Entering a fourth season as the exclusive tire provider of MotoGP, Bridgestone has certainly elevated the performance image of its consumer products. The marketing surrounding the Hyper Sport S20—the latest addition to its Battlax family of sport-focused street radials—implies the inclusion of MotoGP technology, but I found little traction when prodding for specific examples while at the S20 world press introduction in Portimao, Portugal, this past March.
The S20 is an evolution of the BT-016 Pro and, like its predecessor, fills the void between the BT-023 sport-touring tire and theBT-003 Racing Streetsport tire within the Battlax line. The S20, however, provides an even broader performance/durability envelope.
Aside from offering a new tread pattern that’s said to offer improved contact area at all lean angles, the S20 design directive called for improving performance and grip in wet and dry conditions and to maintain better performance throughout the life of the tire. The S20 uses Bridgestone’s HTSPC-MSB (High Tensile Super Penetrated Cord–Mono Spiral Belt) technology introduced in the BT-016 and is now in all Battlax street products. HTSPC employs steel fiber rather than the more costly Kevlar material found in Bridgestone racing tires.
Tweaks in the compound have provided more grip across a wider temperature range, with particular improvement at lower temps. The use of 3LC (dual compound) has also been revised so that the S20 front requires less lean angle to get into its grippier shoulder rubber, while the opposite is true of the new rear. The rear’s durable center compound spans roughly 66 percent of the overall tread width, compensating for the high stress and wear of corner-exit acceleration at shallow-to-mid lean.
I put in five 20-minute sessions, lapping the 2.92-mile Autódromo Internacional do Algarve circuit aboard a variety of supersports equipped with appropriately sized S20 radials. My favorites of the day for their precise steering, planted feel, unwavering stability under acceleration and hard braking were the Honda CBR1000RR, Suzuki GSX-R750 and Triumph Daytona 675. The 2011 (non-TCS) Yamaha YZF-R1 that I rode first while reacquainting myself with the very technical circuit felt a little nervous but nowhere near as wild and wooly (perhaps downright butt-puckery) as my stint aboard the BMW S1000RR. I attribute those antics more to the raw performance the Bavarian beast unleashed on the undulating circuit than any fault in the tire. Ironically, the Beemer was the only traction-control-equipped bike I rode, and when it was switched to “slick” mode, my greedy throttle hand produced the only heart-skipping rear slides I encountered all day.
Ultimately, I found the Hyper Sport S20’s performance to be of solid track-day quality, perhaps even superior to that of the BT-003 RS. A 55-mile street ride aboard a Honda CB1000R the following morning on a variety of dry and damp roads in the local mountains provided further evidence that the S20 is a surefooted successor to the BT-016—and worthy of a bit of MotoGP marketing hype.