It’s always difficult to admit you’re not Valentino Rossi when riding a sports bike, which is probably why many bikes which never see the track are often fitted with inappropriate track bias tyres.
Even as a writer for a tyre website, I’m not immune, and my Triumph Daytona 675 has been wearing Dunlop GP Racer D209s for the past few years. This is a fantastic tyre for the track, awesome once warm, lovely on the shoulder and most importantly, look great. Sadly, the bike has been precisely zero track days, and on reflection they might not quite be the perfect tyre for tours into Europe during the colder months.
With tyres playing a huge part in a bikes looks, and looks being important to a supersport rider (if they weren’t, I’d be on a Street Triple), I didn’t want to fit a touring tyre with a blocky track pattern, but equally didn’t want to make the same mistake again and fit an inappropriate-but-cool-looking track bias tyre.
Luckily, Dunlop have the answer with the new Dunlop SportSmart 2. The SportSmart range replaces the Qualifier, and sits between the pure touring “RoadSmart”, and the track bias “GP Racer”.
So, what does the SportSmart 2 bring? It has been developed from race technology specifically for sports bikes which spend most of their time on the road. This means excellent wet grip, even when cold, much better wear than a track tyre thanks to a harder multi compound technology (where the tyre is harder in the middle for longer life in a straight line and increased stability), and a higher level of comfort thanks to a jointless design.
But most importantly, it still looks great.
How do these changes feel in the real world? Replacing the GP Racer on the 675, comfort was the first change noted. It might sound strange to discuss comfort on a sportbike, but the tyres were less crashy over irregularities, mid corner bumps upset the bike less, and it was an all round more pleasant experience. The steering speed was still lovely and quick, and there was still plenty of feedback through the front tyre, which is good to show there have been no trade offs between feel and comfort.
Grip was fantastic from the offset, and after a few hundred miles the shoulders were easily accessible. The SportSmart 2 came up to temperature without fuss, which wasn’t always true of the GP Racer on colder days.
If wear proves to be as low as promised, these might be the perfect tyre for a sports bike which spends its life as a road toy. They offer a beautifully quick steer, plenty of grip, good detail in the feedback and if vanity is a concern, they almost look like a track tyre. Rossi best be watching his mirrors..