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DOT vs Slicks on MW bikes.

Discussion in 'General' started by Trainwreck, Nov 19, 2020.

  1. Trainwreck

    Trainwreck I could give a heck

    I tried searching around for a bit with no real discussion found... So here comes another book I cant help but write when I post..

    This was my 2nd year with a bike on track. I came from racing cars, so I kinda moved quickly through the ranks during my first track day weekend, and was a licensed racer by the very next weekend..

    My first track day weekend, I was on Q3+ tires. I went from Novice on Friday evening, to Advanced by Sunday morning. Granted this was at a track I've spun prolly 1000+ laps at in a car, but bikes are definitely different.

    After that, I took a license course and had a CCS license by the next weekend. I gridded up at Blackhawk Farms and went racing. I had made a few friends and was taking advice from people who are way faster than I was. So I set the bike up on Bridgestone slicks. Ended the year with some top 5's and a few crashes.

    This year I was much faster, but I was having a ton of chattering issues and I decided to switch to Pirelli slicks and that has helped a lot. For reference I ride a ZX6R.. I got at least one neat little trophy at every WERA round I was able to make, and I got some top 5's every CCS weekend.

    I also have a lot of strange habits that I think I have brought over from racing cars. That on top of my quick rush to get into racing (its what I wanted to do anyway, not track days.) I'm ultra competitive, so i'm not really a fan of track days.. I could get dead last every race in a WERA/CCS weekend and it would still be 100x more fun for me than a track day.. So, there are a lot of things I need to work on..

    With that being said, seeing as racing bikes is cheaper than cars.. I am able to afford a new set of slicks every race day. So that's usually what I do. I will practice in the morning with the previous days tires, but for races I switch to the stickers. The whatever tires I have left I usually just throw on for track days.. Or I try to sell them for cheap/give them to a pal so he can race.

    However, I had an opportunity to talk with Kyle Wyman for a bit in person this year at RA. We were talking about tires, and he said that he can get within 1.5-2 seconds of his race/qualifying times on a Dunlop Q4. I've also eard other pro racers state that they can find the edge of grip a lot easier on a DOT tire, and some of them said they only run slicks at races/tests and for track days or training they almost always run DOT tires.

    So that got me thinking... Most top experts are 3-8 seconds faster per lap than I am at most tracks. I got a couple of podiums and a win this year in Novice, but I am still no where near the fastest experts. My bike has full suspension now and I had some help setting it up from Farrell when I switched from Bridgstone to Pirelli.. Before that, Joe @ T1 was helping me with geometry and clickers. At this point I'm pretty sure the sack of meat piloting the damn thing is what needs the most work (its always been the biggest problem) I'm looking into getting some coaching for 2021..

    So, I feel like I am pissing $50-100 away every weekend because I am potentially not quite fast/skilled enough to be taking advantage of a full slick tire? I finished top 5 in a few classes with WERA this year, but I don't know what the process is for Expert bumps.. maybe that bump will make me faster as they'll tow me a long a bit?.. But I don't want to be a damn road block out there..

    My only experience at the track NOT on a slick was that very first track day weekend.

    I've also heard others say "practice what you race. If you race on slicks, practice/train on slicks"

    So, in the beebs humble opinion, should I try out DOT race tires for a while? They seem To be cheaper.. For example: R11 'Stones are about $50 cheaper per set and Dunlop Q4 is $40 cheaper per set. Only DOT that is out of the question would be the Pirelli's.. They are pretty much the same price as the full slick..

    Anyone have any comparable experience?

    TL;DR, I'm mid to front pack novice, but would be still slow expert. Should I keep buying slicks or try DOT? I have virtually no experience on anything other than slicks..
    SpeedyE likes this.
  2. mpusch

    mpusch Well-Known Member

    I don't see a reason to go back. I prefer to have all the grip I can get. It'd be one thing if you were doing trackdays, but for racing you should have every advantage you can.
    SpeedyE, Rising Sun and Knotcher like this.
  3. SWest122

    SWest122 Well-Known Member

    Try them out. It's not a very complicated experiment. Either you like them or you don't. You will get opinions on tires that are all over the map.

    You probably won't be able to tell much of a difference between a Pirelli slick vs. DOT or at least I cannot. Not sure about the other brands.
    TurboBlew and 5axis like this.
  4. Knotcher

    Knotcher Well-Known Member

    I'm with Micah. You're not playing with finding the limit of grip yet and you probably wouldn't be able to translate the edge from the dot to the slick. Won't hurt to try, though. OK, maybe it actually will, but probably not much... maybe. Whatever, send it.
  5. KneeDragger_c69

    KneeDragger_c69 Well-Known Member

    You'll be fine on DOTs.

    In 2015 I raced Dunlop scrubs at NJMP with CCS in Novice and I had never been there.
    Pretty much did good on no pratice time or knowledge of the track.
    Practice for me was Saturday during 2 races of 4 laps and the other of 6.

    Sunday I registered for 4 races and ended up the podium all 4 times, with one win... all on the same DOT scrubs (had 14 laps or so when I put them on Sunday morning) !!!
    Fastest in all 4 races and quicker then the Experts up ahead :p

    So ya, you can mustard up good times of new fresh DOTs ;)

    EDIT: the DOTs I used were race tires !
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
    cha0s#242 likes this.
  6. Boman Forklift

    Boman Forklift Well-Known Member

    Since you now have your bike setup for Pirellis, if you switch to DOT's to save money and Pirelli DOT's are the same price, that would necessitate switching brands again. Only you can decide it that is worth the hassle.
  7. DBConz

    DBConz Registered Idiot

    i switched to slicks when the rules changed, didnt notice a difference. went back to DOTs
    KneeDragger_c69 likes this.
  8. badmoon692008

    badmoon692008 Well-Known Member

    Be careful with what you're discussing. The bridgestone R11 is a completely different tire than the Q4 and really don't belong in the same discussion. One is a full on race tire that happens to have sipes for legality and the other is a streetable tire that can hold its own on the track.

    I'd say you'll save a ton more money (and also get some practice finding the limit) just not changing tires so damn much. For what it's worth I'm a fat guy running expert podium pace in the midwest also on a ZX-6 and I usually run a rear for at least 2 weekends if not more. Unless you're going for lap records (or a second or two off of it) you don't need a brandy new tire all the time and the tire will let you know when it's time to change it.
    Rising Sun likes this.
  9. stangmx13

    stangmx13 Well-Known Member

    ^+1 to that

    Careful saying "DOT" in a race forum. That term is usually reserved for DOT Race tires, not street tires. DOT Race tires are effectively slicks with tread. It already looks like some comments above are talking about DOT Race tires, not street tires.

    As a novice, I used to do 8 races + 1 trackday on a set of DOT Race tires. The tires didnt really lose grip (that i could notice) until the latter half of the trackday. Then I got my practice spinning up the rear. That saved me way more $$ than running street tires. However, I do regret running tires that long because it made it harder to improve.

    IMO, stick with race tires. You already said you don't have the skill to find the edge or limit of any tire. That also means you dont have the skill to stay UNDER the limit. So you need all the grip you can get to reduce chances of crashing. Plus, this is competition we are talking about. You'd never purposefully ruin your suspension settings or run the wrong tire pressure just to "save $$". So why are we even discussing running a lower performance tire.
  10. Monsterdood

    Monsterdood Well-Known Member

    One thing to be careful of is not to assume that because you are X seconds slower than the fastest guys that you are far away from crashing. Crashing occurs from a momentary exceedance of traction and that can occur at the fastest lap times and also at much slower ones due to how and where we put the bike on the track and give it inputs. With that thought in place, a slick will give you a little extra margin for those momentary traction exceedances. If you are riding smoothly and not getting near those traction limits and your slower lap times come down to slower corner speeds and later application of the throttle (and earlier on the brakes), then a race DOT will probably not impact your lap time much if at all. I myself put the Q4's on my 650 twin for a track day and did basically the same track day lap times as I would do on a slick. Not race lap times because I'm not trying to win a track day, but basically the same pace I would have run. The other alternative is race take off tires. Plenty of rubber and traction available for track days and maybe even cheaper than a new race DOT. Hope this helps.
  11. badmoon692008

    badmoon692008 Well-Known Member

    I think this is true up to a limit. Eventually you're going to find the limit, knowing how to identify it and how to respond is a necessary skill, and is much easier to find on lower grip tires. I may not recommend using crap tires for a race to learn this but finding the limits during a trackday or practice session can definitely pay off. I know I started on stock suspension and ok tires and slowly found the limits of each piece and gained valuable experience and knowledge doing it, and now even though I've dropped a couple seconds every year I haven't crashed in a couple years. I also know some guys who immediately were decently fast on top notch tires and equipment, but never learned those lessons, and when they started getting really fast didn't have that knowledge and started crashing a lot.

    Obviously either way can work and everyones mileage may very but that's my input.
  12. badmoon692008

    badmoon692008 Well-Known Member

    This is a great point. I crashed much more when I was slower than I do now, because I wasn't aware of the things I was doing that overcame the limits even briefly. Getting that little extra grip can make the difference, but like I said in my comment above can also prevent you from learning the lessons of where those limits are, so it's hard to say which is more important.
  13. 2blueYam

    2blueYam Track Day Addict

    Just say no to racing on the Q4, as that is not a DOT race tire, imho.
    I just do advanced track days and discovered that slicks last longer than the DOT race tires for me. Enough that it was cheaper or just as cheap to run them but with less time spent changing wheels and tires. The compound you run can also make a difference in grip and longevity without sacrificing the setup changes you made. If you are running SC1 slicks, try the SC2 slicks as they may be able to last two race days for you before going off. You may have to go back to the SC1 if you are at a particularly hot race or track day so talk with your tire vendor about that.
  14. Trainwreck

    Trainwreck I could give a heck

    Thanks for the discussion guys. I'm still trying to figure out the stuff that's holding me back. I think a big part of the problem is that because I got to a "decent" pace essentially right away, and have been trying to progress as aggressively as I can I may have missed out on drilling a lot of the fundamental stuff.

    As far as finding the limits of tires, I have actually been sliding the rear and the front a lot this year.. Unfortunately, its been done out of error and not due to actually using grip properly.. One of my car habits I've brought over that doesn't work is my braking style.. I some how just cant help but brake super late and super hard, but then I'll brake too much or ill be way to hard on the brakes while leaned and the front will start to slide.. I've saved a few, lost a few... Or because of the braking habit, I'll over slow for the corner, then aggressively apply the throttle again and the rear will squirm around and slide.. I've been comparing my videos from what I have this year to people who are way faster than me and this is the big thing I'm noticing.. They are braking WAAAAYY before me, getting it done, then trailing in way lighter on the brakes than I am, but with more speed up to the apex. I've caught a couple of passes from me on competitors GoPro's and its almost always done in hard braking zones. They apply the brakes and I will fly passed them, maybe juuuuust getting into the brakes.. Then its like I slow them way down too and they lose drive coming out of the corner as they had to stay in the brakes longer than the lap before or after in that corner, because I was in the way. lol

    One of the cars I used to race was a low HP RWD car and that's pretty much how I drove it, I wouldn't even touch the brakes until I had started to turn in for most corners... Works great with the car because I'm not punished physically for getting it wrong.. you just understeer. LMAO

    To be honest, the most comfortable I've been this year is when its raining. It somehow forces me to smooth my inputs out. I will be right up with the faster guys in the wet no problem.

    Like I said, lots to work on. I still feel like I'm brand new to this.

    With the car stuff did I rarely ran slicks because of potential oiling issues they can cause. My main car wasn't dry sumped in they were known to starve bearings with slicks. A lot of my experience had been on R-Comp rubber like Toyo R888R.. I don't know what class of motorcycle tire would be comparable. Q4, R11, or Pirelli DOT.. That's why I kinda lumped them all in.
  15. stangmx13

    stangmx13 Well-Known Member

    Ya, everything in this whole "learning a difficult skill" is a gray area. Some bits work great for some, some dont.

    I'd rather work on this using a 3 day old Medium slick than a new Q4. They are probably comparable in pace - but the slick will feel like a slick, will respond to heat like a slick, and will probably offer more consistent lap times at Novice pace or faster.

    I think people put way too much emphasis on "practice to find limits of grip". From what I can tell, the best riding schools don't spend time on that. Instead they teach riders proper skills so that it's never an issue. IMO, All the amazing riders that can practically run lap records on shit tires dont do it because they know exactly where the limit is - they do it because they can go that fast without needing grip. All the guys crashing while nowhere near lap record pace are doing so because they are incorrectly trying to go faster.
    TurboBlew and badmoon692008 like this.
  16. metricdevilmoto

    metricdevilmoto Just forking around

    Quoting this specifically because while the information is relevant, your conclusion is not.

    Kyle Wyman can run within 2 seconds of his race pace on a street tire because he's good at riding a motorcycle around a race track. Think of it this way instead; a guy with Wyman's riding skills gets slowed down 2 seconds by switching from a race slick to a hypersport tire. If you're as good at riding a motorcycle as he is, you can expect to slow down at least that much. If you're not as good at riding a motorcycle as he is, the gap will probably be greater.

    I learned this lesson the hard way. When Pirelli came out with the DRC in a 180/60, I put a set on my race bike (R6) at a track day. At the time, I was racing a lot and could get around NJMP at a pretty decent pace. I messed with pressures a little bit and then put my head down for a few laps. My times were about 4-5 seconds off my fastest race laps. (I don't remember the exact lap times.) I posted up the data from my "test" and presented it basically the same way you did. I think the lap times were around a :30. or :31. I had a few customers running :34s or :35s at track days on Pirelli slicks or Pirelli (race) DOTs and after they read what I posted, they were stoked about the potential of saving a couple of bucks on a set of tires and ordered sets of DRCs. I believe two of the guys crashed the first day they rode on the DRCs. The added grip and performance they were getting out of the race slicks and DOTs is what was allowing them to run 34s and 35s, and they should have expected the same step down in performance that I experienced. I'm sure someone better at riding a motorcycle than I was could have gone even faster on the DRCs. But that doesn't mean I could do those times on the DRCs.

    Was it my fault or even the tires' fault they crashed? Nope. But did I present the information in a way that may have contributed? Probably. Lesson learned.

    Same data either way, just a very different interpretation.
    MELK-MAN, jd41, Marcos415 and 7 others like this.
  17. stangmx13

    stangmx13 Well-Known Member

    Go get some private instruction. You are correct that braking habit is terrible on a motorcycle. Private instruction will likely have some great ways for you to learn not to do it. Right now you need the motivation and the instruction to stop braking like that immediately. Paying $1500 for one day is great motivation and their drills will probably be the instruction that you need.
  18. Mongo

    Mongo Administrator

    Something else to factor is how long slicks last compared to DOT's. That is the main reason I finally agreed to allow them in all classes (as well as help the tire guys with inventory they have to carry everywhere).
  19. SpeedyE

    SpeedyE Experimental prototype, never meant for production

    I didnt read any of the other replys, so this was probably already stated.

    A Q3 or Q4 is NOT a DOT Race tyre. It/they are street tyres.
    A DOT race tyre, is basically a slick w/ minor tread to make them 'street legal', they require tyre-warmers and specific temperature range to work (same as slicks), unlike the Q3/Q4 street tyres.

    A DOT Race tyre will allow you to enter more classes/races, as opposed to running slicks.
    I never noticed much difference between race-slicks and race-dots (same brands/compounds) when I was racing 600's.
    Good luck.
  20. metricdevilmoto

    metricdevilmoto Just forking around

    In regards to WERA and CCS, slicks are allowed in all classes.
    SpeedyE likes this.

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