Bridgestone Battlax A41

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Updated: July 12, 2018

It’s not too often Adventure Rider Magazine slips on a pair of road-oriented tyres, but with a couple of long road rides in front of us, we decided to give the new Bridgies a try. They’re a bit scary to look at if knobbies are your regular choice, but, horses for courses, as the saying goes.

Bridgestone says the A41 is: ‘An adventure-type tyre that has evolved in all aspects to offer outstanding straight-line stability and performance in the wet, in addition to satisfactory wear life.

‘While preserving long tyre life, the Adventure A41 achieves the conflicting objectives of performance in the wet, stability in the dry and improved handling. In particular, shorter braking distances on wet road surfaces and enhanced cornering grip make for more confident riding, even in rain. This is a next-generation adventure-type tyre that allows riders to extract even more enjoyment from the unique riding that only an adventure bike can offer, whether it be long-distance touring, highway cruising or riding on unpaved roads.

‘Recommended for:

  • Riders who have adventure motorcycles, and enjoy on-road touring
  • Riders who want high wet performance and long wear life.’
Fronts start at $169.95 and rears $259.95.

Real world

We managed to fit and remove the tyres ourselves, something we’re currently rating a far higher priority than we used to. It needed a beadbreaker for the rear and some very high pressure to set the bead, but we did it with the gear in the tool roll, and that’s what matters. We couldn’t have set the bead with a hand pump.

When we took the wheels to a mechanic for balancing both front and rear were fine as they stood. No weights added.

So that was nice.

We’ve done around 2000km of bitumen and maybe 600km of off-road on the A41s so far, and while we can’t say yet what the lifespan of the tyres will be – they’re not showing any visible signs of wear yet – the overwhelming impression of our time with the tyres so far is how bloody nice it is on bitumen and hard-packed surfaces to not have the incessant whine of knobbies on a long trip. Or even worse, that wuka-wukka-wukka sound they make when they start to wear unevenly. Or even worser, the headshake and instability that comes from a pair of knobbies past their use-by date.

The BattlAxs also gave an incredible feeling of stability on mountain roads and when the bike was pushed on the bitumen. It was an interesting reminder of just how much we’ve become used to the flex and vagueness of knobbies.

So no problem on the road, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Bridgestone has earned a justifiably giant reputation in road tyres, especially at world-championship racing level.

Hey-up!

Bridgestone says the A41s offer ‘more wet and dry grip’, and touts the tyres as wet-weather friendly. By chance we found ourselves thrumming along through heavy fog on an early Bathurst morning when visibility was…ooo…about a metre (that’s what it felt like). To add to the adventure of the situation the road was as wet as a shag. We don’t know how to judge the A41s wet-road performance against other similar tyres, but we were very, very glad we weren’t on knobbies. There were patches of ice where the bike went all over creation, and we don’t believe any tyre short of a spiked ice tyre would’ve made any difference, but in the wet sections the bike stayed upright and seemed to us to cope better than we expected.

It’s not scientific, but it’s the best we can do.

Off-road

The off-road riding we covered with the A41s included slimy, muddy hills, long, rocky riverbed sections and a big variety of dirt roads which ranged from deep dust to tough, sharp-edged rocks, and the BattlAxs did better than we expected them to.

The slimy, muddy hills were hopeless. We were pretty sure those sections would be beyond the A41s, and a sensible rider wouldn’t have made the attempt, but in the interests of giving the tyres a chance to achieve Nirvana-rubber status, we opened the throttle and had a crack. Plenty of riders with knobbies were failing on the same sections and A41s didn’t really stand a chance.

On everything else they coped well.

It definitely needed the rider to use his noggin and ride within the limitations of the non-aggressive tread pattern, but with that in mind they went everywhere. We were actually surprised a couple of times at how they managed to somehow find traction when we didn’t expect them to, especially on hard-edged rocks.

A good long-distance option

So after a few-thousand kilometres we’re quietly impressed with the Bridgestones. Like all tyres, riders will need to use their heads and fit the type of tyre which will suit the ride they have in mind. For commuters and long-distance guys who are riding mainly hard surfaces, the A41s are definitely worth considering, especially when Bridgestone claims ‘outstanding wear life’. We feel as though we underestimated the A41’s off-road capability, and we really enjoyed them on the bitumen. We wouldn’t hesitate to tackle most off-road situations with A41s fitted, but mud and wet clay, especially if there are hills included, would have us looking for alternative routes.

 

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