Both the 3D Ultra Sport and...
Both the 3D Ultra Sport and Supersport tires share the same tread pattern, making them hard to discern. The Xtreme (shown here) utilizes a tread pattern with fewer grooves, providing a larger rubber surface area for improved grip. The 3D siping on the outer edges of the tire use interlocking three-dimensional points to boost warm-up capabilities.
Sportbike riders looking for a more versatile lineup of tires rejoice; Avon’s new 3D Ultra rubber is now available for purchase. The launch of the 3D Ultra comes seven years after the launch of Avon’s sport-oriented Viper lineup, and almost four years after the release of the only slightly updated VP2. As one Avon representative put it, “This is the tire Avon’s needed for a long time.”
As with the VP2, Avon’s 3D Ultra tires are offered in three types: Sport (street), Supersport (street/track) and Xtreme (track only). New 3D siping most drastically separates the 3D Ultra from its predecessor and uses interlocking three-dimensional points in thin grooves to boost warm-up capabilities while at the same time limiting carcass flex. Avon’s Advanced Variable Belt Density (A-VBD) carcass and Reactive Footprint (RF) technology are standard fare. This technology places the tire’s belts closer together in the center of the tire but further apart towards the edge, resulting in high speed stability when the bike is vertical and a larger contact patch when the bike is cranked over.
The Sport tire is intended solely for the street and runs a higher concentration of silica for improved performance in wet conditions. Interestingly, it’s also the only tire in the 3D Ultra lineup to feature Avon’s tri-compound technology, with a harder compound along the tread center and softer compound on the edges. A third compound, or base compound, is placed underneath the two outer compounds and is said to bond everything together as well as run cooler.
The 3D Ultra Sport, Supersport...
The 3D Ultra Sport, Supersport and Xtreme each worked admirably at the track, but the more aggressive Supersport provided a bit more confidence out back. The Xtreme builds on that platform and has increased grip at full lean in addition to quicker steering characteristics.
The 3D Ultra Supersport is similar to the Sport version in that it runs the same tread pattern. Designed for the more aggressive street rider who may occasionally visit a track day, the Supersport utilizes a softer compound and is constructed using Avon’s nano-carbon technology — an excessively named compound-production process that uses smaller particles for better dispersion throughout the compound. The track-specific Xtreme is constructed using similar nano-carbon technology, but separates itself from the Supersport version with fewer grooves and consequently more surface rubber for added grip. All versions of the 3D Ultra lineup additionally feature Avon’s Inverted Front Groove technology, which is claimed to inhibit uneven front tire wear.
The 3D Ultra lineup is broad enough to work in any number of environments. Nonetheless, Avon chose to debut its new rubber at the Almeria Circuit in Spain, a fast 14-corner circuit with a mixture of sweeping turns and quick transitions. Stormy conditions hindered the test initially, but eventually blew inland, allowing us multiple on-track sessions with various bikes of dissimilar displacement.
First to be levered on to each test bike was a set of 3D Ultra Sport tires. Track conditions in mind, I gave the Sport almost a full lap before I put much load on either the front or rear tire. I was surprised even still at how quickly the tire came to temperature and how I had zero “exciting” moments. According to Pete McNally, Head of Avon Motorcycle Tire Design, this is a direct benefit of the 3D sipes, which he claims “aren’t there to clear water, but only to help the tire warm up.” As the track dried and speeds increased, the Sport tire began to squirm a bit through the middle of the corner, exhibiting its street-oriented design brief. Nevertheless, the tire proved it could get the job done by offering great braking performance and adequate grip in less than ideal conditions.
What I like most about the 3D Ultra lineup is that with each subsequent version you get a noticeable increase in performance. With the Supersport, for instance, you get the same superb braking performance as with the Sport, but more feel from the rear tire mid-corner. Without that squirm at full lean you’re able to crack the throttle open sooner and accelerate through the corner better, all while grip levels remain adequate. Step up to the Xtreme and you’ll find even more benefits, including more grip at max lean and significantly quicker steering characteristics.
The Xtreme is still in its early stages of development, claims Avon, and as such only one compound is currently available. A 120/70-ZR17 front is offered for $215.26, in addition to a 180/55 and 190/55 rear that retails for $290.49 to $310.23. Both the Sport and Supersport have a broader fitment chart as well as a lower price tag; retail for the Sport front ranges from $172.08 to $195.67 while the rear goes for $236.63 to $310.72. Supersport fronts will cost you $182.33 to $197.08 and the rears $255.09 to $297.01.
Avon chose to launch its new 3D Ultra at a great time; with sportbike tire technology growing at such a feverish rate, its VP2 simply wasn’t going to put Avon at the forefront of the competition. Based on how versatile the lineup is however, the 3D Ultra could do just that.