Pommie heads over to Jerez to test out Bridgestone's new Battlax Hypersport S22 on the track! Test: Tony ‘Pommie’ Wilding, Images courtesy of Bridgestone
Bridgestone have been around forever, almost 90 years in fact, and are the world’s largest tyre and rubber company. So when they announced a new tyre that’s designed to be better in every way to the already successful Bridgestone Battlax S21, I was keen to try it out. In order to do this, I flew all the way to the Jerez circuit in Spain to find out…
With so many great tyres on the market today from a host of manufacturers, that are specifically designed for sportsbikes, the question was whether Bridgestone’s all new Battlax Hypersport S22 meets its design brief and offers a great road tyre that is also good for the occasional track day.
“We developed the S22 in line with the needs and requirements of hypersport users,” explains Nico Thuy, Head of Motorcycle Europe at Bridgestone EMEA. “With such light handling and increased feedback, especially when cornering, hypersport riders will have maximum confidence in pushing themselves to the next level.”
The S22 is a replacement for the S21, although Bridgestone will keep making the S21 for at least a while, because the S22 isn’t available in all the current S21 sizes at this time. Bridgestone claim improvements over the S21 of 15 per cent faster speeds when cornering in dry conditions and a 1.2 per cent overall faster lap times in the dry conditions.
When riding in the wet, Bridgestone claim the new tyres can improve your lap time by five per cent, this is made possible by redesigning the tread pattern to a 3D edge shape to improve water drainage as well as an increase to the shoulder area of the tyre to improve grip – all of which have been achieved while not affecting the wear life of either the front or rear tyres.
The carcass of the tyre has also been enhanced with state of the art MS-Belt construction and high tensile penetration cord technology; this gives the tyres a light feel to the handling, improving change of direction, along with increased stability at high speed.
To enable the increase in the tyres performance, Bridgestone have incorporated a varied compound structure in the tyres, the rear tyre has three compounds (or five says Bridgestone – but they’re counting both sides of the tyre. Two compounds on each side and one in the centre.)
Anyway, the centre has a harder compound to improve wear while doing freeway style riding, then when leaning over it goes into a softer area of the tyre, then to an even softer edge compound to optimise the grip while cornering on full lean.
The front has two different compounds, which again is harder in the middle and softer on the sides where most needed in cornering. This original compound mixture uses an optimised resin compound in the traction area of the tyre, while the centre compound incorporates a 25 per cent increase in fine silica molecules to increase contact with the road surface.
Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 at the track
It has to be a dream of all true bike fanatics to get to ride on world famous GP circuits and I’m no different, so when asked to test the all-new Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tyre at the Jerez GP circuit in Spain, I naturally jumped at the chance, especially as I would be riding on a number of the latest and greatest sportsbikes.
Not being a racer, unlike the majority of the journalists there, I had to test the tyre as a road rider doing a track day, which is really what the S22 is designed to do anyway. Let’s face facts, probably 90 per cent of the people that buy this tyre for their sportsbike/hyperbike will never see a track day.
To test the tyres to their limit and really put them through their paces, the safe environment of a racetrack is the only way to do it. You just can’t legally or safely push the tyres to their limits on the road. Getting wet, drying and dry conditions was a real bonus.
With around 10 different new bikes to choose from I opted for the naked Suzuki GSX-S1000 for my first session, mainly due to feeling more at home on a nakedbike and the fact that the track was soaking wet. I needn’t have worried because from the first lap, even though I had no idea of where the track went, I had pretty good confidence in the grip levels of the tyres and more importantly the feel, especially in the front where I found myself pushing harder than I normally would.
In fact, in the first two sessions on the wet track with a bunch of journalist egos trying to outdo each other, no one fell off, which would have to be a record and more importantly a testament to the grip offered by the S22. Even under heavy braking the grip level is impressive, I can’t believe how far tyre technology has advanced in recent years.
For myself, in the cool wet conditions, it didn’t take me long to get confidence in the tyre’s ability and this only increased as the track dried out later in the day, so we got the best of both worlds. Upright stability down the front and back straights was excellent, even in the damp I was seeing speeds of around 250km/h, when I was brave enough to look at the speedo. During the transition from full power to hard braking, the front tyre was stable and offered the grip levels needed to pull the bike up from silly speeds and push into the corner.
Leaning the bike over, going from upright to almost full lean in the damp, the bike rolled over in a smooth predicable way, for multi layered tyres that are soft on the edge and gradually get harder in the middle, in order to offer better grip and mileage throughout the life of the tyre. The S22 also change direction very easily and quickly and roll off centre very predictably no matter which bike I was riding.
Getting on the power out of the turns is probably one of the most important aspects of tyres while at the track and being primarily a road tyre you would think that the S22 would fall short in this area, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. The S22 offers amazing levels of grip both mid-turn and more importantly driving off the turns, both in wet and dry conditions, which we experienced.
Once the track had dried out fully and the sun was out, I could really put the S22s to test and at no time did I find the limits of the tyre even with some of the bikes having more than 200hp. Yes, the rear did squirm and pump a bit under hard acceleration, but at no time did I feel it wanted to let go and we are talking about a road tyre and not a track focused, or slick tyre and the front just felt planted all the time.
Even when I lost concentration, probably due to jet-lag, and had a moment at the end of the straight when I grabbed the anchors a lot harder than I should of, the grip levels of the S22 along with the ABS and Brembos of the GSX-R stopped me from an embarrassing lay down in the kitty litter.
After a full day at the track with these tyres getting severely thrashed by multiple journalists and a few professional racers including Colin Edwards and Josh Brooks I was more than impressed by the condition of the tyres at the end, so for a mere mortal you could expect to get plenty of track days in, as well as everyday road riding for your money.
Hopefully we can get a set of Bridgestone Hypersport Battlax S22’s back here in Australia when they arrive and give them a workout in our real world road conditions on the goat tracks the Australian government call roads, and I’m sure that they will perform just as well as they did in Jerez, but we’ll have to wait to see for sure…
Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 sizes
- 110/70HR17 S22 (due late 2019)
- 120/70ZR17 S22
- 140/70HR17 S22 (due late 2019)
- 150/60HR17 S22 (due late 2019)
- 160/60ZR17 S22
- 180/55ZR17 S22
- 180/60ZR17 S22 (due late 2019)
- 190/50ZR17 S22
- 190/55ZR17 S22
- 200/55ZR17 S22
S22 will not cover all sizes that were available in the S21, so a few S21 sizes will remain, as shown below.
Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S21 sizes
- 130/70ZR16 S21
- 110/70ZR17 S21
- 120/60ZR17 S21
- 150/60ZR17 S21