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MXA TEAM TESTED: BRIDGESTONE M403/M404 INTERMEDIATE TERRAIN TIRES

January 15, 2012
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WHAT IS IT? The best set of Bridgestone motocross tires currently available…maybe the best set of intermediate tires of any brand.


WHAT’S IT COST? $124.95 (110/90-19); $106.95 (80/100-21).

CONTACT? www.bridgestone.com or your local dealer.


WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with Bridgestone’s M403 front and M404 rear tires.


(1) Sizes. The M403 front comes in an 80-width and a 90-width. Take our advice: unless you race on rock-hard dirt that is never watered and never ruts up, skip the 90/100-21 front and go with the 80/100-21. The rear M404 is available in four 19-inch sizes, plus 100/100 and 110/100 18-inchers. As far as the 19-inch sizes go, run the 100/90-19 on 125 two-strokes, the 110/80-19 on 250 four-strokes, the 110/90-19 on 250 two-strokes and 450 four-strokes, and the 120/80-19 on 450 four-strokes only. Most MXA test riders prefer to run the 110/90-19 on 450 four-strokes, because it turns over quicker and rolls into corners better than the 120-width.


(2) Performance. We like these tires. Designed primarily for intermediate terrain, the M403/M404 worked exceptionally well in its intended niche. When pushed into harder or softer dirt, it did yeoman’s duty. In rock-hard dirt, the M403 was very hooked up at turn-in, while the rear M404 was a little looser. Although this might sound like a negative, in action, the grippier front and freer rear allowed the bike to pivot quicker on hard dirt. On the intermediate dirt, for which they were designed, both tires were very predictable. They tracked straight, never felt ill at ease, and the front 403 was a joy to race with. Across the board, the majority of MXA test riders felt that the M403/M404 offered the best tire combination for intermediate dirt. There might be better rear tires from other makers, but they do not come with front tires that are this compatible.


(3) OEM tires. The M403/M404 combo comes as standard equipment on the KX250F, KX450F, RM-Z450 and YZ250F. In fact, the YZ250F comes with a special version of the M403 front that works even better, but it isn’t offered for sale except on the bike.


(4) Tire pressure. We experimented with 12, 12.5, 13, 13.5, and 14 pounds of tire pressure, and our best setting was 12.5 pounds of pressure (front and rear).


(5) Wear. The lifespan of the M403/M404 tire was very good. It was one of the longest-lasting intermediate tires that we have tested lately. (The Maxxis Maxxcross IT is the king of longevity.)


WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? An intermediate tire has to work from hard to soft, but the focus is always on ripped dirt, loam or tack. The front M403 is amazingly versatile, but the rear is at its best from hard to intermediate. It floats in soft stuff.


In the search for the best all-around tire combination (front and rear), the Bridgestone M403/M404 is the class leader.

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