Returning to sustainability: is a tire with a mileage of 20-30,000 km conceivable?
“Currently the elements that have the greatest impact on the sustainability of our products are certainly the raw materials. From this point of view, it would make more sense to develop tires with recyclable materials or in any case with a content capable of having “new life”. The tripled mileage of a tire would have an impact on safety. There are different directions, but we believe that the most correct is the use of raw materials with a continuous life cycle, energy from clean sources together with energy savings in the production chain”.
Another topical issue, the electric. How is a tire developed that can withstand all that transmitted torque?
“We already supply original equipment tires to most of the electric models on the market, and we are watching the development of silent propulsion motorcycles very closely. To date, manufacturers still focus a lot on the autonomy of the batteries and the weights due to them, but in this area we are calm because the impact of rolling resistance has a minimal effect on battery consumption, due to the reduced contact surface that the tire of a motorcycle has with the ground. The focus of our projects is centered on the part of grip and handling, but we also want to intervene on the weight of the tire itself, to try to reduce the mass of the vehicle”.
By the way, how much does a pair of motorcycle tires weigh on average?
“About 10 kg: 6.5 kg at the rear and 3.5 at the front. In the world of high-level competitions there are different schools of thought, we in Superbike have products whose weight is very similar to that of road tyres, while some of our competitors in the past had developed a very high-performance product for racing but with a very heavy weight. Over the years we have realized that the weight of the tires must not go below a certain level, otherwise this affects performance. Or rather, the reduction in weight must come from the use of materials with a low specific weight, but able to offer the correct resistance, without reducing the tread or softening the structure”. Another sustainability issue taken up by the Euro 5+ standard is noise: how do you deal with it?
“Tyres have an impact in this sense, and that’s why we work to try to reduce the sound emitted by rolling. For example, the variable pitches between the tread grooves are used in order to minimize the noise created in contact with the ground. As for the current trend of mounting light knobs on the road, thanks to the boom in adventure bikes, I must say that the challenge here is really difficult”.
The crisis of components and raw materials could lead to a downturn in the market: how will you calibrate production in Italy and in the world?
“The crisis is asymmetrical. In Italy we have a theme linked to inflation and the European economic context; in Asia Pacific or South America, however, there are not the same phenomena: there is no energy crisis, inflation was already present and is not changing. For example, the United States is not suffering like Europe, which is the heart of motorcycling in the world. If for 2023 there will be some inevitable problems in Europe, on the other hand we are positive and believe that in Asia Pacific, South America and North America production and trade will not slow down. Among other things, Asia is continuing to grow, with the 300 bikes that are sold more and more and for which we supply the original equipment”.
Pirelli and Metzeler: how will you manage the different souls of the two brands?
“Pirelli has passion in its DNA, the bond that comes from the world of racing and manages to bring these emotions to the everyday user. Metzeler has a more German soul linked to his heritage which makes reliability, safety and technology his state of the art. From the point of view of the offer, they will always be very separate: for example, a Pirelli front will always favor fairly pointed profiles that are of sporting origin, while Metzeler will always use a much rounder front profile”.
Next year you will celebrate twenty years of Superbike World Championship Pirelli invented the single tire championships with the Superbike and for twenty years it set standards that are recognized and replicated in various other championships.
“It’s something we’re very proud of, the link to the Superbike is incredible from the point of view of the challenge and the possibility of testing our products in that context; it is a very important training ground for us due to the very strong correlation with the road product”.
Is a move to MotoGP unthinkable?
“Nothing is impossible, but Superbike is so important as an element of co-development and co-innovation with respect to the road bike that personally I see entry into MotoGP as a bit off topic if we want to immediately transfer those concepts to the road world. Although obviously from an image point of view, MotoGP is one of the most renowned and followed sports and therefore this would be an important step in terms of communication”.
2023 will be the 30th birthday of 0 degree steel technology.
“We will worthily celebrate this technology, which has in fact revolutionized high-performance radial tyres, not only in races but above all on the road. If today we have a 19” radial on a GS that does 200 km/h it is because there is a zero degree that keeps it still. We were proud to be the first to achieve this technology.”