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Dunlop Roadsmart Tires Review

Friday, February 15, 2008
Utilizing 3D FEM technology  Dunlop was able to analyze tread patterns and came up with the best combination of water dispersion characteristics  traction and durability in the Roadsmart tire design.
Utilizing 3D FEM technology, Dunlop was able to analyze tread patterns and came up with the best combination of water dispersion characteristics, traction and durability in the Roadsmart tire design.
Dunlop has worked hard on the development of its Roadsmart sport touring tire and after a day of testing the rubber during a deluged day in Malibu, CA, we came away impressed with its effort. The goal was to create a sport-touring tire that features class-leading handling in dry conditions, excellent wet weather performance and the durability demanded by long-haul riders. We can't comment about how many miles it will stand up to because it was a one day intro, but the level of available traction offered in both the wet and dry conditions we experienced was enough to give the Roadsmart our stamp of approval.

The Roadsmart's lofty objective is simply to be the best sport touring tire for all conditions: wet, dry, cross-country or canyon blasting. According to Dunlop, this is no simple task, with no-less than 10 testing centers from around the world contributing to its development, which went from concept to reality in about three years. That timetable could have been longer if not for the ability to perform tests in the virtual world prior to production. By incorporating computer assisted finite element analysis (FEA) and 3D finite element modeling (3D FEM) programs during its development, the primary processes to ensure the tire's success were already in motion before it touched a track.

One of the most critical aspects of the Roadsmart design was to achieve the best wet weather performance possible. By testing compounds in the lab with FEA before going into production, engineers were able to cut down the time between concept and prototype construction. The physical analysis of the working prototypes through 3D FEM was instrumental in determining the best compound combinations and tread pattern. The tread pattern is referred to as the 'void' and is a key component for the wet weather success of the Roadsmart tire. The final pattern retains the Dunlop cosecant-curve design and allows the use of a softer compound on the outer edges of the tire by reducing wear and is instrumental in the tire's ability to disperse water while maintaining enough of a contact patch to offer the stability and traction Dunlop was looking for.
Dunlop slapped its new Roadsmart tire on a variety of different sport tourers so we could see how they performed on bikes in assorted sizes and displacements.
Dunlop slapped its new Roadsmart tire on a variety of different sport tourers so we could see how they performed on bikes in assorted sizes and displacements.

Tread depth ranges from 5/32" on the front to 1/4" on the rear which, when combined with the actual tread pattern, provides a 15% void-to-tread ratio when perpendicular to the road (0-degree camber) and tapers down to 12% at 25-degree camber and 9% at maximum lean angle, according to Dunlop reps. We can go on and on about how Dunlop chemists mixed different types of silica with polybutadine in an effort to increase wet weather grip and mileage, but we don't want to overwhelm you with a bunch of technical jargon.

Generally motorcycle riders prefer to avoid traveling in the wet, but it is often a necessary evil and the more grip a tire can offer in these conditions, the better it is for the rider. In some parts of the world there's no getting around it, and for cross country travelers, commuters and the hardcore riders who never pack it in, it's the wet weather performance that makes the difference between a memorable venture and forgettable saga. As luck would have it, the skies of So Cal opened up and anointed us with its moist fury. While it scared off our photographer (Sorry, no rain pictures) it did provide us with a firsthand experience of the Roadsmart tires' wet weather prowess.

As is the case with most Dunlop tires, they provide great feedback, so the rider has a good sense for what is going on with the tires in any condition. The Roadsmart's profile is slightly more aggressive than the Dunlop D220 it replaces, so turn in comes without much resistance in the wet or dry. At the speeds we tackled these wet canyon roads, the available grip and water dispersion were truly put to the test. Whether braking or accelerating hard, I was impressed with the level of available traction. Compared to OEM-spec or sport tires which I have ridden in the rain too many times before, the Roadsmart is far superior.

Dunlop achieved this balance through the use of Roadsmart's new MT (Multi-Tread) compound on the rear tire which combines a durable compound down the center, flanked by its 'lateral-grip' compound on the sides. The radial carcass features Dunlop's JBL (Joint Less Belt) construction on both front and rear - the first time JBL has been employed on a Dunlop front tire. The superb grip afforded by the Roadsmart front comes courtesy of the same compound found on the sides of the rear tire, capping off the excellent combination of traction and stability that Dunlop was looking for.

Tipping the scales at nearly 700-lbs tank full and boasting over 130-horsepower  the new Connie could pose a challenge to any tire  but the Roadsmart proved to be ultra stable and offered surprising levels of grip in both the wet and dry.
Tipping the scales at nearly 700-lbs tank full and boasting over 130-horsepower, the new Connie could pose a challenge to any tire, but the Roadsmart proved to be ultra stable and offered surprising levels of grip in both the wet and dry.
To our delight, the roads around the Rock Store were relatively dry, so our troupe had the green light to push the Roadsmart tires as hard as we could. Although the rain didn't stay away for long, our time in the dry did offer a glimpse at the tire's available dry grip. On either the Kawasaki Concours 14 or the VFR800 Interceptor test mules it was clear that on the street it will be difficult to ride beyond the limits of available traction in the dry. It's difficult to say it performs as good as another tire since there was no back-to-back comparison, but we rode as fast as I was willing to go on a road we are all familiar with.

The big Concours felt right at home gobbling up miles with the Roadsmart in the dry and the VFR survived the slippery conditions of the wet-portion of the ride without incident. Predictable, with excellent feel and traction to spare - this pretty much sums up the effort of the Roadsmart tires when the road is dry. Once the rain starts, all of those same positive traits still apply, it just requires the rider to tone it back a bit and take care to find the edge of available traction and then back it off a notch from there. Considering that the banks of the hills adjacent to the roads were sloughing off regularly as a result of the downpour, the majority of our apexes were found full of mud, rocks and debris. We still managed to hold a very fast pace throughout the test. Factor in the presence of road sealer, the slipperiest substance known to motorcyclists, during the last half of our trip and you can imagine it was quite dicey. I'm not complaining though, since the ride was simultaneously entertaining and enlightening.

In the end, the Dunlop Roadsmart tires offered dry weather traction and the added bonus of excellent wet weather performance comparable to tires with a more sporting pedigree. MSRP runs from $183 for a front to $250 for a rear. It's a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing the full might of Dunlop R&D is beneath you as you travel anywhere you want to go, no matter what road conditions await you.

Check out more Dunlop Tires and Motorcycle Tires at Motorcycle Superstore.

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Gritboy -6000+ miles and going strong  June 9, 2010 04:57 AM
Put Roadsmarts on my '05 FZ1 during the rainy season and they're far and away the best performance rain tire I've ridden on...ultra sticky and predictable even is heavy rain or having to brake hard in wet. Now with the warm season here I'm riding them VERY hard and they're rock solid, turn quickly and very grippy -- nothing like sport-touring tires I've tried in the past. After 6000+ miles they're showing very little tire wear -- even the rear -- so I'm guessing the claims at 11k miles might be right. For street riding in all seasons they're a great tire. I'll buy 'em again.
TY -ROADSMART SUCCESS  March 23, 2010 10:01 PM
Bob D -Roadsmart slips  January 20, 2010 05:07 PM
I was very excited about the reviews I have read on the Roadsmart, so I purchased them. I have owned and enjoyed quite a few Dunlop tires, and I have very rarely experienced tire slip like I have with the Roadsmart. I ride a 08 Yamaha FZ1 and a BMW 850, both of which have the Roadsmarts. For the first time in over 20 years of riding, I fear the rear breaking loose on the Yamaha. On a slightly wet mountain road, the rear of the Yamaha would suddenly slide briefly on medium curves at pretty moderate speed. After breaking loose about a dozen times in a one hour period, I had enough. I don't have the confidence to keep these tires on this bike after only 2500 miles. I would advise caution in spite of the potential mileage improvement, as it's just not worth it.
Carlos Pinto -Dunlop Roadsmart  October 2, 2009 01:06 PM
Tenho uma Yamaha XJR 1200 tenho montados na frente e a trás estes pneus, como pneu sporturing acho o pneu muito bom, nuca tive qualquer problema de falta de aderencia. Por vezes inclino a curvar de forma a usar todo perfil do pneu traseiro. O facto de ter uma fabricação especial e duas mistura de borracha na roda de trás permite que o pneu não aqueça demais e daí a pressão não se altere em demasia com o calor. Recomendo vivamente este pneu como um Sporturing.
Carlos Pinto ( Portugal)
Hugo Becker -Dunlop Roadsmart tires  September 13, 2009 01:16 PM
I recently purchased my first set of Roadsmart rubber for my '08 Kawasaki 1400 Concours and have logged 9200 Kilometres (5700 miles) on them to date (I don't do burnouts either). One thing I noticed is that early on-at about 3000 miles, the tire wears rather quickly-about the same as the Battlaxs', but then it just starts wearing much, much slower. The rear is just now touching the wear indicator while the front is nowhere near that point, likely it will last to the end of the second set of rear tire. That's more than double the mileage I experienced with the last 4 Bridgestone Battlaxs'. If I spent more time riding at the posted limit, I'm sure that I could expect another 3-5000 Kilometres out of them. As for performance my experience is that they hold the corners equal to the Battlaxs'. The Dunlops' work slightly better in wet conditions and allow a lot of confidence. For me this is a much more affordable solution to the constant issue of tire replacement and until someone comes up with an even better tire I'll stick with them. These are the only tires I've tried to date but I'm quite happy with the Dunlop Roadsmart.
Michael Ashley -Road smarts grip  September 3, 2009 07:19 AM
these tires are alright for most people who do a little sport riding here and there and commute back and forth to work. I own a zx 1400 and i have pushed these tire to the limit more than a few times and was confident about the next turn. when the tread does come off around 7000 miles for me the began to get swirly i mean between the dual compounds which you do feel when you switch which can be a little nervous . this is why im considering a standard tire instead of these dual compounds. or try something different. i was happy with these but want to try something else.
BlackDragon -Dunlop tires  August 28, 2009 06:08 AM
I gave up on Dunlop tires long time ago......it came with my bike and I went through those tires every 3k miles.....after my 3rd set I stop using them.....they are pricey and I can't get my money out of them. I switched to SuperMaxxis tires and I get much better miles out of them...however they stopped making SuperMaxxis tires now. I read many posts and people are recommending Shinko tires 009 Raven.....for the price people are saying it last longer and good on the road wet/dry plus twisties....how can you go wrong with that. I will give that tire a try next. Oh, btw, I don't do burn outs, I have a bike that will do burn out without trying plus I work hard for my money....:-)
Peter Loo -I am a true believer of these tires  August 27, 2009 10:55 PM
I recently took a trip to Utah from Phoenix. When I left Phoenix, the tire already had 10,000 miles of 70% highway miles and 30% street miles. Early part of my trip, I did a couple of 170mph for about 5 minutes each time. When I arrived in Blanding, Utah, I noticed that the rear tire was starting to show wear through to the next layer of the tire in a small area about 10 inches. Since there weren't any motorcycle shops anywhere in south eastern part of Utah, I was terrified that I was going to have a flat. The next stop was Hanksville 90 plus miles. No motorcycle shop, let alone a 190/50ZR17. Now I am heading to Richfield approximately 110 miles more. Motorcycle shop but no replacement tire. My tire seem to be still holding up without much difference in the wear. Arrived to Richfield late in the afternoon Saturday. The next day is Sunday. Keep in mind that we are in Mormon country. Nothing is opened on Sunday. Spent the night in Richfield Saturday and headed for Draper, Utah (180 miles away) Sunday morning as a tire was located at Cycle Gear. By the time I reached Draper and changed out my tire, the tire had 11,400 miles on it. The wear was not much different from when I first saw the wear at Blanding. To make a long story short, Dunlop RoadSmart tires are awesome. I believe I could have ridden the bike all the way home to Phoenix with the same tire. I think I could have gone at least another 1,000 miles on the same tire. I am a true believer now. I will never buy any other tire again.
JS -Not for the sport bike  August 2, 2009 01:56 PM
The Road Smarts are ok tires if you are not an aggressive rider. I have a set on my GSXR750 and the rear is about to hit the wear bars at 3500 miles. Not very impressive at all. I need to keep waiting for a long lasting tire that can handle aggressive riding.
Leonardo Carmona -Roadsmart  July 16, 2009 11:54 AM
I got these added a month ago to my 2004 zx6r and I couldn't be happier. I commute 45 miles each way. I feel that the price you pay is very well worth what the tires give you. It will be very hard for me to switch from Dunlops.
Jamie -MSRP vs. street price  June 30, 2009 06:51 PM
@Leonard - This article was posted in February 2008, some 16 months ago. The price in the article is MSRP, not street price. MSRP for the Bridgestone's is right in the same ballpark, and street prices for the Dunlops are about $225 a set where I live. Finally, I find your claim of 16,000 (what's that, MILES?) on a rear tire somewhat hard to believe. The most I have ever gotten out of a sport touring tire of any variety is about 10,000 miles and that was on a ZX-6R. If you're getting 16,000 out of your Bridgestones and are happy with them, then buy those rather than gripe about an article that was written 16 months ago.
Leonard Kucher njvaflatx@aol.com -Roadsmart Price  June 17, 2009 03:17 PM
I can not pay that price for a set of tires if you can't tell me how long they will last. I own a Buell XB12R Firebolt and commute 600 miles a week. The price of the roadsmarts are a rip off. I just wore out a pair of Brigstones Bt021's. 16,000 rear $120 and 20,000 front $110. Traction was exellent wet or dry.
Ivan Mallia -Roadsmarts  April 16, 2009 06:02 AM
These tyres actually made me decide not to change bike , I own a 1992 CBR1000f and after putting on these tyres and a good service the bikes performance and feedback double , I have never felt so comfortably confident on the bike in all its life . Would recommend to all .