Turn-in and transitions are a bit heavy despite the SportAttack 2’s steeper profile, but mid-corner grip is superb both front and rear. The real benefit of the new SportAttack rubber is its ability to build temperature almost immediately.
The SportAttack 2 is marketed as a Sport/Hypersport tire and is best compared to the Pirelli Rosso II the Bridgestone S20. Tread pattern is described as having the “Attack family look.”
At 58 degrees, the Contidrom’s oval banking offers an eye-opening experience no amusement park ride could come close to. It also offers Continental a chance to test tire durability and its test riders’ bravery.
The SportAttack 2 impressed on the wet handling course, allowing us to push beyond what the average rider would on a wet canyon road with no overly exciting moments. Notice the sprinklers lining the perimeter of the course.
Ten years ago Continental Tires made a corporate decision to re-focus its energy on motorcycle tire development. The well-backed push has resulted in an impressive number of tire introductions, a blossoming of technology and an overall boost in Continental’s two-wheeled presence. Among the many tires that have emerged as a part of the shift in trends is the new ContiSportAttack 2. Introduced as an update to the already impressive ContiSportAttack, the revamped SportAttack 2 features much of Continental’s already established technology as well as smaller refinements throughout.
Continental’s relationship with BMW and continued work with the S 1000 RR was instrumental in the development of the SportAttack 2, claims Andreas Faulstich, Conti’s head of motorcycle tire marketing and sales. Through its testing with the ’12 RR, Conti has adopted a steeper profile that’s in-line with the manufacturer’s Dynamic Ride Technology and claimed to provide responsive steering through transitions in addition to stability at speed. Continental’s Activated Silica Compound has been reworked as well; it now features a higher concentration of silica for increased grip in the wet and improved stiffness at lower temperatures.
While not a new technology, Conti’s latest SportAttack rubber utilizes the company’s Continuous Compound Technology. CCT is — to put it simply — the German tire manufacturer’s answer to the multi-compound obsession; it does away with compound joints, effectively getting rid of uneven tire wear and tire squirm while still providing varying levels of stiffness across the width of the tire. Naturally, the mid-section of the tire is harder (for straight-line stability and mileage) and the shoulders softer (for grip at maximum lean). Continental’s famed Black Chili compound is another carryover; it enables quicker tire warm-up and permits less block-edge rollover, thus improving acceleration and braking performance.
Moving further outward, the SA 2 utilizes Conti’s Traction Skin. This avant-garde technology makes use of a coarse outer tread that provides increased grip during tire break-in, eliminating the greasy feeling often associated with new rubber. The tread pattern is similarly updated with the “Attack family look,” making the SA 2 a difficult tire to distinguish in the company of its predecessor — or any Conti sport tire for that matter. But there’s a method behind the tread-pattern madness, claims the Continental technicians. According to them, the groove geometry reinforces the tire against deformation while braking and accelerating. The fact that it increases brand recognition is just icing on the cake.
A recent trip to Continental’s famed Contidrom test facility in Germany would confirm whether or not the slight changes to the SportAttack formula are as beneficial as the spec sheet makes them out to be. Over the course of two days assembled press ran laps around the manufacturer’s dry handling track, wet handling track and eye-opening 58-degree banked oval. Testing was then taken to the street, where we had the chance to test the tire’s straight-line stability on the autobahn, bump absorption in the canyons and overall performance in the real-world environment; this test was nothing short of all-inclusive.
Continental’s dry handling course is designed to replicate typical German roads, with a number of fast sweepers and a handful of tight chicanes. In the saddle of a fresh-tire-equipped Kawasaki ZX-6R, I found the SA 2 to come to optimum temperature almost immediately, allowing me to (comfortably) drop my knee to the tarmac within just four short corners. Lean angles were increased accordingly, and before the first lap concluded I was already able to ride the tire at 100 percent, a sure benefit of the Black Chili compound and Traction Skin.
The SportAttack 2 was designed to perform well in every category, not to necessarily excel in one specific area. That said, the tire performs admirably in almost every aspect, with adequate grip through the middle and exit of the corner and decent feedback through the carcass. The tire isn’t the most reactive at turn-in or through a tight chicane however, and it took some effort to get our SA 2-shod ZX-6R banked into the corner; this all despite the tire’s new profile. The tires are competent on the brakes, with plenty of grip and decent levels of feedback when trail braking into the corner.
Throughout the course of the day, our SportAttack 2 test rubber was dialed in with street pressures (36 psi in the front and 42 in the rear, according to Continental technicians). Despite the high pressures and ham-fisted inputs, grip levels remained impressive throughout multiple seven-plus-lap stints on track. When the tires did begin to wear, slides were prevalent but with some forewarning. And when slides began, they were extremely smooth and controllable.
The SportAttack 2’s performance levels on the dry handling track were mirrored on the wet handling track. Grip was superb, even despite my pushing limits beyond what would be comfortable on a wet canyon road, and steering characteristics were admirable even through the vast number of puddles the Conti sprinklers had managed to muster up.
On the autobahn and through the German backcountry, the SA 2 proved to be a strong performer. Straight-line stability was superb even as the speedometer climbed past the 160 mph mark (on the autobahn!), and grip remained consistent during the course of our 200-plus-mile street ride. Bump absorption with the OE pressures wasn’t overly impressive, but overall ride quality was sufficient.
As Continental’s Andreas Faulstich put it, the SportAttack 2 wasn’t designed to provide the absolute best grip in the wet, fastest lap times in the dry or outright mileage. It was designed to be an all-around tire — the Model T of the sportbike tire market if you will. After countless hours on the rubber, I can assure you that the SA 2 is exactly that; the tire is an admirable performer in every category, with high levels of grip in the wet or dry, sufficient feedback and impressive wear characteristics. 10 years later and Continental’s re-focusing is still paying off.
The SportAttack 2 is currently available in an assortment of 17-inch offerings, with a total of three fronts and five rears already on the market. Pricing ranges between $165 – $175 (fronts) and $225 – $255 (rears).
Also important to note, Continental has launched two additional tires in conjunction with the SportAttack 2, the ContiAttack SM (Super Moto) and ContiRoadAttack 2 CR (Classic Racing). Like the SA 2, the radial RoadAttack 2 CR runs Continuous Compound Technology, Traction Skin and Black Chili, although it also utilizes a polyester carcass for cooler running temps. The SM tire, in contrast, was developed through Continental’s relationship with KTM.