A control tyre is essential for comparative testing equality, which is why we worked with long-term SBOTY partners, Bridgestone and dressed all eight bikes in R10 rubber for a Grippy McGrip fest. The R10 is Bridgestone’s top-shelf trackday and racing tyre, and proved to be a hefty upgrade in grip for all SBOTY contenders. The R6 used a 180-section rear and, with no 200-section available, a 190 rear was fitted to the big boys without hindrance to electronics or handling – the only recalibration needed was theAprilia’s complex APRC tech, which requires riding along at 25mph at constant throttle. All tyres were the slightly harder Type 2 to allow two days of uninterrupted spanking.
While the R10s are road-legal, they’re best suited to circuit use and will never disappoint: as much grip as you’ll ever need from the get-go and wonderfully progressive drop-off that’s unrivalled in motorcycling. There’s also a far racier profile over OE fitment, which seriously sharpened steering for some. With no warmers, the R10 took a few laps to obtain heat and confidence when new. Once scrubbed in, everything was dandy and we relied on the Algarve heat to allow kneedown antics within half a lap.
Pressures are vital on track and with Gary from Bridgestone on hand with his wanger, the fronts were set at 31psi and rears at 27psi hot. Every bike did at least 100 laps without rubber issues, the Panigale mustering well over 120 – although the rear looked like a slick, lap times were within a second or two of its brand-new state. Wow...
There were no suspension adjustments needed. Every bike just revelled in extra grip, more corner speed and trail braking. The only modification carried out to the SBOTY fleet was the removal of the hero blobs, particularly the Fireblade’s shank-like weapons...
All hands to the pumps! After fitting many tyres, PT got busy!