Dunlop Trailsmart Tires | Gear Review

Dunlop Trailsmart Tires on the author's Super Tenere.
Dunlop Trailsmart Tires on the author’s Super Tenere.

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.

Dunlop Trailsmart tire (front).
Dunlop Trailsmart tire (front).

Dunlop Trailsmart tire (rear).
Dunlop Trailsmart tire (rear).


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.


  1. I’m circling the pool on my next round of ADV tires – these look very compelling. I’ve been on a 60/40 setup on my vstrom for a few seasons and am growing weary of the noise and buzz of more knobbyish tires….yet still want a tire that can handle a gravel road (the bane of ADV tires everywhere)

  2. I just put a set of these on my 1190S. I do hope I can get some mileage from them, off road on grass they sure like to spin. Next time I’ll be getting something with some bite.


  4. So many options as to make your head spin.
    Recently rode some decent fire roads with sand mixed on a VStrom and Super Tenere, both on almost bald 90/10 tires. Having a tough time deciding on good replacements that don’t sacrifice too much on road performance that I get to use on those twisty California roads.

  5. I just roasted my almost new Avon AV54 rear by turning the traction control to off- road mode on my KTM 1190, and riding 100s of miles on gravel roads routinely hitting max rpm and speeds over 100mph. I found some of these tires on clearance, and will see how they do under similar circumstances!!

  6. In 2012 at the age of 54 I rode my 1984 Kawasaki Voyager 1300 from Jackson Hole Wyoming to Junction City California only stopped for food and gas I was trying to make it home to Eureka California but after 22 hours of riding I couldn`t go no more I found a campground and was asleep in 15 minutes.

  7. I put a set of these on a Yamaha R6- which I frequently ride on gravel/dirt roads, trails, even old railroad beds turned into ATV trails. I look forward to trying them out.


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