By Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor

Once they heat up, away you go

Considering that Bridgestone is the sole tire supplier to the MotoGP World Championship, it’s obvious that the Japanese brand manufactures some of the stickiest, lean-inducing motorcycle tires money can’t buy. But what about the ones you can buy? Does its prototype technology trickle down to riders who have cash to spend and want the best-performing sportbike tires for racing and/or apex strafing at track days? To find out, we used Bridgestone’s Battlax R10 and R10 EVO as the spec-tire for our recently published eight-bike 2013 Middleweight Supersport Shootout X.

The R10 model is Bridgestone’s premium motorcycle tire engineered for road racing. It’s an evolution of the older style BT-003 race tire that improves on every facet of performance, from handling and grip to road feel. Available in just one compound (medium or, as Bridgestone calls it, Type 3) and a single size (120/70-17), the front R10 employs an updated shape for enhanced steering response and line-holding precision through turns. (Bridgestone also offers an EVO-spec front tire available in a hotter-running Type 4/hard compound; however, based on its recommendation, we ran the standard R10 front.) The tread pattern was also reworked to complement handling and reduce flex slightly during hard braking. The compound is designed to work in a wide range of asphalt temperatures, from less than 68 degrees Fahrenheit to more than 104 degrees. During our test the temperature of the pavement was in excess of 145 degrees at the hottest part of the day (115 degree ambient air temperature).

Bridgestone had mixed results with its original R10 rear tire as tested during the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 First Ride report. So much so that it quickly replaced that tire with its EVO designated successor. Although it appears the same as a standard R10, the EVO tire uses a revised structure and new compound blend designed to offer improved grip during acceleration, especially at high lean angles. The tire’s contact patch has been increased at lean angles in excess of 40 degrees, and the compound formula now provides more road adhesion and does so at a wider range of track temperatures than before. The rear EVO is available in soft and medium compounds (Type 2 and Type 3); we used the latter selection in OE sizes (180/55-17).

Compared to other popular brands, the profile of the Battlax race tires proved to be compatible with each manufacturer’s machine, requiring minimal chassis setup to get optimal handling performance from the motorcycle. Steering response is neutral yet precise, and the tires offer plenty of feedback and road feel especially toward maximum lean. Flex characteristics were also favorable, offering a good balance between that firm rigid feel under load and a small degree of sidewall movement over bumps when hitting the throttle or brakes.

For optimal grip, wear characteristics and durability, Bridgestone recommends the tires be preheated to between 170 and 212 degrees before heading out on track. When those temps are achieved, they provide a very high level of immediate grip. However, analysis of the tire’s temperature after our Superpole-style lap timing session showed that it does take a few laps for the R10s to arrive at operating temperature. In fact, even in 115-degree heat, the Battlaxs didn’t quite get to optimal temperature even after two flying laps at Chuckwalla. This isn’t a bad thing, but it demonstrates how much heat the tire needs for maximum performance. It also shows how effective it can be especially in very hot conditions.

Consistency of grip and overall durability was another strong point with both tires recording in excess of 40 laps around Chuckwalla’s 2.68-mile road course before any signs of grip degradation were seen. In fact, the only bike that could get the rear tire to move while picking up the bike off corner with the throttle pegged to the stop was the 120-plus horsepower GSX-R750, and even so it was nothing more than a small wiggle rather than real tire spin.

All said and done, it’s difficult to find any real complaints with Bridgestone’s latest road racing tires. They offer a neutral exterior profile that’s compatible with each manufacturer’s chassis. Handling response, road feel, grip and durability were also excellent. Although you can’t buy a set of MotoGP slicks, the R10 and R10 EVO are the next best thing and are a set of rubber we’d love to race on.

MSRP: $225 (front), $338 (rear)

Bridgestone Battlax EVO Tire Pressure

  • Front (hot – off warmers): 32 psi
  • Rear (hot – off warmers): 28-29 psi
  • Front (hot – off track): 33-35 psi
  • Rear(hot – off track): 29-31 psi

Bridgestone Battlax R10 Highs & Lows
Highs

  • Very compatible with each brand’s chassis
  • Neutral yet precise steering and handling
  • Excellent grip and durability

Lows

  • Tires require lots of heat to get maximum performance