New tyre review: Dunlop SportSmart TT
Dunlop’s new SportSmart TT occupies that largely untapped no-man’s land between an all-purpose sports tyre and trackday rubber, aimed at rapid road riders and trackday fans, in equal measure. They'll happily fit everything from small-capacity sportsbikes through to retros, nakeds, zingy supersport machines and powerful superbikes. It fits neatly between the French factory’s Sportsmart 2 Max and race compound GP Racer D212.
Available now, the SportSmart TT will go head to head with Pirelli’s new Diablo Rossi Corsa 2 when it’s launched next month, but it has few other direct rivals, other than the slightly less sporty Michelin Power RS. It’s a tyre category that you’d think was in decline, due to free-falling new sportsbike sales, but Dunlop reckon otherwise. Thanks to the popularity of sporty nakeds and a raft of race replicas still on the road and track, there’s a big market for grippy, easy to manage sports tyres, like these.
Two and a half years in the making, the Sportsmart TT (for Track Technology, not the road race) is new and not an evolution of an existing tyre. The front has a new carcass, construction and compound, while the dual compound rear features Dunlop’s Ntec RT (Road and Track) construction, which lets you significantly drop its pressure for extra track grip. Dunlop claims the new SV (Speed Vent) tread design increases the tyre's footprint, for more grip and helps it run cooler when used hard.
Testing the SportSmart TT at the Monteblanco circuit, near Seville, on machines as diverse as a Kawasaki Ninja 400, to a selection of boxer twin BMWs and a Yamaha R1M, the new rubber impresses in dry and damp conditions. As Dunlop claims, both front and rear offers more grip, confidence and easy handling than sports rubber, making it a tyre you'd be happy to hammer all day on track.
They work particularly well on the smaller bikes, which will be music to the ears of A2 licence holders and budding ‘Supersport 300’ racers. It offers great stability, you don’t need tyre warmers for them to work on track and they’re durable, too. Dunlop claims the rear will do well over two days on a circuit. Sizes are all 17” and range from 110/70 and 120/70 fronts to 140/70 and 200/55 rears.
Steering is on the slightly heavier side of neutral, but the tyres still roll in and out of corners with ease and don’t cause any problems, but unless you plan to use the SportSmart TTs on track you’re still best off with longer-lasting sports rubber.
Quality Four stars
Value Four stars