Tire warmers, once regarded as an exotic piece of track kit primarily intended for professional roadracers, have gained widespread acceptance among amateur club racers and even track-day enthusiasts. While racers are looking to maximize grip from the very start of a race, the benefits of pre-heating your tires to their recommended operating temperature prior to heading onto the track goes beyond simply reducing the risk of a cold-tire incident.
Racing compounds, even of the DOT-approved supersport variety, typically work best within a relatively narrow temperature range and can be susceptible to cold tearing if cornered too hard before they are fully warm. This ripping of the tread occurs when the rubber is notably cooler beneath the surface.
Chicken Hawk Racing updated its racing-developed Digital Pro-Line Tire Warmers this year for improved performance and ease of use. Visually, the most-notable change is the addition of deep neoprene sidepanels that keep wind from cooling the wheels and sinking heat out of the tires. Also, the temperature-control units are now affixed to the warmers, making for a tidier package with one detachable power cord per warmer.
Temperature is still controlled by a solid-state microprocessor, allowing the target temperature “set point” to be changed in 1-degree Fahrenheit steps ranging from 14 to 225 degrees using the +/- buttons. The controller’s backlit LCD provides simultaneous readings for set point, current temperature and a runtime counter. Another new feature is a heat-soak operation mode that more slowly ramps up temperature to avoid the possibility of shocking the tires when heating them from a completely cold state.
An hour on heat soak with a set point of 175 degrees proved ideal for the Dunlop D211 GP-As mounted on our testbike prior to the first track session of the day. Once the tires were fully warmed, we set the pressures to Dunlop’s “hot” recommendation. That eliminated all the guesswork in regard to pressure fluctuations and tire temperatures. Upon returning to the pits, we put the bike onto front/rear stands and wrapped the warmers around the tires.
Repeated heat cycles degrade the peak grip of any tire, especially sport or race rubber. Chicken Hawk recommends lowering the set point to 135 degrees between sessions to avoid a heat cycle, then, about 25 minutes before the next session, returning the set point to 175 and repeating the process throughout the day. Theoretically, if you follow this procedure all day, you will only subject the tires to one heat cycle rather than multiple ones caused by letting the tires cool completely between sessions.
Not only did the Pro-Line Tire Warmers help us get the most of our bike’s race-spec rubber, rolling out on pre-baked “chicken” skins boosted rider confidence. That’s worth chewing on.
Chicken Hawk Racing
54 Elizabeth St. #10
Red Hook, NY 12571
• Improved tire performance and durability
• Easy to use, broad temperature adjustment
• NASA-like look and quality construction
• Side skirts add more material to thread through tight space between front fender and tire
• Not big enough to sleep in on cold nights