New Dunlop Sportsmart2 Max tested
Dunlop’s new Sportmart2 Max looks like a great choice for rapid road riding and occasional trackday use. We tested the new tyre in the mountain roads overlooking Montpellier in the South of France, plus rode it at Dunlop’s Mireval test track and found the Max to be friendly, confidence-inspiring and with a playful side that could make your riding more fun.
Revised for this year – and replacing the standard Sportsmart2, it features a completely new front with a revised and stiffer construction, plus new compounds. The rear tyre’s construction carries on from before, but Dunlop say they’ve taken advantage of new chemical technology, allowing the compound be more durable in the middle and grippier on the edges. In all, Dunlop claim the tyre lasts 10% longer than the old one, has sweeter steering and is faster around their test track.
We performed a back-to-back test with the old and new tyres on a Suzuki GSX-S1000 on super-challenging French roads and found that the new tyre feels more nimble and playful. It also holds a tighter line out of corners and needs less effort to steer. The new rubber flatters the flawed but forgettable GSX-S1000 and even makes its badly-controlled rear suspension feel a little better. This nimbleness and accuracy should make your bike that little bit more fun, too.
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The Sportsmart2 Max works well from cool and isn’t upset by camber changes and poor road surfaces – but neither is the tyre it replaces. We rode at everything from sensible, conservative speeds to knee-down craziness on mountain passes and the new rubber tyre never was found wanting in any situation. You can really tramp on.
On the track, there is confidence and lots of feel from the front. We tried the tyres on a BMW S1000R, a Yamaha MT-10, a Suzuki GSX-S1000, a Kawasaki ZX-10R and Yamaha R1 and found the performance to be good.
If you’re at the front of the trackday fast group on sports 1000, they’re not for you – that’s what Dunlop’s new D212 GP Racer is for. But inters-level trackdayers and people on slower road bike-only days will be rewarded by their neutral feeling and front-end grip. You can trail-brake and push the front tyre – especially through Mireval’s curved braking areas. The nice transition between upright and full lean gives loads of confidence, too. It’s impressive.
But you realise it isn’t a full-on track-tyre when you ride bikes like the Kawasaki ZX-10R, where it is more easy to overwhelm the rear tyre on corner exits. But it slides with predictability and a margin of error that means losing rear traction is almost enjoyable. If you’ve got traction control, that is…
On bikes with more natural traction, like Yamaha’s R1 and MT-10 it was much happier – and the result was surprisingly fast laps. In fact, there is an argument that on bikes like BMW’s S1000R and the MT-10, this is all you need – you run out of ground-clearance long before grip. In the case of both bikes the Sportsmart is a step forward from their tawdry OE rubber, too.
All in all, the Sportsmart2 Max is good upgrade from Dunlop. If you’re in the market for a sporty, do-anything tyre which also has the potential for strong longevity, then the Sportsmart2 Max is up there with the best.