This question actually came from one of our readers who asked what an asymmetric motorcycle tire was and was it something they needed at the track. The answer to the second part of the question is simple. No, you almost certainly do not need an asymmetric motorcycle tire. They are an extremely specialized tire that is only used for a few tracks in MotoGP each year and then only for specific classes. Any amateur or even semi-professional using them would be engaging in overkill.
So lets look at the first part of the question then – what is an asymmetrical motorcycle tire? The term asymmetric actually means different things in the tire world depending on who you speak to and what the tire is used for. For the vast majority, an asymmetric tire describes an asymmetric tread pattern (that is, not symmetrical). This term is almost solely used for cars, as the unlike a bike where the tire leans, a car tire turns.
In the world of motorcycles, an asymmetric tire usually refers to a tire that has differing compounds on the respective shoulders of the tire. For example, one side of the tire may have a soft compound and the other a super soft compound. Such a tire is used at tracks that have a considerably higher amount of cornering forces on one particular side. Such a force increases temperatures on that side of the tire, while the other side experiences lower temperatures. The difficulty then created is two extremes on either side of the tire at a single track.
Bridgestone, the current tire supplier for MotoGP has been supplying asymmetric rear slick tires for a number of years now. And this year they’re introducing an asymmetrical front slick for use at Phillip Island and Valencia this year.
So unless you race at particular circuits and are so good that you’re at the extreme limits of your tire, there’s absolutely no need for you to ever make use of an asymmetrical motorcycle tire. Nevertheless it’s an interesting piece of tire technology and shows just how far the elite riders push the limits of their machines.