Nothing like a definitive description to fire the imagination. “The Roadsmart sport-touring tire achieves or exceeds all of the design team’s goals. When compared to the existing D220, Roadsmart delivers substantial improvements in handling, stability, wet-weather performance and mileage” says Dunlop’s literature for its new tire. I also like how the company’s 2008 brochure–in the very first line about the Roadsmart–also says, “The best wet-weather performance of any Dunlop road tire, with long-lasting mileage to match.” Now there’s a bold statement. Sure, the press kit also has the usual techno-babble about “micro-sized carbon particles, cosecant curves” and “void-to-tread groove distribution” and all that, but I already know these premium tire guys have the science down, otherwise I would have run off the road for good a long time ago. I’d rather read claims like the one above that I can try to disprove. I’ve ridden a lot, for example, on D220s, and that’s a damn fine tire. Sticks, stops, handles and wears like iron. If the Roadsmart is an improvement over it, well, gimme some and let’s go see.
Dunlop answered that challenge rather effectively, rounding up a passel of Honda ST1300, Yamaha FJR1300, Suzuki GSF650 and BMW R1200RT sport-touring machines in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains in California for a small group of journalists to ride. After Tireless Terry fit them all with the new Roadsmarts, he signaled to this shadowy figure named Leaky or Streaky or something like that, who pressed a hidden button on the palatial Dunlop Fun Mover and Voilà!, the heavens opened in a very untypical California rainstorm, perfect weather for sampling “the best wet-weather performance of any Dunlop road tire.” I had heard the Chinese have been working on weather control in preparation for the Olympics there, and there was a quiet guy named Lee lurking around who had put his rainsuit on at breakfast before there was any hint of precipitation, hmmm….
Anyway, after that we suited up and rode the mucous out of this new tire for hours and hours and…well, until lunch. Regular meals are important when you’re tire testing, as load capacities may vary. I chose a late-model BMW R1200RT to ride, having put a couple thousand miles on one just a few months before on a European tour we affectionately nicknamed, “The Backstroke.” On the familiar but rather wet and dirty roads of the Santa Monicas, riding on the new Roadsmarts the Beemer felt well planted and confidence inspiring as always, with no untoward noises or wiggles and braking power–even on dirty surfaces–that I swear could roll up the toothpaste tube in your toilet kit. New front and rear profiles give the Roadsmarts a slightly higher tread drop–the distance between tread center and shoulder edge–than the D220, and I thought I detected a slight quickening of the Beemer’s excellent handling. I had no trouble staying with the lightning-fast group leader, either, who was riding an ST1300 in the wet as though it were a CBR1000RR on a pristine racetrack, creating a visual phenomenon that made him appear to be going more slowly than he really was. One journalist was so befuddled by this he actually tried to climb off his bike while still moving. Weird, but entertaining.
For longevity Dunlop has incorporated what it calls MT technology, appropriate for a product that is full of air or “MT,” or the initials of a certain brilliant motojournalist after which this technology certainly was not named. Rather, MT stands for Multi-Tread compound and describes how–on the rear Roadsmart tires–Dunlop has used a tough, cool-running and long-wearing compound in the center of the tread to provide straight-line stability, traction under braking and long tread life. To the left and right of this compound is a lateral grip compound developed to enhance traction at moderate-to-maximum lean angles. How they hide the seams between these compounds is a secret our multiple Cray computers here at Rider HQ have yet to reveal, but it should be any minute now. Wait, is that smoke….
Own a high-performance sport-touring motorcycle? Does it need tires? I think these Roadsmarts are pretty good. We’ll get some for a long-term bike and update this report soon.
For more information see your dealer or contact Dunlop Motorcycle Tire, P.O. Box 1109, Buffalo, New York 14240-1109; (800) 845-8378; www.dunlopmotorcycle.com