An e-mail from Bridgestone UK Ltd
I thought I'd update you with the latest CBR1100XX approved fitment advice from Bridgestone.
120/70ZR17 BT-020W & 180/55ZR17 BT-020L
120/70ZR17 BT57G & 180/55ZR17 BT57G
120/70ZR17 BT-011E & 180/55ZR17 BT-010
120/70ZR17 BT-011E & 180/55ZR17 BT-012
With all of these fitments please use 42psi front and rear.
If you're unsure whether you've got the correct specification of tyre and you're not sure where to look for the suffix letter, this is where you look: On the sidewall find the word BATTLAX, this will be followed
by the tread pattern, e.g. BT-020F - this letter F is NOT the suffix letter, it simply represents F for Front; a rear tyre will have BT-020R on the sidewall. After the tread pattern is the word RADIAL and the
all-important suffix letter (e.g. W, L, E or G) follows this word.
You'll notice from the list of our approved tyres that the BT-010 and BT-012 rear tyres don't have suffix letters and in these cases there is no suffix letter following the word RADIAL.
If you're struggling to choose which tyres to fit I'll give you some advice: BT57G Many of you will be familiar with this tyre because Honda still fits it as original equipment (OE). The BT57s attributes are great
stability, pretty good tread life and good overall grip in the wet and dry. If you want to fit this tyre and your dealer tells you that the BT57 has been discontinued, that is only partly true. To a large extent
the BT57 range has been superseded by newer tyres, but we are duty bound to still carry the special OE versions that are still being fitted by the motorcycle manufacturers. But to be perfectly honest, these days,
most CBR1100XX riders choose to fit the special BT-020 pairing.
BT-020W front & BT-020L rear
These sports touring BT-020s are by far the most popular tyres with Blackbird owners, but I'm certain that some riders are not using the correct specification of tyres.
Up until mid 2002 Bridgestone approved the 'standard' version of the BT-020 front and rear for fitment for the Honda CBR1100XX, in other words, tyres with no suffix letters. During early 2002 our development
riders undertook testing on various bikes using various OE specification tyres. OE tyres are modified versions of the general replacement tyre and are designed to optimise the handling of the bike they were
developed for. The W-spec front tyre was originally developed for the Kawasaki ZRX1200S and the L-spec rear was originally developed for the ZRX1200R. Our test riders realised that the handling attributes of these specific tyres would also have benefits when used on other bikes. With
the CBR1100XX the W front and L rear have increased the bike's high-speed stability over the 'standard-specification' tyres. Because of this we superseded the 'standard' recommendation with the 'W and L' recommendation. This doesn't mean the 'standard' recommendation immediately became bad, far from it, it's just that 'W and L' are better.
At the start of 2003 the original 180/55ZR17 'standard' BT-020 was superseded by the BT-020NT, which has a totally different casing construction. Generally speaking the BT-020NT has superseded any
recommendations we had for the old 'standard' BT-020. But, and this is the important part, because we no longer recommended the 'standard' BT-020 for the CBR1100XX we subsequently never tested the BT-020NT on the bike. This is because Bridgestone is satisfied with our current recommendation of 'W and L' for the CBR1100XX. This is not to say the a 'standard' BT-020 front and a BT-020NT rear would be no good on the bike - I'm sure many unaware owners are perfectly happy riding around on such pairs - it's simply that Bridgestone have never tested them and we're unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future and so therefore cannot vouch for their high-speed stability.
The 'W and L' cost the same as the 'Standard and NT' tyres so you may as well fit the correct, approved BT-020s.
BT-011E with either BT-010 or BT-012 rear These are more sports orientated tyres and while either set will perform superbly on the 'Bird, my feeling is that probably a bit too 'over-the
top'. After all, if you can get more grip than you can possibly use from a set of BT-020s why bother choosing sports tyres that will inevitably wear out faster? The BT-011E/BT-010/BT-012 pairings will steer a little quicker than the BT-020 but that is the only real advantage - if this can even be considered an advantage because I feel that the handling and steering characteristics of the BT-020 suit the CBR1100XX to a tee.
Technical & Sales Executive, Motorcycle
Bridgestone UK Ltd