Tyre launch: Bridgestone Battlax BT-016 review

With its first MotoGP title, not to mention the services of a fast Italian, Bridgestone is on a high

Bridgestone’s new Battlax BT-016 Hypersport tyre follows on from the enormously successful BT-014 tyres and sits below the racier BT-002 Racing Streets and above the sports-touring BT-021s. If you’re a tech-head, you’ll love the BT-016s. During the launch at Jerez technical features such as HTSPC, MS Belt and 3 and 5 layer compounds were bandied about. Apparently all you need to know is that they have progressive grip performance, sporty handling, good longevity and excellent high and low-speed stability – so there, now you know.

The new BT-016s feature three compounds on the front hoop and no-less that five on the rear to give optimal performance and longevity. To test the tyres we were given a whole day on the 2.748-mile Spanish GP circuit of Jerez. Jerez has a little bit of everything in it: short, medium and long turns. Some fast, some slow.

There’s also a good selection of both uphill and downhill braking sections, which is why the Spanish venue is such a good work-out for tyres. We had a selection of the latest 600, 750 and litre-class sportsbikes to choose from, so I decided to take out the big ‘n’ comfy Yamaha R1 shod with the new BT-016s to see what they were like. Like most modern tyres, the first thing that impresses is how quick these tyres are to warm up.

Traditionally I wouldn’t want to be going hell-for-leather on new rubber until after at least three laps, but following Jeremy McWilliams showed that you could start to up the pace after only one single lap.

Learning the track in the first 20-minute session, the Bridgestones behaved perfectly. For the second session I was on Honda’s new CBR1000RR Fireblade and I was starting to increase the pace as I began to learn the track. Side grip is exceptional – especially through the fast lefts of turns three and four, and the run up before Nieto, not to mention the fast right-hand kink before the final hairpin at Curva Ducados.

Saying that even slow-old me had a couple of miniature slides on the Blade. Nothing too scary, but hitting the back straight out of the Curva Sito Pons, the rear of the Blade began to step out just a little. To be honest, I’d probably put that down to the suspension telling me it needed some adjustment, than anything to do with the tyres: after all, McWilliams and Ron Haslam (and some blokes called Melandri and Stoner) seemed to be having no problems at all!

Stability on the whole is nothing short of superb, and if anything, these new BT-016s are even more stable under heavy braking than the Diablo Rossos I tried at Catalunya a couple of weeks before. Hitting the brakes hard for Curva Dry Sack and Curva Angel Nieto produced no major wobbles at all and I felt that – for the first time – I could hang onto the brakes way into the corner, something I’ve never had the confidence to do before. Even the odd bit of late braking produced no squeals of protest from the front, it just bit into the tarmac and slowed down. No dramas, no problems. Lovely.

An overnight scoot to Guadix and the launch of the GSX-R750K8 allowed me to enjoy the OE version of the BT-016. These will be on both the GSX-R600 and 750. The only difference on the OE version is that these versions only use single front compounds and dual rear compounds. Either way, once more the Bridgestones performed faultlessly despite a day’s hard riding at the track.

The BT-016s are available now and in a range of sizes that even includes the ol’ 16-inch Fireblades…

After enjoying the BT-016s on two tracks and a number of machines, one thing is clear –the Bridgestones aren’t just tyres, they’re excellent performance add-ons for your bike. Looking at the number of brilliant products out there from all the major manufacturers, it seems as if the tyre war is hotting up. And that’s good news for us.


Bridgestone Battlax BT-016, Price: £220 per pair,

Available sizes: Fronts: 130/70 ZR16, 110/70 ZR17, 120/60 ZR17, 120/70 ZR17, Rears:, 150/60 ZR17, 160/60 ZR17, 170/60 ZR17, 180/55 ZR17, 190/50 ZR17, 190/55 ZR17, 160/60 ZR18.