(Top) As usual, Bridgestone strikes a good compromise between price and performance with the S20 coming in as the third most affordable. (Bottom) While we genuinely enjoyed riding the Bridgestone, so-so execution in key scoring areas along with its lengthy warm-up time allowed it to slide back in the rankings.
In the A group Bridgestone chose to run its Battlax S20 tire. Unveiled in 2012, the S20 is an evolution of the Japanese tire company’s more affordable BT-016 Pro (B group). It benefits from a revised tread arrangement and tweaked dual-compound rubber mixtures for enhanced traction on road surfaces.
As usual, Bridgestone strikes a good compromise between price and performance with the S20 coming in as the third most affordable. It’s a scant $3 more than the Continental but nearly $90 less than the Avon Xtreme 3, $67 fewer than Michelin, and $235 less than Pirelli’s SP.
A visit to the scale demonstrates that the S20 front is on par with the competition with an identical measurement as Michelin’s Pilot Power 3 (third-lightest). However, the back hoop is a little heavier than average, weighing more than all but the Xtreme 3 and Shinko Apex. Together this positioned it second-heaviest, though not by much.
If we had to sum up the S20’s overall performance into one word it would be “neutral.” It deals pleasing handling, grip and stability, plus it is very easy to get a feel for. The only catching being that in a group this competitive, average only gets you so far, as evidenced by mediocre scores in each of the rider subjective categories.
In terms or warm-up performance, the S20 took the longest amount of time to generate heat, taking exactly six minutes to arrive at its operating temperature threshold on the main track. However, it was run at the very end of the first day when the pavement temperatures were the coolest. At the Streets, the conditions were slightly more favorable (among the group) but the ‘Stones heated more slowly than all but the Apex. Combined, this hurt it on the scorecard, receiving the least points in that crucial scoring category.
When it comes to outright speed the Japanese tire was fourth-fastest around the main track (1’31.7), less than a second off the Q3 and 1.2 seconds away from the Conti, but a full three seconds slower than the SP. It was a similar result the next day with it ranking behind those same three, as well as the better performing (at the Streets) Michelin.
While we genuinely enjoyed riding the Bridgestone, so-so execution in key scoring areas along with its lengthy warm-up time allowed it to slide back in the rankings. Though if you’re looking for a balanced tire, we wouldn’t hesitate at bolting a pair of fourth-place finishers to our bike.
The S20’s offer neutral predicable handling with adequate grip. Feel from the road could be better as well as warm-up times.
“Great tire overall. Very well balanced with predicable steering and stability – plenty of grip, too. But it just didn’t have the feel to really exploit the grip. You never really knew where you were at with those things. It could have steered maybe a hair sharper and had a little more road feel in the corners but it was by no means bad. It felt like the rubber compound was a little harder to get mileage out of it. But I liked it and wouldn’t hesitate to do track days on it.”
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