I was out in the shop today doing some track preparation on our long-term 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R and decided to offer an impromptu update. With 4640 miles on the clock, our ZX has nearly reached the halfway point of CW’s usual 10,000-mile test term without requiring repairs of any sort. Since the bike’s initial 600-mile service, the only required maintenance has been the application of chain lube. Engine oil level looks good and hasn’t needed so much as a top-up since that first service. We have another 3000 miles to go before the scheduled oil and filter change as listed on Kawasaki’s maintenance chart.
There’s no longer any denying that the original-fitment Bridgestone Battlax BT-016 tires have reached the end of their useful service life. Although the front shows no signs of tread-pattern cupping, it has worn down to the wear bars along the mid-shoulder area of the tread radius. Although the rear shows substantially more remaining tread depth than the front throughout much of its shoulder, the rear profile has become prominently squared off, with very little center tread remaining. The last 600 miles or so on these tires has gotten increasingly sketchy as steering feel, ride compliance and sense of grip have rapidly degraded.
Having a tire rack out in the CW shop that’s currently stocked with a few flavors of fresh sport rubber from Avon, Continental, Metzeler and Bridgestone has made it tougher to endure squeezing the last signs of useful life out of the ZX-10R’s baked skins. Any time I’ve not been busy testing other bikes over the past few months, I’ve been commuting aboard the Ninja, consciously refraining from exceeding modest cornering loads and steering clear of serious backroad play.
That’s about to change, thanks to a set of Chicken Hawk Racing tire warmers that have been waiting in the wings for me to evaluate. I had intended to perform the eval last summer at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway out in the California Desert, but with mid-day temps there surpassing 112 degrees, I really didn’t need to power up the warmers to maintain heat in the tires between sessions. The weather forecast predicts a high of 77 degrees for this Friday’s Track Daz (http://trackdaz.com) event at Chuckwalla, so this time, I should be able to assess the warmers’ effectiveness.
Considering my available options on the CW rack, I’ve decided on a fresh set of Bridgestone Battlax BT-003 Racing Street tires. These trackday/street radials are positioned a step above the Ninja’s original-fitment Bridgestones in the Battlax lineup. I’m especially eager to refresh my memory of the BT-003 Racing Street’s performance and handling characteristics because next week, I’ll be attending the press intro for Bridgestone’s new Battlax Hypersport S20 being held at the Portimao Circuit in Algarve, Portugal.