Dunlop SportSmart Mk3 review

Dunlop SportSmart Mk3 – Have your cake and eat it, to the last slice

1 of 9

Dunlop says their new SportSmart Mk3 offers more wet and dry grip, but unlike rivals, that improved performance lasts the life of the tyres, right down to its wear blocks.

That’s an impressive claim, but of course, we’ll only be able to see if they’re right when we fit a set to one MCN’s long-term test bikes this year. But what we can say is that after a day spent on the new Dunlops at their world launch, they’re reassuring and confidence-inspiring to ride on.

This is third generation SportSmart, following the 2010 Original and 2013 SportSmart 2 replacement (which was lightly modified in 2017 and called the SportSmart 2 Max – still available at a budget price).

Bridging the gap between models

Wet weather testing on a BMW F800R

It fits in Dunlop’s range between the sport touring RoadSmart III and fast road/trackday SportSmart TT. They’ll fit any machine with a 120/70 x 17 front and a 180-section rear, or bigger and designed for year-round sporty riding. 

A claimed 20% more wet grip and 23% dry comes courtesy of a new construction, dual compound (hard wearing in the middle, soft and sticky on the edges) rear and single (soft) compound front.

The front profile is fatter for a more sure-footed contact patch, mirroring the SportSmart TT’s. The rear shape stays the same as the SportSmart2 Max. A new tread pattern is again based on the SportSmart TT’s with extra grooves to disperse more water. 

Tested on multiple bikes

We tested the SportSmart Mk3s on two BMWs: an F800GT tourer and S1000R super naked in a variety of temperatures, speeds and road surfaces. Ride quality is on the firm side of plush, but they warm up fast and that’s what you really want when you’re out in everyday, stop/start conditions, where it’s hard to keep heat in your tyres, especially in the cold.

They’re stable and above all, have enough grip to handle anything you can throw at them for spirited riding, even around the wet weather test track set up for us.

Although the Dunlops are meant for the road, they’ll handle a sprinkling of circuit work, too, although if you’re a regular trackday fiend you’re best off with something sportier - they’ll overheat if you push them hard for prolonged periods.

Track testing on the Kawasaki Z900

But fitted to a Kawasaki Z900 and the new ZX-6R it’s hard to unstick them at Parcmotor, especially on the naked Zed. The front has superb grip, by any level of tyre, although when you push really hard you’ll run out of edge grip on a supersport bike, but slides are predictable and never catch you out.

We’re looking forward to testing the new Dunlop SportSmart Mk3s here on UK roads and seeing how they compare to their nearest rivals: the Metzeler M7 Sportec RR, Pirelli Diablo Rosso III, Bridgestone S22, Continental SportAttack 3 and Michelin Power RS.

More from MCN

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Advice…

Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.