With many sport-touring and adventure-touring bikes producing upwards of 130-150 rear-wheel horsepower and featuring electronics that manage engine output, chassis dynamics, suspension action and braking, the demands we place on our tires have never been higher, nor have our expectations for grip and tread life. That’s where Bridgestone’s latest sport-touring radial tire, the Battlax T31, comes in.
We’ve tested, and been impressed by, Battlax T30s as OE tires on test bikes and as replacement tires on personal bikes. Compared to the T30 Evo, Bridgestone says the T31 offers better feel and feedback, superior wet grip (especially at low temperatures), improved handling in all conditions and comparable wear resistance. A new tread design has more grooves on the shoulder for increased water drainage and fewer grooves in the center for increased stability. Depending on lean angle, the contact patch is up to 7 percent larger, helping the T31s generate more camber thrust (which helps a bike turn), and the coefficient of friction on wet surfaces has increased by 3 percent. The front tire uses a single compound with improved silica dispersion for enhanced flexibility and feel. The rear tire uses a dual compound, with a softer, grippier compound that forms the base of the entire tire as well as the tread on the shoulders and a harder, longer-lasting compound that forms a cap on the center of the tire.
To test the T31s, Bridgestone hosted a press launch in Quarzazate, Morocco, just south of the Atlas Mountains on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Our 200-mile route was on pavement that ranged from freshly laid and steamrolled to heavily used and abused, with plenty of crosswinds that kept us on our toes and sand on the tarmac. I split my time between the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT and the Ducati Multistrada 1260, two of the most powerful and sophisticated sport tourers available. We rode at a spirited pace on roads that crossed wide-open desert and climbed over craggy mountains, a constantly changing cycle of aggressive acceleration, braking and cornering. The T31s delivered as promised in terms of straight-line stability, full-lean grip and responsiveness, regardless of bike or section of road. I quickly gained trust and confidence in the tires, allowing me to spend less time thinking about grip and more time focused on surface conditions, line selection and modulation of the throttle and brakes. That’s exactly what I want in a set of tires.
Of course, with 200 miles in the bone-dry desert, we weren’t able to evaluate wet grip, which, according to Bridgestone, is where the T31s are most improved compared to the T30 Evos. Nor were we able to draw any conclusions about tread life, but our test of the original T30s yielded good results. Available now, Battlax T31 tires are available in eight front sizes and nine rear sizes in standard construction, plus two front and three rear sizes in a reinforced GT version for heavier bikes.
For more information, see your dealer or visit motorcycle-karttires.com.