Gear and kit

Review: Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 on a Street Triple 765 RS

Over 2000 miles, Jock tests the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 on a Triumph Street Triple 765 RS on arguably the greatest testing track of them all: The Alps.

Black and round ones is the lazy suggestion I all too often give when people ask what tyres they should buy. Why? Well to be honest tyres are a very personal thing. What one rider likes, the other has suffered instant exploding and dying syndrome and swears never to waste their money again on the black and round things everyone had been banging on about.

So being impressed with a set of tyres is a difficult thing to sell to others. Not exploding and dying the instant you ride away on them is a fair starting point and certainly enough detail for those who have exploded and died previously. Others want more than survival, they want grip, feeling, longevity and a sexy tread pattern to show off at bike meets.

I transported my Triumph Street Triple 765 RS in the back of my van to the Alps recently for two weeks of superb roads in the French Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Italian Aosta regions. Planned for the svelte RS and my not so svelte arse was around 2000 plus miles over two weeks of daily riding from a base camp in Montchavin, near Bourg Saint Maurice.

I know the region well having been there many times before and knew over that period in August / September. We could be facing wide temperature changes, easily 32C or more in the valleys, often 4C or less on the summits, with it being dry, wet, the roads dusty, clean, track smooth, mountain bumpy, my right wrist going from bimble mode to track mode each day.

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I’ve ridden the region on very different bikes over the years, from superbikes to adventure bikes. I own a BMW S1000XR also, which to many would be a more obvious bike to take, but with my van being used as support vehicle over the two weeks it made taking the RS a very easy choice.

The RS is light, very light, for a bike with 123bhp at the rear wheel. Coupled with more rider modes than a PlayStation addict can choose from, almost telepathic control and a braking set up to rival any good superbike, I didn’t take long to make my mind up which bike I was going to take.

The RS is best described as a ‘full fat 600’ track bike for the road. The balance of the suspension from the odd mix but quality Ohlins rear and BPF Showa front is the perfect match to the new 765 engine which is more peachy than a decent schnapps. The fantastic Brembo setup is more brakes than you’ll need on the road, but more than enough (adjustable) feel to make them wholly relevant on the road.

The leverage on the front is applied easily via wide, comfortable bars which, maybe surprisingly for riders new to the Street Triple, does place some weight on your wrists. But that translates to hugely helping with the feel as you tip in and lets you carry big, big corner speed on your knee if you so desire. In truth, you could be forgiven for thinking that the RS is a test bed for a future 765 Daytona.

The suspension is more planted than a dirty cop’s drug placement. It recovers better than I do after a night out on the lash and is ready for the next challenge in milliseconds, where my hangovers leave me wiped out for days. Running against the older 675 the 765 easily pulls lengths just on suspension balance alone.

Add into that a high-end peak power placement and scream of the RS, which reminds anyone with a greying beard of the sports 250 2-strokes gems we rode in the 90’s, this model is a lot of fun, and for the very technical roads of the region, I was anticipating a lot of fun.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
After a hard day’s riding, it’s tempting to just jump straight back on again.

Before the trip, what I was unsure of was the comfort levels. But 11 days of 200mile-plus lunacy across Italy, Switzerland and France, I never felt fatigued once. Yes, I’m a standard-ish 5’10”. Yes, I eat cooked breakfasts. No, I don’t run marathons. No, I didn’t ride on motorways for long, but in that region, actually, why would you!?! Even getting there I’d have followed the twists, not the peage. For my height and girth, my ballast is placed in the middle of the bike with some weight on my wrists, but just enough to load the front when you’re loading the front, not enough to give wrist cramps over a long day in the mountains.

One finger braking when others were cooking their brakes, the RS let me ride with an advantage over the other 675’s Striples with me, adventure bikes, superbikes, litre nakeds which spent equal miles chasing after me (OK…following the ride leader if we’re being picky).

For the trip, the RS needed a new pair of boots because even though I wasn’t planning on any motorway miles for the Triumph the original Supercorsa’s wouldn’t have lasted the mileage planned, even if I felt they were suitable for the trip, which from experience of the region I didn’t.

Having used the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3’s on a Fireblade earlier in the year, I thought they’d be a good choice for the RS. Newly shod, the RS was loaded into the van with all the various bits you need for a trip like this and off we set via the Eurotunnel. It took a steady drive to Montchavin, via a night stopover in Troyes, arriving 600 plus miles and two days later. On arrival, I was instantly impressed with how the Rosso 3’s looked absolutely new after the 600 miles of motorway and main roads in the van.

If I’d have left the bike in there I could tell you how they remained like new after 1200 miles of van transportation, but alas the mountains were calling, the hairpins screaming out at me and the red line needed a good talking to.

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The Diablo Rosso 3 is an ‘all bike’ sports road tyre with the ability to take novice or intermediate riders on the odd track day without any issues whatsoever. While the technology is derived from WSBK these really are tyres for the road, whatever the conditions. Yes, a sports touring tyre may generally take in a broader range of conditions but more often than not they lack the level of ultimate grip these tyres provide.

The Rosso 3’s are an evolution from the very good Rosso 2’s, with new compounds, carcass, and tread pattern, all designed to give a bigger footprint for more even wear, better water clearance and the easy steering, turn in and stability Pirelli tyres are well known for.

Now on the RS these tyres were simply forgettable. Yeah, but that’s a good thing. The bike is light, frisky and screams when you want to. So, the last thing you need is intrusive thoughts of how much grip they are able to provide when hurtling up and down barrier-less mountain ranges.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
Alps. An effing massive test track for tyres

Changes of direction in this region come quicker than the most testing of race tracks and hairpins with views 100’s of metres above the next solid object require good brakes but also good feedback when on the brakes and equally when exiting on the gas. Both of these challenges fall in to the ‘on them hard’ description in these regions.

You can feel the taller profile and stiffer carcass when moving from one side of the bike to the other. The level of side grip is more than enough to trail brake into a cold mountain hairpin if the moment takes you. Me, I trail brake everywhere on these roads, scrubbing speed off on the way in to the corners.

From chilly 1st gear hairpins on Col du Galibier, to warm 4th gear screaming knee down on the way to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, the front never once gave me any issues. Even when rolling off a 4C summit after the obligatory ‘F-me’ photos across mountain ranges the single compound front gave enough feedback to tell me where the grip was and when to take it that bit easy till the temperatures came up.

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The rear is a dual compound, soft on the 40% edges, harder in the 20% centre. Yes, I had a couple of big slides that caught out the traction control, finding their way into the ride without electronic interference, but these were purely self-induced from general stupidity/enthusiasm. Cold mountain roads, sat in the shade of the mountain all night and morning are always going to lack grip when a heavy right hand smacks open wide the throttle on a direction change. But as I’ve come to expect from Pirelli tyres the slide is steady and predictable. As quick as your bum can squeak the tyres grip and drive on. Note to self noted, onwards and upwards, quite literally with a semi-hero story to tell over a hot chocolate at the mountain summits refuge.

At the end of one particularly long day, riding back across an Alpine pass in the rain and pitch dark (no street lights on those mountains) it was an exercise in staying upright and getting back to the beer fridge. But not once did the tyres slip or slide. In fact the wetter it got the more secure the tyres began to feel. Ok, they’re not quite Roadtec 01 levels of feel in the wet, but with a light and secure feel in the handlebars, you’re riding less tense giving more time to try remember where the bottle opener is back at the Gite.

So how does two weeks of screaming around the Western Alps like a loon on the Rosso 3’s translate to UK road riding?

Well, I rode in 4 seasons in two weeks. Wet, dry, bloody cold, bloody hot, the tyres were a compliment to a damn good bike, the 765 RS. I thought they might not be sporty enough after the bike came with Supercorsa’s but on more occasions than I can count I was glad I was on the Rosso 3’s and not the Supercorsa’s. For real road riding, they are far superior. You can gain access to more than enough grip at lower temperatures, on wetter, colder roads than the Supercorsa’s.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
Even in high Summer, the Alps can give you testing conditions in the wet

From wet, cold roads, to knee down toasty roads, all in one ride, these were far superior to the Supercorsa’s only because they were forgettable. If I’d been on Supercorsa’s on the cold, dark, wet Alpine mountains, I’d have been trying to find grip and distracted by that, as much as I would if it was a cold, wet winters commute back home after a long day at work in the UK.

So I’ll replace the Rosso 3’s with Rosso 3’s, not Supercorsa’s, regardless of the season. And that for me is a testament to just how good the Rosso 3’s are because universally the Supercorsa is deemed ‘hot poop’.

A note on wear. Pirelli says there is around 15% more mileage out of the 3’s than the previous 2’s. I really ragged these tyres on all sorts of roads for over 2000miles. There is still plenty grip, tread depth and even wear on these tyres for me to think I’ll easily get another 1000miles out of them before they ‘go off’. Which considering what they’ve gone through I’m more than happy with.

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No way would I ride in the UK how I rode the last two weeks in France (always 1kmh under the posted limit of course…) In the UK with more speed enforcement and concern for my licence I suspect that would translate in to 4000miles easily, which for the levels of grip, stability and ease of turn, with good wet weather performance, I’m more than happy with.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS
Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 fitted to the Triumph Street Triple 765 RS

Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 tyres from:

I had my tyres fitted by Lee and Dean at MotoWorks in Kent. Good eggs who look after you and your bike as customers, not like a bunch of sausages walking in and out of the business (Ed; I have literally no idea what that means).

https://www.moto-works.co.uk/

Jock stayed with:

This is the 2nd time I’ve stayed at Chalet de la Vanoise in this region. The wife and husband hosts Lee and Kevin are English which helps if your French is as poor as mine. They welcome bikers at their very well equipped ski chalet. Soaking in the open air jacuzzi looking out to Mont Blanc is as pleasant an evening as you can imagine after spanking around the superb roads in the region. Check them out if you’re in the area and fancy somewhere special to stay.

http://snowplacelikehome.co.uk/

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Over 2000 miles, Jock tests the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 on a Triumph Street Triple 765 RS on arguably the greatest testing track of them all: The Alps.

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The Author

Jock McJock

Jock McJock

Jock would describe himself as a world child, though a child with a greying beard and ever-receding hairline.

Gaining his bike licence over 30 years ago, from the roads of Perth, Scotland, to the dirt roads of Perth, Australia, he stopped counting the miles as the half million mark easily came and went, barely noticed. Emotive, sarcastic, direct, as happy to bimble and take in the view as he is to drag a kneeslider and ignore the view.

His biking CV is an eclectic mix, from racer to tourer, track instructor to ride leader, he has ridden all over the globe, describing the journey as ‘in progress’, never ready to sit back and settle for the biking memories he has. Rather than just going from A to B, Jock makes sure A to B has a story in it to tell.

Jock revels in the analytical side of riding and product testing. His passion spills out into helping everyone from newcomers to aspiring racers, providing guidance to those riders who may lack confidence on their bikes, through lectures and riding analysis.

So buy him a donut and a coffee and settle in for a roller coaster ride of biking emotions.