Most sportbike owners know that tires need to be hot before they provide much grip. It is less of a factor on the street, but on track it’s easy to crash on the out lap. One moment you are riding—the next you’re wondering what happened.
However, there is more benefit to a set of tire warmers than just avoiding an expensive crash. By keeping the heat in the tires between track sessions, cold tear damage is avoided and, by minimizing the number of heat cycles (when the tires heat up and cool down), you can dramatically extending the life of your tires. A good set of tire warmers can quickly pay for themselves.
Chicken Hawk Racing tire warmers are the de facto standard in US racing paddocks, and the Digital Pro-Line is the top-of-the-line. The pair of warmers costs less than a couple of sets of Dunlop GP-As, and everything about them exudes premium quality, right down to the included hard- plastic carrying case.
Made from a highly flexible DuPont aramid fabric with a melt-proof inner liner, the Chicken Hawks also have stretchy neoprene sides to help contain the heat on windy days. The sections are double-stitched together—not just glued—so clearly the rigors of stretching them over tires multiple times won’t trouble them.
Thick hook-and-loop straps hold the warmers solidly in place, and (replaceable) elastic laces around the circumference ensure a snug fit across the entire tire width. This is critical to ensure the tires heat evenly, especially when heat soaking, where the entire carcass—not just the first few millimeters of rubber—is warmed.
Likewise the heat controllers are high quality, and the digital displays and easy-to-use buttons allow you to see, and easily set, the desired temperature. Chicken Hawk Racing works closely with tire engineers from all the major tire brands so that the critical ramp-up of heat precisely meets the tires’ needs.
Remember you will also need a front stand for the bike, a heavy-duty extension cord and, depending on your location, either access to a power outlet or a generator. Tire warmers draw about 1600 watts, so if you’re sharing a generator with a buddy, it will need to be a robust one.
Using the Chicken Hawk Racing Digital Pro-Line to warm Dunlop Sportmax Q3 tires on my Suzuki GSX-R1000, I was impressed firstly by how easy they are to use, and how accurately and quickly they reach the recommended temperature of 175 degrees. I have subsequently been pleased with how fresh and soft the Dunlops have stayed, and I have managed to get three full track days out of a set of Q3s, rather than two.
If you spend a good amount of time at the track and want to get the most performance and life out of your tires, this is a must-have product.
Story from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine; for subscription services, click here.