We’ve used the D211GP at Laguna Seca Raceway, Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Spring Mountain Motorsports Park and the tires performed spectacularly at every circuit.
Just close your eyes and imagine if today’s latest liter-class bikes churned out upwards of 140 horsepower while tipping the scales at just over 400 pounds… Oh wait, they do! Yes, it’s a great time to be alive if you are a sportbike rider. And if you are said sportbike rider, where is the most fitting place to put all that ripping horsepower to work? One word: racetrack.
One of the many dilemmas we had had when we began planning for our annual Superbike Smackdown odyssey was which tire would allow us to put the current crop of big-bore sportbikes through their paces on the track without either wrecking the manufacturer’s precious machinery or our shiny leathers. With the various tire brands and sizes gracing our brand new 1000s, we also felt it was important to ensure an unbiased evaluation by fitting a uniform control tire on all of the machines.
Enter Dunlop’s all-new Sportmax D211GP DOT-approved race tire. With more U.S. national championships than the Chicago Bulls in their prime, Dunlop was an obvious choice. Take into consideration both the traction demands of contemporary sportbikes as well as the unique demands of America’s often bumpy, stop-and-go style tracks and the scale was completely tipped in Dunlop’s favor.
The D211GP is the successor to the wildly successful D209GP N-Tec tire. Similar to that of its predecessor, the D211GP is of radial, multi-compound construction. The rear tire is constructed from a nylon carcass overlaid with two nylon breaker belts and a flat, zero-degree aramid-fiber tread belt. The continuously wound tread belt eliminates tire growth (common with previous pre N-Tec generation Dunlop race tires) and ensures stability at all speeds.
The front tire is constructed out of two nylon carcass plies, overlaid by a thin, “high-modulus” compound. Above, two continuously wound aramid-fiber belts complete the tire’s structure. The thin “high-modulus” compound sandwiched between the carcass and aramid belts helps negate force generated under aggressive braking.
Above the three belts, a more durable, cooler-running “high-modulus” compound makes up the rubbery base of the tire and extends all the way out at the tires center. On either side a softer, “lateral grip” compound is incorporated and reaches outward to the tires surface. Furthermore, the softer side compounds are separated by a narrow triangular-shaped reinforcement band that supports and helps stabilize the softer traction zones, thereby reducing tire squirm. The unique design permits the tire to have seven individual tread zones: the harder traction compound in the center (1), two softer compounds on either side (4), both separated by a harder triangular support band (2).
The front tire is constructed out of two nylon carcass plies, overlaid by a thin, “high-modulus” compound. Above, two continuously wound aramid-fiber belts complete the tires structure. The thin “high-modulus” compound sandwiched between the carcass and aramid belts helps negate force generated under aggressive braking.
Just like the rear tire, a harder, cooler-running compound makes up the tire’s base and stretches out to the surface at the tires center. A softer compound is laid over on both sides, extending to the surface. This allows the front tire to use three separate compound zones, making the D211GP front the first-ever triple-compound production tire Dunlop has ever manufactured.
Both tires include the previous generation’s N-Tec hexagonal-shaped steel bead. The steel bead significantly improves tire performance by supplying the rider with superior feel as the tire reaches its cornering limit. Due to extreme loads which the front tire is subjected during cornering, a “high-modulus” bead apex compound encases the steel bead and extends into the tires sidewall, thereby increasing stability at lean.
The D211GP rear has seven individual tread zones. Outright grip–especially on the tire’s side, as well as stability and durability, are significant advancements.
Externally the trick-looking tread pattern looks similar to its D209GP predecessor, however, Dunlop engineers subtly refined the tread grooves with a goal of keeping both drive and braking forces consistent with that of the cornering force. More visible are the additional rain sipes near the center of the tire. Dunlop claims that every single tread sipe was put there for a reason… And we believe them.
Okay, enough with the techno-mumbo-jumbo. How do the tires ride? With the drone of generators in the background and the wonderfully pungent aroma of melting cosmoline wayfaring around the brand-new bikes, our Superbike Smackdown posse suited up.
The bikes lay idle for just under an hour as the tires gently warmed up to proper operating temperature. The engines were then fired to life and the tire warmers peeled off, revealing the tacky black D211GP’s mounted on each bike. In order to get an accurate, consistent tire pressure reading, Dunlop recommends that tire pressure be measured “hot” as they come off the warmers, right before you embark on track. Tire pressure was set to 33 psi front and 23 psi rear–Dunlop’s recommend base line.
After a few warm-up laps, it was time to start putting the machines through their paces in order to evaluate the differences amongst the quartet of Inline Fours. Right away, the single most glaring feature we noticed from the tires was just how much side grip they had – especially the rear. The more laps we spun, the more comfortable we got and in turn the more confidence the D211GPs instilled upon us. Unlike some other race tires, you don’t have to wait until you’re on the fat, middle part of the tire to pull the trigger.
“These tires are definitely a significant leap forward,” commented MotorcycleUSA’s Editorial Director, Ken Hutchison. “You can really get on the gas earlier on corner exit as compared to other race tires I’ve ridden on. It’s pretty crazy that these Dunlop’s can hook up that well and take that kind of abuse, especially from a 1000.”
And relentless throttle abuse is just what our testers subjected the tires to. Despite the bikes being ridden almost continuously, our assorted tester’s lap times kept sneaking lower and lower as the day progressed.
The D211GP is the successor to their wildly successful D209GP N-Tec tire. Similar to that of its predecessor, the D211GP is of radial, multi-compound construction. The rear tire is constructed from a nylon carcass overlaid with two nylon breaker belts and a flat, zero-degree aramid-fiber tread belt.
“I’m really impressed with the consistency of the tires. We’ve spun laps on them all day yet they still have great grip. Sure they’re starting to spin-up, but its predictable, and most importantly they’re still driving the bike forward,” explained Hutchison.
Outright grip and durability weren’t the only design goals engineers had when they developed the D211GP. Stability, ease-of-use and the ability for the tire to be both bike- and rider-friendly are also key. Not only did the tires offer tremendous outright grip, feel and control, they also complemented each bike well and did not make any bike more nervous or twitchy compared to previous generation Dunlop race tires.
“Rock solid,” exclaimed Pacific Track Times’, Michael Earnest. “Steering was quick yet neutral. In the fast corners the tires didn’t squirm or move around beneath you.”
Even though the tires have only been out for just over a month, they already claimed the entire podium at Round 1 of the AMA Pro Honda Oils 600cc Supersport Championship in Daytona last month. Within the privateer ranks, they’ve also snatched two track records, one at Oak Hill Raceway in Texas as well as Arizona’s Firebird Raceway.
Dunlop claims that the D211GP represents a major step forward in supersport race tire technology and that it’s the most technology they’ve ever made available to the consumer. Considering that not even one bike even came close to kissing the ground and the ear-to-ear smiles donned by our group of testers, we’d have to agree.
Product: Dunlop Sportmax D211GP Race Tires
Sizes: 120/70R17 Front, 190/55R17 and 200/55R17 Rears (200-series available late Spring)
Three available compounds: Soft, +1, +2
MSRP: $419 – Available Now!
Sport Tire Services Inc. (West of the Mississippi River)
Paso Robles, California
Race Tire Service (East of the Mississippi River)
For more information visit: www.dunlopracing.com