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Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Product Review

Monday, June 29, 2009
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Dunlop Sportmax Q2 - Product Review
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To see, hear and feel what the new tire is all about, be sure to check out the Dunlop Sportmax Q2 video.
Raising the Rubber Wall

It’s rare that a new tire comes around which really sets us back, that truly takes a big jump forward in performance – especially in the sporting world of two wheels.

Those rubber spinning rings we ride on have been on bikes from nearly the very beginning, thus tire development has been a century in the making. And with a market as stacked full of high-performance options as the sportbike world, making small gains is understandable; I mean, really, how much more grip can they squeeze out of those black and round doughnuts while still making them last on every-day roads? Thus, when Dunlop invited us out to Las Vegas to give their new Sportmax Q2 street/trackday tire a try, we weren’t exactly expecting a revolution. (The original Qualifier was already an awesome tire – how much better can the Q2 really be?)

[Hint] As it turns out, sometimes one gets more than they expect…

The Big D opted to release their new Sportmax Q2 rubber at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park, the exact same place we first tested the original Qualifier a few years back. And the first thing you notice is the tires's warm-up time – or lack thereof. One can easily roll out of the pits and slam a knee on the ground right away.

Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
We found full-lean side-grip of the new Q2 to be vastly improved.
Due its relatively low operating temperature and new rubber compounding, the Q2 allowed for instant confidence and impressive lean-angle straight off the bat. Although we wouldn’t recommend trying it quite this quickly, we were able to have a knee on the ground the very first corner out of the pits – all in the name of testing, right? And while it was over 90 degrees outside and SMMP provides more than ample grip, this was still quite impressive. Even when brand new they were easily scrubbed and up to temperature within a single lap.

Faster heat-up time? Check.

SMMP is the kind of track technical riders’ dream of. While lacking the elevation changes of a Barber Motorsports Park or the speed of Road America, the 2.2-mile Nevada road course is by no means easy. One is always working – turning, braking, accelerating – there are no long straights in which to rest. It’s for this very reason testing tires at SMMP is almost ideal. It’s also for this very reason it’s impossible not to notice how much better the tire’s outright adhesion is as one is continually exploring these limits.

In testing, Dunlop has shown the Q2 to be able to achieve over seven degrees more max lean angle as well as an additional 0.3g of sustained lateral grip. In the real world, this means being able to push a modern sportbike damn close to its limit with confidence like we’ve never seen in a road tire before. In fact, after riding the Q2 for a day I have a hard time even calling it a “road” tire. It easily has the outright grip of a DOT-approved race tire from a mere two or three years ago, and not far off that of Dunlop’s current race rubber. And not only does it have improved grip, but the grip feels much more mechanical, more human. You feel far more connected to the road in an analog kind of way as opposed to a detached digital feeling that some tires can give the rider.
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Q2's new continuous sidewall hex beads.

This instant warming and improved grip is in part due to Dunlop’s MT (Multi-Tread) technology. Also seen on their Sportmax GP-A road race rubber, what this does is allow different areas of the tire to be made from different compounds of rubber so as to achieve the desired amount of life while also providing improved grip.

Longevity is achieved by running a harder section of rubber down the center of the tire, designed with stability, cooling and mileage as its primary focus. Grip comes from strips of a much softer compound rubber on each side, specifically designed to increase traction at medium to high levels of lean.
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Redesigned profile for quicker turn-in.

For those more techie folks, these sides of the tire are made from a high concentration of ultra-fine carbon black (UFCB) and their “special” proprietary resin, bonded together to create the compounds’ polymers and give the claimed added grip. The result of this is also a very dense and “tight” bond, which is what gives the fast warm-up time. Furthermore, a modified tread pattern makes for a bigger contact patch and greater “land to sea” ratio, the result of a lower percentage of grooved void areas. In Layman’s terms, the sides are a direct decedent of Dunlop’s Sportmax GP-A road race tires and as a result have far more grip. Enough said.

Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Lean angle and heat distribution.
Improved grip? Check.

Pahrump’s long sweeping turn’s one and two flow from right to left, then exit down a short-shoot into a tight turn three. Due to the bike still being in transition from exiting the left-hand turn two and the amount of braking required for the right-hand turn three, it’s easy for a machine to get unsettled – especially at the pace we were pushing later in the day. Not an issue with the Q2.

Like the previous Qualifier, only better, the new Dunlop is planted and rock solid. Where the old tire had a bit of wiggle, or squish compared to race
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Lap-time comparison between Qualifier and Q2 around VIR.
rubber, the Q2 bridges that gap and features a more planted feeling carcass. Though it’s still a bit “street” feeling, there’s no question it’s more planted than the previous tire. This comes as the result of an updated carcass construction.

Up front it’s similar to that of the Qualifier it replaces, with a pair of nylon carcass plies and two aramid (another word for Kevlar) reinforcing belts making up the basic construction, both designed for stability. Where it differs is with the redesigned continuous hex beads that run along the sidewall, which are both lighter and stronger than the previous model, further stiffening up the tire.

As you can see, the name of the game these days is making the tires stiffer. Handling this task out back, due to the higher stresses from today’s big-power liter-bike is far more than ever before, is Dunlop’s JLB (Jointless Band) construction. This continuously wound JLB sits atop a newly designed aramid belt, derived from their GP-A race tire, giving said added stiffness as compared to the previous Qualifier.

Added stability? Check.
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Honda's class-leading CBR1000RR mated very well to the new tire.

This same opening section of turns, as well as several other spots on the tight and technical SMMP, requires a bike which can turn quickly from side-to-side. Without it one would be in for a long and strenuous day, which is sometimes the case of street-bred rubber out in Pahrump. Due to the previously mentioned need for stability, making an aggressive carcass shape typically takes a back seat. And while the new tire is no knife-edged racing slick, Dunlop did make the Q2 rear tire slightly more aggressive than the original Qualifier.

Because of the previously mentioned improved stability, this allowed Dunlop to be more aggressive with the tire shape and still keep it within their safety parameters.They
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Though visually hard to tell apart from the original Qualifier, there’s no doubt Dunlop as made major strides with the new Q2 rubber.
did this by pulling in the sides and raising the overall height, which not only speeds up steering some but also gives a larger contact patch when at lean. 

As far as our impressions of this improvement, while we no doubt noticed the tire steers quickly for street rubber, it’s not light year’s better than the previous model. Though remember, the previous edition was no slouch, setting the benchmark for the industry when it came out, so to say the new tire is any amount better is a stout compliment. The larger contact patch, however, we did quickly take note of, as corner-exit drivability is vastly improved over the previous model. The Q2 took a beating from all sides – everything from a 650cc V-Twin to the latest 1000cc Superbikes – and easily withstood the pressure.

Quicker flickability and better drivability? Check and check.

Our final racetrack testing point, one which nearly every street-bred tire comes up short on, is life. And by life, I mean its ability to withstand track-temperatures for extended periods of time without overheating and getting greasy. Typically a street-based tire has anywhere from five to 15 minutes worth of abuse in them before boiling over and losing grip. Now, at the track as abrasive as SMMP on a 90-degree day, this time window would typically be even less. This is a byproduct of designing a street tire to run at a much lower operating temp than race rubber, which allows for faster heat-up times and much safer everyday riding, but causes the tire to overheat on the racetrack when pushed hard.

Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
Even after 20-plus minutes of abuse in the Nevada sun, the Q2 still had loads of grip and held up strong.
Much to our surprise, we were able to push the Dunlop for a solid 15 to 20 minutes before signs of overheating started to show. And even then, they weren’t nearly as drastic as some of the competition or the previous Qualifier. Even more impressive considering by day’s end it was well into the upper 90s temperature wise, which only slightly reduced its life. Let’s put it this way: I was spent and ready to pull in by the time the tire was, that’s for sure!

To put this in perspective and give to an example of how good the Q2’s overall racetrack ability is: This is the first and only street-bred tire I’ve ever used which I could safely and happily conduct a track-only shootout on – without question. In fact, there's a good chance I will do exactly that for an upcoming test, as they not only have the grip needed but will last far longer than a race tire..

Longer racetrack life? (Yep, you guessed it) Check.

I’m continually amazed by how much grip, stability and control engineers are able to extract from the little rubber doughnuts we ride on while still making them strong enough for every-day street abuse. It’s utterly awesome to think of what they will be capable of in 10 or 20 years time – who knows; maybe we’ll need full-body sliders. But as for now, there’s no doubt Dunlop has set a new standard for street-based sportbike tires with the Sportmax Q2. The outright performance really is simply staggering! Maybe they should have just named it the Dunlop Sportmax Benchmark?

The Dunlop Sportmax Q2 is available at Motorcycle Superstore.
Front Tire MSRP: $169.95  
Rear Tire MSRP: $209.95 - 290.95

Check out more Dunlop Tires and Motorcycle Tires at Motorcycle Superstore.
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Photo Gallery
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Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
The Dunlop Sportmax Q2 will come in a wide variety of sizes to fit most all modern sportbikes (120/60-17, 120/70-17 front and 160/60-17, 170/60-17, 180/55-17, 190/50-17, 190/55-17, 200/50-17 rear) and should hit retailers within the next couple months. Prices have not yet been announced, though Dunlop says it shouldn’t be much higher than the Qualifier it replaces. If this is true, than there’s no doubt one will be getting much more for the money as the tire is far more than just marginally better.
Multi-Tread Technology
Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tire Review
The instant warming and improved grip we experienced is in part due to Dunlop’s MT (Multi-Tread) technology. Also seen on their Sportmax GP-A road race rubber and Roadsmart sport touring tire, this allows different areas of the tire to be made from different compounds of rubber so as to achieve the desired amount of life while also providing ample grip.

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Meisch   November 17, 2011 09:28 AM
Bike is a Honda RVT1000R RC51
Not sure what Dunlops some of the guys are using with complaints on cold weather riding but as a Q1 and Q2 owner living in Michigan I would beg to differ. Mar-May and Oct-Nov averages in the 60's and I have not had any complaints. Using the correct tire pressure for the weather is important, google it if you don't understand this comment.
Went from Q1 to the Michelin Power One not much difference on track or off with these liked them both, over 5000 mile on each. Moved on to Pirelli Supercorsa, after two returns due to belt problems I got the Q2. Pirellis are not for street use, felt like I was riding on rocks. Q2's are great on and off the track, have 3600 mile on this set and they are holding up very well, ride is firm enough to give nice feed back but still comfortable on long street rides.
Highly recommended.
Frenchiey012   October 7, 2011 10:13 AM
im from MN and man this place sure does get cold at the end of the season around october other days during the summer it runs at like high 70's + but averaging around 80-85 degrees. havent talked to anyone who uses Q2s here. tell me what you guys would think on the street here in MN, would they be a good choice? i have an r6 with the older Qualifiers and man... they suck during night time when it drops to 60 degrees but my buddies 2CT's grip good. tell me what you all think
motousa_adam   May 11, 2011 08:10 AM
hi: 30 psi front and rear (cold) is a good baseline... if you want more heat to build in them lower the pressure slightly but i wouldn't go lower than 27 psi cold because you will just wear out the tires unnecessarily.
jng1226   May 11, 2011 06:23 AM
Steve Atlas - I know this review was a while ago, but do you remember the tire pressures that Dunlop recommended for track use? I'm in Florida (Jennings GP track) and it's going to be about 88-93 degrees. Thanks in advance.
RicoSuave   March 7, 2011 05:27 PM
HEY REAL ANSWERS EVERYONE-- I have been riding for 15 years and ride/live in las vegas. I agree with some of you, the Q2 is an excellent tire, but NOT for everyday riding, and not for cold weather, they are slick, and make you feel a bit un-confident. Vegas gets cold, and very hot in the summer, when these tires are excellent,and especially on the track, these friggin tires out last me! In the cold months I'd put my money on some 2CT michelins (power pure), as I ride with a club and we have lots of bikes, and have tried at least 15 different tires. pirelli, michelin, dunlop, bridgestone, metzeler, etc. (spellings?) I will never ride anything but Michelin and the Q2 for very agressive riding. They last long, hold up great, very sticky in the turns, but suck in rain and cold weather. Just know when to buy what tire, or where you live buy according to the weather conditions. No tire is an all around tire and will perform above 90% in every category. Hope that helps fells- out
GhostRider -Q2s vs Power Pures  October 12, 2010 06:11 AM
I have a white '09 CBR1000rr that came with the original Dunlop Qs... this is the first time I've ran Dunlops! The Blade feels great to my surprise on these tires. I'm thinking of upgrading soon... has anybody tries to Michelin Power PUREs yet? I plan to put a set on my two 2005 CBR1000rr-Repsols after further research... thanx to all for you input!
Suzhook'd -Dunlop Q2 next  October 1, 2010 11:54 AM
Can't wait to see how it fares in up-north temps I'll only be buying them next season ... finishing up on my PP 2CT .... I'm going back to Dunlop happily
Justin -Q2  August 31, 2010 10:33 PM
I have the Q2's on my r6 and half the time I have a passenger, when the other half im a pretty aggressive rider, and im at 5700 miles on it, only smoked the tires once, ride through any weather, never had a problem in rain, have not had them through cold yet though, also drove a 1100 mile round trip within 3 days, so they have been through alot, and I dont think i will ever get a different tire. love them
ChrisMag -Q2 vs OEM K3's  August 24, 2010 11:58 AM
I have run a set on my prior bike, a 2007 KTM Superduke and also put a set on my current bike a 2010 Aprilia RSV4-R. A good friend has a set on his 2001 R1 as well. Overall, I really like the grip, steering and overall feel on all 3 bikes.

They warm up quickly, grip very well, have good bump absorption and are very neutral. Steering is slightly slower than the OEM Metzeler Racetech K3's on the Aprilia, but side grip at street speeds is better, running similar pressures (33 cold F/R).

Ken -bt003rs & sportmax Q2  June 11, 2010 06:19 AM
i have K7 gixxer 1000 and urrently run the Bridgstones BT-003RS since Jan and i like the performance that it gives me.....im down to the wear mark on the tire which im pushing until i see steel !....but im going to try these Dunlops Q2 when its time....looking for longevity and ultra grip and performance....i know you have to comprimise !...
Roman R -PSI  May 27, 2010 07:33 AM
@ Bob K Dunlop recommends a cold PSI of 32f 36r for a rider+gear under 200lbs. I just got a couple of these for the track/street, but have yet to test out the recommended PSI.
Phil -3600 miles...  May 22, 2010 12:47 AM
3600 miles tells me it's not aggressive riding. I never got more than 1500 miles on my Pilot Power 2CT on the street with my GSXR-750 (never did a burnout). They were shot at around 1200 miles and I used to milk them until I hit 1500. Needless to say the last few hundred miles were not aggresive riding.
LAWDAWG -dunop Q2  May 9, 2010 11:01 AM
Holy Crap, you can make your tires last MORE than 3600 miles? If i dont hit up the track Im looking at 2000 Miles Max. with 1 trackday im looking at only 1200-1300 miles at the most. Thats with a single compound tire. Im just looking for an extremely agressive tire with a harder compound in the middle since i ride everything from commuting to canyons to mountains to the track. I will always compromise everything else for a good track tire though.
Kaz -RE: Anthony Clemans comment  April 19, 2010 11:44 AM
The 2009 does NOT come with the Dunlop Q2. How could it, the tires were not available when that bike left the factory, LOL. I believe it came with the old original Dunlop Qualifiers. And as was said, and OEM version of a particular tire and the aftermarket one you buy are different.

I've been running these for a couple weeks and they feel great thus far.
PK -I must try....!!  April 6, 2010 01:45 PM
Anthony... those Qualifiers that you have on your 2009 R6 are NOT the same as the aftermarket Q2s. It might say Q2 but it's likely a tire with a different compound make-up than the aftermarket ones that you buy in-store or online. Just saying, I had the older stock Qualifiers on my 2006 R6 and they were trash as you mentioned. Same goes for the Bridgestone BT-016's on the Suzukis, the stock tires are not the same of the aftermarket BT-016's. BT-016's are too squishy of a tire for me IMO. I'll definitely be trying these out for my next set of street tires because I prefer a tire with a harder carcass. The 209's are simply amazing out on the track and I expect nothing less from Dunlop's street tires.
Anthony Clemans -Very Dissapointed  March 15, 2010 01:46 PM
Ive been riding for 12 years now and I'll have to say these have been the worst tires Ive ever owned. My bike of choice this year is the 2009 R6. These actually come stock on the bike. After this weekend and a 300 mile ride for a total of 3600 miles , my rear has already corded. I've never burned out but am a very aggressive rider. South Texas has some awesome hill country and canyon runs. I've always used the Pilot Powers and will be purchasing a set once again. These performed better than expected. It hasn't been above 80 degrees yet so that should help with a good comparison. I've ridden in many wet and drizzly days to include temps averaging 55 degrees. There isn't the slightest centimeter of tire surface unused so I'll have to say they gripped very well. Although they didn't feel as connected to the road surface as Id like. Even after all the miles I put on them they still made me nervous at times. There were a couple times I entered a 110-120 degree turn at about 100 MPH and couldn't believe I made it out without them slipping. If you're as aggressive as I am , they are a great tire but you can count on them not lasting long at all. 3600 miles were put on them in just 3 months. So Ive done some very long and hard rides. No more than what I've always done with the pilot powers , that lasted twice as long.
asasin -tyres tyres tyres  January 3, 2010 06:07 PM
m3 v 016 v pp2ct v q2 v rosso ... please
Jeff -Tire Pressures for Q2 at the track?  December 10, 2009 11:35 AM
I'm interested in trying these out at a track day. What tire pressures are you running for the 120/70 and 200/50 at the track? I'll be at Jennings GP in FL and it will likely be in the mid-60s or maybe a bit cooler at the end of this month. Thanks Jeff
Roadracer98 -Q2s  December 4, 2009 05:30 PM
I had a chance to mount up a set of Q2 at Willow Springs last weekend on my 08 CBR1000rr. It was 52 degrees and very windy. I have for the past 3 track day outings been running the GPA's on the bike. I can tell you that the Q2s were a very solid trackday tire. They heated up quickly and only faded after 8 or so hard laps. I was only 2 seconds off my lap times with the Q2s from the GPAs. I have run the BT003RS Street tires as well and thought the Q2s were a more planted tire.
German Vacca -BTOO3RS  November 5, 2009 09:41 PM
I try the BT003RS race street version at the Track and really work very well, also I compere with other manufactures and my bike slide all over the track but when I switch to the BT003RS the bike seems to be more stable and fast on corners good grip all over the track. Don't forget the tires have triple compound for better grip.
Dingo M. -Q2  November 3, 2009 01:17 PM
Not impressed and won't be. I know people who have used the GP-A's I had the Sportmax Qualifiers on my ZX12 and in anything below 85 degree weather Dunlops have continued to suck. Dunlop wants to earn me as a customer again, show me how well the tire works in 65-70 degree weather. I mean they were ok in rain but let's see see if Dunlop or you guys will test these tires in lower temps where Pirellis, B'Stones,& Michelins warm up. Otherwise they still suck & I'll have to deviate from my factory size 200-50-17 because Dunlops scare the crap outta me in spirited street riding @ sub 85 degree days.
Lloyd -Dunlop Q2 vs Conti sport attack vs pilot power vs sportec M3 vs BT016  October 1, 2009 11:30 AM
I'd love to see the comparison of these specific tires--they seem to be the most popular around here. Tread life varies greatly from bike to bike and rider to rider, and most everyone I talk to is willing to sacrifice a thousand miles or even two for better traction (cold, hot, wet, dry). And definately tested on spirited winding roads at resonable speeds (typically less than 100) along with some "to and from work" type riding.
I think alot of the sportbike guys can find a couple roads that are nice and "tight" that will string together, but then there is that ride to the next "fun" road before you heat up the tires again, so a 20 minute or less "hot" session is probably pretty common for most sportbike riders who are going out to "have fun" and yet they ride their bikes to and from these areas, jot ride and commute as well so tread life becomes an issue. I have ridden on the last four I mentioned above (plus the dunlop Q)and have liked them all, just some more than others and definately the conti and metzelers lasted the longest by more than 1500 miles- for me.
tyre crazy -tire comparisons  September 14, 2009 02:24 AM
i work in a honda shop in australia. i do alot of tire testing myself and get all these questions and quires.we dont have the q2's yet but i used the road smarts and was suprised at how good they are all round. if a road tyre is wat you want they are great. 36psi front 42 rear for touring and 30psi front rear for the twisties.all the sport tyres are just that for sports conditions.
TheBrain -Don't test on bikes I can't afford/all around tire  August 7, 2009 01:25 AM
LOL! sikr6nik = pon + ignorant. Tires of this category will have not favorable wet weather characteristics. The tire is a street/Track tire, suggests performance oriented! What REAL everyday (rain, heavy rain, and crap) and still get some twisty riding in; get roadsmarts, 021, pilot road...
wes -Q2,Diablo Rosso, bt003rs  July 25, 2009 06:25 AM
i would like to see a test of these tires in the rain, soakin wet rain , i ride everyday rain or shine, and my 2 ct's hold up great,anyone can make a tire thats good in the dry, all test's are done dry it seems and they don't talk about performance in the wet
Tim -Q2  July 8, 2009 08:17 AM
I spoke with a Dunlop customer service rep. yesterday and he said the Q2 will be available for sale in September, no word on price yet.
sikr6nik -Tires  July 7, 2009 11:13 PM
BINGO We would like to see a comparison done with all these high performance street tires that have all come to the market within the last month reviewed and compared for the streets (preferably the canyons/high lean angles/aggressive pace for some of us)and not the tracks. The test should be done with both 600cc & 1000cc bikes. Please not done with Ducks, Aprilia, Bimota etc......Some of us cant afford these brands right now!
Randall Graham -Q2  July 3, 2009 04:59 AM
You guys yearning for sportbike tire comparos need to buy BIKE (U.K.) magazine. They do it frequently, often for specific bikes.
DL -Bridgestone 003RS  July 2, 2009 06:55 AM
It seems like all the big names have brought out a new generation of race ready street tires. I know motorcycle-usa did a review on the street version of the Power Ones, and said that the non race power ones weren't that great on the track, and wore pretty quickly. I'm assuming then that the Q2s should be a better tire than the Power One? have you guys tested the new bridgestone BT003 RS as well? as i'm curious how the Q2 stacks with that tire.
Dan theCanadian -Vs Michelin Pilot Power 2ct  June 30, 2009 11:31 AM
I`m riding the Pilot Power 2ct, pretty good.... Just wondering compared to it...
Bob K -PSI?  June 29, 2009 01:54 PM
Over the years, I've seen the recommended PSI come down on race tires as they got better. What about the PSI on the Q2? I love the Qualifier but I'd actually like to use these on the street on a sport tourer. Does Dunlop recommend a lower setting than the previous Qualifier, which I currently run at 32 front and 38 rear? As tires change so frequently, it's hard to keep up with what PSI the manufacturers want you to run. Looking at the recommendations in the bike manual only applies to the OEM rubber, not what I would replace it with from a source like swmototire, even if they both say Qualifier on the sidewall.
SICKWITHIT -Q2  June 29, 2009 11:02 AM
I second that motion.
Superlight -Dunlop Q2  June 29, 2009 06:57 AM
We need a sportbike tire comparison, please.