figured that as good as this would be in the dry it wouldn’t be much fun in the wet. That left me one choice in the Michelin range, and that was the new Pilot Power 3.
Coming up with a better all round road/track tyre than the 2CT must have been a hard task for Michelin. The result of that effort is the Michelin Pilot Power 3 which essentially replaces the Pure. Don’t confuse this new tyre with the road going Pilot Road 3 which is not designed for track use (although some riders do). I have some Pilot Road 3s fitted to a Street Triple and they are without a doubt the best wet weather tyre I have ever ridden on. They inspire huge confidence and provide amazing grip levels in either the wet or the dry.
When the Pilot Power 3 launched, Michelin recommended it as a 50:50% road:track tyre. That message has recently changed because the tyres are now recommended as 85:15% road:track use instead. All the rider reports that I’ve read for the tyre rate it as a better tyre than the 2CT in all areas but especially in the wet. However I did read one user test report from a track day rider who complained that the tyre became “greasy” under hot and hard track riding conditions and that they thought that the 2CT was still the better track tyre of the two.
Technically there are quite a few differences between the two tyres even though both use a dual compound. Visually you can see that the 2CT has fewer grooves cut into the tyre but that the grooves run to the edge of the tyre. The Pilot Power 3 has more grooves for better water dispersal but these grooves don’t reach the shoulder of the tyre. The design of the new tyre makes a lot of sense for wet weather. In the rain, you typically keep the bike upright – even in corners you’ll be trying to limit your lean angle. The extra grooves should dispel water from under the tyre more effectively than the 2CT.
My only real concern with those extra grooves is that there could be less contact patch at lean angles less the 40 degrees which might mean less confidence as you’re rolling into the turn or getting the gas on rolling out of the turn. Beyond 40 degree lean angles, the tyres will be running on the slick section near the edge which also has the softer shoulder compound (compared to the middle).
One aspect of the Pilot Power 3 which is different to the 2CT is the new 2CT+ technology which extends the harder middle section under the softer shoulders (on the rear tyre). This should give more stability and reduce any “squirm” when accelerating out of corners despite the lighter weight and more flexible nature of this new tyre.
According to Michelin, the Power Pilot 3 lapped 4 seconds a lap faster in the dry and 4.5 seconds a lap quicker in the wet compared to the older 2CT tyres (presumably on their test track). I’m not sure what percentage lap time improvement that is because Michelin don’t quote the absolute original or new lap times. If you assume a 100 second lap time, then a four second reduction in lap time equates to a 4% improvement which is pretty significant.
For the first day at Cartagena with mid-afternoon air temperatures around 26C (79F), I started with tyre pressures of 31 psi front and 30 psi rear. Because I spent the first day learning the track, my pace was pretty sedate (more so than normal!) and I wasn’t really giving the tyres a hard time. As you can see from the photos below, these pressures were probably a little too high as the tyre appears to be showing some tearing.
For day 2, with similar air and track temperatures to day 1, I reduced the tyre pressures down to 30 front and 29 rear. I haven’t included a picture of the front as it looks pretty similar to the previous day.
You can see how the rear tyre is now showing a lot less tearing despite the fact that I was now running (slightly) faster lap times than the previous day and a greater lean angle. The tyre shows a much nicer wear pattern with that slight “rippled” surface running from the center of the tyre towards the point at which the rubber compound changes.
For day 3 with air temperatures of around 27C (80F), I reduced the tyre pressures down to 28 psi on the front and 27 psi for the rear. These pressures were recommended by the tyre services guy that was onsite at the track.
Although I was slightly dubious about these lower pressures, it turned out that they were fine and the tyres performed really well on track, and the rubber looked better for it at the end of the day.
Just as a point of reference, other (fast group) riders running Metzeler Racetecs were using tyre pressures around 22-24 psi for the rear and 24-27 psi on the front.
Before I ventured out on track the first day, I was worried that these new Power Pilot 3s would be too road orientated and wouldn’t really be a good track tyre. However, by the second day, I really started to trust them and used increasingly greater lean angles. Despite the hot conditions, and super abrasive track surface they performed superbly. They never once squirmed, twitched or felt greasy despite the high air and track temperatures. In fact it felt like I was going around the track on rails; even when I inadvertently applied the throttle or brakes too suddenly mid-corner.
In those four days at Cartagena, I estimate that I rode over 400 miles with plenty of heat cycles (up to 7 per day) as I was not using tyre warmers. After all that abuse, these tyres still look in amazing condition with plenty of tread and rubber left on them. The grippier tyre shoulders do exactly what they claim, and the neither the front nor rear tyre ever gave me any heart stopping moments.
The real question is whether I would buy the Power Pilot 3s again, and whether I would buy them over the 2CTs which are around 20-30% cheaper. The answer is a definite “yes”. I think all Michelin’s claims for the new Power Pilot 3s are true, and that they really have produced a brilliant supersport road tyre that is also perfect for track day use.
Update: May 2014
I’ve now used these tyres on 10 track days; eight in Spain and two in the UK at Silverstone. The tyres have now done approximately 1,000 miles. 800 miles of those miles have been ridden on the abrasive Cartagena track and the remaining 200 miles have been ridden on the faster Silverstone circuit. I’ve now also run the tyres with and without tyre warmers and I’m still really impressed with them.
You can see from these two photos that they still have lots of tread left, and despite many repeated heat cycles, they still feel as good now as they did when I first fitted them last year. I’ve now used them in hot and cold dry conditions but I’ve yet to ride them on track in the rain. When I do, I’ll report back again.
Update: October 2014
I recently switched to a set of Pirelli Rosso Corsas and you can read my comparison review of the Michelin Power Pilot 3 vs the Pirelli Rosso Corsa.