News that World superbike (and British superbike) tyre supplier Pirelli was to axe 16.5-inch tyres in favour of 17-inchers for WSB from 2013 slipped out almost unnoticed.
The move takes advantage of Pirelli’s stranglehold over production racing; with the single-make tyre rules in WSB and BSB, there’s no danger of a rival manufacturer rocking up and beating them using a 16.5-inch tyre. Pirelli is clearly laughing all the way to the nearest pizza palace at getting the opportunity to showcase tyres on the World stage that, conveniently, they can sell you for your trackday bike.
Companies that won’t be laughing quite so hard might be the manufacturers of aftermarket wheels such as Marchesini, BST and Oz – not having an order for twelve sets of 16.5 inch wheels from each world or British superbike team for 2013 is likely to sting the account orders books. That said, a track wheel doesn’t need to meet the same strength requirements as an OE road wheel which has to withstand such foreseeable abuse as two fat blokes wheelying up a kerb, so maybe the aftermarket rollers will still offer a worthwhile advantage.
In the meantime, come the end of 2012, eBay will be crammed full of 16.5 inch wheels being sold off by race teams and we’re sure our chums at Dunlop and Michelin will be happy to help you out with slicks that will still fit.