Tyre launch: Bridgestone Battlax Sport Touring T31
Bridgestone’s new Battlax T31 tyre, which is already available for purchase, promises to deliver improved wet performance and feel. Bridgestone haven’t concentrated on dry performance, instead they have focused their efforts on wet grip, behaviour, traction and overall feel, which they have done by improving the tyre's water drainage.
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They’ve increased the sea-to-land ratio on the shoulder (grooves to surface), but decreased the sea-to-land ratio in the middle. This basically means they’ve added more grooves on the shoulder and less in the centre and have worked hard to get the correct balance between block rigidity and deformation.
The rear tyre has three compounds, harder in the middle with softer edges, whereas the front has a single compound. Bridgestone have also increased the flexibility of the rubber on the front tyre to improve the feel of the contact patch – and it works.
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Bridgestone are claiming a 3% higher friction coefficient on wet surfaces, which results in a 3% faster lap time on their wet handling track. However to achieve these new claims, Bridgestone haven’t sacrificed longevity, in fact the wear life of the new T31 is on-par with the outgoing T30. I’ve covered 4500 miles on my long-term Yamaha R6 using the older T30 rubber and I’ve been impressed with their durability – they’ve still got plenty of meat left and if Bridgestone can match the old tyres' longevity, I’ll be impressed.
To test the new T31, we headed to Morocco and rode over 320km in one day on a huge selection of bikes. Testing the longevity in one day obviously wasn't possible, and equally due to the sunny conditions in Morocco we didn’t get the opportunity to asses Bridgestone’s wet weather claims, however we did have a wide spectrum of bikes to choose from and temperatures varied from barely above freezing in the morning to nearly 30-degrees by mid-day. So it was a pretty intensive test of the tyre.
In all conditions the new T31 was faultless. On a chilling morning the tyres warmed up quickly and gave confidence from the word go. The front feedback is excellent and you can feel the flex from the tyre with the amount of grip clearly transmitted back to the rider. The level of feedback varies dependant on the bike, but overall the front feel in impressive, giving you the confidence to push a little harder than on the T30.
Equally the rear offers excellent shoulder grip and traction as you dial in the power. Even on KTM’s powerful 1290 GT I never experienced any movement from the tyre. I even purposely attempted to the spin the rear tyre when cold, but to no avail; the heat-up cycle is impressive.
We’ll be fitting the new T31 rubber to one of our long-term test bikes shortly, and then we’ll be able to give you a proper guide on longevity and wet weather performance. Not that we are hoping it rains in the UK during spring or summer...
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