According to Dunlop, the Elite 4 is for riders who like to cover miles. Lots of miles. The E4 is designed to cover as much as 15,000-18,000 miles on everything from open highway to twisting back roads, in fair weather or foul.
And, with sizes that range from 15- to 21-inch diameters and a mix of radial and bias-ply designs, they’re made to fit just about any tourer, cruiser or standard out there, new or older.
Dunlop claims this latest iteration of the Elite series provides longer wear, excellent cornering stability and outstanding wet weather grip—the kind of overall performance the traveling rider is looking for.
I set out to challenge those claims by fitting a fresh set of E4s to my Indian Chieftain (previously fitted with Elite 3s). I gave the tires a workout on a mix of high-speed Interstates, stop-and-go traffic, sweeping back roads and a few jaunts down patched-pavement farm roads. I rode in temperatures from 32 to 80 degrees.
The 850-pound, high-torque Indian really puts a set of tires to the test when pushed through corners. Tires designed for high mileage often disappoint in the twisties, but the E4s were tremendously stable and provided excellent grip, even when powering hard out of corners at a good tilt.
Dunlop’s Multi-Tread (MT) rear tire surely contributes to that performance, thanks to a special lateral-grip compound on the shoulders of the tire adjacent to the long-wearing compound in the middle. The transition across compounds is seamless and wear appears to be even across the tread thus far.
The tires tracked surprisingly well on rough and patched pavement as well, handling imperfections, longitudinal ridges and pavement cracks without drama—and without jarring the rider.
One oddity of the Dunlop Elite 4 is conditional road noise. Although the new tread design was designed to be extremely quiet, there is an exception. On very smooth pavement and on tar strips, the tires emit a loud chirp-like hum reminiscent of a swarm of cicadas. The chirruping lasts as long as the tires remain on that surface.
Generally, it’s an intermittent occurrence, but on long stretches of certain smooth surfaces the noise can linger. On roads with an abundance of tar snakes, the cicadas seem to practice Morse code. That said, on most road surfaces the treads are nearly silent. The periodic hum, in this rider’s opinion, is a minor tradeoff for the otherwise stellar performance of these tires.
Dunlop claims excellent wet weather performance thanks to a new tread design and, during my rides through light and moderate rain showers, the Elite 4s delivered, gripping confidently without hint of slipping—a much welcome improvement.
Based on initial wear, it could be a long time before I am able to report on total tread life. There is virtually no sign of wear after more than 2,000 miles of hard use. With the Elite 4, Dunlop may have just captured the trifecta of exceptional grip, wet weather performance and long, long tread life.
For more information, see your dealer or visit dunlopmotorcycletires.com.