Bridgestone has rolled out its first tire created specifically for American V-twin cruisers, the Battlecruise H50. Bridgestone has an extensive racing background, having provided the spec tires for the Formula One and MotoGP series, and is currently the official tire supplier of the Indy 500 (under the Firestone brand, which Bridgestone acquired in 1988). With that in mind, despite being a cruiser tire, its engineers have made it clear that the H50 was designed for performance.
Using its new “UltimatEYE” (U-EYE) testing facility, Bridgestone says it is able to get the best visualization of the contact behavior of a tire under actual riding conditions. The H50 is only the second tire its ever developed using the U-EYE process, and Bridgestone says it allowed them to achieve a larger contact patch and more uniform contact pressure than its competition, especially as lean angle increases. This translates into easy steering—especially helpful on big, heavy cruisers—and stable cornering behavior.
The rear tire was given a large crown profile to optimize grip and mileage, while the front tire has a reinforced carcass that allows for reduced vertical stiffness, essentially making the tire a shock absorber. The tread design on both was designed for stability and excellent grip on both wet and dry surfaces. And the decorative sipes on the far edges? Well, those were added just because they look cool (seriously)!
We got the opportunity to test the new Battlecruise on the hot streets of central Florida, riding a variety of Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, last October. It can be difficult to evaluate a brand new tire without some sort of context, so Bridgestone also helpfully included a few bikes that were still equipped with their original equipment (OE) tires, allowing us to ride the same bike model with different tires back-to-back.
As promised, the Battlecruise H50 delivered a lighter steering feel than the OE tires. The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 I was riding tracked predictably through corners, even at full lean. Rain grooves are ubiquitous in Florida, and as we cruised one straight stretch of grooved freeway, I gently let go of the grips—not a shimmy or wobble to be had. Alas, it didn’t rain during our three-hour ride, but the H50s got high marks for their dry performance and stability, both in straight lines and while cornering.
The Battlecruise H50 is available in both bias-ply and radial designs, with eight sizes initially available in January 2017. The remaining 14 sizes, mostly for touring models, will be released in January 2018. Retail prices range from $173.88 to $269.10.