Burning rubber at The Ridge Motorsports Park

Last fall, Dunlop introduced it’s newest releases in hypersport rubber, the Q5 and Q5S, replacing the track focused Q4 and grippy but street oriented Q3+ in Dunlop’s lineup.  Being curious, I purchased a set of Q5S out of my ridiculously abundant Road Dirt paycheck, spooned them on my Honda Superhawk and headed to The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington.

The Q5 and Q5S are close brothers.  Both have Dunlop’s Intuitive Response Profile which proved its worth to me in their sport touring stablemate, the Roadsmart IV.  Each tire uses Dunlop’s Racing Type Fine Carbon Technology in their compounds for quicker warm up times and increased grip while only the Q5S has a multi-tread compound with a harder center compound for increased mileage.  Both are wound using Jointless Tread technology where the tire carcass is continuously wound around the tire, similar to a 3D printer laying down rubber.  Even with their track focused development, both tires are DOT approved for street use.

Before and after photos of Dunlop’s new Q5S after a day at the racetrack.  Minimal groves for maximum contact patch tell the intent of the tire.

I tested the Q5S at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington.  The MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series uses this track for their Northwest round and I was there just ten days before the racers would begin their sessions.  Weather was perfect with full sun, morning temps in the 60s and rising to the mid 80s in the afternoon.

The Ridge is a technical track.  Corners do not flow one into another and it has the slowest corner on the MotoAmerica circuit as you drop into its Laguna Seca like corkscrew followed two corners later by a half mile front straight.  A chicane was installed recently to slow MotoAmerica racers down but on this test, the chicane was eliminated and the full half mile front straight was used.  Three corners are completely blind, some taken at triple digit speeds, along with a sweeping carousel turn similar to Road America.  This mix of tricky corners and blind rises is all flanked by one of the best views in racing with Mt. Rainier in the background.

The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton has spectacular views of Mt. Rainier making it one of the most scenic tracks on the MotoAmerica calendar.

I ran the Q5S on my Honda Superhawk at track pressures of 32 psi front and 30 psi rear and spent the first 20 minute session at a somewhat controlled pace to let the tires break in.  What Dunlop calls their Intuitive Response Profile made a good first impression.  Turns 2 through 4 are a series of left-right-left transitions with turn 3 being a blind rise and here, the tire profile made side-to-side transitions quick and confident.  Even with precise handling, the front felt planted cresting the blind rise on turn 3.

Turn 2 at The Ridge, followed by a blind rise to turn 3 is a quick side to side maneuver that tests handling.

After the first warm up session I felt confident putting the tire through its paces.  Dunlop designed both of these track ready tires to be used without tire warmers.  This means goodbye to the hassle of generators, extension cords, and tire blankets.  To be cautious, I gave the tires the first lap to work up to temp.  That seemed to be all they needed.

Even without tire warmers, the Q5S came up to working temp quickly, meaning no loss in track time waiting for the tires to warm up.

Once up to temperature, I found the tires had excellent grip all around.  The counter-clockwise carousel turn followed by the blind drop into turn 8 are good test beds for traction as the carousel tests edge grip and the steep downhill braking approach to turn 8 puts high demands on the front tire.  On the carousel turn, the Q5S allowed me to make outside passes that I have never before been able to execute.  Passing outside here means you need huge edge grip at full lean while off the racing line.  Repeated outside carousel passes became my go-to maneuver of the day which the Dunlops made silly easy, something I have never had the grip confidence to do until these Q5S shoes.

Compared to the outgoing Q3+ it replaces, Dunlop says the Q5S has an increased contact patch at full lean.  After experiencing it, I believe their data.  Chart by Dunlop.

The only time I lost edge grip was at the top of the corkscrew after overshooting my braking marker and getting off the racing line.  The rear stepped out and caught, temporarily shooting me out of the seat.  However, that was at the end of the day when fatigue had set in and I overshot my braking marker.  My fault, not the tire’s.

Temperatures were ideal, 60s in the morning and low 80s in the afternoon.  The Q5S performed well all day.

Repeated heat cycles from multiple track sessions did not seem to affect grip, and traction from the Q5S allowed me to carry more corner speed than I was used to as I pushed deeper on my braking markers and tested edge grip with added throttle on corner exit.  Only once did the front tire chatter under hard braking, likely more of a suspension issue than tire issue.  All of this from a DOT legal tire that does not require tire warmers.

This is an impressive tire.

I occasionally ride my Superhawk on the street which is why I tested the more street oriented Q5S with its harder center compound instead of the single compound and more trackday focused Q5.  In fact, I am staring at my Superhawk from my local sidewalk cafe as I write this.  If you want a higher mileage, but still grip happy street tire, consider Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV which I tested last summer.  It has the same Intuitive Response Profile, plenty of grip for street situations, does well in the rain and I got over 9,000 miles from the rear.

Increased dry traction was one of the design goals of the Q5S.  Chart by Dunlop.

Dunlop has poured their MotoAmerica experience into the Q5 and the Q5S, and it shows.  It has nimble handling, allows knee dragging lean angles and high levels of grip all without tire warmers on a DOT street legal tire.  All the prep necessary for the track is dropping your tire pressures.  If your want a trackday tire without tire warmers, your street ride doubles as a track weapon, or you prioritize grip confidence, Dunlop’s Q5 or Q5S are solid choices.


*track photos by G Powers Photography

Ted’s Track Gear:

Arai Corsair X helmet
Sedici Corsa leather suit
OneX Pro leather racing gloves
Sidi Cobra Air boots

MotoAmerica 2023


  1. Dave Kelley

    Interesting, very well written. Even a block head like me could understand.


    A ‘little bit’ unfair to compare the 200/55 to a 190/55, because I would think lean angles would create slightly different contact patterns… but I know the 190/55 is the factory Recommendation on so many ‘Liter Bikes’ and Sport Bikes…
    I have been running 200/55 on my FZ1 since my first tire change. {Q3, then Q3+} and even though I have ridden 2 or 3 other brands, over several years, I have always been Most satisfied with Dunlops… First time was DURING a Track Day, and I picked up a screw in my rear tire… Dunlop was THERE, and I purchased and had it mounted before the next session. INSTANT DIFFERENCE..!


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