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Bridgestone Battlax Sport Touring T32 Tires: MD Product Review

You may recall that Editor Dirck Edge personally purchased a 2019 KTM 790 Adventure, which he proceeded to modify into a street-focused machine with cast wheels sized 19/17 inch. You can read Part 3 of his 790 Adventure project here, which has links back to earlier articles.

After the wheel swap, Dirck mounted Continental RoadAttack 3 tires, which worked well and certainly provided a dramatic increase in cornering grip over the stock 21/18 inch wheels shod with dual purpose tires. The 120/70/19 front was paired with a 170/60/17 rear. The only problem experienced was the relatively high effort necessary to make the bike turn-in.

Flash forward to the most recent tire change on the 790 Adventure and Dirck has now mounted Bridgestone’s new T32 sport touring rubber. You can follow this link to Bridgestone’s web site, but here is the Bridgestone summary of the changes/improvements to the T31 successor:

The T32 takes a leap forward in motorcycle tire technology, offering innovative new tread design and rubber compounds. The results provide sport touring riders with the confidence to travel endlessly, rain or shine.  

  • Evacuates water more effectively with a new tread pattern featuring Pulse Groove Technology™ and Silica Rich compounds.* 
  • Increased cornering grip and improved feel from larger adhesion area provided by a 13% larger rear contact patch.*
  • 7% shorter wet stopping distance with no sacrifice in wear life*

Specific GT spec options for heavier bikes provides additional stability and 10% more wear life*

In changing tires, the front size remained the same, but the rear is now a 160/70/17. This narrower tire, with a taller sidewall, seems to have transformed the handling of the 790 Adventure. The bike now turns in with far less effort, and feels more neutral. The 70 series sidewall height on a 160 wide tire is somewhat unusual, but it seems to have done the trick when it comes to handling.

Regarding the T32 tires, the most notable change was a softer, more compliant feel. Additionally, cornering grip has been very good. The biggest improvement? Feel and feedback from both tires, particularly the front, is outstanding.

When Bridgestone was the tire supplier to MotoGP, the racers were in love with the grip and feel of the front tire (something Michelin has struggled to match). The excellent feedback provided by the rubber was transferred over to a sportbike tire developed by Bridgestone near the end of its MotoGP supplier contract, the S22. The S22, now several years old, is still winning shoot-outs against more recently introduced sportbike rubber.

The bottom line is that Dirck is very happy with these tires and highly recommends them. They are available in a “GT Spec” for heavier bikes, although Dirck has been running the standard version. With roughly 500 miles on the T32 tires, there isn’t much to say about wear or longevity at this point. We will try to post an update as the tires near the end of their service life.

19 Comments

  1. Alex I says:

    Hey Dirck,

    I’m planning the same mod to my 790, a set of 19/17 wheels. These tyres look like top contenders once done.

    I just wondered – what kind of tyre pressures do you run on the new wheels? Surely not the same as the stock 35/35 recommendation by KTM!

    Many thanks

    • Dirck Edge says:

      With the T32s I’m running 37psi rear and 33psi front. These are measured with cold tires in the morning.

  2. Donk says:

    Not knocking Bridgestone but seems we’re discussing 2 different yet overlapping things here. Front tire feel is hugely dependent on tire brand, compound and model. Handling in this case is going to be effected more by rear tire size than particular brand. So a front tire with more feel and a change in size to an easier turning rear tire has got to be win/win. Be interesting to know the results if the same size T32s had been used that were on the bike then the rear tire size was changed afterward . Of course easy to suggest when it’s Dirck’s time and money!
    I was not a fan of Bridgestone probably due to some cheap OEM tires until I recently tried a set of the new Battleax AX41T 90/10 Adventure tires on a friend’s recommendation. Am pleasantly surprised with them. I would certainly consider trying T32 on my road bike in the future.

  3. fred says:

    Having older bikes with less-popular tire sizes can be a bit of a problem. My ZX6E takes a 120/60R-17 & a 160/60R-17. I’ve been running an S21 on the front and an S22 on the rear, but will be switching to the T32’s when the current tires wear out.

    For years, I ran Michelins, but have switched back to Bridgestones for the most part.

  4. TimC says:

    Heh, I’ve had variations of this on FZ-6 from new (factory fitment), other than one stint with Michelins (there was some mixup so dealer gave me those for same price so I said what the heck). The Michelins turned in a bit better but with the Bridgestones I’ve always been able to replace the front every other time I did the rear, and with the Michelins the front wore out as fast as the rear. So I went right back (and I’ve since finally addressed the thing not turning with raising the forks 1 cm in the triples).

    I can echo Marcus’s comment that road feel (at least up to T31 which is what is on there now) is sort of wooden but this bike has cheapo suspension too and I’m never probing around the limits of adhesion or anything on the street.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I’ve ridden on the T30 and T31. IMO, the T32 is a huge step forward in terms of feel and feedback from the road.

      • Marcus says:

        The T-30’s on my ZRX have gone off I believe. There’s plenty of tread but they’re 7-8 years old. Practically overnight I now have to force them to turn. A lot of pressure on the handlebar. The bike is mechanically perfect.
        Maybe I’ll hold off for an in depth review.

        • TimC says:

          Uh, 7-8 year old tires aren’t safe (as you have noticed).

          • Marcus says:

            I know that. I used to get no more than two seasons out of a set but with four bikes now and only one butt, some sit unused.
            I do my own mounting and balancing so I always change front and rear together.
            The T-30 are on my ZRX, which I use for LD touring but with covid, it sat.

  5. Dave says:

    Thanks for the share/review. My Metzlers probably have another season on them as little as I’ve been riding but I remember by BT-020’s from another bike fondly. I’ve always heard good things about Michelin Pilot Road (2, 3, 4, etc.) and was keen to try a pair of those next. How do you rate them, compared to these?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Current Michelin in that category is Road 5, but it is being replaced by the Road 6. Don’t have direct experience with either, unfortunately, but I have ridden on countless tire brands and models and these new T32 tires really impress me.

  6. Mick says:

    Well, this is timely. I need some new rubber for my two up rig. I’m always amazed at the mileage people report getting out of tires. Since 1992 I have had at least one Ducati, I have two right now. I have never gotten more than 3000 miles on tires, usually 2000. I am loath to ride on anything but twisty roads. But even if I have to drone more than I’d like, the darn things flat pot something awful. Then I quickly grow to despise them and off they go.

    I always get great wear from tires on my truck, because I drive like a grampy. Motorcycles? Not so much.

    • todd says:

      I have similar experience, averaging about 3,000 miles on the back of my Monster and my Duke. I am surprised with the Dunlop Roadsmart that still looks good after 5000 miles. It’s just as sticky as everything else that’s been back there (better than the Michelin PRs in the cold) but on track to last twice as long. The initial Metzler was showing cords at 2900 miles (two months!),including all the new bike break-in riding! I’ve never been a Dunlop guy but that might change. I still see monster mileage out of Shinkos on my K75S, and I push that heavy bike (500+ lb) hard through the mountains.

  7. I ran the new T-32’s on my R1250RS (536 lbs) and was very impressed with handling and wear compared to the previous Metzeler 01’s. The front T-32 resisted “cupping” well into the tire life. I’m now on a R1250 Roadster and will no doubt re-shoe with the T-32’s when the Metzeler 08’s are gone.

  8. todd says:

    Glad to see you are still enjoying your bike. I remember a dramatic change/reduction in steering effort when I went from a 21/18 knobbie combo to 110/130, 17/17 street tires on my old XR650L. The steering was lighter than my Duke that has a 150 rear but the stronger chassis and forks on the Duke puts the razer sharp handling leagues above the XR.

  9. Marcus says:

    I’m a long time believer in the Battlax series. I’ve used them since the bt-020 to the T30 EVO. I doubt any ST tire scores higher for mileage. They have good grip and have never set a foot wrong. My only complaint with them was the feel, or, I should say, the lack of it.
    After hearing great things about the Conti Road Attack 3 I thought I’d take a chance on them instead of my beloved Bridgestones. And was I pleased. They stick like glue, turn in easily (17 inch 120/70, 180/55) and I finally got a tire where I could feel the road. And with six thousand miles so far I’d say they are wearing as well as the Battlax. I’m staying with the RA3, I’d hate to take a step backwards.

    I can’t speak on the T-31 (as I swapped to the RA3) or the new T-32 but I will watch the reviews.

    • TimC says:

      From Dirck’s replies it sounds like the T32 is an interesting step up.

    • Mark G says:

      I’ve not been much of a Continental fan in years past, but I have RA3’s on my 2015 R1200GS, and they are the bomb. Great life, wet traction, and are amazing on Montezuma Grade. And on the GS they almost tip in too easily. And as a bonus, they work fine on the occasional dirt road, which suits my needs perfectly.

      And just got a set for my R1100s, replacing some Roadsmart 3s that I liked a lot, but the RA3’s have better front end feedback.

      No comments on tire life yet

      • Marcus says:

        I have 6000 miles on my RA3 with no real sign of wear.
        My bike is Kawasaki z900. I’m 200 pounds in full gear. I’m a pretty sane rider who likes the odd hard acceleration and fun on twisty backroads but I definitely don’t beat on it. Not conservative, not crazy. Fast when safe.
        I expect they’ll last 10,000 miles.