Some define “adventure” as exploring the extreme, far reaches of the planet on two wheels. For me, adventure is more often about turning down a side road because it looks interesting. Inevitably, that puts me on a variety of road surfaces.
Within minutes of leaving my southwestern Pennsylvania driveway with a freshly mounted set of Dunlop Trailsmart tires, I was flicking through a twisting ribbon of smooth pavement and then meandering along a winter-roughened, cinder-strewn back road. A stretch of divided highway was followed by a gravel road, then a devilishly twisty gem of coarse pavement and, finally, a section of hard-packed dirt still saturated after a night of rainfall. It’s a typical ride for the adventurous (or at least curious) road rider…and a lot to ask of a set of tires.
Regardless of what I threw at the Trailsmarts, they remained surefooted and drama-free, largely due to the unique intersecting tread grooves—what Dunlop calls the XGT cross-groove pattern. The design is claimed to provide excellent dry grip, yet rapidly evacuate water in rain and bolster traction off-road. The grooves also enhance bump absorption, producing a noticeably smoother ride and improved feel on uneven surfaces.
On dry pavement, the Trailsmarts deliver remarkable grip and confidence. Driving hard out of corners, the rear never hinted at breaking loose and the front tracked as if on rails. My only nitpick is high steering effort (although my Super Ténéré isn’t exactly quick-steering to begin with). And once a turn is initiated, the prescribed lean angle holds until a counter effort is applied to straighten. Very stable, but it takes some getting used to.
In rain, Trailsmarts shine as much as the wet pavement. A high silica content compound and the XGT tread pattern combine to provide impressive wet traction and feel, even on the tire’s edge or under threshold braking.
Perhaps most surprising is off-road performance, especially considering this is primarily street rubber. With tire pressures at on-pavement levels (what most riders sporting a 90/10 tire will do) the Trailsmart twins provide loads of tractability—even under throttle or judicious braking. More than once I found I was effortlessly traveling on gravel at 40 mph. Even in somewhat soupy conditions, the tires were more willing than I was.
To meet the broad, often conflicting demands of adventure riders (including the plea for high mileage), Dunlop tested more than 400 tires in 52 configurations before finalizing the Trailsmart design. Persistence appears to have paid off for Dunlop—and the growing multitude of adventure bike riders. These tires deliver. The end product, designed for middleweight to powerful heavyweight adventure bikes, is available in a range of 19- and 21-inch fronts and 17- and 18-inch rears.