DEPENDING on which way you look at it, choosing a tyre for your bike has gotten both easier and harder in recent years.
On one hand there aren’t many complete duffers out there anymore, so you’re unlikely to be majorly disappointed with any rubber you buy (providing you stick to well-known tyre manufacturers). On the other hand, there now seems to be a tyre class for just about every type of riding: sports touring, touring, sport, supersport, trackday, winter… the list goes on and as a result the choice has become somewhat overwhelming.
It usually means smaller firms like Avon don’t get much of a look in because most riders are sticking to what they know. So when I booked myself onto a three-day trackday at Cartagena circuit in Spain, I thought I’d leave the Pirelli Supercorsas behind and try my luck with Avon’s 3D Ultra Xtreme.
The Xtremes are Avon’s top of the range trackday tyre which they claim has ‘superb’ dry weather performance, a large footprint at extreme lean angles and is quick to reach working temperature.
After a day of familiarising myself with the circuit, I swapped the Bridgestone R10s fitted to my Yamaha R6 with the fresh Avon hoops. The R10s are an amazingly grippy tyre, a racer’s favourite, but after only three 20-minute sessions on track I decided that I already felt more comfortable on the Xtremes.
The Avon’s profile isn’t as sharp as the Bridgestone’s meaning that, in theory, you get a bit of extra stability at the expense of slower turn-in speed. It all boils down to preference though.
If you want to test a tyre to the limit then you could do much worse than ragging it around Cartagena. It’s an abrasive track where 80% of your lap is spent on the side of the tyre. It also has an abundance of fast corners and heavy braking zones. After several sessions on track I reached the point where I simply couldn’t go any faster, not safely anyway - from what I could tell the Xtremes weren’t even breaking a sweat.
I started piling into corners 10mph faster and getting on the gas as early as I dared. They just laughed in my face and stayed planted.
Grip isn’t their only forte either - they offer feedback by the bucketload, especially at the front.
Turn 16 is a deceptively slow off-camber hairpin. If you’re going to lose the front anywhere, it's there. I had my fair share of moments there but the Xtremes always gave me enough notice to let me know when a front end wash-out wasn’t too far off. They give you the confidence to push that bit harder and a second chance when you’re on the limit.
Having only tested them on track I can’t speak for their road manners or tyre life but I suspect much of the rubber’s potential would be lost without a dry circuit and tyre warmers. After two days of ragging in 27-degree sunshine, the front looked like new and the rear would easily have lasted another two days.
At £230 a set, the Xtremes are around £35 cheaper than competitor tyres from Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli and Metzeler. They tick all the boxes and helped me keep my R6 upright over two solid days of abuse - what more could you want from a tyre?