First Ride: Dunlop Roadsmart III tyres

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Dunlop’s new Roadsmart III sports-touring tyre has taken a leap forward in performance and durability.

With its new rubber compounds, front and rear carcass, front profile, ‘Interconnecting Tread Grooves’ and over a million miles of outdoor and indoor simulated testing, it outshines the old Roadsmart (MCN’s former Tyre of the Year) and Roadsmart II. The new Roadsmart III offers greater wet and dry grip, better agility and loads the rider with extra confidence in all conditions.  

And we needed all the Dunlop’s new superpowers when we tested them on a BMW R1200RT at the Roadsmart III launch, held on sopping wet, cold roads near Montpellier. We rode in conditions more reminiscent of winter in the UK than the south of France, but the new tyres never faltered.

Like the main sports-touring rivals the new Dunlops now come in two versions. There’s a standard Roadsmart III, with a two-ply rear construction, for heavier machines, like big sports tourers and adventure bikes. The Roadsmart III ‘SP’ has a single-ply rear and will suit lighter bikes, like nakeds, roadsters and mid-capacity sportsbikes (dealers will carry fitment charts).

Dunlop wanted a tyre that maintains performance level throughout its lifespan and all the new technology poured into the Roadsmart III has created a tyre that lasts longer, too.

To prove this, Dunlop commissioned Germany’s Motorrad Test Centre to test the new Roadsmart III against the Bridgestone T30 Evo (single-ply version), Pirelli Angel GT, Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT and the Metzeler Z8 Roadtec (which has now been replaced with the Roadtec 01).

After carrying out an exaggerated wear-testing program on the mountain roads of southern Spain, the German testing company found the Dunlop rear gave 19% better mileage than its rivals. More impressive is the new front tyre, which went on to last a staggering 82% longer than its rivals on a Yamaha FJR1300 – a machine, like many heavy tourers, known for high front tyre wear.

Tyre companies never give actual mileage claims, as wear depends on so many variables, like how and what you ride. But whatever way you cut it, that’s a decent improvement in durability.

As well as impressing on wet roads, we carried out two comparison tests at Dunlop’s Mireval proving ground. The first was to compare the amount of effort it takes the Roadsmart II and III navigate through chicanes and hold a constant curve. Riding a Yamaha FJR1300 rigged up with 2D datalogging equipment, it’s clear to feel, then see on a computer how much easier the new tyres make it to steer a big machine. In some areas the new tyres take over 20 times less effort to keep the Yamaha on course.

We also got to compare the Dunlops against the Pirelli Angel GT and Michelin Pilot Road 4 (but not Metzeler, Continental or Bridgestone) on a Suzuki GSX-R750 on a wet-weather handling track. The Roadsmart III didn’t quite have the outright grip of the Pirellis, but offered more accurate steering. But they had better warm-up and wet grip than the Michelins – a tyre with a formidable reputation for performance in the wet.

The Dunlops also offer a very high level of excellent dry grip, feedback and confidence.

These wet testing results, the dry grip and light steering characteristics are confirmed in MCN’s 2016 sports-touring tyre comparison, where we tested all the main sports touring players in a blind test.

The new Dunlop Roadsmart III puts the company back in the hunt in the most competitive of all tyre categories. It’s a great all-round, do-anything tyre that promises to big mileage and a sporty feel.


Available sizes:

Front: 110/80 x 18, 110/80 x 19, 120/70 x 17, 120/70 x 18, 120/70 x 19, 130/70 x 17

Rear: 140/70 x 18, 150/70 x 17, 160/60 x 17, 170/60 x 17, 170/60 x 18, 180/55 x 17 (also in ‘SP’ version), 1180/60 x 17, 190/50 x 17, 190/55 x 17 (also in ‘SP’ version).

Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.