Bridgestone Battlax S21 test
Sunday, September 11, 2016 @ 19:31
Test of Bridgestone Battlax S21 tires
The conclusion of the test
The ultra short conclusion of the tire test: Impressive performance of the S21 tires.
The tires were testet on my own Honda VFR 750 F and on a BMW S1000 RR which were kindly provided by the official BMW dealer in Denmark Xpedit.
The tire test on the VFR
The tire test made on the VFR were made riding the route "Bridgestone S21 test tour" as this route contains different type of turns and it is the route I normally ride when testing. This gives a good foundation for comparison these tires with the previous ones. During the test the temperature were 20 deg. C, dry and sunshine.
I ride my motorcycle in all kind of weather, but basically I prefer - as many other motorcyclists - the weater conditions are sunny and dry. When riding hard and reaching the edges of the tires, it has to be ideal weather conditions, why I started the VFR on such a day.
My background is almost 30 years of motorcycle riding and as I am not a professional tester, the tests made are based on my experience as an ordinary motorcyclist, who likes long rides, short evening rides, track days and riding hard in the corners.
On the picture you can see me very exicted. I am standing next to my VFR ready doing the last task to get the new tires on the VFR, which is standing waiting on the lift.
The tires being exchanged with the S21 are Bridgestone Battlax S20 which were some fantastic good tires. You can read the test here - Bridgestone S20. They did 8219 km and were totally worn down. Therefor it was as getting a new motorcycle when the new S21 were mounted, and the first thing noticed was how easy it is to make U-turns on the road with low speed. It might be due to the old tires did a lot of kilometers, but nevertheless, it is important the first impression is good.
The first part of the test were riding in the area between Vrads and Hjøllund, Denmark which contains of small turns and S-curves with some height difference. Besides it is a fantastic beautiful nature, it is also a good test area to feel how the motorcycle reacts being laid down in the turns, change from one side to the other and the stability when there are some height difference in the road.
Explaining the feeling entering the curve and make the fast S-curves is best done as smooth as silk. The tires helps the rider to get the perfect angel on the motorcycle and I felt the tires did the majority of work, getting the motorcycle through the corners. Further to this the S21's are the fastest tires in the S-curve I have ever tried.
On the test route there is a right turn with the highest point in the middle of the turn. Even with a moderate angel the motorcycle is stable during the entire turn, despite the road on the last half of the turn goes down hill. The stability is soo good that you can ride without any worry smoothly through the turn.
The tires have - for me - the perfect balance between neutral riding and assistance in the turns, as they do not invites to have a deeper angel and at the same time it is very easy to get the desired angle, så the "hair" from the moulding will soon be grinded off...Small fast turns - passed.
Long soft turns
The other part of the test took place in Hørbylunde Bakker, Denmark which has some long soft curves. The height difference in the turns are not as specific as in the small turns made earlier in Vrads. First I rode through the route just to ensure it was clean for stones, metal and oil - and also to heat up the tires. Then I were riding through the curves with a deep angel in two scenarios - neutral gas through the entire turn and hard gas when inside the turn.
First run was with neutral gas in the turns. The tires behaived perfect. Direction stable and again silky smooth passage of the turns. The second run was with hard gas when inside the corners. The gas was a bit different according to the corners, but no matter the amount of gas given the tires were compleatly as stable as with neutral gas. The tires ensured the motorcycle kept the line in the corner and the stability. Perfect.
Marks on the rear wheel
After a few runs through the curves the tires were up for an inspection. It was a surprice, as I could clearly see the brilliant solution from Bridgestone's engineers with different rubber compunds in the tire. The outer 20 mm clearly have another rubber compound which are much softer as the surface are different then the rest of the tyre, which can be seen as the tire wears differently. For sure the reason having the fantastic grip in the corner, are due to the softer compound.
Long soft and fast curves - perfectly passed.
Riding throug corners with sand & pebbles
Often when there are sand and pebbles in the corner, I choose a riding line passing through these. The reason is I want to maintain the confidentiallity of this type of curves, as well as testing how the tires behave on these annoying elements on the road. Of course the amount of sand and pebbles constantly vary in the corners I use for testing, but my temporarily conclusion is that S21 simply rides through the pebbles and no significant unstability are observed.
Corners with pebbles - passed.
BMW S 1000 RR
Rain - here I always take it easy... For me motorcycling is not the same pleasure when riding in wet conditions, unless it take place on a BMW S1000 RR. As mentioned I visited Xpedit.dk i Ølgod, Denmark where I got a test ride on a S1000RR. The rain poured down but I was very eager testing the bike. The S1000RR were fitted with a brand new S21 rear tyre which had to be ridden for a while getting rid of the slippery surface. Well, that did not take long.
There are three settings on the BMW:
Until the slippery surface were off the tyre I rode in the Rain settings. Even with the rain pouring down the Sport setting were quickly selected, and all the horse power in the BMW were present. Only one time the tyre gave after for the pressure, which might have been when passing one of the white markers on the road while overtaking a car. Despite the tyre were kept cold due to the wet conditions, there were always sufficient grip.
When it is raining I do not challange the situation with fast riding in the curves and especially not on a borrowed motorcycle. So where the tires limit are in rainy weather - I do not know, and most likely I will never find this limit, as I am not a fan of hard riding in wet conditions.
Due to the weather and my limited experience with the BMW, I did not test the Race mode.
Rainy weather - passed.
The conclusion of the test is the S21 are in another leauge then both Battlax S20 and Battlax T30. It is natural the S21 are better than the T30, as the T30 is more a Touring than a Sport tyre. The distance between the T30 and S20 are significant, as the S20 is a sport tyre. The successor of the S20 is the S21 and the new S21 is simply improved in all areas.
I were very happy riding on the S20 from day one, and they lasted impressive 8219 km. Then they were totally worn out why a few kilometers less would have been safer in wet conditions, even the grip was good to the end.
The S21 are clearly in a higher leauge what concerns grip, comfort and the feeling of trust you have as a rider, as everything is fully under control. I have not tried real slicks, but it is hard to imagine there at a significant difference on the S21 and real racing tires. It is going to be exicting to see how many kilometers there are in the tires, but based on the S20 there are for sure enough. More about this later.
Another issue I have noticed is that I get speed blind in the corners when riding the S21. I have noted my speed in my test corners are significantly higher than with the S20 and this without the feeling that you are riding faster or that you are getting closer to the limit of the tires. How the Bridgestone engineers developed this is nothing less than impressive.
How am I testing - am I biased? Perhaps, but I am also incredible impressed what the engineers at Bridgestone has been able developing. I have now tried three different tires from Bridgestone and the S21 is without any comparison the tyre I like the most. When trying something which conctantly surprices you and exceed the expectations, it is hard not getting impressend and perhaps also biased. I can feel that my VFR with 90 000 km constantly gets a new life when getting new tires from Bridgestone, but anyway I might dream a bit about a BMW S1000R - but then it has to be BMW blue...