The hypersport tire market just got a new player in the Bridgestone Hypersport Battlax S22. We flew to Jerez to check it out.
Bridgestone has been busy toiling away in their labs for the past three years to bring you the tire you see before you in the Hypersport Battlax S22.
This is not a rework of the S21 that was released back in 2016, but a completely ground-up brand-new design out of Japan. The S22 doesn’t replace the S21 but is now the sportiest tire Bridgestone makes purely for the street, with the Battlax RS10 merging into pure trackday league, and the R11 up to the V02/W01 slicks only for racing.
The initial aim of the S22 was better wet-weather grip without sacrificing the S21’s dry-weather performance, more corner speed, faster lap times and, importantly, long wear life. Those last two points might be at opposite ends of the tire spectrum, but this is a street tire, not a straight-up race tire, after all.
There are a lot more tread grooves in the S22 (in tire speak that means an increased sea-to-land ratio), which gives better water drainage provides more feedback to the rider at high lean angles and cornering forces, according to Bridgestone.
Bridgestone Hypersport Battlax S22 Front Tire
The front of the S22 equation is constructed using Bridgestone’s 3LC dual compound, with softer sides compounds and a harder center for better mileage.
“We really worked on new compounds from the center area of the tire, and this one has been used with optimized resin components in the initial mix of the compound, enhancing, in the end, the grip characteristics,” says Bridgestone Field and Product Planning Engineer, Fabian Francios. What Bridgestone is after in the front is greater stability under hard braking and better feedback when the brakes are released, and you lean hard on the overall grip to send you through the corner, especially in the wet. Even though you have essentially less tire on the ground than you do with the S21, the S22 is claimed to have less slippage towards the end of the contact patch and less deformation under load, which in turn gives you better grip across a broader range of temperatures.
The low-temperature grip is especially increased over the S21, and it’s only when the temps reach racetrack levels that the S21 (which was already an excellent tire in terms of overall grip), begins to catch up.
Bridgestone Hypersport Battlax S22 Rear Tire
The rear S22 is a 5LC three compound structure, with extra hard edges to handle extreme lean-angle acceleration, a slightly softer compound in the middle of each side and a hard center compound for longer wear life. What’s interesting is the rear compound has over 25 percent more silicone molecules on the ground thanks to different resin components in the tire mold.
“In the S22, we could make sure that the silicone molecules are getting much smaller, meaning on a micro level there are 25 percent more molecules of silicone on the ground. So we get much more grip, in both wet and dry conditions,” says Francois. Bridgestone is claiming cornering speed is up by 15 percent on the S22 compared to the S21 and a five percent faster wet lap time, although the latter is something we were unable to test at Jerez.
How did they perform?
Launching a street tire at a MotoGP circuit is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to testing, purely because you can easily override a street tire as it is generally performing at the outer reaches of its performance spectrum.
On the flip side, putting it hard under the microscope at a track can show you what it can really do, and having been seriously impressed by the S21 in Abu Dhabi a few years back, I had high hopes for the S22 in sunny, moderately hot conditions at Jerez.
There was no chance for us to test the tire in wet conditions, so we’ll just focus on dry-weather performance. Compared to the S21, everything is ratcheted up on the S22. One of the best things about the old tire was how much trail brake you could carry while leaned over, and the S22 is another step forward here.
The edge grip from the front is exceptional, allowing you to brake super late and carry plenty of lean angle without feeling like it’s going to wash out from under you. A testament to this is despite the vast difference in speed between the assembled international journalists, no one had a low-side crash at Jerez—something that’s a rarity when testing tires on a track at a worldwide launch.
The second good part of the front S22 was how quickly it would change direction and the feeling you’d get from full lean to full lean. Grip was never an issue, and I always knew where the tire was underneath me. Feedback is something Fabian told me was a major thing for the S22, and they’ve managed to improve upon the already excellent S21 in this regard.
As for the rear, what was more impressive than the overall grip on offer was how long they lasted. Each bike on the test was ridden extensively by a variety of different riders and riding styles, and new tires were only thrown at the bikes during the lunch break. That bodes extremely well for long distance wear characteristics, so you should get plenty of weekend thrashes out of these tires before needing to replace them.
Under hard acceleration, the rear Bridgestone had tones of grip on offer, and when it did let go on something like the BMW S 1000 RR, it did so in a beautifully smooth and progressive fashion. Street tires need to give you that feeling of connectivity on a track to make up for the overall lack of grip compared to a race tire, and the rear S22 is an excellent example here. Overall edge grip was also very good, but I don’t think it’s as massive a leap forward in overall performance compared to the front when ridden on the track. It’s still better than the S22, but not by miles.
VIDEO | Bridgestone Battlax S22 Track Test
I’ll need to get a set of these on a test bike and get some wet-weather testing under my belt, but for an afternoon around one of the best tracks in the world, the S22s from Bridgestone are seriously impressive.CN
Here’s the full range of Bridgestone Hypersport Battlax S22 sizes: