Bridgestone is one of the big global names in the world of tires.
It’s a Japanese company headquartered in Fukuoka, Japan. It has about 90 years of history to date.
Bridgestone operates 181 production facilities in 24 countries and as of 2021 is the largest manufacturer of tires in the world, beating out French rival Michelin and American rival Goodyear.
This article answers the question “Are Bridgestone Tires Directional?”…
Are Bridgestone Tires Directional?
Bridgestone does sell some directional tires, but they do not make up anything like a majority of its selection. Bridgestone directional tires are limited to high-performance needs and extreme winter traction needs. Outside of these, there is little demand for directional tires from Bridgestone.
Which Bridgestone Tires Are Directional?
The main directional tires that you will find among two of its six main categories, which are the Potenza performance tires and the Blizzak winter tires.
These are the only ones in which the directional pattern has some value.
Potenza are the most popular directional tires from Bridgestone, and are noted for their good value when it comes to price point, being much more affordable than with other brands.
What Are Directional Tires?
Directional tires are a specialist type of high-traction tire that are used on high-performance sports cars and racing cars in particular.
They are distinguishable by a very distinct, usually symmetrical tread pattern that is mostly horizontal but also slopes downward to meet in the middle of the tire from both sides.
The result is a very distinct “V” or sometimes “Y” shape formed in the center. They also have markings on the side to indicate their rolling direction and left/right position on the car.
This is important because directional tires, also known as unidirectional tires, are designed to only roll in one specific direction.
To roll them in another direction would counteract the resistance-reducing and traction-boosting design of the tread.
This is also where they get their name “directional tires.”
What Are The Other Types Of Tires?
The other two main types of tires are:
- Symmetric tires – tires with a horizontal and symmetrical pattern. The inboard and outboard on the tires are identical in pattern and in thickness.
These are the types of tires used for all-season tires, and are the most common ones sold by every major tire producer, including Bridgestone.
- Asymmetric tires – these are tires that use a horizontal but non-symmetrical pattern for the tread. The tread might go diagonally across but in one continuous or near-continuous pattern rather than meeting in the middle.
These tires offer additional traction thanks to a thicker outboard. They are also great for shifting water and snow from the tire’s path without losing traction.
What Are The Differences?
The two main areas of visual difference are found in the tread pattern as well as in the markings on the sidewall of the tire.
If you have a directional tire, then the tread pattern will be very distinctive.
On a symmetric tire, the pattern is symmetrical, as the name suggests, which on one level is actually the same as a directional tire because the patterns on directional patterns are symmetrical too, or very close to it.
So what’s the difference?
The pattern on a directional tire will slope downwards into the center of the tire surface, creating a “V” or sometimes a “Y” pattern.
That’s the main difference between these types of tires.
Between a directional and an asymmetric tire, the difference is certainly starker and more noticeable.
Besides the tread pattern, you can also look at the markings on the side of the directional tires.
They have directional arrows that show the proper and correct rolling direction for each tire. There are also left/right position indicators.
Another big difference is in their performance and application.
Directional tires are the highest-traction tire type, offering unparalleled grip on even wet and wintry surfaces.
The “V” pattern of the directional tire is especially good at moving water away from the tire.
Symmetric tires are used for all-season tires where performance extremes are not needed.
One final area of difference is in how they are rotated.
Directional tires are more complex and expensive to rotate because they can’t be rotated diagonally. This is because of the specific instructions on left/right and rolling direction.
Without diagonal rotation, directional tires tend to wear out faster than other tire types.
How Can I Tell If My Bridgestone Tires Are Directional?
You can tell if your Bridgestone tires are directional first by inspecting the category of tire that you have.
If it’s not either Potenza or Blizzak, then you more than likely do not have a directional tire in your view.
Another method you can use is to inspect the tread. Does the tread form a “V” or “Y” symmetrical pattern pointing downwards in the center?
It’s a very distinctive pattern that’s hard not to recognize when you’ve already seen so many symmetric and asymmetric patterns on other tires.
Sometimes, however, the pattern difference between the asymmetric tires and directional tires can be quite close.
If you can’t quite tell 100 percent if it’s directional from the tread, therefore, you can turn to the sidewall instead and take a look there.
If you see directional arrows pointing to the rolling direction of the tire, then you have directional tires.
You should also notice left/right position indicators.
Look for all these things and you should be able to always tell if you’re looking at a set of directional tires or not.
Are Directional Tires Better? Why?
In many ways, directional tires can certainly be argued as superior to regular symmetric or asymmetric tires.
They do offer the best traction, especially when traveling at high speeds.
They are also even better than asymmetric tries at pushing away water thanks to the more even “V” design of the tread.
On top of all that, directional tires can even be said to be more fuel-efficient because that unique pattern once again provides another advantage, namely that rolling resistance is reduced.
When any kind of resistance is reduced, the engine isn’t having to work as hard, and that means that your fuel efficiency can increase.
There are still arguments against directional tires, however. First of all, the vast majority of cars simply don’t need them.
Directional tires are constructed with a more specific application in mind, namely, use in racetrack and high-performance cars.
Use outside of this arena is unnecessary and problematic for other reasons.
For one, directional tires are a nightmare to rotate.
Unlike on a conventional set of tires on an FWD car, for example, where the front 2 wheels moved to the rear on their regular side, and the rear wheels are rotated diagonally moving rear right to front left and rear left to front right, this process is impossible with directional tires.
The only way to rotate them is to move the front to rear and vice versa. Even doing this requires special procedures which makes it more expensive.
Not being able to do the diagonal rotation means that you lose some of the lifespan when it comes to wear and tear.
Finally, then, this means that you inevitably have to change directional tires more often than you do for regular ones.
More frequent means more cost, and more cost per set of tires added to that means rotating and replacing directional tires is an expensive business.
No wonder, then, that these tires are left to the wheelhouse of sports car developers and racing teams.
Are Bridgestone Directional Tires More Expensive?
In what may come as a surprise to some, Bridgestone directional tires are actually more affordable than those of many other brands.
You can expect to pay between $120 and $200 for Bridgestone Potenza directional tires.
This is much cheaper than others, who usually charge between $200 and $300, and sometimes more for directional tires mostly because of their more specialist and targeted use when compared with general-use tires.