Dunlop Roadsmart IV vs. Shinko Verge 2X
Initial Handling Impressions

Even the journey of ten thousand miles must begin with the single turn of a wheel.  This is how year 3 of Road Dirt’s Sport Touring Tire Shootout begins.

When tires are new, they are round and perfect, just as their designers intended, showcasing the technology and engineering their manufacturers have poured into their design profiles.  We all love new tires because when they replace flat spotted rubber, our bike’s handling comes to life.

However, which tire handles best when new?  Unless you have a Daytona pit crew ready to change out your rims with different rubber, enabling you to ride the same road with different tires, there is no true way to compare new tire handling.

Or, you could have two identical bikes with different rubber and have a second rider follow you so you could swap continuously back and forth to compare tires as you ride.  Fortunately, Road Dirt has two such minded tire geeks with identical bikes, willing to dedicate their touring seasons, year after year, to digging deep in the intricate details of a tire from new to worn.  We put anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 miles on a set of tires in the very brief Pacific Northwest touring season to see how a tire behaves from new to middle to end of life.

Back to Oregon and the Rowena Curves for year 3 of the sport touring tire shootout.  Testing can be hard work.  Sometimes.

For testing consistency, we even ride the same roads as previous years, which for new tire testing, means Eastern Oregon and the Rowena Curves.  This year, Shinko provided us with a set of their sport touring tire, the Verge 2X to take on the two-time champion, Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV.  Fellow tester Dave “White Girl” Wensveen and I found a brief weather window, spooned the Verge 2X on his VFR800 and the Roadsmart IVs on my identical VFR800 and headed south to put on as many miles as we could while the sun was out.

Testing started off inauspiciously.  Dave discovered he had an air leak from his front tire where his valve stem met the rim, meaning a 50 mile backtrack to his tire changer to break the bead on his Shinko to correct the situation.  After the 100 mile detour, accelerated speeds and a good headwind had me limping into our first gas stop on fumes.  I came within a few miles of doing a VFR800 sled push.  A good workout, but not my favorite.  It was April 1st, so I guess we should have seen it coming.

Testing occurred the next day in Eastern Oregon, specifically the road from Fossil to Antelope.  This 35 mile stretch of remote Oregon pavement is better than Tail Of The Dragon with everything from second gear snap hairpins to giant, endless sixth gear sweepers, all in a remote, rugged land looking like it was lifted from a Clint Eastwood cowboy epic.  You could cruise it a leisurely pace, but we turn it into a tire torture chamber.  If a tire has a traction or handling weakness, we find it here.

Hwy. 218 from Fossil to Antelope, then north to Shaniko is long, remote, smooth, scenic and traffic free.  Perfect for testing tires.  Two days after this sunny and 72 degree day, it snowed.

We first turned our attention to the newcomer, Shinko’s Verge 2X.  Initial handling opinions from Dave and I were positive.  The Verge required just a moderate touch on the bars to initiate a turn, and the same amount of moderate pressure to keep the bike in the turn.  Getting the bike upright from lean required just more moderate input.  Predictable.  Good, but not great.  Dave described the feel as “very linear”.  The Verge 2X does exactly what you ask of it, when you ask for it.  No more, no less.  No drama, but nothing special.

In comparison to previous tires, the handling of the Verge 2X was extremely similar to Michelin’s Road 6 we tested last year.  We both agreed that if you blindfolded us, neither of us could pick out the handling differences between the Michelin and the Shinko.  However, both of these tires out-handle Pirelli’s lethargic Angel GT by a wide margin.  When the pace got seriously hot, the Shinko displayed one interesting trait.

Shinko’s Verge 2x and Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV after a few hundred miles of break in.  We did 841 miles in three days to test handling.

On quick side to side transitions, the Shinko would give a brief oscillation through the bars of about two or three cycles as it passed through upright.  It was very subtle, nothing dramatic, but it was definitely there.  I also noticed the oscillation when transitioning from full throttle to hard braking.  Again, just a slight two or three cycle oscillation.  Noting significant, but still there.  I was as light on the bars as I could and used leg pressure on the tank for side to side body transitions but it oscillated every time.  It didn’t occur at slower paced speeds, but if I lit the wick on the Shinko, it showed this trait every time.

Under heavy front end load the Shinko could use a little more feel before braking traction.  Only once during emergency braking testing was I able to push the front past its traction limits, but when it did break, it came as a slight surprise.  Few riders will push the Shinko to its limits on handing or front end traction like we did, but we had to know.  In summary, Dave and I both came away very impressed with the Verge 2Xs linear and predictable handling.

Both rear tires feature a dual compound construction with a harder center compound for mileage and softer edge compounds for grip.

Impressive until you ride the Roadsmart IV.  No tire we have yet tested handles as well out of the box as a new set of Roadsmart IVs.  When upright, the tire is just a tad on the itchy side, wanting to be on edge, waiting for just the slightest bar input.  All it takes is even the slightest hint of bar pressure and the Dunlop responds RIGHT NOW, leaning quickly into any shape turn, hairpin or sweeper.  Once in the corner, it is still sensitive to input, just a slight shift of the shoulders, or even a lean of the head can tighten a corner.  Finishing a corner and bringing the bike upright is as quick or as slow as you like.  Give the Dunlops a subtle command and they respond.  This tire out-handles the Shinko, the Michelin and literally runs circles around the Pirellis.  A few times on the way to Antelope I caught myself giggling in my helmet.  Any tire that can make you giggle at speed under full lean is a good tire.

Dave commented on the extra feel of the Dunlop on edge-  “It feels like it has an extra level to it.”

Under the same front end testing the Dunlop had a similarly high traction limit as the Shinko, but unlike the Shinko the Dunlop had better feel at the limit.  Tire squish is easier to interpret and feedback from the front is better.  Also, on the same roads on the same bike at the same speeds, the Dunlop had no hint of the oscillation displayed by the Shinko.  Again, few people will push either of these tires like we did, but should you decide to, the Dunlop will make you giggle out loud.

Dave made a good point, that a rookie rider might benefit form the additional stability of the Shinko, a tire not so sensitive to every input.  He calls the Roadsmart IV “an expert level tire” since every input is translated into movement, whether you want it to react or not.  The Shinko however, less sensitive to inputs, is happier upright.

Not the most modern of motorcycles, the 5th generation Honda VFR800 is great for testing tires because it meets the most important criteria: we both have one.

Ridden at moderate speeds, the Verge 2X has linear, predictable and stable handling that will give a newer or milder rider great confidence.  In fact, most riders would be extremely happy with the handling of the Verge 2X.  It is a fine handling tire, on par with Michelin’s Road 6.  But there is one small problem.

That problem is called Roadsmart IV.

Comparing tires back to back on the same road on the same bike with the same fuel load puts the impressive handling of the Dunlop in full light.  It responds to every input instantly, happily and with minimal effort.  Achieving peg dragging lean angles requires little effort and full lean is stable while also being nimble.  Dunlop labels their tire shape “Intuitive Response Profile”.

Call it what you want, Dunlop’s Roadsmart IV is still the best handling sport touring tire either of us have ever ridden.  It wins again, at least in 2024’s round one.

Thousands of miles later, how will the Shinko compare to the Dunlop?  Stay tuned.

Ted

*For more on both of these tires, check them out here:

Dunlop Roadsmart IV

Shinko Verge 2X

Putting both tires through their paces means a lot of riding, a lot of notes and a lot of coffee.

 

Cycle World Athens

6 Comments

  1. Dan

    Well done guys! I really like your comparisons….identical bikes ridden together on the same roads speaks volumes to your findings. I have the road smart 3’s on my mt-09 now and am very pleased. There is a new set of road smart 4’s waiting to go on after the 3’s are toast.

    Reply
    • Rob Brooks

      I’m still running a pair of RoadSmart III’s on my Triumph Bonneville, and they are still a superb tire, even after a couple of years.

      Reply
  2. Geoff

    hi Guys,
    I have a set of road smart 4s on my bike (fjr 1300) and I absolutely concur with everything you say. it is without a doubt the best tire I have used.
    Geoff

    Reply
    • Ted M Edwards

      Glad you find these tests useful Geoff. Keep reading more articles in this series for updates.

      Reply
    • Gary M

      Great info, thanks so much. but I’m a huge believer in the Road 6 and the terrific mileage I get out of it. So how will the Dunlop compare to the 6 for longevity?

      Reply

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