• Tag Archives Bridgestone BT023GT
  • 3 years and almost 60,000kms with a K1300GT

     

    Just over a year ago I posted about my first two years of BMW ownership, detailing a year of woes and 20,000kms / 12,500 miles on a K1200GT, then a second year and a further 27,000kms / 16,875 miles on a 1300GT. So what has happened in the year since that last report with my current K1300GT? Here’s an update.

    Since the end of July 2010 I’ve ridden a further 30,000kms / 18,750 miles, and it’s now heading rapidly for 60,000kms / 37,500 miles on the clock. I guess this would quantify as high mileage in most peoples books, and given that this model seems to worry people as to it’s longevity, I thought if I shared my experiences, they may be useful for those trying to decide whether to hang onto theirs, or even whether to buy one.

    I keep pretty extensive records of costs, parts, repairs, and fuel consumption, so real world running costs are easily accessible, so lets start with the most expensive element of ownership for me, tyres!

    TYRES

    In 58,000kms / 36,250 miles to date I’ve had two sets of Bridgestone BT020s, the OE fitted pair which lasted 8,550kms / 5,343 miles, and a second set which lasted for only 5,500kms / 3,437 miles. Why an aftermarket set should last 3,000kms / 1,875 miles less is a mystery, but it helped me in my choice to change to Michelin PR2’s. These are a great tyre and create an impression of invincibility in the wet but turn a little too quickly for my liking, so I changed them early for a set of Bridgestone BT023GT’s at 5,752 kms / 3,578 miles before starting a 3000km / 1,875 mile tour of Andorra and Spain.

    In total I’ve now had 6 sets of Bridgestone BT023GT’s . These tyres are not quite as fast turning as the Michelins, and are marginally less good in the wet, but suit the character and my riding style to perfection. Fronts tend to last anywhere between 6,500-8,000kms /4,062-  5,000 miles, and the rears a fraction over 6,000kms / 3,750 miles. These numbers are not too impressive on initial viewing, but I ride a massive amount of time in the Alps, and constant hairpins and low gear big throttle exits from hairpin bends take their toll, add to that the fact that 50% of my time is ridden with my wife Sue and with luggage, and that the road surfaces here are “variable” in quality at best, then perhaps a fairer assessment can be made. I have found their turn in, ultra stable roadholding, and their excellent edge grip and uniform wear right through to their eventual replacement, to be an acceptable trade off in the cost vs longevity equation. I’ve also had one rear puncture, luckily in a 3/4 worn rear.

    BRAKES

    I was surprised to find the OE pads lasted such a long time, the rears only needing replacement at 40,154kms / 25,096 miles, and the fronts just a little later at 40,927kms / 25,579 miles. I declined to spend the kings ransom BMW demand for their pads and decided to fit SBS aftermarket pads instead. This caused a problem as the SBS catalogue lists an incorrect rear fitment for the K1300GT, but an email to SBS advising them of the problem brought a new set of pads to my door within a few days, excellent customer service!

    Unfortunately, I’ve not been so impressed with the pad wear or their performance. I found them to be a bit more grabby and less progressive then the OE Brembo pads and the rears barely had any material left on them after a mere 17,000kms / 10,625 miles, and although the fronts still had 2mm of life showing, I decided to replace the full set at 57,653 / 36,033 miles, opting for Brembo pads this time, but bought aftermarket at half the cost of that from the dealer.

    FUEL CONSUMPTION

    Another pleasant surprise as the bike has averaged 50.5mpg with a low of 44mpg and a high of 58mpg. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the bike is a French model and limited to 106bhp, nevertheless, these figures are outstanding, as anyone who rides with me can tell you, it gets ridden hard!

    OIL CONSUMPTION

    This has proven to be something of a mystery. I have twice had the oil warning light come on; the first time only 1,044kms / 652 miles after a service, so I’m going to assume that the dealer didn’t fill it properly, the second time after 1,621kms / 1,013 miles requiring 350ml to top it up. There does not seem to be a pattern to usage, I have registered as little as 871kms / 544 miles requiring a 200ml top up, and then 2,600kms / 1,625 miles for the same amount! The only thing that seems consistent is that if it is thrashed it doesn’t seem to use much oil, but if I ride two up and with luggage and use the low end torque not high revs, it uses oil. Go figure!

    SERVICING

    I’ve had it serviced regularly as per the maintenance schedule at a cost of €1,122 for the 5 major services so far, the 60,000 / 37,500 miles is due in another 2000kms /1,250 miles , so this total will increase by another few hundred euros.

    GEARBOX

    Yes it clonks into first gear and changes seemed to be extremely variable as to their smoothness of engagement, often times my wife would berate me for poor changes, but as a friend with the same bike was getting the same problems, I just assumed that was how it would always be?  I did however fit Wunderlich Vario levers, and although I initially liked the closeness of the lever compared to the OE, I was never 100% convinced that the bite point of the clutch was always where I wanted it to be, so I took it off a couple of weeks ago, and guess what? now gear changes are much sweeter! Guess I shouldn’t have changed it in the first place!

    HANDLING/SUSPENSION

    I use the ESA a lot as I’m constantly switching between solo and pillion settings. I would have to say that it handles better with a pillion, the extra weight allowing the tyres to really grip the road surface giving plenty of feedback and stability. I normally ride in the Normal setting, using Sport for the tight twisty stuff and Comfort only for motorways or really poorly surfaced roads, as I find the Comfort mode way too wallowy for fast riding.

    SUMMARY

    I looked back at my previous report from a year ago to see what had been the major changes or events during the past 12 months, and really there haven’t been any, it seems that if it’s going to go wrong it’s in the first 30,000kms / 18,750 miles!

    At close to 60,000kms / 37,500 miles now and being over two years old, it is a few months past being covered by the OE warranty, and unlike other countries, BMW does not offer an aftermarket warranty extension program here in France, so if it breaks it’s going to cost me!

    A year ago I was worried about such issues, but I have to say that with 30,000kms / 18,750 miles put on it since July last year, I’m starting to be more impressed with the passage of time. It still cleans up like new, plastics are excellent quality, it starts and handles like a good un, and with the addition of a Boosterplug (report to follow) things have only improved. I rode Honda’s for many many years and loved their reliability, and am hoping the GT can continue for the next 30,000kms without major issues and maintain it’s current level of reliability, but for those wondering how good they are now, I hope this report may put some minds at ease and give a feel for running costs. I accept there will be those with timing chains which jump their chain guards, and final drives which give up (I’ve had two bikes with failures on my tours so far, plus two of my own!), but if you ride them (hard) and service them regularly, perhaps you’ll find they aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be, but then again, I can only recount my own experiences!

     


  • Bridgestone BT023 GT- life of a rear tyre

    Here’s the final instalment in the life of the Bridgestone BT023 GT tyres I recently installed on my K1300GT.

    The rear was effectively finished at 5500kms or 3437 miles. This doesn’t sound like a particularly high number but when you consider that it handled 3500kms of two up fully loaded touring over 8 days of continuous passes and serpentine bends, followed by a further 2000kms in 4 days over 20 Swiss, French and Italian passes almost all of which were over 2000m, then it starts to become more acceptable, and I’m sure “normal” riding on A roads would easily see the rear lasting 8000kms or more.  

    The picture below is looking from in front and back, so the wear indicators which are no longer there, are on the left side of the tyre.   

    Positive points are the enormous amount of water they clear, evacuating all water from underneath them and gripping straight to the road below, irrespective of how much rain there is! In comparison with the Michelin PR2’s I had before, I’d say there is still a little difference in the “feel”. With the PR2’s you feel invincible in the rain, the BT023’s, very good but not quite at the same level.

    In this shot you can see how the weight has pushed up the sipes. 

    In this final shot you can see how the wear has affected the crown of the tyre, this manifests itself in a change in turn in, less fluid than when new, but without any loss of grip, just less exact.  Despite this the tyre continued to grip well and any small slides over tar snakes or gravel were always small and very predictable, never getting close to feeling out of control. Very stable, with excellent turn in, great wet weather grip, and constant feel even when the rear started to wear badly, I’d have to say these are superb tyres, and I’ve already replaced this one with another BT023 GT, as I’ve been so impressed by their performance.   


  • Bridgestone BT023 GT tyres

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago about experiences with tyres, and how I was going to try Bridgestone’s new BT023 GT tyres. Well as promised, here’s my feedback on how they performed.

    I’ve just got back from a one week 3500kms tour in Andorra, Spain and Auvergne, and here’s some feedback on these tyres. I will qualify my comments by stating that they relate to 8 days of two up riding, 7 days of which were fully loaded with panniers, topbox, and my wife as pillion.

    Comfort- I know that they were brand new and so have masses of tread, but the comfort factor is high and they DON’T get pinged off line by stones in the road as the PR2’s did. Quite the contrary, you can hear the stones being fired away from underneath them. They are also quiet, unlike the BT020’s!

    Turn in- I liked the neutral feel of the old Metzeler Z6’s I had on my old K1200GT which rolled very easily into corners, and having come from years of BT020’s which are not dissimilar, I found the turn in very similar in feel to both these tyres. It’s not fast, and doesn’t drop into bends the same way as the PR2’s do, the speed of turn is less pronounced, and for this reason it feels very secure and safe. If there is any criticism, the change of direction required for fast changes from consecutive left/right bends is perhaps a little slow, but considering we’re talking turning a heavy GT with pillion and luggage into tight windy bends, perhaps a little lattitude can be given? 

    Wet weather performance- We had the misfortune to spend a lot of time in torrential rain and the grip was incredible. I saw in my mirrors that the tyres almost created their own clear track as water was evicted from underneath the treads in astonishing volumes, and  Andy who followed behind said the amount of water being cleared was phenomenal, creating it’s own mini bow wave, VERY impressive. 

    Grip- It’s true that over the course of the week I had 5/6 small rear end slips, but given the unbelievable amounts of rain we rode through, two up, and then the dusty roads and 30 degrees C we encountered, I’d have to say they were brilliant. When the rear moved slightly, it was exactly that. A gentle movement, no drama, and gripped again very quickly. The front digs into haipins up or downhill and was ultra dependable, and braking seems pretty good too! You also can’t feel the transition from the hard to soft compound edge as you can on the PR2’s, with feel the same right over to the edge of the tyre.

    Wear- As with all rear tyres, when they’re fully loaded and ridden on as many hairpins and small twisty cols as we did, there will be some wear. This has manifested itself in pushing the sipes on the left hand side (only) upwards, but this merely reflects the bias and confidence I have in left handers rather than right! Any tyre that can give confidence at full lean, two up and fully loaded at 140kph in a sweeping uphill bend, and allow you to deck your toes mid corner, gets my vote! Confidence levels they generate are very high!

    Summary- I started by saying that the riding I’d done was all two up, and as yet I’ve not ridden at all on my own. In my experience the GT handles better two up, and therefore I’ll wait until I’ve done a few days in the Alps on my own over the coming weeks before I give them an unconditional thumbs up, but based on my experience so far, they are certainly the best tyres for two up riding on the GT by a long way!

    Here are some pics of the wear after 3500kms of hard two up riding.

    First two pics are the front showing perfectly even wear across the whole width of the tyre.

    Here are the rear pics

    This is the left side. Check the bottom of the sipes, the trailing edge has pushed the tread outwards forming a small lip
     

    Same from the right side

    Final shot looking from right to left, you can see the raised edges more clearly.
     

    This is exactly the same tyre wear pattern I had experienced with the PR2’s and the BT020’s and is a facet of putting a lot of weight through a soft compound.

    Both front and rears have around 3mm tread remaining


  • Tyres

    Tyres- those shiny black hoops of rubber that we put our faith into to keep us shiny side up! I’ve not experimented too much with tyres, preferring to stick with what I know. For the RC45 this has meant years of running Pirelli Diablos, due mainly to the fact there are so few options available in the 16 inch front wheel size, but I’ve had good experience with them on road and on multiple circuits and track days.

    I rode on Bridgestone BT020’s on my Blackbirds for 8 years, preferring the original 020’s to the 021 replacements. On my BMW K1200GT I first rode on the Metzeler Z6’s it came fitted with. Neutral handling, easy turn in, but no warning of when the rear was about to reach the end of it’s life, as I found in Spain when a tyre which looked ok in the morning, was down to the cord by the afternoon. Replacements were Michelin Pilot Roads which I found ultra fast turning  and a little unstable in comparison to the Z6’s, until I had got used to their characteristics, but I loved the extra long life I got out of them. 

    Next came a BMW K1300GT which came fitted with the old faithful BT020’s. First set did high mileage, second set 30% less, so I decided to change to the new Michelin Pilot Road 2’s. Great tyres, again quick turning, better in the wet than the 020’s, and quieter! They skidded less off tar snakes too, but you can tell when you hit the transition point between the hard compound middle and softer edges.  After a couple of odd rides where I experienced some “different” handling traits which worried me a little, I started to get concerned that the tyre wasn’t as good two up as the BT020’s, and with a forthcoming tour round Andorra and Spain coming up, took the opportunity to try the new Bridgestone BT023 GT’s.  This new tyre is supposed to have much better wet weather performance and 30% longer life, so if I find it delivers on these promises I’m going to be a happy bunny.

    Here are some pics showing the radically different tread patterns between the two different marques.

    Bridgestone BT023 left- Michelin PR2 right.

    The BT023 has loads more water clearing grooves, presumably to clear a better path for the rear.

    Front BT023– Check out how few of the sipes actually go the edge of the tyre wall. There is a gap of 18cm (7 inches)  between the grooves which do reach the edge leaving an almost slick like look, not sure how that will work in the wet although this is supposed to be a tyre with much improved wet weather grip!
     

    Here are the rears, BT023  left and PR2 right

    Rear BT023

    Again not all grooves reach the tyre wall edge although this time the gap is smaller at 15cm ( 5.9 inches )

    I’ll give a review of their performance when I get back from my tour after I’ve had a few thousand kms of use on them.