2011 Middleweight Sportbike Shootout - Track [Video]
Can the GSX-R750 hold off the 675R and 848 EVO at the track?
When deciding a winner based on track impressions, there’s a qualifier one needs to take into consideration: purpose. What do you intend to do with the bike?
This is one of those tests where our hearts and our laptimes aren’t exactly in agreement. Make no mistake, all three machines are well suited for track duties, but to us a trackday is all about having a good time. Whether you ride alone or with your friends, the machine you’re on should give you a smile each time you ride it. And in that regard, all three of our testers gravitate towards the Triumph 675R. Its quick steering, nimble handling, linear powerband and, most importantly, distinctive personality remind us each time we throw a leg over it just why we enjoy riding on the track.
But when it comes to track testing, the numbers don’t lie. Considering how each one of the testers went quicker on the Suzuki GSX-R750 than any of the other machines, that’s a testament to the Gixxer’s performance and Suzuki’s experience building track-ready weapons. Also earning consideration for the Suzi’s top ranking is the huge amount of aftermarket support for GSX-Rs.
And it’s for these reasons that we name the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 the winner of our Oddball Sportbike track shootout. This backs up the top spot it earned during our street evaluations as well. Congratulations, Suzuki.
|Bridgestone Battlax R10|
As motorcycle manufacturers are constantly pouring money into research and development to make their machines go faster around a track, tire manufacturers are also devoting time and resources to ensure the rubber that meets the road can handle these new technologies.
New from Bridgestone, for example, is the the Battlax R10. Utilizing the experience gained from being the sole tire provider in MotoGP, the R10 replaces the BT003 as Bridgestone’s premier D.O.T.-approved racing tire. An all-new tread design incorporating 3D grooves maximizes stability under braking and acceleration, while the carcass of the tire utilizes “flexibility-optimized construction” to help it come up to temperature quickly and provide maximum grip.
Profile shape for the R10 assumes a broader stance, moving away from the more triangulated profiles from years past. Bridgestone says the vertical grooves in the middle of the front tire “optimize steering angle” at slight lean, while they “enhance grip performance” and help make slides easier to manage in the rear. Bridgestone also uses a Mono-Spiral belt — a single strand of cord around the circumference of the tire — to minimize tire growth at high speeds.
Bucking a trend used by other tire manufacturers, the R10 does not use multiple-compounds in a single tire. A medium compound is the only front tire option, while medium or hard options are the choices for the rear. Bridgestone contends that the R10 doesn’t need multiple compounds because they’re made to be effective in a wide range of conditions. The company also claims a big improvement on initial grip compared to the BT003, plus a higher overall grip level that’s sustained for the same, if not longer, period of time than its predecessor.
Bridgestone sent us the hard compound rear tire for our track day, taking into consideration the hot ambient temperature at the California track. Tire warmers weren’t used during our testing, yet it only took one full lap to bring the tires up to temperature. Feedback from the tires was excellent, though Duke did notice that at the recommended cold tire pressure of 28 psi front and 27 psi rear, all three bikes were slower to steer compared to the day prior on our street ride. For that we had the tires inflated approximately seven psi higher at each end.
We were really impressed by the edge grip offered by the ‘Stones and even more impressed with its durability — after more than 100 miles of racetrack thrashing, the R10s maintained their high grip levels the entire day without a single slide or protest. Rest assured, we were worn out well before the tires.
Bridgestone has a winner in the new R10. Whether you’re a racer fighting for wins or a trackday junky looking to get the most out of your tires, the R10 is the real deal. Available in a 120/70-17 front and 180/55 or 190/55-17 rear, check out http://www.bridgestonemotorcycletires.com/ for a vendor near you.