Bridgestone Battlax S21 Hypersport Tyre Launch
Yas Marina F1 Circuit, Abu Dhabi – By Trevor Hedge
MCNews.com.au was recently invited to the launch of Bridgestone’s new premium sports tyre, the Battlax Hypersport S21.
This new tyre, is the first street tyre to be developed using Bridgestone’s Ultimate Eye testing procedures that were developed during their recent seasons as the control tyre for MotoGP.
The Battlax S21 replaces the S20 EVO, and sits above the BT-016 Pro in Bridgestone’s sportsbike range. It is placed just below the RS10 Battlax Racing Street tyre in the hierarchy. The RS10 is the rubber fitted OEM to Yamaha’s R1M, Honda’s RC213V-S and Kawasaki H2. However, with 12 months more development time, the S21 comes very, very close to the RS10 in outright sports performance, while offering much greater longevity.
Compared to the S20 Evo, which itself was a very popular, grippy and long lasting sportsbike tyre, Bridgestone claim that the S21 achieves 36 per cent higher mileage than the S20 Evo, while offering an 18 per cent overall performance improvement comprised of 11 per cent better dry grip, and 4 per cent better wet grip.
The rear tyre has three compounds spread across five segments, obviously the hardest rubber in the centre, softer on the shoulders and then softer again as you achieve more extreme angles of lean. The front has the now almost customary dual compound structure.
Unlike most tyre manufacturers, that have many production plants across the world, all of Bridgestone’s motorcycle tyres are produced in the Japanese giants Nasu plant, three-hours drive northeast of Tokyo. Thus Bridgestone’s primary test facility is Sugo, and Bridgestone claim the S21 is two-seconds a lap quicker around the 3.7km circuit.
The Yas Marina Circuit is designed for Formula One cars, not motorcycles, thus there is a lot of slow corners to reduce the speeds of the cars, and these are primarily all slightly off camber, exactly not what you want on a motorcycle. As a result front end confidence, and a high degree of care, was the order of the day, but I am glad to report not one rider suffered a front end lose around the 5.56km, testing 21-turn layout.
While the whole range of latest sportsbike machinery was on hand I spent the majority of my time on Yamaha’s delectable YZF-R1M. Later in the night, we rode under lights from 5pm through to almost midnight, as my confidence grew I started to produce a few small slides from the rear 200/55ZR17 Battlax S21 on the exit of one particular left-hander, nothing unruly and more of a drift than anything lurid, and when ever it stepped out a little too far it was quickly brought under control by the Yamaha’s excellent traction control system.
Turn in was great, and with front end confidence perhaps more important at this very tricky circuit than most others, due to the camber, and tarmac much smoother than we are accustomed to in Australia, there was always a certain amount of caution required on corner entry, aggression was going to get you nowhere. Thus precise turn in poise was the order of the day, the Battlax S21’s sharper profile in comparison to its predecessor was clearly evident, tip in was rapid, but the tyre did not exhibit that horrible ‘fall over’ feeling as the crown of the shoulder was transitioned through. Stability was excellent.
Bridgestone had the Battlax S21 front rubber set at 29psi cold, 33psi warm. While the rear tyres were set at 26psi cold, which translated to 29psi warm.
The wear rate was ridiculously good at the Abu Dhabi circuit, but it must be said that the surface had no sharp edged grit to tear up tyres, the blacktop was almost glass smooth.
It will be interesting to see if the massive 36 per cent increase in tyre life is experienced in the real world at home. I have no doubt the wear rate will be greatly improved, as technology always improves the breed, but 36 per cent is a massive claim, I hope it rings true on home turf.
Reigning British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes was doing his best to ride slow enough to keep me in his mirrors throughout the evening, the Sydneysider providing great amusement for me out of turn 19 every lap. The 32-year-old riding with the electronic traction control aids turned off, and painting long, beautifully controlled black lines of rubber on the smooth Yas Marina blacktop, before transitioning into nice crossed-up monos.
I’ve long said that riding with truly talented world level riders, and getting to see up close just how good they are compared to us mere mortals, is perhaps the most privileged part of my job. And I would like to thank Brookesy for showing me the way around. Likewise, ex Grand Prix rider Jose Luis Cardoso was kind enough to help set-up the electronics on the YZF-R1M to my liking.
And, of course, thanks very much to Bridgestone for allowing me to experience every motorcyclists dream; an almost unpopulated racetrack, an array of the world’s fastest motorcycles, and an unlimited supply of premium quality rubber. Riding under lights made it even that little bit more special, stamping it as an experience I will always remember.
Local Bridgestone distributors, McLeod Accessories, now have stocks of the Battlax S21 available in all sizes. And the size range of the S21 is quite vast. Bridgestone even cater for those few bikes that run a 16” front, with a 130/70ZR16 available in the range, alongside 110/70ZR17, 120/60ZR17 and 120/70ZR17 offerings.
Rear hoops start off in 150/60ZR17, thus bikes like Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 will have to stick with the S20 Evo, which McLeods will continue to supply for the smaller bikes. The next size up in Battlax S21 is the 160/60ZR17 before the step up to 180/55ZR17, 190/50ZR17, 190/55ZR17 and finally the 200/55ZR17.
Prices range from $174.95 for the smallest front, to $329.95 for the largest rear. Until the end of April, any rider that purchases a set of Battlax S21 hoops also scores a $50 pre-paid EFTPOS card. Pity you can’t get a trip to Abu Dhabi to ride a YZF-R1M and chase Brookesy around…