Fast Bikes - - TEST -

Ac­tu­ally, it’s a lie to say we fit­ted the S20s to the Kwack – they’d been al­ready chucked on by the men at Kawasaki over in Ja­pan. The fi­nal spec of these OE tyres isn’t re­ally de­cided by Bridge­stone. As in the case of all OE rub­ber, tyre firms are given a brief by the bike man­u­fac­turer in terms of what they want from a tyre, and in­structed to pro­vide a suit­able end prod­uct. As Gary wasn’t privy to Kawasaki’s de­sign brief he said it was dif­fi­cult for him to com­ment on the per­for­mance of the S20s fit­ted to the SX.

“OE tyres can vary ei­ther sub­tly or com­pletely dif­fer­ently to the stan­dard af­ter­mar­ket ver­sion of the tyre. Pro­files, com­pound, car­cass ma­te­ri­als, con­struc­tion, tread pat­tern and depth, or even the over­all size of a tyre can vary to lesser or greater de­grees. They can end up be­ing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the stuff you buy over the counter,” said Gary.

On the road the S20s felt fairly de­cent. Grip, feel, steer­ing, wet per­for­mance was all good enough for us not to com­plain. But ul­ti­mately it was the two key as­pects of heavy weight and crude sus­pen­sion that de­cided the limit of the bike and tyre’s progress. At Oul­ton, the S20s were okay, but no more. The bike’s elec­tron­ics looked af­ter us well enough when­ever we got too giddy with the throt­tle or brakes, though again that was prob­a­bly more of a re­flec­tion of the pa­ram­e­ters set by Kawasaki’s tech­ni­cians than the ab­so­lute grip of the rub­ber.

They were asked to do a tough job, and the com­bi­na­tion of fairly big power, rel­a­tively poor wheel con­trol and need­ing to sup­port a lot of ki­los be­gan to show. There was a vague feel when­ever you pushed the bike re­ally hard, and the roughed-up look of the rub­ber showed the strain they’d been put un­der. Gary was keen to de­fend the tyres and added that, un­like the stan­dard over the counter S20s – which have since been su­per­seded by the S20EVOs and S21s – the ones on the Kawasaki may well have not been de­signed for track­day use. What­ever, just like the bike it­self, they were fine up to a point, but it was al­ways wise to re­spect their lim­its. For all we know, Bridge­stone may have been in­structed to make a more durable ver­sion to give sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter mileage.

The OE S20s did a job, but not much more. If you wear them out this far, you’re do­ing well! And may need some new ones... The Bridge­stone range sec­tion we care about!

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