How do I scrub in new tires?

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We've had a number of people disagree with this article over the years, but here goes: There is no release compound on tires today (at least among the major brands). There's no real 'slickness' to speak of, either. What you will find is that a new tire will have a rounder profile than a squared-off old one, which requires multitudes less effort to turn in. You can literally turn your bike right into the ground using the Old force on New tires.

This comes up time and time again, but club roadracers put on sticker (factory new) tires bought from a local dealer, run out and do their sighting lap, then start into the race full tilt boogie. That's about 2 miles before they're pushing tires harder than most street riders, on the same tires bought from the same dealerships you can go to. This is also without the use of tire warmers (which do eliminate the 'slickness' that comes with cold tires), sandpaper, or anything else.

Don't just take our word for it. Pirelli North America Racing Manager Cristoph Knoche, in an interview for Sport Rider magazine, said that the only place release compounds are used these days is on the sidewalls of the tires, to make the information molded into that area more readable. Give it a read.

It is still recommended that people take it easy for the first couple of rides (if shorter rides), or handful of miles (on the first longer ride), but it's very much not for 'slickness' issues. It's to give you time to adjust to the different handling characteristics that the new tires have. Dunlop recommends the same thing.

Now, as often as this is said, there are always the people who want to play it safe and scrub in their tires anyway. So, go find that big, empty parking lot and do some low-speed maneuvers: Figure 8's, loops, leaning the bike over to get to the edges of the tires. One hint for this is to hang off the wrong way. If you're doing a left-hand loop, for example, hang off to the right. This will make the bike lean further than it normally would. (Be careful.) Another suggestion is to ride the bike down a gravel road for a couple miles, if that's an option for you.

In half an hour or so you should be ready to take it to the street and turn carefully and progressively faster.