Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Motorcycle Tires Review

[This Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Motorcycle Tires Review was originally published in the October 2009 issue of Rider magazine]

I love Dunlop’s tag line, “Accelerate your soul.” Motorcycles do just that, what with astonishing power-to-weight ratios and an ability to lean that makes cars feel like air-conditioned grocery carts. What connects every motorcycle to the road is tires, those mysterious workhorses that make or break races and can inspire confidence or scare the bejeezus out of any rider. Lucky for us, modern motorcycles are good and reliable. Some are amazing.

Dunlop’s Sportmax family covers the racing to sport-touring spectrum with three tires. At the race/track end is the GP-A, a spec tire for three classes of AMA Pro Racing. At the street sport/sport-touring end is the Roadsmart, which balances wet-weather grip and good mileage with sporting performance. In between is the new Q2, replacement for the popular Qualifier, for both track and street sport use.

Trickling down from Dunlop’s vast roadracing experience, the Q2 makes the latest tire technology available to the sporting masses. Dunlop’s Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) in the rear tire provides linear steering (that confidence-inspiring feel we all love) regardless of speed, type of corner or lean angle. Both front and rear Q2s have a taller, rounder profile than the previous generation Qualifier. This not only contributes to linear steering, but also puts down a larger contact patch at higher lean angles. Testing at Dunlop’s Huntsville, Alabama, Proving Grounds revealed that, compared to the Qualifier, the Q2 has 15 percent more traction level grip, 15 percent more drive grip, 5 percent more responsiveness and 25 percent greater cornering stability.

All Sportmax tires use Multi-Tread technology, with a long-wearing compound in the center and lateral-grip compound on the shoulders. Since these tires will see their fair share of street use along with track days, a harder, cool-running compound in the center increases lifespan (mileage). To handle cornering forces at deeper lean angles, a softer, grippier compound is used on the sides. Compared to the Qualifier, the Q2’s tread pattern has a higher “land-to-sea” ratio that puts more rubber on the ground, with rain grooves becoming shallower and more widely spaced toward the outer edges of the tire. The engineers were also kind enough to space the siping at varying intervals to reduce resonant noise and vibration.

Given the tremendous power that modern sportbikes generate, Dunlop developed the Q2’s radial tire carcass to better resist the forces and loads that distort contact patches. The front uses two nylon carcass plies and two aramid reinforcing belts along with lighter, stronger continuous hex beads for improved steering response, cornering stability and braking performance. In the rear, Jointless Band (JLB) construction uses a strong aramid belt to maintain consistent tire diameter under all conditions. Differing tensions are used in the JLB for stability in the crown and grip compliance in the shoulders.

I tested the Q2s on the tight, technical Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch circuit in Pahrump, Nevada (read: hot and dry), on four different motorcycles: Suzuki Gladius and GSX-R600, Honda CBR600RR and Yamaha R6. Regardless of the bike, be it the entry-level Gladius or the track-focused R6, the Q2s provided reassuring grip and stability on every part of the track. Trust was earned immediately and never wavered. I changed lines, ran over rough pavement, braked hard and pinned the throttle out of corners without worry. Chatter in the paddock was universally positive among the current and former racers and track-school instructors who pushed the tires harder than I did. Yes, these are amazing tires.

Fronts come in two sizes (120/60-ZR17 and 120/70-ZR17, MSRP $191-$196) and rears range from 160/60-ZR17 to 200/50-ZR17 and $236-$333. Popular pricing tends to be lower.

For more information: See your Dunlop dealer or visit BMW


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