Nitto NT-01 Tire Review
Nitto NT-01 is a DOT R compound tire with a treadwear rating of 100. It slots in between street tires and softer/less durable R compound tires like Hoosier, Hankook and BFGoodrich. NT-01 is in the "bugdet" wear/performance category with Toyo RA-1 and Toyo R888.
Impressions - Early
With the right setup, NT-01 offered good grip and a very long life.
I ran primarily 225/45-15 tires on 949racing 6UL 15x9 wheels on my track prepared Miata. This was 949racing's recommended HPDE/track day tire and wheel combination until Maxxis RC-1 came out.
NT-01 in my experience had a small but noticeable grip curve where the tires experienced peak level of grip when they had about 1/4 tread remaining. I ran Nittos from full tread depth, never shaved, and I took tires off when they had no tread remaining. Lowest to highest grip levels were within a couple of seconds per lap, thus - in an HPDE setting - I never felt the need to remove tires from service due to them getting heat cycled, and I could live with lower grip level when the tires were brand new.
I was getting on the order of 20-30 track days out of a set of tires, probably 30-45 track hours.
With appropriate alignment settings, the tires wore evenly inside to outside. Appropriate alignment settings depend on driving style - more experienced and more aggressive drivers will want more camber compared to less experienced and less aggressive drivers. I used from -2 to -3.2 degrees of front camber as I progressed from intermediate to advanced driver, with rear camber 0.5 degrees more positive than front camber to balance the car.
I ran about 28 psi hot in 225/45-15 NT-01 on 15x9 wheels and both tire temperatures and wear were excellent. This low pressure was specific to NT-01s - once I switched to Toyo RRs and Maxxis RC-1s I started running much higher pressures that are more in line with what other people use (39-43 psi hot).
I also tried 205/50-15 NT-01 on 15x8 wheels. This combination had similar grip to 225/45-15 on 15x9 wheels - sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on where in the grip curves the respective tires were. With 205 width tires though I was unable to obtain even tire wear - the tires corded on strips about 1" from the inside and outside of the tires, despite me trying much higher pressures to balloon the tires out some.
Impressions - Late
After running Toyo RR and Maxxis RC-1 on the track, it seems to me that Nitto NT-01 offer markedly less grip than either of those tires. Lateral grip of NT-01s in particular feels lacking. However, NT-01 do well under braking in a non-ABS car, a trait shared by RRs in my experience but not so much by RC-1s.
In 2017 I would get Maxxis RC-1s over NT-01s as the tires have comparable cost and RC-1s have more lateral grip. I would also take Toyo RRs over NT-01s; RRs do cost more but I feel their longevity and lateral grip exceeds those of NT-01s and the tires are equal under braking.
Use In Competition
It was difficult to know ahead of time where Nittos were in their grip curve. The tires certainly were not fastest when they were brand new and unshaved. They were slowly getting faster until they started getting slower, and looking at a tire it was impossible to tell if they were in their sweet spot grip-wise.
As such, it was hard to arrange for a set of tires to be at their peak performance in a particular weekend. I would often have two sets of NT-01s in different states of wear and sometimes one would be faster than the other, while sometimes the first set would be faster.
It is possible that shaving NT-01 to 2/32" of tread would provide the fastest initial laps, but that would be throwing most of the tire away.