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Reviewed: Dunlop Roadsmart IV tyres

Dunlop Roadsmart IV tyres

Making sports touring tyres is possibly the biggest challenge to any tyre manufacturer. They have to be good at doing just about everything well, while suiting a huge variety of bikes ranging from budget commuters to speedy adventure tourers.

Their performance has to be good whatever speed, weather conditions, or temperatures they’re subjected to. On top of all that, they need to wear well too. It sounds like an impossible task, but after thoroughly testing Dunlop’s new RoadSmart IVs for over 2000 miles in the UK, and on the road and track on a variety of bikes in France, short of racing, our reviewer Chris Moss says they are good enough to be all you’re ever likely to need. It’s an all new tyre, and though it’s an evolution of the RoadSmart III, it differs completely. RoadSmart IVs have a unique tread pattern, compound, construction, and profile. Here are Chris’ thoughts…

Riding on UK roads, in UK weather

My test started over two months ago, when I fitted some to my Honda NC750X long term test bike. Granted, it’s not the fastest thing in the world, but as I use it as a primary form of transport, I’d get the chance to try the new RoadSmarts in the varied environments and road conditions they’re designed to cope with.

Sure enough, my first outing on them took me to Devon for a three-day, 900-mile break, and boy did it start off wet! Happily for me, I don’t mind riding in the rain and enjoy the challenge of dealing with the trickier conditions. But even though the very heavy rain had flooded sections of the road, I happily and confidently pushed on. Dunlop is claiming the new tyres’ tread pattern and compound give extra wet weather grip – the front an extra 10%, and the rear another 25%! I couldn’t vouch for those numbers (though I did get more of a chance later), all I say is, in the wet I have zero complaints about the new Dunlops. The only thing that limited my speed was my bravery!

When the roads dried out the next day, I took on the undulating twists and turns of Dartmoor with more aggressive riding and still felt totally safe. As well as excellent grip, the feel and feedback of the rubber lends itself well to taking things a bit faster in full confidence. My tyre analysis was definitely aided by some high-quality aftermarket suspension I’ve had fitted to my NC. It allows me test the RoadSmarts a lot harder than normal, with excellent wheel control really benefitting adhesion, even over bumpy routes. Back at the other end of the assessment scale, repeated early morning rides, often bringing very cool temperatures and greasy-looking road surfaces, saw the Dunlops in an equally good light. Again, my bravery largely dictated the limit to how much I was prepared to push. It’s another virtue of what can only be termed a brilliant all-round, all-weather, real world tyre.

Pushing things much harder on track

For a more extreme assessment of the RoadSmarts, I then flew to Dunlop’s testing facility at Mireval in the south of France to ride a number of bikes on its main test track, dedicated wet weather facility, and local roads. Weather conditions for the 120-mile road test were dry and mild, and aboard a Honda NT1100, Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, and BMW S1000XR, just as had been the case in the UK, I happily had no issues with grip and stability – even when progressing very quickly on unknown, and occasionally quite damaged roads. Steering is very progressive and predictable, and around town even on the bigger, heavier machines, the Dunlops give agile handling. It’s worth noting the average suspension action of the NT1100 prevented me from exploring the full performance of the new rubber, underlining how much influence the forks and shock have over tyre grip, especially over bumps.

On Dunlop’s main test track, a very varied, undulating and challenging circuit, featuring all manner of different types of corners, again I had no problems with the RoadSmarts. Just to put that into context, on track you get the chance to ride far harder than you ever can on the road. Higher speeds, more acute lean angles, later braking, and early power delivery, are all actions executed on every corner of every lap. I had one very small slide on the rear of a Kawasaki Z1000SX, but I think that was more down to rider error, and I happily discovered the slide was very progressive and easy to deal with. Trying a GSX-S1000GT and Kawasaki Z650 brought similarly impressive results.

Making sports touring tyres is possibly the biggest challenge to any tyre manufacturer. They have to be good at doing just about everything well, while suiting a huge variety of bikes ranging from budget commuters to speedy adventure tourers.

Their performance has to be good whatever speed, weather conditions, or temperatures they’re subjected to. On top of all that, they need to wear well too. It sounds like an impossible task, but after thoroughly testing Dunlop’s new RoadSmart IVs for over 2000 miles in the UK, and on the road and track on a variety of bikes in France, short of racing, our reviewer Chris Moss says they are good enough to be all you’re ever likely to need. It’s an all new tyre, and though it’s an evolution of the RoadSmart III, it differs completely. RoadSmart IVs have a unique tread pattern, compound, construction, and profile. Here are Chris’ thoughts…

Riding on UK roads, in UK weather

My test started over two months ago, when I fitted some to my Honda NC750X long term test bike. Granted, it’s not the fastest thing in the world, but as I use it as a primary form of transport, I’d get the chance to try the new RoadSmarts in the varied environments and road conditions they’re designed to cope with.

Sure enough, my first outing on them took me to Devon for a three-day, 900-mile break, and boy did it start off wet! Happily for me, I don’t mind riding in the rain and enjoy the challenge of dealing with the trickier conditions. But even though the very heavy rain had flooded sections of the road, I happily and confidently pushed on. Dunlop is claiming the new tyres’ tread pattern and compound give extra wet weather grip – the front an extra 10%, and the rear another 25%! I couldn’t vouch for those numbers (though I did get more of a chance later), all I say is, in the wet I have zero complaints about the new Dunlops. The only thing that limited my speed was my bravery!

When the roads dried out the next day, I took on the undulating twists and turns of Dartmoor with more aggressive riding and still felt totally safe. As well as excellent grip, the feel and feedback of the rubber lends itself well to taking things a bit faster in full confidence. My tyre analysis was definitely aided by some high-quality aftermarket suspension I’ve had fitted to my NC. It allows me test the RoadSmarts a lot harder than normal, with excellent wheel control really benefitting adhesion, even over bumpy routes. Back at the other end of the assessment scale, repeated early morning rides, often bringing very cool temperatures and greasy-looking road surfaces, saw the Dunlops in an equally good light. Again, my bravery largely dictated the limit to how much I was prepared to push. It’s another virtue of what can only be termed a brilliant all-round, all-weather, real world tyre.

Pushing things much harder on track

For a more extreme assessment of the RoadSmarts, I then flew to Dunlop’s testing facility at Mireval in the south of France to ride a number of bikes on its main test track, dedicated wet weather facility, and local roads. Weather conditions for the 120-mile road test were dry and mild, and aboard a Honda NT1100, Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, and BMW S1000XR, just as had been the case in the UK, I happily had no issues with grip and stability – even when progressing very quickly on unknown, and occasionally quite damaged roads. Steering is very progressive and predictable, and around town even on the bigger, heavier machines, the Dunlops give agile handling. It’s worth noting the average suspension action of the NT1100 prevented me from exploring the full performance of the new rubber, underlining how much influence the forks and shock have over tyre grip, especially over bumps.

On Dunlop’s main test track, a very varied, undulating and challenging circuit, featuring all manner of different types of corners, again I had no problems with the RoadSmarts. Just to put that into context, on track you get the chance to ride far harder than you ever can on the road. Higher speeds, more acute lean angles, later braking, and early power delivery, are all actions executed on every corner of every lap. I had one very small slide on the rear of a Kawasaki Z1000SX, but I think that was more down to rider error, and I happily discovered the slide was very progressive and easy to deal with. Trying a GSX-S1000GT and Kawasaki Z650 brought similarly impressive results.

Good enough for a racer

A sterner test of the rubber was given by British Superbike and TT star Peter Hickman. The superfast Lincolnshire lad circulated the track a lot faster than us more mortals. And though he admitted he’s a Dunlop ambassador, clearly employed to say positive things - such as how really impressed he was with the performance of the RoadSmarts - his very speedy riding said all you needed to know about the ultimate performance of the sports touring tyres.

Dunlop Roadsmart IV tyres

Interestingly, Dunlop insisted we ran at the standard recommended road pressures on track to allow us to feel how the rubber behaves at much higher speeds without any tinkering. No doubt they would’ve performed even better if the pressures had been lowered to suit the higher temperatures generated by the much faster riding.

Getting wet, and feeling safe

To round off the test I then got the chance to ride a Suzuki GSX-S1000S on Dunlop’s wet track, getting the opportunity to directly compare the performance of the RoadSmart IVs to its predecessor, the RoadSmart IIIs. I wasn’t told which tyre I was using, but after several laps splashing through the standing water, I was relieved to learn what I thought to be the superior tyre was the RoadSmart IV. It was a good test, in conditions you’d only find on poorly drained roads (like some of those I’d ridden on in Devon), and highlighted just how much you can trust these tyres in such challenging circumstances.

I’ll have a pair of those thank you

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay the Dunlops is that I’ve already asked for a pair for my new long-term test bike. As I ride all year round in whatever the weather decides to deliver, I know I’ll feel safer. I’ll also get the chance to see how they wear, and if Dunlop’s claim that the tyres’ performance remains high until they need replacing has any foundation.

The new RoadSmarts come in 17, 18, and 19” front sizes and 17 and 18” rears. There are two different versions, the SP for lighter, sportier bikes, and the stiffer GT for heavier touring models. The rear tyre features a dual compound. They’re in the shops now and will fit most popular models.

A sterner test of the rubber was given by British Superbike and TT star Peter Hickman. The superfast Lincolnshire lad circulated the track a lot faster than us more mortals. And though he admitted he’s a Dunlop ambassador, clearly employed to say positive things - such as how really impressed he was with the performance of the RoadSmarts - his very speedy riding said all you needed to know about the ultimate performance of the sports touring tyres.

Interestingly, Dunlop insisted we ran at the standard recommended road pressures on track to allow us to feel how the rubber behaves at much higher speeds without any tinkering. No doubt they would’ve performed even better if the pressures had been lowered to suit the higher temperatures generated by the much faster riding.

Getting wet, and feeling safe

To round off the test I then got the chance to ride a Suzuki GSX-S1000S on Dunlop’s wet track, getting the opportunity to directly compare the performance of the RoadSmart IVs to its predecessor, the RoadSmart IIIs. I wasn’t told which tyre I was using, but after several laps splashing through the standing water, I was relieved to learn what I thought to be the superior tyre was the RoadSmart IV. It was a good test, in conditions you’d only find on poorly drained roads (like some of those I’d ridden on in Devon), and highlighted just how much you can trust these tyres in such challenging circumstances.

I’ll have a pair of those thank you

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay the Dunlops is that I’ve already asked for a pair for my new long-term test bike. As I ride all year round in whatever the weather decides to deliver, I know I’ll feel safer. I’ll also get the chance to see how they wear, and if Dunlop’s claim that the tyres’ performance remains high until they need replacing has any foundation.

The new RoadSmarts come in 17, 18, and 19” front sizes and 17 and 18” rears. There are two different versions, the SP for lighter, sportier bikes, and the stiffer GT for heavier touring models. The rear tyre features a dual compound. They’re in the shops now and will fit most popular models.

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