Will GSX-R steer quicker with an 180/55 rear tyre?

Published: 06 June 2011

I’ve been told that a 180/55 tyre on the back of my Suzuki GSX-R1000 K6 will help it steer quicker. Is that correct?
Natasha Quigley, email
 
The ‘pub expert’s’ theory is that because the tyre is narrower it takes less time to roll across its tread width, which makes it faster steering. But this fails to take into account the flatter profile the 180/55 x 17 tyre takes on when fitted on your 6in wheel – it was after all designed primarily for a 5.5in wheel. This flatter-than-was-intended profile will not steer as quickly as the intended, more rounded profile when the tyre is fitted on its correct 5.5in wheel, so negating any theoretical gains made by the tyre being narrower.

There's also the problem that with a 180/55 x 17 tyre on a 6in wheel you can reach the edge of the tyre's tread quite easily during cornering, which means your contact patch will reduce in size as you ride close to the edge. I'm not saying you'll ride over the tyre's edge, but I think you'll agree that a reduced contact patch size at maximum lean angle isn't ideal.

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