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!


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  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.

    • 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.

  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!

    • Ted Edwards

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

    • 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!

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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-


      • 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

    • 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???” 😳

  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.

    • Rob Brooks

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


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