Pirelli Sport Demon Motorcycle Tire Test: Dousing the Devil

Back in July 2020, we replaced the original equipment Metzeler tires on my 2015 Triumph T214 Bonneville with a set of Pirelli Sport Demon tires. After the tires arrived, there was a long pause due to business closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, I was able to get them professionally mounted at Triumph of Sauk County.

At the end of a truly weird December 15, a date which saw temperatures here in southern Wisconsin soar to 68°F and allowed me to get out on the road with the Triumph one last time for 2021, the Pirellis had 3,011 miles on them. On that remarkable late autumn day, I added about 35 miles on roads wet with condensation shoulder-to-shoulder, as very humid warm air wafted over pavement that only two days ago had been snow-covered, with stretches of ice.

Pirelli Sport Demon Test: Rain Review

Pirelli describes the Sport Demon as an “X-ply tire for touring motorcycles.” The tires feature a multi-radius profile that Pirelli says promotes excellent traction in wet or dry road surfaces and long mileage wear. Though I’m not a big fan of riding in the wet, I did it on this and one other occasion with the Pirellis—Sunday, August 2, 2020.

The afternoon was cool, but the clouds were finally breaking up, with splotches of blue sky getting more numerous. It took on the look of a good day for thrash west toward the Mississippi River, through the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

By the time I got about 50 miles out, the blue sky seemed less prominent, and some dark clouds that hung low rolled in from the northwest, loaded with moisture. I began a loop back toward home, just in case a downpour was in store.

There were several downpours, yet I managed to miss all of them, though not by much. Then, on a superb, newly paved county trunk Highway M, I was slinging the Bonneville through its veering course when the road suddenly went from bone dry to having water ponded up in the low spots and no dry pavement in sight. No rain was falling, but it was clear that a real gully-washer had just passed through.

Pirelli Sport Demon Test: For Sale
The Pirelli Sport Demon on the rear of the Triumph Bonneville shows some tread depth loss, with visible flattening of the profile in the midline of the tread after 3011 miles, with room for many more miles.

By now, the Pirellis had a couple hundred miles on them, so the “take it easy on new tires” rule didn’t apply. But the combination of brand-new, potentially oily blacktop saturated with fresh rainwater suggested that trying to drag the footpegs in the road’s numerous tight corners could lead to other things contacting the pavement, as well.

Still, it was a prime time to give the wet traction characteristics of the Sport Demons a cautious try. Both front and rear have impressive sipe in the tread pattern. The zig-zag rain groove on the rear tire and deep, weaving rain groove on the front should give both decent tread life and efficient water channeling out of the contact patch.

Pirelli Sport Demon Test: MSRP

I decided to gradually wick up the speed approaching, though not matching the speed I would use on each corner if it were dry pavement. Braking and acceleration would be as smooth as possible.

After about seven or eight miles, the pavement began to dry, and I was impressed by the grip the Pirellis provided in the wet. The road offered hilly terrain with lots of corners and opportunities to check out the road-holding in both wet and dry conditions on fresh pavement. The Pirellis provided consistent traction in both.

To learn more about motorcycle tires, read Motorcycle Tires Safety Standards Explained and Top 10 Things to Know About Motorcycle Tires

By the time I reached home, I had encountered two more stretches of wet pavement, I was soaked from the waist down, and the bike looked like I had ridden it through an open sewer. However, I did get a good chance to experience the Pirellis’ handling in the wet.

The tread pattern on the rear tire features a chicane-style rain groove that has the benefit of channeling water away from the mid-line contact patch, while increasing the amount of tread in the center patch. Those features should enhance both tread life and traction in the wet. The front tire utilizes a midline rain groove that weaves back and forth across the tread centerline. The shoulder tread sipes come close, but do not connect center groove. From the riding I’ve done to this point, that appears to work out well.

Pirelli Sport Demon Test: Sizes
The Pirelli Sport Demon on the front of the Triumph Bonneville shows minimal tread depth loss, plenty of rain groove, and a smooth, round profile after 3011 miles.

With just over 3,000 miles on the Pirellis, ride and handling have proven to be a good match for the agility of the Bonneville. As was the case with my first impressions, on day-long road trips on state highways, county trunks, and township blacktop roads ranging from super-smooth recently paved surfaces and stretches of chip-sealed pea gravel, to battered, hot-patched, rough town roads on a hot, dry day, the grip and ride are excellent.

Control and stability on braking and braking/cornering combination maneuvers has been predictable and solid, even with the Triumph’s non-ABS brakes. Treadwear is visibly negligible at this point on the front and minimal, though visible, on the rear tire.

Pirelli Sport Demon tires are available in a broad range of choices. Front wheel tires fit rim sizes from 16 to 19 inches, which rear tires made for rims from 15 to 18 inches in diameter. Widths and profiles also vary widely.

We’ll keep you in the loop regarding tread wear and more details on how the Pirelli Sport Demon tires hold up in routine use when we present our long-term test.