Review – Batt UHP Full Slicks: All the tyre you need for R3,400 a set
Story: Donovan Fourie
Pics: Meghan McCabe
The job of tyres is not to be noticed. Think about this carefully – the only time tyres ever present themselves in our conscious minds is when something is going wrong with them. They are required to get on with their job without bickering and without bothering upper management.
There was a fair chunk of conscious mind, however, when Batt announced that they were releasing a slick tyre.
Hang on a minute…
Batt has done a phenomenally good job until now with their successful ATV, off-road and even road tyres that were all developed under the watchful gaze of Bruce de Kock, the mindful fellow behind the Bike Tyre Warehouse superstore.
Tyres for ATVs, dirt bikes and even road-going machines are tricky but also forgiving. They are not subjected to the mind-blowing forces exerted by a 1000cc superbike with more than 200hp shredding its way through the back tyre, 200kg plus the rider crushing the sidewalls at full lean and the blow of Brembo Monoblocs on a front tyre. And this has to happen 14 times a lap for maybe 100 laps.
Surely you need a brilliant mind from somewhere like Germany, Italy or Japan to create something like this. Not a nice guy from Midrand.
And yet, here they were – two smooth bands of rubber, lounging in tyre warmers, adorning Suzuki’s majestic GSXR1000R in the pits of Red Star Raceway.
They are called the Batt UHP Full Slicks, the UHP part standing for Ultra High Performance, a tyre designed for track enthusiasts to achieve an entire track day (possibly more) with a single set, beat their personal bests and not pay a fortune for them.
All this sounds wonderfully warm and fuzzy, but the proof is on the pudding and, hopefully, that pudding won’t be Donovan jelly served on a plate of tar mixed with chunks of bent GSXR. The way to test tyres is to put them on, go like hell and see if you are alive at the end of it.
With my final will sorted out with my solicitor, I helmeted up and headed out, not sure what awaits me.
Unlike Aragorn, who lifted his sword and charged Mordor’s armies, tyre testing need not be as sudden as this. Thus the first lap of Red Star was done in a cautiously sedate and timely 12 hours, 37 minutes and eight seconds, all while waiting anxiously for something to delaminate or explode.
After the first lap was finished, vitals were checked, and all seemed to be in order, and the second lap was concluded in a far more confident one hour and fifty-seven minutes. From there, things went haywire, with more speed, harder braking and more lean angle, until eventually the relieving feeling of plastic making contact with the rough tar emanated from my knee slider.
It’s a strange sensation for a rider; that otherwise nondescript sensation of a knee touching down because it tells you that everything is okay, that the tar is still tar and has not magically become custard, and that the tyres are still indeed whole and still made of rubber.
At this point, confidence begins to swell. You know that the tyres can handle the rigours of knee sliding, now how much further can they go? You start braking later, you start leaning more aggressively, and you snatch the throttle earlier and earlier.
Keep in mind that, as venerable as it is, the GSXR1000R is a road bike and one we would prefer to give back to Suzuki in much the same state we found it in. Saying that it is one of those motorcycles you sort-of forget about until you ride it again, and then wonder how the oblivion ever happened in the first place. The Kawasaki ZX-10R is roomy and powerful, but tends to turn in slow motion, whereas the Honda CBR1000RR is nimble, but also cramped and without the same horsepower boom.
The GSXR1000R has the benefits of both.
We filmed on, riding in a strange fashion. For The Bike Show shoots, we have the track to ourselves, and if we have to complete a full lap for every shot, it will take about a month to complete one feature. So, instead, the camera people set up on a corner, and the mobile props (that’s us) go through that corner, make a U-turn and do it again the other way.
We agree that this is somewhat better than sitting in a cubicle, but it does tend to become monotonous after a time, and the mind tends to wonder – what should I have for dinner? Does my dog miss me? Could I claim Antarctica as my kingdom? And other random thoughts.
What I stopped thinking about were the tyres. I was just doing my job, scraping my knee and trying desperately to make the shots look good. The tyres weren’t entering my conscious mind. That means they were doing their job.
There is a reason for this because these tyres are more than just the result of a man tinkering in his shop in Midrand. They were engineered in Germany, tested in Italy and manufactured in an Asian plant.
They have some technology to boast about too – there is a hexagonal bead wire with winding technology and superelastic steel wires, all designed for stability at high speeds, reduced deformation under load and maximum heat retention.
I’m not sure what any of that means either, but there must be some benefits. What Bruce did say is that the compound is similar to that of a Pirelli SC2 medium tyre. Come to think of it; if I were to describe the feeling of the Batt UHP Full Slicks, I would say that they have a distinct Pirelli-ish sensation to them. They are stable, grippy and don’t disconnect the rider from the track, much like a Pirelli.
Some of the more attentive readers might be asking about the wisdom of not just buying Pirellis in the first place, and the answer is cost. A set of Pirelli 120/200 slicks will set you back somewhere around R6,000, much like the offerings of all the other top brands, whereas the Batt UHP Full Slicks will cost you just R3,400 per set.
I’m not going to put on a false face and pretend I was breaking lap records, because that would be a lie. What I was doing is going as fast as I could while not risking having to take Suzuki’s bike back to them in a skip. The likes of Brad Binder, Sheridan Morais and Clint Seller might scoff at my pace, but I can confidently say that average track day riders, even those in the upper echelon of the A-group, will not. I will even put my humility aside for a second to admit that they will probably have a hard time keeping up.
A top racer might find faults with these tyres that I could not, but it’s unlikely that anyone else will find their limit. Therefore track day riders, or even casual racers, will be able to achieve their personal bests. We have already mentioned the ridiculously low price of a set, but now we move on to how well they held up over time.
The unique way in which we film for The Bike Show means we couldn’t keep an eye on the number of laps, but we rode on the track, for a solid hour equating to three track day sessions, and the tyre looked nearly new. The tell-tales were maybe a quarter worn, if that.
So, to conclude, a track enthusiast can beat their personal best, they will most likely manage a whole track day, or maybe more, on a set and it won’t break the bank. That sounds like a success for Batt.
See the full image gallery below.