Is it too far to claim a tyre saved your life? Perhaps, but the Dunlop Qualifier RR
certainly saved me the embarrassment of my CBR600 sliding down the track in front of 4 marshals, 2 instructors and a handful of students.
Dunlop motorcycle tyres often divide opinion. In its day the D207 was one of the UKs biggest selling sports tyres, and at the launch of the D208 one experienced UK journalist commented that he was starting to think that the performance of modern tyres was so good that he was beginning to doubt his ability to push them hard enough to give them a thorough test. Yet if you quiz the average rider, or ask about Dunlop tyres in a bike shop you usually get a different, more negative opinion of the brand.
So what has caused the public's poor perception about the D207 and D208? The reason can be traced back to the OE-spec D207 and D208 tyres that were fitted on a few Japanese sports bikes at the time.
The OE-spec tyres differ significantly from the replacement tyres in that the bike manufacturers tend to err on the side of caution when stipulating the performance they ask to be built into the tyres designed for specific bikes. Stability may be increased at the possible expense of some agility. Some outright grip may be sacrificed in order to achieve the mileage a manufacturer may want.
Because bike manufacturers will only submit their bikes to the magazines for testing in 100% OE condition, the faster journalists will pick up on the difference in tyre performance and may comment on it in the article. It should be pointed out here that most of these comments arise from on-track riding, not on-road. The public read it and even though they might never have had a problem with their tyres they may start to think there's something wrong with them and through the process of 'pub talk' it becomes widely perceived that all of the tyres of one type, e.g. all D207s, are the same and they're all "average" performers. Tales of someone's supposed dissatisfaction with an OE-spec tyre can spread and it can then encompass the replacement tyre, which only months before had been launched to great acclaim.
Back to the Qualifier RR. This tyre is now widely considered to be equal best in class with the Michelin Pilot Power 2CT
. It uses Dunlops Muti-Tread compound technology, which means Dunlop can deliver a tyre that achieve both higher mileages and higher levels of grip. By using different silicas in the central and side compounds Dunlop can also tune the tyre to give increased wet grip without sacrificing dry grip.
So how did the Dunlop save me a rather painful lesson? After being told by the instructor following me I was turning in too late, and I could carry more speed if I turned in 3 metres earlier I rather excitedly forgot lesson number one, "build corner speed 1mph at a time
" and dropped into turn one around 10 mph faster than the previous laps. Leant over, just centimetres from the apex the front started to slide and in my inexperienced panic I decided the best cause of action was not to let the front run a little wide while scrubbing off speed and collect it on the exit, but to grab a handful of front brake and stand the bike up mid corner.
Fortunately the experience of the tyre, having been developed from the 209GP race tyres which have won British Supersport and IOM TT races made up for my inexperience and the Qualifier RR front did an admirable job of keeping the bike on the track.
So, to the point of this little story. The Dunlop Qualifier RR has all the admirable qualities we could desire from a supersport road tyre that gets used occasionally on track. The triple compound technology delivers the miles, the softer compound edges give you the grip and the carcass allows the tyre to come up to temperature extremely quickly.
Today, Dunlop might not have the best reputation. With their new range of tyres leading the pack, you can be sure it won't stay that way for long.