There are many questions and comments about tire warmers. Do you need them? How do you use them properly? What are the benefits of using them? I have witnessed track day and club racers using them incorrectly, and I have seen drivers disregard tire warmers when they really should be used.
So, we thought it was time to set the record straight and answer some of the most common questions about these mysterious rubber heaters. Don't worry, we won't get too technical, but even those who regularly attend club races or are track day enthusiasts may like to keep their ears taped to the back....
A tyre warmer warms up your motorbike's tyres so that you can ride hard from the start - it's that simple. In a race, you don't have time - or enough warm-up laps - to warm up your tyres as you would on a track day. Instead, you have to go into the first corner quickly, and tyre pre-heaters ensure that your rubber is at race temperature when you arrive. This has a number of obvious and not-so-obvious benefits.
You can ride into turn one confidently on pre-warmed race rubber (once scrubbed).
Cold race tyres can feel bad because the tyre pressure is not correct (tyre pressure increases with heat). Salvo Pennisi, head of motorbike testing at Pirelli, told us: "Depending on the ambient temperature, the pressure can vary between four and six pounds".
A pre-heated tyre will last longer and will not tear cold.
The grip should remain consistent as the temperature stays the same.
Properly heated racing tyres will provide more grip, feel and confidence, allowing you to lap more safely and consistently, which should equate to faster lap times.
All tyres work better with a certain amount of heat, even road/touring tyres. Some road tyres are designed to work in cold conditions and therefore do not need tyre preheaters, but gentle preheating is an advantage for road and sports road tyres. It is advantageous to use a tyre warmer on road tyres as long as you can set the temperature of the warmer low enough: around 50-60 degrees for road tyres. You should not bake road tyres to 80 degrees as you do with slicks.
With some slicks, you don't need a tyre warmer, but race slicks need to be warmed up, and some more than others. In fact, some slicks are simply unusable in the cold and must have tyre heaters, and many need to be baked so that they are almost too hot to touch. This depends entirely on the type of slick tyre. When buying slick or racing tyres, it is important to consult your dealer not only for the recommended tyre pressure, but also for the correct temperature to warm the tyres.