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Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 - Tire Review

Aug 2, 2009

Bridgestone Potenza RE-11

Size:
225/45R17 (f), 245/40R17 (r)
Type:
Max-grip summer tire
UTQG:
180 A A

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Features:

»Unique no-symmetric sidewall profile

»Bridgestone's proprietary Stealth Technology developed for Formula 1 rain tires

»3-D Stealth Blocks tread design increases overall tread stiffness while also enhancing water evacuation

»Large outer tread blocks improve cornering performance

»Additional circumferential grooves help channel water out of the footprint area to improve resistance to hydroplaning

»Asymmetric carcass construction and tread pattern provides optimal performance in various conditions based on a tread pattern that varies from shoulder to shoulder

Test Mule
'05 Honda S2000

Test driver
Jay Chen, technical editor, Modified Mag
Test track
The streets
Test condition
Dry

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Making it to the top of our list of best max-grip street tires isn't an easy task. Many tires in this segment are uncompromising in stiffness and wear, with limited wet traction, which takes the street out of a street tire. Bridgestone understood this and created an answer with its new top-of-the-line RE-11 tire. The new RE-11 maintains the dry-grip advantage of its predecessor, the RE-01R, but also refined its wet performance and wear characteristics.

Bridgestone's RE-11 is the evolution of the already very sticky old RE-01R. Better dry and wet performance comes primarily from the new 3-D tread design that Bridgestone brands as its Stealth family of technologies. Originally pioneered on its Formula 1 rain tires, Stealth is the next leap in tire tread design that brings 3-D elements into tread blocks and grooving. Instead of distinct tread block faces and groves like most tires, the RE-11 blends both the treads and grooves seamlessly by using tapered block edges and curved profiles. This gives more tread strength and less squirm, so that more circumferential grooves for additional water evacuation could be added with no loss in dry traction.

Bridgestone also stepped away from the symmetric, rotation-specific design of the old RE-01R to a new non-symmetric tread design on the RE-11. This allowed Bridgestone engineers to further increase wet and dry performance by using a specialized tread pattern on the inner tire shoulder for wet grip and the outer shoulder for dry grip with larger more continuous tread blocks.

An asymmetric design also allowed Bridgestone engineers to create different sidewall profiles and stiffnesses for the inside and outside. The outer sidewall, which typically bears the brunt of lateral loads is shaped and reinforced to further limit the sidewall from buckling and rolling over. In contrast, the inside sidewall gets pulled sideways and stretched. Since the tread face is attached to the sidewalls, all this deformation causes patchy pressure points in the contact patch which reduce traction. (Imagine bending a section of rain gutter and the bottom starts bowing up.) By optimizing each sidewall, Bridgestone engineers are able to maintain much more consistent pressure across the entire contact patch compared even to the RE-01R.

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We intentionally tested our new RE-11s on the streets because there was little question about the sheer grip capabilities of a tire meant to superseded the RE-01R. Our RE-11s were mounted on a lower but stock-powered Honda S2000 to best discern its civility and performance advantage. The edgy snap oversteer nature of the S2000 was ideal to help us feel out just how good the RE-11 was.

The first and immediate impression is that it's really too much grip to get the car loose even when the tires are dead cold. The rear would only step out when we forced it hard. Turn-in and steering communication is also very precise, thanks to the advanced sidewall design and circumferential center tread rib that the RE-01R didn't have. While its difficult to say one tire is better than another at this level of grip, the RE-11 definitely raises the bar in terms of melding street comfort with extreme performance.

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Bridgestone will initially release 31 different sizes ranging from 15- to 19-inch diameters targeting ideal fitments for the Honda S2000, Nissan 350Z, the Mini Cooper S and the BMW 3 Series. The widest current offering is only a 275-width tire, but don't be fooled because the RE-11s have a very square shoulder profile to provide a wider contact patch.

Sources

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