Every motorcycle tire is built to work well when you first start riding on it. But to create their elite new sport touring tire, the Roadsmart III, Dunlop took a different approach – make it the best tire on the market when it has thousands of miles on it. See how they did it, and check out the excellent new tire that resulted here!
Dunlop’s new Sportmax Roadsmart III is what Dunlop calls a Performance Touring tire, with the ability to not only last longer, but to perform at a higher level throughout its lifetime.
Motorcycle tire technology is incredible these days. At BikeBandit, we deal in a lot of tires – over 160,000 a year, as a matter of fact – and motorcycles tires are something we truly understand. In the last 18 years we’ve been in business, we’ve seen tire technology come an incredibly long way, from designs, to tire construction, to compounds – and the fact is that there a bunch of tires out there whose performance will blow you away when you spoon them onto your ride.
But that in itself is a bit of a problem – every tire is engineered to deliver impressive performance when it’s brand new. All the comparisons, track tests, and reviews focus on how well tires ride, handle, and stick when they’re just put on…but what about thousands of miles later? Why isn’t someone testing these tires when they already have big miles racked up on them? Will they still be as good then as they were on Day 1?
Those are the questions motorcycle riders, especially sport touring riders, have been asking for a long time. And finally, Dunlop listened. That’s why when they developed the latest generation of their elite sport touring tire, the Roadsmart III, they looked at it from a new perspective – in reverse – seeing how they could make a tire perform better than the competition at the end of it’s life instead of just at its beginning. The result? That’s what we’re about to show you.
Sport Touring – The Most Difficult Kind of Tire to Manufacture
To get the real details about the new Road Smart III, we went straight to the top, and spoke to the Director of Marketing for Dunlop Motorcycle Tires, Mike Manning, who gave us the entire inside scoop on how Dunlop went about developing this impressive new tire.
“For a tire manufacturer, sport touring is actually the most difficult category to develop a tire for” explained Manning, while giving us a background on what they were looking for in the new Sportmax Roadsmart III. “Think about the demands put on a sport touring tire – the same tire has to be fun to ride and carve corners in, yet also be able to handle the weight of cargo and a passenger on long touring rides. They need to work well in a variety of road and weather conditions. They need to be durable and long-lasting, but if they are overbuilt, they won’t be fun or comfortable to ride on. Sport touring tires really have to do it all – and be good at it.”
For that reason, manufacturers put a ton of research and development time into their tires in this segment, and there is some very solid competition in the category. That’s why Dunlop looked at all the best tires in sport touring – then set out to beat them.
The RSIII has a clean tread pattern designed to work on everything from middle-weight sport bikes for riders looking for more mileage, to big, powerful performance-touring machines.
The Two Goals Of The Sportmax Roadsmart III
“When designing the Roadsmart III, we set out with two goals” Manning told us about the development process of the new tire. “The first was to have, flat out, the highest overall mileage in the category. The second was to have the best performance over the entire lifetime of the tire, not just at the beginning.”
From inception, Dunlop’s engineers focused on a tire that would not lose its initial performance after thousands of miles of wear. They did this by focusing on key areas like internal chassis components that break down over time, degrading the handling and “feel” of the tire, and on the tire compound, utilizing developments in its molecular structure to maintain consistency in grip throughout the entire life of the tire.
The result is a tire that achieves such a consistent feel even after thousands of miles, you won’t notice a dramatic difference in performance, even when installing a brand new set. Compare that with most high-mileage sport-touring tires, which may still technically be good to ride on based on remaining tread, but whose internal components and performance will degrade dramatically as thousands of miles are rolled on, taking a lot of the fun out of those extra miles you paid for.
But just saying this is easy. The only way to prove that they accomplished their goal was to put their new tire to the test where it really belonged – on the road.
The Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III is engineered to not only last longer than any other S/T tire, but to retain as much of it’s great performance as possible. That keeps the fun going all the way to the last bit of tread!
Put To The Test – Then Put To The Test Again
Dunlop is quite fond of their massive Huntsville Proving Grounds testing facility, an elaborate compound built on 80 acres in Alabama, with over four miles of pavement track surface made just to test the performance of motorcycle tires in every condition imaginable. A lot of science went into the Roadsmart III’s development, but only in testing in real world conditions could it prove that it had achieved it’s goals. To do that, they put it head-to-head against the reigning leader in the segment – the venerable Michelin Pilot Road 4.
First, a brand new Roadsmart III went up against a brand new Pilot Road 4 in a controlled test on a BMW R1200RT, with 3000 miles clocked on both. Their test rider, a former AMA pro racer, judged each tire blindly on 16 different criteria, and an elaborate array of data acquisition equipment was also installed to detect things like speed and lean angle. While both tires performed admirably, the RSIII eked out the Pilot Road 4 in dry grip, cornering, and ride comfort, and performed significantly better in wet grip and cornering.
But that was just the beginning. Next, the same tires, with 3000 miles of hard use in varying conditions, were sent to Texas Test Fleet, Inc. for independent third party longevity testing. There, the tires were run into the ground, and the RSIII won again, racking up just over 20,000 miles on the front tire compared to the Michelin’s 15,000+ figure, and nearly 13,000 miles on the rear compared to a little under 11,000 on the Michelin.
Performance Down To The Wear Bars
Dunlop worked hard to make this tire really perform, not just when you put it on, but mile after mile – something that riders familiar with their revolutionary Sportmax Q3 may have experienced, a tire known to give supersport bikes excellent performance all the way down to the wear bars. With the new Roadsmart III, Dunlop brings that same level of performance to the competitive sport touring market, putting the sporty feel of the Q3 into a durable chassis that can handle the demands of today’s big, powerful sport touring bikes – and do it mile after mile, year after year, with minimal degradation in performance.
The Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III: less wear…and more where. They’re excited about it – are you? Pick up a set for your bike here!