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Dunlop Roadsmart – sport touring tyres that struggle to tour

UPDATE 12 October 2011

I had an interesting conversation about the Dunlop Roadsmarts fitted as original fitment to Yamaha XJ6 Diversions on a forum the other day. Mine wore out in under 4,500 miles, and other XJ6 owners report the same. Yet riders who’ve fitted their bikes with the Roadsmarts are reporting 10,000 …miles plus! In some cases much more powerful and heavy bikes like VFR800s! So why the difference?

It seems that the OE Roadsmarts on the Divvie aren’t dual compound after all.

On tyres fitted as replacements, the difference between the two compounds is clearly visible on refits but the OE tyres on the Yamaha are a single colour and thus almost certainly single compound all the way across.

That would also account for the way my OE tyre squared off so badly and the total mismatch between front and rear wear – I’m still on the OE front after 10k!!

Seems a bizarre decision by Dunlop if that is the case – the rapid wear prevented me fitting another, and most other XJ6 owners have gone with something different too.

UPDATE 2 September 2010

After a 150 mile day-long ride round France two weeks ago plus a couple of training courses last week, the rear Dunlop Roadsmart on the Yamaha XJ6 was down to the wear marker, so it’s now been replaced.

As I guessed 1000 miles ago, it didn’t make the 5000 mile mark. In fact, total mileage from new was a very disappointing 4448.

That’s pretty miserable for a sport touring tyre.

Total motorway mileage was around 900 miles, and given the bike’s been used for instructing most of the time, it’s not lived on the throttle and brakes either; the rear tyre’s really not had a particularly hard life.

Dunlop have really got the dual compound construction wrong on this tyre, if my experience is anything to go by. Despite the claimed dual compound with a hard centre section, it’s squared off really badly, and that’s affected the handling negatively.

Partworn, the rear tyre tramlines badly over surface ridges. In the dry it’s manageable, if not particularly pleasant. But in the wet it’s very disconcerting (to say the least!) when the rear tyre refuses to follow the front. I really thought the back had let go at one point.

Rather bizarrely in these days of matched pairs, the front still has 3mm of tread left on the shoulders, where I usually wear out a front. So I suspect the front would probably do around 50% more mileage than the rear. However, I’ll be dropping the front wheel round to the tyre fitters in a day or two to get a ContiMotion fitted to match the one I’ve put on the rear wheel.

Original Review (12 July 2010)

Dunlop launched the Roadsmart range back at the end of 2007, so they’ve been around for over two years now.

Replacing the D220ST, the Roadsmart shares a triple tread construction with the Qualifier RR tyre. Like many modern tyres, this offers a softer compound on the shoulders and a harder, more lasting compound in the centre of the tyre.

As usual, there’s a new tread pattern which is claimed to offer improved water dispersal, and the profile and carcass are also new.

The XJ6 Diversion I’ve been riding this summer came fitted with them and I’ve had a chance to try them out in a variety of situations from mild trackday use to twisty mountain roads, and urban riding to motorway.

How does it handle on them? Well, the tyres definitely suit the Diversion. The original bike I rode was fitted with Bridgestones which really did not work on the bike at all, making slow turns a clumsy affair as the bike suddenly pitched over. There’s no problem like that with the Roadsmarts.

They also offer enough grip for this trackday slowcoach to have enough fun, and they are reassuring at decent lean angles out on the open road, with plenty of feedback from the front. They are not fazed by wet surfaces either.

Photo 052610 002

Rear Roadsmart close up after a short track session

However, the rear in particular doesn’t handle bumps particularly well, feeling quite harsh over the bigger bumps, and as it’s worn so it has begun to tramline badly, causing the bike to weave rather disconcertingly over surface irregularities like road repairs that run in the direction of travel.

The very same irregularities wouldn’t upset the less-than-stable Hornet on its Conti Motions even when the tread was right down to the legal limit.

And worse, for a tyre that’s supposed to have a touring ability, they just don’t go the distance.

In just 3,500 miles the rear has squared off really badly, which is very disappointing considering I’ve not done that many miles on motorway – I estimate around 700 out of the total 3,500 has been motorway but of the rest, many have been twisty road miles.

Photo 052610 001

The tyre was as-new before the track session

Having a read round the various forums seems to suggest I’m not the only one who has noticed this. I doubt the rear will make 5k which isn’t good at all for a sports touring tyre on a modestly powered machine. Someone I know has noticed the same wear characteristics after 3,000 miles on an ER-6.

Unusually, the front/rear wear isn’t matched so there is ample tread on the front, something another user flagged up on a forum just the other day. It seems to me they’ve just got the centre compound horribly wrong.

So, there’s a set of replacements waiting in the garage for the moment the tread gets too low. But they aren’t Dunlop Roadsmarts. A pair of Conti Motions will be going on next.

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