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!