Frankly, we at MO would not know that the biggest complaint among sport-touring riders, especially performance-minded ones, is tire life. That’s because we rarely put more than a couple thousand miles on any bike before it goes back to its maker. But we can see how tire life would be a real problem for big powerful beasts like FJR1300s and the sweet new KTM Super Duke GT – upon which I had the excellent fortune to sample Dunlop’s newest rubber upon.

The Super Duke GT comes from the factory wearing Pirelli Angel GT tires, but the biggest player in this segment would be the Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT, and that’s the tire Dunlop admits it had in its sights with the new Roadsmart III. (Michelin started it, says Dunlop, by picking on its Roadsmart II a couple years ago. And so it goes. This is a hotly contested battleground in the tire wars.)

Dunlop says its exclusive MT Multi-Tread design binds a high-mileage compound to the center, and high-adhesion compound to the lateral flanks for high cornering grip. Dunlop also says new sidewall construction helps to provide better shock absorption and precise handling.

Dunlop says its exclusive MT Multi-Tread design binds a high-mileage compound to the center, and high-adhesion compound to the lateral flanks for high cornering grip. Dunlop also says new sidewall construction helps to provide better shock absorption and precise handling.

Dunlop says its new tire not only goes more miles than the competition, it also offers more wet and dry grip doing it, and maintains that fresh-rubber feel longer. Dunlop says:

While other brand’s so-called high-mileage tires “fall off” and lose significant performance long before they wear out, the RSIII offers more consistent high performance all the way to the wear bars. Riders familiar with Dunlop’s Sportmax Q3 have experienced the same thing – this tire offers industry-leading grip and consistent performance all the way to the replacement indicators.

The overall construction of the RSIII achieves consistency in very specific areas. While some high-mileage tires may start out with light, linear steering and stability under braking, they become heavier steering, less linear and less trustworthy under braking as the miles roll up and the tire profile changes with wear.

022717-dunlop-roadsmart-iii-performance-touring-ktm-super-duke-gt-rear

Additionally, compliance often suffers dramatically as some tires wear – not the RSIII. Engineers placed a priority on even wear to maintain light steering, consistent braking and handling, and excellent ride quality over the life of the tire.

022717-dunlop-roadsmart-iii-performance-touring-bmw-r1200rt-yamaha-fjr1300

Dunlop hired an independent testing firm to back that mileage claim up, and Texas Test Fleet did indeed report (says Dunlop) that it got more than 12,000 miles out of a RSIII on a 2016 BMW R1200RT – 3,000 miles more than a set of Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT on the same bike. The Roadsmart III was introduced in Europe about a year ago, and at that time Dunlop had commissioned Germany’s Motorrad Test Centre to roll it off against the Bridgestone T30 Evo (single-ply version), Pirelli Angel GT, Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT and Metzeler Z8 Roadtec. That test concluded that the Dunlop rear gave 19% better mileage than its rivals, and that the front Roadsmart III lasted an amazing 82% longer than its rivals on a Yamaha FJR1300.

Furthermore, during testing at Dunlop’s own Huntsville Proving Grounds track in Alabama, Dunlop claims: tests comparing the handling of the Roadsmart III to Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires, with 3,000 miles on each of them, show the Roadsmart has a significant performance advantage in numerous categories, including wet and dry grip, steering response and compliance.

022717-dunlop-roadsmart-iii-performance-touring-ktm-super-duke-gt-front

Well, ahhhh, I can’t ride 12,000 miles in two days, but I can say the RSIIIs feel perfectly at home on the Super Duke GT cruising up Highway 101, strafing fast backroads at superlegal speeds, and navigating tight Malibu canyons. In, dang, nearly 30 years of riding around up in those usually parched Malibu canyons, I’ve never seen so many freshets crossing the road as California breaks out of its drought in a big way; some parts of the road were clean and dry, some sections muddy and slick… and most of those conditions reveal themselves only after rounding a tight blind corner. Aiiiieeee!

So, I can’t regale you with tales of outright grip at the limits of adhesion or anything, but I can say the Dunlops felt as perfectly natural on the Super Duke GT as the Pirellis did on the long-term tester Super Duke R we had a couple years ago: Planted, stable, and plenty grippy considering the conditions.

Dunlop brought former AMA pro and current full-time test rider Rich Conicelli along for our SoCal ride, complete with a chart in the PowerPoint presentation with graphic traces of the Roadsmart III and the Michelin getting around the Huntsville test track in wet/dry conditions: The Dunlop, Rich testifies, is consistently three seconds faster in a lap of only about 40 seconds. And that’s blind testing, too. “I don’t know which tire is on the bike when I go out,’ he says, “but I can tell within about half a lap.”

Conicelli also developed the Q3 Qualifier sport tire, another one Dunlop is proud of in part because it maintains its performance “all the way to the wear indicators.”

Rich Conicelli at the office.

Rich Conicelli at the office.

Speaking of sport, Dunlop says the RS III is also designed to work on everything from middleweight sportbikes to big, powerful performance-touring machines like the Super Duke, so if you use your ZX-6R or whatever as a commuter more than a track bike, the RS III could last a really long time…

Well, I’m no Rich Conicelli nor even a Ken Vreeke (former Cycle mag editor and now Dunlop’s ad agency principal, who still leaves me in the Malibu dust when the going gets muy rapido), but judging from those guys, if you need more grip than the Roadsmart III has, you need a full-on sport tire. Good luck finding one that’ll give you upward of 12,000 miles.

Sportmax Roadsmart III Front Sportmax Roadsmart III Rear
Size Load/Speed MSRP Size Load/Speed MSRP
120/60ZR17 55W $171.30 160/60ZR17 69W $210.09
120/70ZR17 58W $177.40 160/70ZR17 69W $215.80
110/80R18 58V $172.76 170/60ZR17 72W $215.92
120/70ZR18 59W $182.54 180/55ZR17 73W $232.38
190/50ZR17 73W $251.69
190/55ZR17 75W $254.20

For more information, visit DunlopMotorcycleTires.com, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Dunlop Download while you’re there (another excellent Vreeke & Associates publication).

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha, where do you want Ken to pass you?
    Good review. I like the Pirellis on my bike, but I’m not opposed to trying to Dunlops.

  • john phyyt

    It is personal; I know; and I have just fitted 3rd set Mpr4. which I get 12000 miles ( No Track). But I really like the look of the tread pattern , and I will definately buy these next time provided they are competitively priced.

    • not-a-fanboi-honest

      Interestingly the pattern reminds me a lot of old Avons!

  • Born to Ride

    I’m only getting about 7-8k miles out of the rear PR4 with my multistrada. Used to get 10-11 on my Triumph. Maybe these Dunlops will stand up better to the increased demand and get me back to the 10k happy place. Anxiously awaiting street pricing on these.

    • Joe

      Are you using the regular PR4s or the GT version? The GT is made for heavier touring bikes, and might get you closer to 10+K miles

      • Born to Ride

        Regular, supposedly they give better feel. Multistrada only weighs like 450lbs fuelled. Not exactly a FJR1300.

    • DickRuble

      If you can get 7-8K miles on the Multistrada you either ride very slowly and carefully or the tires are of a medium-hard compound, which in turns means you give up on handling and sporty riding. I switched from Metzeler Sportec (3K miles on the rear tire and it was gone) to PR (lasted 8K+ miles and still on the bike). The confidence to lean the bike full tilt was never there with the PR. This spring I am switching back to Metzeler Sportec, which is what the bike came with from factory.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        You can only enjoy a bike if you have the right tires on it. It is just another expense for the enjoyment of the sport. No use saving money. I have always used factory spec tires on my bikes. Whether they last or not, they give the best performance.

        • Born to Ride

          Not entirely sure I agree with you on exclusively using the tires the bike comes from the factory with. In many cases, the tire that the manufacturer chooses to install on the bike was selected by way of cost/benefit. I would imagine that it is far more rare that a bike is designed and/or set up around a specific tire. Especially since I hear “ever since I switched to Q3s, my bike handles like(insert cliche here)” nearly every time I meet a sport rider on one of the popular roads around here.

          • DickRuble

            Problem is the exercise can be costly. You mount a set of tires then realize you don’t like them… and then?

          • Born to Ride

            Practice your burnouts.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The tires that come on the bike are specifically chosen by the design engineers for the power, performance and appearance of the bike. They work closely with tire manufacturers to come up with the perfect tire for a model. Of course you can choose a tire with softer rubber for racing or harder rubber for longer mileage but for general purpose riding the OEM tires are the best. On my previous Harley I once switched to a higher mileage rear tire, and had no traction one time when I got off on wet grass. The OEM tires were softer and lasted only 8,000 miles, but I never lost traction.

          • Born to Ride

            You have a lot more faith in the magic of the engineering process than you should. Do you truly believe that every bike has a tire specifically designed for it? You don’t think there is another reason why Japanese bikes mostly run Bridgestones, a Japanese tire company. Sure, I’m sure there is some degree of vetting that goes into the tire selection process, but I am willing to bet that the factory has to choose from the preexisting tires in the catalog of their lowest bidder for the most part. R&D however is a different story.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Here is the description of the tires for my Softail on the Dunlop website:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/265f5786ea8a8692cdc88921267266acf7c83e275092e84a15c8afbb1ad5f2d8.jpg Harley buys almost a million tires a year. Do you think their engineers have to go through the Sunday sales ads looking for tire deals for their new $25,000 motorcycle, or sit in a big conference room going over the bike details and tire requirements with Dunlop tire engineers? If Dunlop already has a tire that meets the requirements – great, otherwise they develop a tire specifically for that class of bike.

          • DickRuble

            Speaking of engineering; how often to you check valve clearance on your Multi 1100? Do you do it yourself?

          • Born to Ride

            Just did it myself last month. Removing the tank was a major pain in the ass and installing it was an even bigger exercise in frustration. I installed MBP collets on the valves which were installed by the previous owner on my Monster. I have never had to adjust anything on the monster every time I inspected the valves, so I figure the collets are worth the 100$ investment. I intend to check them every 15k from here on out.

          • vastickel@gmail.com

            Wow! Wet grass? I want some of that traction. Just stuck a Milwaukee 8 in the garage. What make of knobbies did you install?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Congratulations on your M8! Great choice! That was the 1986 Softail Custom which came with a Dunlop 130mm rear street tire. The 2007 Softail Custom has a 200mm rear tire which easily wipes out on mud and hydroplanes on water. My 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R has Continental TKC80 knobbies which have saved my life many times in mud and rocky water crossings. Also ABS and traction control which have saved me while going too fast when it is raining.

          • vastickel@gmail.com

            Yes the 8 was a good choice. Still a “Harley” but quite a leap over my 2016. Have a BMWRt that is a much better sport tourer….

      • Born to Ride

        PR4 = Pilot road 4. They are high mileage tires that I use to commute and tour in addition to canyon carving. If I only used the bike to ride Palomar and Montezuma Valley, I’d probably get under 5k. For reference, I get about 2500 miles out of a Pilot Power 3 rear tire on my monster.

        • DickRuble

          Yeah, Pilot Road (PR3 on the front, and PR1 on the back I think), that’s what I have on the bike now. Fine for commuting and very good in the rain but .. I miss the stickiness of the Metzeler..

          • Born to Ride

            Honestly, to my throttle hand, the PP3 tires spin up about the same as the PR4 tires. It is entirely possible that is due to the Multi being more rear end biased and my body positioning while cornering being completely different on those two bikes, but I don’t want for traction more on the PR4s than I do on anything else. Then again, I have never shod one of my bikes in real track focused rubber so I don’t really know.

          • JMDGT

            I miss sticky too.

      • Born to Ride

        This is what my rear looked like after my last 400 mile day, which included freeway slogging, canyon strafing, 2 lane highway cruising, and plenty of second gear power wheelies(where no one is around). Needless to say, it lives a rough life. Only a 25% reduction in life compared to what they got on my silky smooth triumph is probably a miracle. They actually hold up really well with minimal balling on the shoulders. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fea294ffc456a92765586e76156cd02397f107dd9a5c8f02244391472a448f00.jpg

      • Ahh, any chance I get to share my PR3 testimonial…

        Yes I’m not MM93, but still had fun on my 600RR with these that were mounted at 10,539mi on 2/13/14 and I was at 25,514 when I traded her in on 6/25/16 with plenty of tread left. Pics below are from the 1 track day I did on 5/15/16. Yes that’s almost 15k mi on a rear tire that saw a few runs in the Northern AZ twisties and a track day from a 250lb+ rider:

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d21c4745037dffd0fafaeadd12ee9452fa064bbf26adb9af2513d27c26ee4d49.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0f61a679935b154b747c52f1eb3a0c8eaa7285ff2d276375b9fd618cfeaaf0db.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a2c6fd72c705e0e0a0778799f1cd8bf5c417c57395afa9e2d1b0ccb50fc571be.jpg

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2740171f7e315d2ca97811554e53aa32eab01fcc8bbb9b35297cf76053ab6e19.jpg

        • On the flip side the Pirelli Scorpion Trail on the front of my MTS1200 is almost done at only 7k.

          The original rear got a nail so I couldn’t track it, but replacement is at a lil over 3k with some life left.

      • Wes Janzen

        My rear PR4 manages only about 4500 miles max, except this last time… This last one is going to make it close to 6500 I think, but that’s due to a 4500 mile trip. There’s not a ton of wear on the tire when I’m not accelerating or braking, but still, nowhere near what others are seeing. I only ran one PR4 front and took it off early as it’s just way too squishy to get any feel out of it. I run a Pure up front, or maybe it’s the 2CT this time around, not sure.

        I may give Dunlop another try, even though I wasted good money on the worthless Roadsmarts – which were very much not a good tire in cool wet conditions. A friend of mine tried them in another part of the country and had the same take, so it’s not like it was just the pavement in my region or something. I took those off long before they were worn out. At least when I complained, Dunlop sent me another set to try for free, and paid to have the old ones shipped back and tested by their engineers. That’s beyond what I expect from a customer service department, and that goes a long way toward my thoughts to give them another go.

        Regardless, I’m impressed by today’s sports touring rubber, which performs well (once warmed up) from about 25°F to 100°F. Sure, below about 20°F, there’s not much in the way of feel and above 95°F, the PR4s get greasy – but still, that’s an impressive temp span there.

        • Born to Ride

          Do you wear out the shoulders or the centers in 4-6k miles. If I had more time to go hill climbing I could totally see wiping out the edges that fast. After all, the compound on the side is intended to stick, not go high mileage. I have to say, the loss in mileage from my sprint st to my multistrada was surprising and disappointing. But some bikes and riders are inherently abusive to tires.

          • Wes Janzen

            Yeah, I think I’m one of those abusive riders, though my riding buddies get about the same mileage. There weren’t a ton of twisties on my route, at least nothing I could take at good speeds due either to fuel limitations or visibility. So center wear is the problem. I could probably get 6700 or so out of this PR4, however it’s squared off and not all that nice now, especially in the wet. I’m about to head to the local shop and mount a set of these RS3s. I’m hoping they’ll live up to their review reputation, more on grip than mileage. I’ll be happy if they equal the 4-4.5k I’ve been getting from the roads.

          • Born to Ride

            Do you drag race or something? I commute at high speed (85 mph avg), and generally beat the shit out of my rear and I got 7500 out of the center. What tire pressures do you run? Those mileage numbers seem way too low to me.

          • Wes Janzen

            A bit higher than stock pressures, and lower than what the manual calls for on a fully loaded bike unless I’m touring with a full load. And like I said, mileage is similar to what my friends get. I ride an ST3, it’s not like it’s a super powerful bike, but I bought it to have fun and I do. I like direction changes, I like accelerating hard and I like braking hard. It wears out tires. I’m fine with that.

          • Born to Ride

            I steer with the rear whenever possible haha

  • JMDGT

    I love tire reviews. The smell like victory.

    • JMDGT

      I seem to average somewhere around 6k miles regardless of what tires I use. I have used mostly Road Pilots with a few sets of Dunlops thrown in since about 2004. Currently using RP4s. They seem to be sticky enough for me. Nothing like a good sticky sports tire but I don’t ride like I used to. These new Dunlops get me excited. So much so I almost forgot where I was.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    “While other brand’s so-called high-mileage tires “fall off” and lose significant performance long before they wear out?”

    This is very true with the PR4’s. My 690 duke lasted about 12K miles. But performance dropped at around 8K. They got really swrilly or squigelly if you pushed them hard. But these tires were great in a straight line with giant puddles in the rain. Hydroplaning was a non issue with these tires. If only they made a version of these for Cruisers or Harleys, this would sell like hotcakes.

  • John B.

    I have had a good experience on Pirelli Angel GTs on my sport tourer, but have no objection to trying the Dunlops referenced here. If they last longer, and perform better in dry and wet conditions, why not give them a try?

  • Stuki Moi

    Did you get a chance to test them on lane markings? That was a big focus of Michelin with the PR4, since the PR3 was already quite good on pavement wet and dry.

    For SoCal use, I prefer the T30 Evo to the PR4, as they don’t seem to overheat and get “greasy” as easily, hence “feel” more like a sport tire when it’s hot and dry. And the rest have, at least for my timid-in-the-rain riding style, caught up with Michelin for wet grip on pavement. Perhaps not on wet lane markings, which I can understand being a big deal in many wetter cities.

  • fastrob691

    For reference I get 8700 miles out of the rear PR4 on my MTS 1200, much of that 2 up, curves, and 90mph(indicated freeway) and 11-12k out of the fronts. I regularly drop guys on 1000cc sport bikes in the Hill Country, I’m not slow by any means.
    Can I go much faster on my r1, sure, but not safer on the street.
    I’m curious as to how these hold up, I ran a set of Q3’s on the MTS 1200 for a couple track days and some street and got 1800 miles out of the rear, I’m waiting on the front to burn up with the new Q3 rear on there now, then i’ll go back to an ST tire.

  • TonyG

    Just one opinion: I bought these Dunlops to replace the Bridgestone S20s that came standard on my Z1000SX. The S20’s had about 4900k/3000miles on them when replaced. The front was very worn, the back less so (yeah, I know…). My experience was that the S20s were tram tracking significantly and the traction control was working overtime, and I was not comfortable with them. I have done about 600 miles on the Dunlops and I have experienced superior stability, very much lighter steering effort (hello footpegs…) and superior grip. While these things are always case of YMMV, I am one very happy customer. For the record this is not a paid opinion and I have no relationship whatever with any dealer or tyre company.

  • DeadArmadillo

    Great. Now if motorcycle manufacturers will just give us accessible valve stems, decently sized gas tanks, engines that burn regular and don’t need valve adjustments, all would be well in the world. Oh, and keep making Ducati’s and KTM’s so motojournalists will always have something to gush about.