Sick grip on wet asphalt
Without rain tires, riding at high speed on a wet racetrack is a very tricky proposition. With them, you can be one of the few participants at a wet event who is still riding and having a good time. If your wheels are shod with ContiRaceAttack rain tires, you may very well be able to run the fastest laps of anyone in attendance that day. Would your ego consider that to be a perk? Yeah, we thought so.
Retailing for $360.45 per set, and available through site sponsor Lithium Motorsports, ContiRaceAttack rains are made from incredibly soft rubber. You can flex the treads around with your finger as if they were made from the same material as an art gum eraser and once scrubbed in, this compound becomes quite sticky to the touch. In the dry, these tires would melt into puddles of goo in about one lap. In the rain, they actually get warm with use! Wide, arcing grooves channel water away from the contact patch, allowing the grippy rubber to slice through water and adhere to the track surface below.
We tested these tires at Autobahn North in Joliet, Illinois and also at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin under varied conditions. Autobahn experienced an initial downpour followed by a constant, soaking drizzle, while Road America was drenched by an outright monsoon. By testing the ContiRaceAttacks at two different venues under changing conditions, we were able to learn quite a lot about the performance they deliver.
Autobahn is a desperately tricky track in the rain. Drainage there is not good, so after a downpour, you can expect running water to pour across the surface in places. During a big rain, this runoff is so severe that the track must be closed but if the rain calms down to anything you’d consider reasonable, the mini rivers become bands of flowing water that average a few feet across by perhaps half-an-inch deep. These strips of runoff can continue to flow across the pavement even after the rest of the track has dried up. The kicker is that as rainfall increases and decreases throughout the day, so does the quantity of runoff; however, this change is not instantaneous, proportional or predictable. You can quite literally be slicing around a damp track one lap and diving into running water the next.
In the frighteningly changeable conditions we found at Autobahn, the ContiRaceAttack rains made us King. The traction that they provided on wet pavement was easily good enough to allow us to drag knee through all of the slower corners and some of the faster ones as well. Several times, we were caught out by runoff that had not been there the lap before. We’d come ripping in at maximum grip, only to find that we were into deep water and hydroplaning while leaned way over! Of course, this was more than the Contis could overcome and the bike slid. A few feet later and clear of the running water, the tires would regain their grip on the next merely wet section of pavement. The effect was like pushing a squeegee. We’d feel a sudden, juddering amplification of friction as the contact patches again found the asphalt and our grip would return. Of course, this could be tricky if the bike had gone sideways in the deeper water but the return of adhesion was very predictable and allowed the bike to regain its composure without spitting us off.
Our experience at Road America was quite different but equally impressive. The ContiRaceAttack rain tires performed admirably here in conditions that we’d describe as, “Variably bad to worse.” The morning had started out dry and we’d been running DOT race tires as the weather tried to make up its mind. Soon, the track was wet enough to keep our Conti wets from melting but the rain kept starting and stopping, so we weren’t sure if it would stay damp enough to justify mounting them. Running super-soft rain tires like these on a drying track will wear them out very quickly; something that we were trying to avoid. We’d been tiptoeing around for two sessions; carefully managing our control inputs and working hard to separate acceleration, braking and turning into independent actions so as to avoid overwhelming the limited grip of our DOTs. Finally, the deluge began, so we mounted up our test set of ContiRaceAttack rains.
What a difference these tires made! What a difference these tires made! Just heading down the pit lane from a standing start, we observed a marked improvement in stability. Unlike what we’d experienced at Autobahn, these were fully wet conditions and the level of grip available from the track surface was consistent around the track and from lap to lap. Road A has some very high speed straights and a number of rises which promote wheelies. We were able to go through these sections full-pin, laughing like a lunatic each time the front tire lifted off over the hump on the front straight at 130-plus mph in a blinding downpour! Braking was incredible; we simply added one brake marker to what we’d been using in the dry and pounced on the lever a touch more gently. It was mind boggling that we could accelerate to and slow down from our machine’s top speed with so little drama in conditions poor enough that we could barely see where we were going. Needless to say, we had to exercise caution in the turns but as at Autobahn, we were again able to drag our knee pucks at will, especially through the long, downhill carrousel section.
Precipitation happens. You spend hundreds per day just to buy your slot at a track event and to cover travel expenses. If rain ends your fun early or cancels it outright, all that time and money is wasted; a fact you’ll no doubt be grumbling about all the way home. If you’re an addict, this will happen to you several times per year, guaranteed. Investing in a set of rain tires allows you to go on riding when the weather turns ugly and have some serious fun in the process. Consider this: During that rainy day at Road America, we had afternoon sessions which featured an open track with as few as four riders choosing to partake. That’s a single motorcycle per mile on one of the premiere venues in the country! How could any truly addicted racetrack rider fail to take advantage of such a great opportunity? Simply put, when a chance like this comes along, you need to be prepared. If you want to go fast when others are going home, get yourself a set of ContiRaceAttack rain tires.