Leaning into the sweeping mountain turns, I am surprised at how different and good the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires feel on my BMW R 1200 RS. I had been riding on Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT tires and had been completely content with them until now.
While I put a lot of thought into the dual-sport tires I put on my adventure bike, I (wrongly) assumed there would not be much difference in feel between the top-tier road tires. Of course, I was moving from the do-it-all rain-worthy Michelin sport-touring tires to high-performance Pirellis worthy of a supersport motorcycle.
The R 1200 RS certainly fits one of Pirelli’s descriptions for the Rosso IV’s applications: “The ideal choice for…owners of sporty crossover bikes, who use their own vehicle for medium and long-haul excursions and who do not want to give up their sporty riding style in the most winding sections of the road.” It’s a full-silica tire with a dual compound in the front and triple-compound rear (dual-compound on smaller rear sizes).
My BMW R 1200 RS was on its second set of Michelins, and I had been pleased with how they performed in a variety of conditions. I noticed that the bike was eager to turn in, particularly at slow and moderate speeds. At times a bit too eager, which I had attributed to the motorcycle and not the tires.
Starting off on the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires, I noticed a difference immediately. Turn-in felt much more natural and linear, making the bike feel more stable and predictable. In addition, the tires felt firmer—not in a harsh way, just more stable. Finally, where the Michelins felt a little slippery when accelerating off the start and in hard turns, the Pirellis felt much more planted on the road.
The Rosso IVs are described by Pirelli as supersport tires designed for road use. Normally, I wouldn’t think of a supersport tire for most sport-touring motorcycles. However, higher torque engines, such as the BMW boxer, quickly deliver a high amount of power to the rear tires. This is why the Michelin’s felt a little squirmy during acceleration. The Rosso IVs felt more connected to the road, handling the delivery of power to the rear wheel better.
The technical wizardry behind the firm feeling and linear turn-in, according to Pirelli, includes increased cord stiffness and differentiating stiffness by lean angle. In addition, tire contour/profile design is intended to improve transitions from lean to upright, plus quick changes in direction.
My frequent riding companion Alex has had a few opportunities to ride my motorcycle with the previous tires and the new Rossos. Here is his assessment:
Like Freeman, I rode his BMW R 1200 RS on the previous set of tires as well as the Rosso IVs. Unlike Freeman, I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge about tires. I’m new to riding. As a result, any ride I do is new, thrilling, and feels more than a little dangerous. Anything a motorcycle can offer to make me more safe and secure while riding is hugely appreciated.
The previous tires felt like they did exactly what I needed them to do—keep me upright on a very fast 125 horsepower sport-touring. My initial experience on the big boxer was way more sport than it was touring. Since then, I have put about 1500 miles on the RS, with an almost equal amount of time spent on each pair of tires.
The Diablo Rosso IVs have upped my riding game immensely. Granted, more time on a bike breeds familiarity and builds confidence, but the Pirellis have played a huge part, too. They have kept me planted over beautiful, brand new highway asphalt, sketchy cracked and patched city streets, and bumpy backroads littered with pebbles. They’ve even helped me conquer the deceptively treacherous rain grooves on my local interstate. The Diablo Rossi IVs handled exceptionally well on all of these roads, which allowed me to focus on my riding.
Last week, I made a spirited (or really, really fast) run through the Sierra Nevadas, home to some of the world’s greatest long, loping curves and tight, angular twisties. The Diablo Rossi IV tires were in their element. I hit the brakes hard on my way into turns and then accelerated hard out of them. They gave me the confidence to hold speed through quarter-mile sweepers. Loose dirt from rockslides was easily handled, too. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires were all-in on the fun—they even let me scrape the pegs a few times.
The tread pattern design and compounds used in the tires are designed to contribute to good wear and traction in various conditions. I could not test either of these attributes during the initial testing of the tires. However, my unscientific assessment from observation of the tread patterns and depth was that wet weather performance and longevity may not be as good as more touring-focused tires. Visual perceptions can be deceiving, however. With more miles planned, longevity and wet weather performance of the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV will be better assessed—we will be updating this story as we accumulate more data.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Sizes
All tires ZR-rated, except as noted
- 110/70 x 17 (R and ZR rated)
- 120/60 x 17
- 120/70 x 17
- 140/70 x 17 (R only)
- 150/60 x 17 (R and ZR rated)
- 160/60 x 17
- 180/55 x 17
- 180/60 x 17
- 190/50 x 17
- 190/55 x 17
- 200/55 x 17
- 200/60 x 17
Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Pricing Examples
- 120/70 x 17: $191 MSRP
- 190/55 x 17: $297 MSRP
Note: Tires are typically deeply discounted