Bridgestone’s new S22 sports tyre might be designed for life on the street, but here at their world launch in Jerez they’ve proved they can handle a day at one of the finest MotoGP circuits in the world, on the fastest, most powerful superbikes money can buy.
That’s good news because it means, in a nutshell, you won’t get anywhere near their limit on your favourite roads.
Sitting between winter sports touring rubber and fast road/trackday tyres, the new Bridgestone replaces the S21 (but that stays in the range, at a discounted price, along with the BT-016 Pro). The Japanese firm claims the S22 has more wet and dry performance than the S21 without sacrificing tyre life - 15% more corner speed and 5% faster lap times in the wet.
Without getting too geeky, all you need to know is that tread patterns, compounds and profiles have all been improved and like the S21, the front is dual compound and the rear triple – hard in the middle for durability, soft and rigid in the shoulder for drive grip and stability, with a soft edge for grip at maximum lean.
The new rubber is available from dealers now for bikes with a 120/70 x 17 front and 17-incher on the rear from a 160-section up to 200/55. Skinny S22s will be out next year for the latest crop of Supersport 300 machines, too.
We’ve already tested the S22 in the real world, during a cold and wet MCN250 in December last year, on a new Kawasaki ZX-6R.
Although they were 'Original Equipment' versions and not the exact spec of the tyres here at Jerez (called 'replacements' – the ones you actually buy over the counter), they stood out as being sure-footed and confidence inspiring in the kind of conditions you’d never choose to ride in for fun. That’s one tick in the box for Bridgestone and the next is here in southern Spain.
Testing them on a KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the 2019 BMW S1000RR, '19 Honda Fireblade SP, Honda CBR650R and Suzuki GSX-R1000 the front tyre is particularly impressive, offering strong, consistent and reassuring grip.
You can lean on it pretty much like a race tyre and the only limitation going into a corner is the ridiculously early ABS intervention on the Japanese machines.
As you’d expect from a street tyre on the track it’s not difficult to get the rear S22 moving on a superbike, but thanks to the magic of modern traction control you feel it slide progressively before electronics hold you safely in place – smoothly or like a jack hammer, depending on the bike.
Modern riding aids basically let you accelerate how you want, regardless of grip nowadays. Once you’re up off the edge and on to the shoulder of the tyre there’s no issue with grip or stability and on lesser powered bikes the S22 won’t budge at all.
In very cold track conditions the grunt of the KTM is enough to 'cold tear' the rear S22 (the only bike here to do it, apart from the similarly brutal Ducati Panigale V4S), but in all honesty, the point of riding here on a circuit is just to feel the tyre at the limit in a safe place.
If you’re a serious about your trackays, a stickier dedicated track tyre is the way to go, but it’s good to know the S22s have the performance to cope with almost anything you can throw at them. They warm up fast, even with no tyre warmers and wear consistently.
We won’t know what kind of mileage the S22s are capable of until we’ve fitted a set to one of MCN’s long-term test bikes this year and it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against the competition, too. But right here, right now you won’t go far wrong fitting a set of S22s to your pride and joy for the road, no matter how fast you and your bike are.
Price: Bridgestone S22 £264.00 per pair (120/70 x 17, 190/55 x 17)
More from MCN: