Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III Tires | Review

Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III tires
Dunlop’s new Sportmax Roadsmart III tires are designed for “performance touring,” offering exceptional dry/wet grip, confident handling and (claimed) class-leading longevity.

If you enjoy sport touring as much as we do, then you’re probably as demanding as we are when it comes to tires. We want sportbike levels of grip on twisty roads, long tread life to satisfy our appetite for racking up miles and confident, agile handling on roads both dry and wet. Luckily for all of us, as motorcycles get more and more powerful and are equipped with evermore sophisticated electronics, tire technology continues to evolve at a steady pace.

During development of the third generation of its Sportmax Roadsmart tires, Dunlop pursued two goals. First, it wanted to create a tire that delivers consistent performance over its lifespan. Many tires feel great when new but they may “go off” after a few thousand miles, diminishing grip and sapping confidence. Dunlop’s competitive benchmark for the Roadsmart III was Michelin’s Pilot Road 4 GT. During blind, internal testing on a BMW R 1200 RT at Dunlop’s Huntsville Proving Grounds, on tires with 3,000 miles on them, Dunlop says its Roadsmart IIIs out-performed Pilot Road 4 GTs in terms of grip, cornering and compliance in dry and wet conditions.

Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III tires on KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
The Dunlop Roadsmart IIIs handled the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT’s 150 rear-wheel horsepower and superbike-strong Brembo brakes without complaint, offering a nimble, planted, confident ride. (Photo by Brian J. Nelson)

Second, Dunlop wanted the Roadsmart III to set new standards for mileage, achieved through a combination of new front and rear compounds and Dunlop’s Multi-Tread design, which binds a harder, long-lasting compound in the center to a softer, higher-grip compound on the shoulders. With as little as 5 degrees of lean angle the contact patch begins to incorporate some of the grippy side compound, and more of the high-adhesion compound is used as lean angle increases. During independent, third party testing on a BMW R 1200 RT, Roadsmart IIIs showed significantly less wear than Pilot Road 4 GTs after 5,000 miles.

Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III tires on KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
Our initial test ride was primarily on back roads with pavement ranging from good to bad that was often dirty from recent rains. The Dunlop Roadsmart IIIs impressed us regardless of road surface, and especially in the rain.

In addition to new compounds and Multi-Tread design, Roadsmart IIIs have a new cross-groove tread pattern, optimized carcass and sidewall construction, an advanced resin formula and a new rear tire profile, all of which contribute to higher mileage, improved wet and dry grip, better bump absorption and more precise handling. We mounted a set of Roadsmart IIIs onto our KTM 1290 Super Duke GT test bike, and they were impressive right out of the gate. Sending 150 horsepower to the rear wheel and equipped with semi-active suspension, traction control and cornering ABS, the KTM is a powerful, sophisticated machine. On dry, occasionally dirty back roads and highways with pavement ranging from baby’s-bottom-smooth to rough-as-a-cob, the Roadsmart IIIs felt glued to the road. They handled the KTM’s tire-lofting torque and freeze-frame braking power without complaint, and they rolled through turns with effortless grace. But where the Roadsmart IIIs really shine is on wet roads, providing confident grip over a wide range of speeds and lean angles. We had to return the Super Duke GT to KTM before we could evaluate Dunlop’s mileage claims; if we’re able to install Roadsmart IIIs on a long-term test bike, we’ll provide an update in a future installment of Long-Term Rides.

Dunlop Roadsmart III tires are available in 17- and 18-inch sizes for many sportbikes, sport tourers and adventure tourers, with MSRPs ranging from $171.30-$254.20.

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  1. Significantly less wear at 5000 miles, better performance at 3000 miles, as compared to pilot Road 4 GT’s…
    Meaningless… What was total mileage achieved by both tires? How was handling at that 5000, 7500, 10,000 mile mark? Wet stopping distances at each wear interval, dry stopping? Did that compound onboard the Dunlops, that starts to contact the road in as little as 5 degrees create a shoulder ridge by the time 60% of the tread life was used?
    Nothing against Dunlop or for Michelin (Although a happy Michelin user of 4 GTs on an R1200RT)
    I tend to find the when a company compares itself against a single “top competitor” (either real or perceived) it’s because that competitor usually has a solid performing product, and the competition is still trying to catch up… When the competition finally surpasses the top dog, they no longer need to compare.

    Again, I’m TRULY interested in independent tests and REAL WORLD longevity, as I want to make the most informed decision with my money when it comes time to replace my tires, but tests conducted on a test track, where you can go to the curves to user more side tread when the center gets thin or vice-versa is just advertising drivel and marketing disinformation.

  2. I decided to try a set of these on my GSX1250FA. Put them on about 200 miles before leaving on an extended trip around the USA. After 7800+ miles in all conditions and road surfaces, these tires look barely worn. We rode in lots of rain and the tires inspired confidence, even in the Appalachians (Deals Gap, 28, Cherahola, etc.) Our route took us from NV through hot weather and mountain riding in AZ, NM and flat, hot in TX. Lots of high-speed freeway riding, thru Alabama, Georgia, TN, SC, MO, IA, MN, SD, WY, ID and home through NV. 26 days total trip.
    I think I’ve tested these in all kinds of conditions, and I can say that these are the best all-around sport-touring tires I’ve had on any bike. They still handle great after this many miles. Not a Dunlop fan in the past, but decided to try these as I was disappointed in the Mich PR4’s longevity.
    I’m a convert.

  3. I have gone through 2 sets of these. Both times the rear tire performed as advertised, however both fronts started cupping at about 5k. Contacted dunlop. Here is their response.

    Thanks for sending the pictures, they have been shared with our quality engineers for comment. Irregular wear such as this results from the operating conditions in which the bike / tire is exposed. The most common factors are riding style, inflation pressure and load. Keep in mind that once an irregular wear pattern starts it will progressively get worse, which appears to be the issue here. Since uneven wear conditions are beyond our control as a manufacturer, we do not cover under the terms of warranty.

    I did not buy another set.

  4. I only got 5K miles on my Michelin Pilot 4 GT’s on the rear tire, and cupping on the front on my 2018 BMW k1600 Bagger. Good tires except for the wear. I just ordered Dunlop Roadsmart III’s, and will have them installed this weekend. I have had Dunlop’s on all my bikes since the 80’s and have had very good luck with them. My last bike was the 2013 Goldwing F6B, I had the Dunlop Elite 4’s put on, and I had put 8K miles on them before I traded it in on the Beemer, and the tires still looked new. I am disappointed in the Michelin Pilots GT’s.

  5. 5000 miles on a Versys 1000 and slight flat profile from Florida roads. Holding up as well as my last few sets of Pilot Road 4. I would rate them equally great.


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