Total mileage, final report

Winter came like a light switch this year to the upper left of the country.  My late October Sunday ride saw full sun, temperatures in the low 60’s and a Northwest fall in all its beautiful fury.  If you were to script perfect riding weather, this was it.

Monday came, and when it did, temperatures plummeted into the mid 20’s, snow fell in the mountains, and riding season came to an abrupt end.  And as the riding season ended, so did our year long sport touring tire shootout.

Our goal was to run both tires down to cord to get final mileage measurements.  While that happened with the Dunlop, the Michelin came very close but never had the chance to make it down to metal.  We simply ran out of weather.  So, for both of my readers waiting patiently to see how long these two sport touring giants would last, here is what we found.

As a reminder of testing conditions, brand new Dunlop Roadsmart IVs and Michelin Road 6s were installed at the same time on two identical 5th generation Honda VFR800s, my 1998 and guest tire tester Dave “White Girl” Wensveen’s 2001.  We followed each other literally nose to tail all spring, summer and fall for thousands of miles around the west and across the Continental Divide with the exception of a week in June where my 1998 VFR800 decided it needed to test my electrical engineering skills.  We even followed mostly the same roads as last year’s tire test, doing the same type of testing in the same spots as the previous tire shootout, making for even comparisons between the years.  Yes, we are a dedicated lot.

Tire testing is not as glamorous as it seems.  It is actual work.  Sometimes.

Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV, the premium sport touring offering from Dunlop, went down to cord after 7,195 miles.  Michelin’s Road 6 did not make it down completely down to cord, but was unserviceable after 7,595 miles.  Again, it was not down to cord as we wanted, but wear bars were obvious and the trademark buttonhole reservoirs for water drainage were almost gone.  Any reasonable rider would change the tire at this point, and I was not willing to ride this tire any significant distance away from home.

By the numbers, Michelin’s Road 6 outlasted the Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV by at least 400 miles, roughly a 5% margin.  There was still a tad more life left in the Michelins as I did not wear them down to cord, but winter weather intervened and bald motorcycle rubber does not make for good snow tires.  I would consider the mileage results a near tie, with a slight edge to the Michelin Road 6.

While Michelin’s Road 6 almost got down to cord (1st photo), Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV (2nd photo) definitely got there.

This margin pales in comparison to last year’s results when the Roadsmart IV outlasted Pirelli’s Angel GT by a whopping 77%, significant enough to affect a buying decision.  When the wear rate is nearing two to one, that is a significant result.  When the difference is roughly 5%, then other factors should be considered.

Many riders consider wet weather grip when buying a tire, as they should.  In our wet weather testing with both tires at 6,000 miles, the Roadsmart IV and Road 6 were more than capable of handling Colorado’s seriously cold and slippery conditions.  While not idiot-proof, both tires handled a spirited pace and emergency braking with a slight edge to the Michelin Road 6.  Again, a near tie.

Wet weather testing at 12,126 feet in Colorado.  Not always as fun as it looks.

If you (wisely) consider handling in your tire purchasing decision, the Roadsmart IV’s handling was light years ahead of the Road 6.  It was not even close.  Freshly mounted, the RSIV gave our VFRs a level of quickness that shocked us.  Cruising on the center of the tire, the RSIV gave off just the slightest hint of twitchiness, but as soon as you exhaled, the tire rolled into the turn so quickly and effortlessly that it almost caught us off guard.  Dave called it an “expert level tire.”  I call it damn good.  Thousands of miles wore away the on-center feeling but the tire still retained its nimble personality.

Michelin’s Road 6 is still a fine handling tire, predictable, stable, never going wrong, but never exciting.  You would think that the Michelins were a great handling tire until you rode your same bike back-to-back wearing Roadsmart IVs, which we did all year.  Every time I got off the Dunlop shod bike, I heaved a heavy sigh.

Both tires were far superior in handling and wear than last year’s test tire, Pirelli’s Angel GT.  The Angel GT has a flat center designed to increase surface area in the name of decreasing heat and increasing tire life, but that makes it resist turn-in so much that it took only four turns for me to reject it outright.  Despite that mileage benefiting design, it also could not match the wear of the Dunlop.  Some readers had asked us to test it’s successor the Angel GT2, but Pirelli discontinued its sale in North America.  In our testing so far, the Pirelli is a distant 3rd place.

When your tire testing takes you to snowbanks in July, you know you are doing it right.

In second place is Michelin’s Road 6.  It handled well new and after thousands of miles, was very capable in the cold and wet and lasted long enough for a full season of our mileage pounding.  It would last more than one season if you don’t ride like us.  In fact, the Michelin has only one problem.

That problem is called the Dunlop Roadsmart IV.  The Dunlop ran handling circles around the Michelin when new and thousands of miles broken in.  It kept a smart pace in the wet and wore within roughly 5% of the Road 6.  When we rode the VFR mounted with the Dunlops, neither of us wanted to give it up.  This made our conclusion unanimous.

For the second year in a row, Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV wins our sport touring tire shootout.

Words cannot express my appreciation to lifelong friend and road brother Dave “White Girl” Wensveen (at right) who gave up two year’s worth of his riding life to these tests.  It took a lot of states, a ton of coffee and many highly questionable places to stay to generate these comparisons.  Without him and his identical bike, these tests could not happen.

Any comments, questions, or suggestions for next year’s tire comparo? Drop us a line below!

Ted

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30 Comments

  1. John Friedrichs

    Great job, I really enjoyed this comparison.
    Was price mentioned?
    What about mounting? I find the Michelin’s easy to mount, but the fact that they don’t designate the light spot on the tire with a yellow dot frustrating.

    Reply
    • Ted M Edwards

      Price was given in the first installment of this test. As for mounting, I do all of my own mounting and balancing. Both were easy to mount. I prefer tires with balancing dots, and did find it odd that the Michelins had no balancing dot, but had no issues balancing them.

      Reply
      • Tom

        I’m curious if you have an idea on the 2300 mile difference the Dunlop had from your test against the Angel GT and this test. Why did it last so much longer the first test vs this test?

        Reply
        • Ted M Edwards

          Although both sets of Dunlops were ridden on mostly the same roads from year to year, temperatures were not the same. In the first year of testing, I put a few thousand end of life miles in October’s cooler temperatures. Heat is the enemy of tire wear, and I suspect that those last thousand miles in the cool fall weather extended the Dunlop’s life considerably.

          Reply
  2. Erik

    Happy to see this review. My Z900RS came with RS 3’s mounted up, and I had no idea what to expect… Turns out I liked them… maybe more than my beloved Conti’s. (Whatever the last ST tire was)… I definitely prefer an aggressive profile, eager to drop into the corners. Love your reviews. Very cool how you do them, same bikes, etc. Would love to see a compare, Dunlop vs. Conti, maybe Metzler? Either way, keep up the grand work fellas! Thank you for your effort!

    Reply
    • Ted Edwards

      Thanks for your compliment and ideas. We are already talking about next year. Suggestions accepted.

      Reply
      • Ken

        Great and thorough review.. very much enjoyed it.

        I ride a z1000sx and had not considered the Dunlops.. I’d be very interested to see a comparison of them done with the metzler roadtec’s which seem to win out a lot of other reviews.

        Reply
        • Ted M Edwards

          We have a different manufacturer that has come on board for year three. Look for that introduction in the next few weeks.

          Reply
    • Ben B

      Ted and Dave, thank you both immensely for putting together this detailed, no-corners cut review on such an important purchase. I have a 6th Gen VFR and found myself needing to buy new tires this past summer (having to do a patch in my rear tire expedited the process). I was between the Road 6’s and the Roadsmart IV’s and your review on out of the box handling is what swung my towards the Dunlops. So far very happy with the tires, they served me well on a rainy but gorgeous early fall trip in upper Michigan. And I’m glad to see the negligible tread life and wet weather performance between the two. I look forward to more reviews from you two on everything motorcycles. Cheers from Wisconsin!

      Reply
      • Ted M Edwards

        Not written about in our reporting, we also dragged along a 6th gen VFR shod with Michelin Road 6s for our California leg of testing. After riding all three bikes, he preferred the Dunlops as well.

        Reply
  3. Dc

    I’ve read every post with much interest. Your testing makes a mockery out of all other testing in which a bunch of journalists get wined and dined at some track event and do a few hundred km. In the end, they all regurgitate what the manufacturer writes about their tire. I’m sure there are many other tires that can be tested like this, but that takes dedication from 2 riders. Ps, I’m now a Dunlop convert, cheers.

    Reply
    • Rob Brooks

      DC, you have no idea how much we appreciate your sentiments. Thank you so much. This just further affirms our approach and commitment to real riding and testing. You are most welcome, and much appreciated.

      Reply
      • scotty

        Thank you for all of your hard work doing this test. I’ve loved my roadsmart 3s but was still considering the popular road 6 vs roadsmart 4s but thanks to you, it’s an easy decision!

        Reply
        • Rob Brooks

          The boys are at it again, this year running the 2X Dunlop champion against the Shinko Verge 2X. Ted has already written a backstory to the whole tire testing drill we do every year, with a brief intro to the Shinko tire. They also published a “first impressions” of both after a long weekend of breaking them in. Go check those out!

          Reply
    • Ted Edwards

      It does take serious effort. We spend all spring, summer and fall riding together, swapping bikes and sharing notes at the end of every day. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s work, but all of the time it is useful data gathering. What keeps us motivated is thinking that somewhere, out there, is a rider who will make use of our suffering to make a better informed purchase.

      Reply
      • Andrew Conyers

        Dunlop Mutants might be the most interesting new tire I’ve seen recently.

        They seem to get high marks from reviewers when new, and Dunlop claims they’re super versatile. I’m really curious how they stack up to other Sport Touring tires over time.

        Reply
        • Rob Brooks

          Hi Andrew,
          We actually did a set of Mutants with another of our contributors, Nathan Baron. This has to be about the most unique tire we’ve ever reviewed, and Nathan’s review was just as unique. Check out his writeup, but definitely click into his video. He gets into a rather tricky situation, and negotiates his way out like a pro-

          https://roaddirt.tv/dunlop-mutant-motorcycle-tires-first-impressions/

          Rob

          Reply
      • Don

        Thx guys, great review and very appropriate for me. I have MBS (multiple bike syndrome) and it seems I am always looking at tires. The bike in question at the moment is my 2013 Triumph Trophy SE. The Trophy is hard on front tires and wears out the front before the rear. Previously I ran a set of Pilot Road 4 GTs. Front was wasted (not quite the cords but badly cupped) at 7200 miles. And handling was terrible for the last 1000 miles. I put on a set of Roadsmart 4s and it was like riding a new bike. I now have just over 7000 miles on the Roadsmarts and the front is due for replacement. Tire life about the same but the handling on the worn Roadsmart is much better than the worn PR4. I also have a BMW K1300 S which also had PR4s on it. I just got a new set of Road 6s and the Road 6s are much better than the PR4s. So I was pondering Road 6s for the Trophy but your comparison makes me think I’ll stick with the Roadsmarts. But I also have a friend who only runs Continental-Road Attack 4s on all his bikes… Thx again for the review

        Reply
        • Ted M Edwards

          Dave and I also suffer (enjoy?) MBS, meaning frequent tire purchases. Glad our year long testing could provide some helpful information for you to keep your herd on good rubber.

          Reply
    • Dave

      DC, I was the lucky one this summer… I got to run the Dunlops all summer. 😀

      Next riding season it’s my turn to run the competitor’s tire (seems like Dunlop is the high bar standard). I hope it can compete for the “fun” of testing.

      Again- We enjoy all of the comments and recommendations.

      On a separate note. I’m excited to see if Engine Ice really can run my VFR 10 degrees cooler. 😀 Time will tell. Ted and I run that game on long boring testing miles- “What’s your temp, Dave???” 😳

      Reply
  4. Henry

    Great review !! I’m very happy with my Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE but at the same time I been thinking of trying the Dunlops.
    My suggestion for next year would be Dunlop Roadsmart IV vs Metzeler Roadtec 2, yes 2.

    Reply
    • Rob Brooks

      The Roadtec 2… We just might have to pursue that. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
  5. Dave Kelley

    Ted do you or Dave any advice on tires for a 2016 Yamaha FJR ES? Heavy bike with a mind of its own. Disrespectful when it comes to double yellow lines and seems to have repeated power surges when riding in PACs of 8-10 riders. Will run out in front of PAC in excess of speeds over 110 mph.

    Thanks for any advice and I sure appreciate you and Dave driving all those miles for an outstanding review.

    Reply
    • Ted M Edwards

      As long as your tire can outrun Idaho’s county sheriffs, that is all you need.

      Reply
  6. Trevor

    Nice write up Ted (and Dave). I’ll be looking for tires that last a little longer after the MT10 shreds the Bridgestone S22’s. It will be between these two tires depending upon cost, of course.

    Reply
  7. Roland Krueger

    Looking for tires for my 2009 K1300GT. Previous owner did a lot of 2 up touring. I plan to doing one up riding now that I’ve completed my recent medical challenges. The bike has been serviced and on a trickle charger waiting to ride. I’m interested in the Metzler 02’s. Love watching your videos. I live in Ohio. There may not be the dramatic elevation changes as you have out west, but we do have fantastic scenery and lots of snake on a board roads!

    Reply
  8. Rajat Raj

    I loved this experiment. There are so many variables that only a study like this can provide reliable data. Sadly Dunlops are almost impossible to find in my country with recent import restrictions. So I went for the Michelin R6 this January (from stock Rosso III) on my Ducati SS950S. Btw what pressures were you running on the Michelins? And what’s the total load (bike + rider + any luggage) you guys carried?

    Reply
    • Ted M Edwards

      Sorry you can’t get the Dunlops, but the Michelins are still an excellent tire. For all of our testing each year, regardless of tire manufacturer and for consistency of testing, we ran 36 psi front and 42 psi rear. Our 5th generation VFRs are about 500 lbs fully fueled, plus our 200 lbs (don’t say it Dave) and about 30 pounds of luggage would put us north of 730 (ish) pounds of bike, rider and luggage. Sometimes more or less depending on the length and type of our trip and how much hash browns Dave ate that morning.

      Reply
  9. John Anderson

    You would need to set the preload front and rear exactly the same on each bike. Also set the fork heights in the triple trees exactly the same. This would be more apples to apples comparison, unless you’ve already done this?

    Reply
    • Ted M Edwards

      Never checked our fork height, but we both set them at stock height. Dave does have firmer suspension setup than mine.

      Reply

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