Bridgestone Battlax S20 - Long Term Test

Early October 2012 and I get a call from Jonathan @ Tyre reviews asking if I would like to test some new Bridgestone's. Perfect, but which ones? Before I know it Jonathan gets the nod from Bridgestone for me to test the new S20 on my GSX650 F 09 used for commuting. Are you sure I asked.

I had read the press thoughts on the S20s – fast road and track day tyre were the points that stood out. A Hyper sport tyre through winter on my commuter, not the first thing I would think of doing. How would they cope with the cold and wet? And the big concern was how would they last?

First Outing

Luckily my first few rides on the S20s was in rather pleasant, almost spring like conditions. These S20s certainly warm up quickly, but I expected that given their softer compound compared with that of the normal touring tyres I run on the 650F. What I didn't expect was the level of feel and feedback which is brimming with detail. I've used a variety of Bridgestone's in the past and whilst they have never scared me, I have never really had the confidence in them due to this lack of feedback (personal opinion). The S20s certainly sorts this out and gave me the confidence I was looking for.

Day to Day

The big surprise is the exceptional wet grip even in freezing conditions even when comparing these to the touring tyres I'm used to. During my time with the S20s I've not had any moments to speak of. I think this speaks volumes for the amount of grip these produce. I would go as far to say that these are better in the wet than the touring tyres I have run of late. After a month or so I really did get the idea that these were too much of a tyre for the 650F.

Whether wet or dry initial turn in is crisp and stable with plenty of feedback to know what’s going, especially with the front end. Mid corner, the bike remains planted, but always felt I had options. I had to test this theory one morning when a car swapped lanes mid corner in front of me with a fair amount of lean angle. The S20s just gripped some more and turned tighter. Very Impressive!

From mid corner to the exit they are equally impressive, but with only 85 bhp on tap, pinning the throttle doesn't even bother the rear. In the dry at least I have been scraping the pegs, more than ever, without really trying.

Could I really recommend a hyper sport tyre for the daily commute?

It was starting to look that way. But sadly after just 3960 miles the rear was through to the cord. Compare this to the 10,000 and 12,000 miles that I consistently get out of Dunlop and Michelin touring tyres and I’m sorry but, for me at least as I cover 500 miles a week on the 650 F, it just doesn't add up.

Bridgestone claim better tyre life in their marketing material. I've assumed this is over the BT-016 Pro that the S20s replace. I can't comment on the BT-016 Pro as I not used them. I also feel that my summary of tyre life could be seen as harsh when comparing them to the touring based rubber as this isn't their intended market.

However, if you only have one bike, commute a handful of miles, have a bit of fun at weekends and/or maybe the odd track day - the Bridgestone S20s are certainly worth a look as whilst they don't last as long as I need, their performance on road is mighty.

Jaime Ayres

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