What makes a good sports touring tyre? Is it stability, dry grip, wet grip, tread life? The answer of course is all of the above, and it's what Dunlop have aimed to achieve with the new Dunlop Roadsmart II.
Considered the rebirth of Dunlop motorcycle tyres, the original Roadsmart was the turning point for many riders perception of Dunlop tyres. Previously most peoples experience with Dunlop tyres were as OEM fitment on bikes, which might not have been the best experience for everyone. The Dunlop Roadsmart was extremely well received winning a number of awards and brought Dunlops motorcycle profile firmly up there with Michelin, Bridgestone and Pirelli.
What's new in the Roadsmart 2?
Built on the original Roadsmart, the Roadsmart II incorporates many of Dunlops newest technologies to give the tyre excellent all round performance. Jointless belt technology improves mileage, feel, feedback and comfort, a multi tread compound gives the centre of the tyre excellent tread life while remaining grippy on the shoulders, and improved silica dispersion gives improved wet grip.
The biggest question is how do these new technologies translate to the road? To demonstrate the Dunlop Roadsmart IIs performance Dunlop provided a number of workshops designed to test the tyres to the limit in both the dry and the wet. Each workshop had a number of identical bikes, some fitted with the Dunlop RoadSmart II, some with the well regarded Bridgestone BT023, and some with the new Michelin Pilot Road 3. We were then left to make up our own mind with some back to back riding.
The Wet Performance?
The Michelin Pilot Road 3 is a tyre designed for wet riding, and with its aggressive siping and soft compound it looks almost like a wet race tyre - in short it would be difficult to beat in the wet. Compared to the Michelin, which was extremely strong on the wet circuit, the Bridgestone, while stable in the corners struggled with traction and braking leaving you nervous to turn in or get on the power early out of the corners. The Dunlop was extremely comparable to the Michelin, perhaps giving slightly less confidence under braking but otherwise almost identical grip levels, with the rounder profile of the Dunlop giving a nice turn in and inspiring more mid corner confidence when compared to the Bridgestone.
The Dry Performance?
This time when comparing the Michelin and Bridgestone in the on track in the dry, the tables were turned. Where the Michelin was so strong in the wet, it struggled in the dry, feeling sluggish, struggling to put the power down mid corner and giving a vague steering feel during turn in leaving you often missing the apex. In comparison, the Bridgestones dry performance was remarkable, giving excellent stability in both the slow and fast corners, with excellent traction under hard acceleration and braking. Considering the "sports touring" nature of the tyre, it stood up to serious abuse on a hot track on a powerful GSXR 750. Where the Dunlop matched the Michelin in the wet, it matched, and bettered the Bridgestone in the dry. With a comparable amount of raw grip, again the Dunlop profile allowed the tyre to flow better, and felt more stable in the high speed corners.
The brilliance of the Dunlop RoadSmart 2 isn't that it betters a particular tyre in a particular area, the real strength of the RoadSmart 2 is the fact is does everything well.
Overall Dunlop has produced an excellent all round sports touring tyre. It blends the Michelins excellent wet weather performance with the Bridgestones dry grip, and adds a little more stability and linearity to cornering. It works well on a wide range of bikes, from nimble street fighters like the Triumph Street Triple to heavy tourers such as the BMW K1200.
Every day riders want a tyre that can do everything, and of the big three tested it's currently the Dunlop RoadSmart 2 that does this best.