Bridgestone has been making tires since 1931 and is well known for their modern motorcycle tires. Their lineup of Sport Touring radials has a labeling convention of BT-0XX, with XX being a two digit number. The lower the number, the more the focus is placed on high grip and less on longevity. A couple years ago, I had a set of BT-014’s on my sport touring Triumph. They lasted only 4000 miles, but they gripped so well in wet and dry that the bike felt like a straight up crotch rocket.
Regular readers will remember the previous long term tire test with the Vee Rubber radials that I excoriated for their downright scary wet grip. After that spooky experience, I wanted to return to a brand with which I was familiar, but a model with which I was not. I’ve never had BT-016’s on the Triumph, and Bridgestone extolls their grip virtues with a little nod given to longevity, so that seemed a logical choice. I could beleaguer you with all their specs, fabrication techniques and performance features, but all that data is available at their website here, so you tire tech savvy types can peruse if you wish. Most of you just want to know what happens when the rubber meets the road.
The test mule is my beloved 2001 Triumph Trophy 900, listed at 485 pounds dry, probably about 535 pounds at the curb. Combined weight of me and full complement of stuff I routinely have on board is around 215 pounds. Tire size is the very standard 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear.
The 16’s dry grip was very good. I got the “chicken strips” (portion of tread nearest the shoulder that never got worn) down to about 3mm on a few occasions, pretty respectable for such a big bike and an older rider with a mortgage to pay. But the grip was sometimes not linear. There were times it felt a bit twitchy even when I was only at about 80% of the cornering limit. I determined that was due to lack of heat. When the tires were sufficiently warmed up, they were quite predictable. The 16’s also proved to be very stable at speed (tested at a super secret location to 110 mph) and reliable under heavy braking, with no discernible squirming. Additionally, they were quiet on the road and did not develop any peculiar wear patterns as the mileage accumulated.
Wet grip was also satisfactory and good enough for enthusiastic riding, though not on par with some Metzelers I’ve experienced. (To be fair the Metzelers are nearly twice as expensive.) I did a lot of riding through the wet months of November and December and found the 16’s to be very sure footed on wet surfaces whether turning or straight, braking or accelerating. They also showed no propensity to hydroplane through deeper puddles at freeway speed and yes, I tried on numerous occasions.
On the downside, the 16’s did allow the bike to be just a tad squirrely in turbulent crosswinds. It was only a mild annoyance and I have experienced it with a few other tires as well, but is worth mentioning here.
The 16’s went 8200 miles before replacement, but probably should have been yanked at around 7700 miles, as the rear tire was just beginning to show its cords. Ooops. The front could have easily gone another thousand. That is right around normal mileage for a pair of sport touring radials, according to past experience and numerous websites and rider blogs I consulted.
Bottom line: the Bridgestone BT-016’s deliver very good dry and wet handling, acceptable longevity and are a solid choice, particularly considering their price point. Next up: Shinko 005 Advance radials, already mounted and riding.
Until next time, stay tuned and upright. Jack