You may ask why I am reviewing this tyre. “OnTheBackWheel, this tyre is old! Review the latest and greatest wanky sports tyre.” Yes this tyre is an old model and yes it may not have the wank factor that some of the newer tyres possess, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still worth buying (and yes you can still buy them!).
So, a little bit about the tyres before I get into how they ride. The BT023 are a sports touring tyre that was released by Bridgestone back in 2010. I find the ‘sports touring’ tag puts a lot of people off, but it shouldn’t. They are still better than most of us and are ultimately just a sports tyre that lasts longer and works well in the wet. The rear tyre has a three layer compound, hard in the centre for commuting work and sticky on the edges for playing in the corners. The front tyre has an angled groove pattern that helps disperse water when you are riding in the wet. If you have a larger touring style bike (FJR, K1200 etc.), the 023’s also come in a GT variety.
Enough jargon, how are the tyres? The first thought that comes to mind with the BT023’s is they are neutral. What do I mean by neutral? Their tip in is progressive and consistent. In fact, this can be said for a lot of Bridgestone’s. They don’t drop in like a full on sports tyre, but nonetheless I had no problems getting a knee down in the mountains. The change of direction is neither on the fast nor slow side, again consistent and predictable. They are pretty bloody hard to fault through the twisties and I pushed them well past legal speeds (on private roads…). Ultimately, if you are only doing mountain riding on a high end sports bike, something like the Bridgestone S21’s are that bit softer, have a steeper profile and will provide better feel. But these tyres can still hustle with the best of them and it’s only when you are well into ‘go straight to jail, do not pass go’ territory that you may notice any real difference.
Where the Bridgestone’s come into their element is on the commute and day to day riding. They don’t square off like a proper sports tyre and will last a full year of riding. For someone like me who does roughly 12000km’s (7500miles) a year, this is gold.
They are much better in the wet than a sports tyre too. I get caught out in the rain frequently on the way to work and I’ve never had any issues with them. The 023’s never squirmed or broke traction on corner exits.
How about on the track? I’d honestly have no hesitation using them on a track day. Look, they are not going to be as good as a proper sports tyre let alone slicks, but if you are in the slow to intermediate group, these will be fine.
In terms of tyre life, expect up to 15000km’s (9000miles) from a set. That’s damn good going, especially factoring in their price.
For my USA based readership, you can get them from http://www.bikebandit.com for $228 a set delivered. That’s stupidly cheap for what is a solid tyre. If you haven’t heard of Bikebandit, they are probably the best motorcycle parts store getting around at the moment. They also have a massive sale on Bridgestone motorcycle tires. For my Aussie readers, hit me up and I’ll find some deals for you.
So even though the BT023’s are old as the hills should you buy them? Yes, but only if you get them for the right price. When looking at new tyres, I generally have a few in mind then check prices. The 023’s have been usurped by the T30’s and if they are the same price or cheaper, get them. I had BT023’s on my Cagiva Raptor 1000 and then T30’s on my ZX10. I like both more than the Michelin Pilot Road 4’s (and they are significantly cheaper). I found the T30’s to be very similar to the BT023’s, but they have a slightly higher dry performance ceiling.
If you want a budget sports tyre with a bit of longevity, the BT023’s are hard to go past. And if you look realistically at the kind of riding you are doing, this style of tyre is probably more than enough for your street bike.
Keep it OnTheBackWheel people…