A few weeks ago, Dirck asked me if I would be able to try out Bridgestone’s latest D.O.T. approved street/track day tires, the BT-003RS’s, and I happily accepted the opportunity. The last time I had ridden on their “track rubber” was in 2003 at a Honda press launch for the then all-new CBR1000RR. Back then they had just introduced the BT002′s and I was impressed with them, but I never had a chance to really try them out under my terms, on my bike, or at my home tracks. The BT-003RS is a street tire with track day grip, not a full race tire (that would be the BT-003). With all of the top riders and teams in MotoGp jumping on the bandwagon last year, there must have been something remarkable about the progress Bridgestone had made to knock Michelin from their throne at the highest level of motorcycle racing. Although D.O.T. approved tires and the stuff Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi are being issued are not quite the same thing, surely what they have learned in MotoGp has to have trickled down to what us mere mortal, track day junkies and club racers could get our hands on.
Bridgestone’s new BT003 Racing Street or BT003RS claims to have combined MotoGp construction with its latest multi-compound technology. The result is a tire that provides a high level of performance in braking, accelerating, and cornering with greater feedback aided by a larger contact patch.
The front BT-003RS is a dual compound design consisting of a center section providing excellent stability and wear characteristics. The shoulder compound provides a greater level of grip and an improved grip feel.
The rear BT-003RS tire also features Bridgestone’s dual compound technology. The center compound gives good stability and higher mileage, while the shoulder compound transfers the engine power to the road with strong traction and provides strong side grip and a massive contact patch at deep lean angles. The smaller 140, 150 and 160 series rears have Triple Tread Compound, as was first used in the Battlax BT-016 last year.
Bridgestone was nice enough to send us out a 120/70-17 front and a 180/55-17 rear, perfect for the Yamaha R6 that happened to be sitting in my garage begging to be taken out for a good track day flogging. Once the tires were in hand, I called my good friends at Fastrack Riders and reserved my spot at one of their events at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is a venue I am familiar with and it provides a multitude of conditions to put the BT’s through their paces.
My first session out on the tires, I ran tire warmers prior to heading out to insure they were up to operating temperature right away. After a couple of easy laps to scrub them in and familiarize myself with the feel, I began picking up the pace. When I began pushing, I noticed how much the front felt like it was glued to the pavement. I could run all the way in to the apex on the brakes and never felt like the tire was at its limit. They offered a very light steering feel, but didn’t feel like it created any instability issues. In fact, I noticed there was almost no tendency to headshake even on some of the bumpier corner exits. The rear didn’t inspire as much confidence as the front, but grip levels were more than adequate. It almost felt a touch on the vague side, but it never did anything that caused alarm. After finishing the first session, I decided the ask Randy from In House Suspension to help me tune in my suspension settings to take full advantage of what the tires had to offer.
My next session out, I was able to get a little more comfortable and I was able to push a little harder. The tires willingly responded with excellent grip and good feel. Even as the temperature started nearing the mid 90′s, they never seemed to fade. I tried going out for one session without using the tire warmers and they responded with quick warm up and no feeling of greatly reduced grip. During my final session, I caught on to the back of a rider on a much larger displacement machine and decided to see if I could keep up for a few laps. I was riding the little R6 for all it was worth and doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the liter bike monster I was chasing for about six or seven laps, when the rear finally started showing signs of being at its limit. This happened after several of the most extreme laps I could muster in the heat of a Southern California summer day. Not bad for a street tire intended for track day usage. I have already recommended these tires to a few friends that ride the street and do occasional track days. I think these tires are an excellent choice for riders that use their bikes in real world situations, as well as track days.