Traction Meets Endurance
Winter time is a great time to conduct much-needed maintenance on your motorcycle. Fluids, filters, brake pads, and tires are all worth evaluating in the months when riding is limited. For me, a new pair of shoes was due on my 2017 Triumph Bonneville Street Cup. So I looked up my friend Phil Waters of Dunlop Motorcycle Tires USA, to get his recommendations on their offerings. Phil suggested the Roadsmart III series, citing its longevity coupled with good grip in an all-weather sport touring tire. While my Bonney isn’t a sport tourer, I use it as such, so thought his recommendation a solid one.
The old and the new: The Bonney getting a fresh pair of shoes. Photo by Phil Gauthier.
Phil did me one better, and shipped me a pair to sample and evaluate. My Street Cup runs a 100/90-R18 up front with a 150/70-R17 out back, and Dunlop had a match for my rear, but not my front. Phil told me the 110/90-R18 would fit the front rim, although it would be slightly wider than the stock Pirelli Phantom Triumph sells with the Street Twin line. My local go-to guys, Flying Brothers Motorcycle Shop, confirmed Phil’s assertion, with Jake telling me, “I think you’ll like these better than the stock Pirellis. The front will give you a larger contact patch, more grip, longer life, and they’ll just look better front and rear. We sell a ton of them.”
Dunlop Roadsmart III motorcycle tires. Photo by Dunlop Motorcycle Tires USA.
I studied up on the Roadsmart tire series by Dunlop to see what makes these tires so popular. In the sport touring segment, tire manufacturers walk a tightrope of providing rubber with sport-level grip yet touring-level longitivtiy, as tire life is among sport tourers’ biggest gripes with tires. The Roadsmart III was first developed in 2017 to compete with Michelin’s Pilot Road 4 GT, a dominating tire in the sport touring segment. Not only did Dunlop create a worthy competitor, the Roadsmart III outperformed the Michelin tire by 3000 miles in overall tire life. According to independent studies conducted by Texas Test Fleet and Germany’s Motorrad Test Centre, Dunlop’s offering beat out the Bridgestone T30 Evo (single-ply version), Pirelli Angel GT and Metzeler’s Z8 Roadtec was well, giving 19% better overall tire life. That’s impressive.
Love me some fresh rubber. Jake at Flying Brothers installing the Roadsmarts.
Dunlop says their special MT Multi-Tread design mates a high-mileage compound to the tire center and high-adhesion compounds to the outer sides for deep cornering grip. So think of it like this- Hard center, soft shoulders. They also assert the sidewall construction aids in improved shock absorption and more precise handling. In a company statement, “While other brand’s so-called high-mileage tires ‘fall off’ and lose significant performance long before they wear out, the RSIII offers more consistent high performance all the way to the wear bars.” Jake at Flying Bros agrees, citing the Roadsmart III construction and cost translates to huge sales of the tire, building a proven track record since the model was first introduced. Developed and manufactured right here in the good ole US of A, Dunlop leads the industry Stateside in motorcycle tire sales, for good reason.
Road testing the Roadsmart III tires on a mild winter day. Photo by Phil Gauthier.
I’ve been rolling on the RSIII shoes for a bit over a month now, and they’ve broken in quite nicely. Although we’ve had limited riding here in the dead of winter, we get enough good days even in December-January for me to push the tires and feel their construction. I’m impressed so far. I tend to ride the little Bonney mild on long days in the saddle, but like to aggressively carve curves on her, and the RSIII tires so far provide fantastic grip when I’m feeling froggy. On a rainy day I geared up to have a go at them in the rain, and really appreciated the tread pattern and grip even on wet roads.
I’ll track the overall tire life front and rear to see how they compare to the OEM Pirelli Phantoms I’d run since the bike was new. I got about 14K out of the Pirelli stockers, so the Dunlops have a tall standard to measure up to. I can say I like the grip and contact patch better already, so time will tell the endurance tale.
Digging these tires so far.
For more info on the Dunlop Roadsmart series, as well as the rest of their vast offerings for motorcycles, click here:
*Check out our video evaluation, with some cool ride footage, without even leaving this page: