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MXA TEAM TESTED: PIRELLI EXTRA X TIRES

January 24, 2013
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WHAT IS IT? Pirelli’s idea with the original Extra tire was to sacrifice a degree of pure performance in specific conditions to gain consistency of performance across the board and, most important, to build a durable tire. The Extra X is a newly updated version.

WHAT’S IT COST?
$105.95 to $132.95, depending on size.

CONTACT? www.us.pirelli.com or your local dealer.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with Pirelli’s Extra X tires.

(1) Front tread. The Extra X front tire has a new tread pattern based on Pirelli’s Soft 410 tire, but the compound is harder. The twin centerline knobs are spoon-shaped for soft dirt, but designed to be stiff enough to brake on hard terrain. Similarly, the middle and side knobs are widely spaced for soft terrain, but designed not to roll over at the first sign of hard dirt.

(2) Front performance. Every MXA test rider was impressed by how well the soft-terrain front held up on hardpacked sections. Test riders who generally shy away from soft-terrain tires found the Extra X front livable. Still, the Extra X was at its best in softer terrain and didn’t quite have the versatility of a pure intermediate tire.

(3) Rear tread. The Extra’s rear tread pattern was based on Pirelli’s old Mid-Hard tire. The new Mid-Hard 554 has been significantly updated this year. The Extra X inherited the old mid-hard tread layout, but has bridges between the knobs to increase tread stiffness. By reducing the knob wiggle, Pirelli sought to improve tear resistance, increase all-around durability and give the tire a more consistent feel on the track.

(4) Rear performance.
It is obvious that a harder-compound, durability-oriented rear tire can’t match the grip of premium tires. The difference isn’t always felt in loam, where almost any tire works well, but it’s noticeable on hard dirt, transitions from soft to hard, and hard dirt with loose dirt on top. Most long-lasting tires take a big step down in performance in the name of durability. Happily, the MXA test riders felt that the Extra X was only a small step down in performance and definitely at the top of its class in durability. Pirelli asked us to test the 120/90 version, which upset the majority of MXA test riders; they prefer to run 110/90s because they roll into corners quicker, are better in ruts and jump on top of a gear quicker.

(5) Durability . MXA put many hours on the original Pirelli Extras, and we were consistently impressed with how long the tires stayed fresh. The new Extra X has a new rubber compound with added knob support for the rear, so it is equally impressive. When your race competitors come over to your pit and examine your rear tire, they won’t be able to tell that you put in practice motos during the week.

(6) Options. Extra X tires come in 80/100-21F, 100/100-18R, 110/100-18R, 120/100-18R, 100/90-19R, 110/90-19R and 120/90-19R sizes. There is also an Extra J for “junior” in 60/100-14F, 70/100-17F, 70/100-19F, 2.75-10R, 90/100-14R, 80/100-12R and 90/100-16R sizes.

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK?
If we had to test a 120, we would have preferred a 120/80 rear, which Pirelli doesn’t offer, instead of a 120/90. The big volume allowed the sidewalls to wallow when off-axis forces pushed the tire sideways. The big tire did have a cushy feel and a large contact patch, so there was some give and take.

Pirelli’s Extra X rear achieves iron-like durability while only sacrificing a little performance. Dirt likes this tire and wallets love it. The Pirelli Extra X front tire doesn’t wear like the rear, so the four stars are mainly for the Pirelli Extra X rear tire.

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