Bridgestone Battlax R10: the next big thing in tires?

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You probably haven’t heard of Bridgestone’s new R10 DOT-approved track tire yet, but if you race or do a lot of trackdays, you’re about to. This could be the next step in tire technology, with Bridgestone going so far as to suggest you should alter the current best-practice riding style in order to wring the most from it. Luckily, one of our racer buddies just got to try them out for the first time this weekend.

I talked to WSMC racer Derek Eshlemen about the new R10. Derek has ridden the old Bridgestone 003 (which wasn’t particularly competitive), the current king of DOT race tires, the Dunlop 211, and he had a chance to try out the new R10 on his 2007 CBR600RR Superstock bike at Willow Springs this past weekend.

“This last weekend I got to test out the new R10 tire from Bridgestone,” Derek told us. “I have currently been running the Dunlop 211 Ntec, which is well known to be one of the best tires on the market, but I wanted to see what the new Bridgestone could do.

“I ran the R10 in the hard compounds for Saturday’s Solo GTU 20 lap race. I entered this race for testing purposes only and made a pit stop to check the tire pressures after lap 4. For all 20 laps of this race the R10 held the same great amount of grip throughout. We were running the rear at 33psi hot off the track and 32psi hot on the front. I ended up setting the two fastest laps of the race and those were done in the last 5 laps!

“I ran 1 set of R10s for four races on Sunday. I flipped the rear tire after 2 races to maximize the tire life. I was running down in the 1:26 lap times up front with the guys on Dunlops. I did not have any grip issues in the first two races and the tire functioned as if it was brand new. In Race #3 I started to see signs of grip diminishing but it was very subtle and still ended up finishing 1st! The last race of the day the tire was losing a fair amount of grip, mainly “drive grip.” I was sliding the tire a lot coming out of turn 2, 4, and turn 9 but it still took me to a 1st place finish!

“The front is absolutely amazing and is my favorite front offered by any tire company. The carcass is relatively soft but not Pirelli soft. It still offers some feedback but none of the bone chattering kind like a Dunlop. I had total confidence in throwing the bike into turn 9 and using the tire to scrub the speed. It never let me down!

Bridgestone’s chart confirms what Derek says about chattering.

“The thing I always loved about the Bridgestone is how they respond when they break loose. Even though the tire started to move around after three races it was still very controllable and predictable. When the drive grip suffered I resorted to having to stand the bike up more while exiting turns. The side grip did not seem to diminish much at all other than stepping out a couple of times.

“The Bridgestone R10 performed a lot better than I expected. The tire has a lot more drive grip than the BT003 and maintains grip better throughout the life of the tire.

“I was so impressed by this tire that I ditched the Dunlop 211 Ntec and am racing on the R10s! I can finally say that Bridgestone has stepped up their game and now offers an amazing tire for racers. Maybe some of their Motogp technology finally trickled down to their DOT race tires? Best of all, the R10s cost $150 less than the Dunlop 211 Ntec!”

The most interesting thing about these tires is the way Bridgestone claims you’ll be able to alter your lines and adapt your riding style to them. The chart basically says you can brake late and deep, turn the bike fast and cut a tighter line. I would usually look at these charts with a lot of skepticism, but after Derek’s first hand account, I think some of this is actually believable. Once Derek has some more laps on them, we’ll see if he’s altered his riding style to suit.

Availability may be dodgy while Japan recovers from tsunami damage, but Veits Performance has 120/180 and 120/190 sizes in stock and for sale for $380 and $390 respectively.

  • the_doctor

    When Derek says he “flipped the rear tire after 2 races,” what does that mean?

    • Aaron

      Since Big Willow is a super fast track with predominantly right hand turns the right side of the tire gets used up in a hurry. Lots of people “flip” their rear tire (aka have it mounted backwards) as the left side gets very lightly used. When you flip it the left side becomes the right and “whoalah” you’ve saved yourself from buying a new rear.

      • aristurtle

        The word you’re looking for is “voila”, from the French “voilà” meaning “there it is”.

        Sorry, a pet peeve of mine.

        • Aaron

          All good, except that I really DID mean “WHOALAH” like, Whoa! I flipped my rear and saved a “LAH” money.

          • Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

            Haha. this is certainly a Win!

        • Tom


      • the_doctor

        Thanks. I did not know that was a common practice. Very interesting.

    • Paul

      He mounted it backwards so that if the track was biased to wear more on the right side of the tire, then the left would still have plenty of grip left. Flipping the direction allows him to use the remaining grip on the left side which post flip would now be on the right. The middle of the tire will still be worn as it continues to be used regardless of tire direction, but I think that’s the point he was making. The middle still had a lot of grip left necessitating only a flip because of the bias the track.

  • evilbahumut

    I think he means he literally flipped the tire on the rim. The left side-wall became the right side-wall.

    I’m assuming they’re not a true “directional” tire like most race DOTs

    • Sean Smith

      They are directional, but that’s never stopped anyone from flipping a tire before.

  • Jens

    Pegasusracteamrider Harald Kitsch tested with Bridgestone the first R10 in February and also lately at the Eurospeedway. He is really impressed, great tyre!

  • Pete

    I don’t know about the RT10, it sounds amazing, but I put some Battlax BT-23s on my bike this year and they have been amazing. I would love to try these out.

  • Glenngineer

    I’m not a track guy, but the R10 line described by the graphic illustrates pretty classic high side turning technique, used by BMX guys. When I raced BMX it was the fastest way to go around any tight berm, simply because you got to spend more time on the gas unimpeded.

  • Coreyvwc

    Speed costs money, how fast do I want to go?

    • Sean Smith

      Ha, $390 for a set of street legal race tires is an amazing deal. The British Dunlop 211s are $550 a set.

      Then again, if you’re not the type of guy that could write a knee-puck comparison based off of your last year of riding, these may not be for you.

      • Coreyvwc

        Didn’t see that part I guess. $390 actually isn’t too shabby, especially considering they are supposed to be on par with the D211s.

        • Sean Smith

          Derek basically said they’re better than the 211′s. He’s been winning on those tires for a while now, and to switch to a new unproven tire when you already have a winning setup says a lot about just how good these things are.

  • ontheroad

    Until recently, I never met a Bridgestone I liked. At the urging of a sales rep, I just mounted a set of BT003RS (street version) maybe a thousand miles ago and I’m pretty pleased so far. Neutral steering, quick to heat up, pretty good grip and feedback. They do light up when pushing a bit, but I expect that from a street tire on a big twin, and when the back-end slides it’s a pleasant “I’m the man, doing it flat-track style” feeling, rather than a “oh shit my Michelin just snapped out from under me and now I’m bouncing out of my seat”.

    That said, my impressions of a tire don’t really mean much: I’m slow. If these things are good enough to sway the fast guys on N-tecs, Bridgestone’s really been doing their homework and with that pricing there might be a few angry Dunlop reps this summer. I’ll definitely be trying them out when I can.

    God bless trickle-down technology.

  • Skank NYCF

    Wonder if they have any high speed chunking issues like Ntechs and SC’s

  • Patrick

    After reading, I’m wondering, are these the first generation of DOT tire built for TC? Get it turned, fire it out hard, let the TC handle the details.
    Do you think they will have an RS version? :)

    • Wes Siler

      Ooh, good point.