The dry handling course uses...
The dry handling course uses lines and pavement texture to mimic German roads—it is a far cry from the cracking and pocked asphalt of Los Angeles.
North of Hanover, Germany, tucked away amongst rural villages and expansive fields of green is a tire testing facility known as the Contidrom. A 2.36-mile road course, 1.18-mile wet course and 1.7-mile oval that reaches a ridiculous 58-degrees of banking at its highest point comprise this private playground for gearheads. The trio of tracks and the superbly smooth pavement running across the Autobahns and country roads outside the city was where Continental decided to intro its latest high-performance street tire, the ContiSportAttack 2.
Tires have been this German company’s business for over one hundred years. Starting on two wheels with bicycles, the current push is towards becoming the dominant provider of top-tier motorcycle rubber. Amongst a large line-up of niche and everyday riding tires comes a refinement of what was an already capable SportAttack option. Possibly the tire’s greatest claim to fame is that it is the OEM for every S1000RR that rolls off the production line. Conti has worked hand in hand with BMW to create a product that lasts on the street but can grip when going all out. As a smaller player in a big market the brand touts its ability to pay attention to the needs of performance-minded riders and we got a chance to test out that claim. Andreas Faulstich, head of motorcycle tire marketing and sales for Conti, stated, “We are the smallest premium tire manufacturer but we are the most clever. There have been five years between the SportAttack 1 and the SportAttack 2. The new tire is more flexible, it’s bigger and it has a better compound and grip. We developed the tire on the basis of the ’12 S1000RR because this sportbike is pretty neutral; it’s not too aggressive in any particular place. And that’s the reason the tire works on most of the other Japanese motorcycles. It is not overly responsive because it has to have good straight line stability on the Autobahn.”
At wide open throttle, the 58-degree banking was designed to test tires and the size of a rider’s bean bags. G-forces slap you into the tank, blood rushes from your head and keeping your eyes on the exit becomes a job. There is nothing like it.
Sprinklers set up around the...
Sprinklers set up around the perimeter almost ask you to break into a slide.
With that, a pack of international moto-journalists were let loose on a fleet of motorcycles to test the rubber. Many of the same features found on the original Sport Attack are also utilized in the latest model such as the Black Chili compound that decreases warm-up time and the distance it takes to stop. Then there is the company proven Continuous Compound Technology that increases tire longevity without losing grip when decked over in a corner. Blending both extended wear life and grip comes compliments of a harder core and mid-section that gets softer as you roll over to its edges. A final feature from the previous model is the Traction Skin, which cuts down break-in time and saves an anxious rider from the embarrassment of losing the rear in a parking lot moments after spooning on fresh rubber. New to the tire is a higher silica content in the compound that is claimed to make the tire safer on wet roads by enhancing grip and improving tire stiffness in cold environments.
On the road course, the grip level of the tire on a ZX-6R left nothing to be desired. It came to temperature quickly and after a medium-paced lap each corner thereafter was comfortable and the rubber stuck through the faster sweepers without sliding. The tire profile is now steeper than before which allowed smooth and responsive turn-in at speed without losing grip. The Ninja didn’t drop into turns at an alarming rate but it did lean over with minimal effort at an 80 percent pace. After the final road course session concluded, it became clear the tire was not only designed for destroying knee pucks but also for going fast, really fast in a straightish line.
It really is true, Europeans...
It really is true, Europeans like it better naked.
Rolling out of the Contidrom for a 90-minute ride down the Autobahn gave ample chance to test high-speed stability. Unfortunately, the local Autobahns are like any freeway and traffic cramped the pace until finally the wagons and vans parted for a WOT run on a Z1000—not the best bike for going balls out on a freeway. At roughly 145 MPH, while fighting extreme wind buffeting and eyes vibrating against their skull sockets, it became clear the only instability felt was due to wrapping out a naked bike on a somewhat busy freeway.
That confidence to go wide open through sixth gear than transitioned to a second day at the Contidrom oval. It takes a deep breath and prayer to the rubber Gods to hit what looks like a wall of certain death at max steam. After skittishly heading low around the embankment at 120 MPH without any issues, twist went the wrist and by the final laps the yellow ZX-6R shift light was coming on at the top of sixth gear in what was an extraordinary experience of G-forces and tire toughness. Braking from top speed felt comfortable and the tires soaked up bumps well enough to keep the rider feeling in control.
Hours on the track, street...
Hours on the track, street and even in the wet and the tread life just keeps on going and going like a rubber Energizer Bunny.
As a final test, the tire was put up against a fully irrigated wet course. The closed course offered a chance to run faster in the wet than what would ever feel safe on the street. With what looked like a solid inch of water across every piece of the pavement the SportAttack 2 gripped to a point and excitingly slid out of corners when too much gas was applied. The tire again stayed stable under mild braking and cautious lean angles in the mock-rain environment.
After the testing concluded the tire was reviewed. Amazingly, while shedding rubber boogers, the tire had lots of meat left and that was after continuous on-track abuse. It is important to remember, the SportAttack 2 is a balanced high-performance option. It was created for the street rider that likes to go fast but not forgo tire longevity when ridden on daily. It is stable all the way up to top speed, grips through corners at a knee dragging lean, is ample in the rain and comfortable for the regular commute; not to mention it lasts. It’s hard to complain after trying this tire from a street prospective. Available in a variety of popular 17-inch size the price ranges between $165 to $175 for the front and $225 to $255 for the rear.