Putting Dunlop’s Q5 Trackday Tire Through The Ultimate Test

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Down to the cords, and even a race weekend

When Dunlop released the Sportmax Q5, and its Q5S sister tire, I was skeptical. To get straight to the point, I wasn’t a big fan of the previous Q4 tire. Yes it warmed up quickly, but it also wore quickly and didn’t have enough edge grip to feel confident on the throttle on a powerful 1000cc-plus bike. Dunlop addressed a lot of the Q4’s shortcomings with the Q5, and after a day sampling the Q5 and Q5S, I came away impressed with the new tire. But that was just an initial impression. I was still skeptical about the tire over the long haul. How quickly does it wear? How does it behave once it’s worn? How much life can I really expect out of these tires? And are they really worth it?

Dunlop Q5 Trackday Tires

Dunlop's latest trackday tire, the Q5 delivers on its promise to provide impressive grip without the need for tire warmers – but the rear does wear a little faster than we'd like.


  • Incredibly fast warm-up times
  • The front tire is amazing
  • Great tires for the lazy track rider who can't be bothered with stands and warmers


  • The rear wears quickly, especially on a big bike
  • A set costs more than a set of slicks (but arguably lasts longer)
  • If you're looking for maximum grip to go as fast as you can, these aren't the tires for you

Shop for the Dunlop Q5 tire here

Looking around various track-related forums, social media pages, and even Reddit (yeah we see you, Redditors) I’ve noticed a lot of you have the same questions (and questions about trackday tires as a whole, but that’s another matter). As the only part of your motorcycle that’s actually supposed to touch the ground, it’s understandable that you want something safe, reliable, sticky, somewhat long lasting, and reasonably affordable.

I couldn’t get past my lingering curiosity about the Q5’s long-term performance, so instead I went down the rabbit hole of scratching the itch. This is my attempt to put the Q5 through a severe torture test to answer my questions, and hopefully yours. What started with a single trackday turned into me subjecting the same set of Q5s through not one, but four(!) trackdays, mounted to our project Yamaha MT-10 SP. Riding in every single session except two because I forgot to refuel. In between trackdays came some canyon miles on the street as well. And to see how the Q5 would fare under a lighter, less powerful bike, I installed a different set on my personal Kramer HKS-EVO2 – and entered a club race!

Not that you should enter a race with trackday tires, but you certainly could! Photo: Oxymoron Photography

But First, A Little Background

For all the nitty-gritty and technical details about the Q5 tire, go read my full review. In the bad old days, the only tires you could trust to confidently handle lapping around a racetrack all day required you to wrap them in tire warmers for at least 45 minutes before going on track, and then wrapping them again after your session to help control the heat cycling. Dedicated track tires were real finicky things that gave you outright grip in exchange for extra care and attention. This meant taking a pair of stands for either end to lift the bike in the air, sourcing electricity (either via generator or wall outlet in a garage), and of course, having a set of warmers. For the lazy among us (raises hand) dealing with all that stuff just to ride for 20 minutes at a time is too much hassle.

The major tire brands have caught on to this and have actively tried to bring an alternative with what’s called the trackday tire. The beauty of this new trend in trackday tires is being able to get confidence-inspiring grip on the racetrack without the need for tire warmers and their associated hassle. This is exactly what the Q5 (and Q5S) offer.

The Good and the Bad After Four Trackdays

First, the highlights from subjecting the same set of tires to four trackdays, riding nearly every session. As mentioned in the original review of the Q5s, these tires warm up fast, without warmers, even during those first sessions of the morning when ambient temps were in the 50s (Fahrenheit, obviously). While other riders were tip-toeing trying to get their tires nice and warm, I could push at 75% pace within half a lap, getting up to full hog a lap later. When temps warmed up throughout the day, it wasn’t a problem going as hard as I wanted by the end of the first lap. Usually sooner.

Even on cold mornings, half a lap at 75% pace will get the Q5s into their operating zone. Photo: Dunlop

Another beauty with the Q5 that isn’t mentioned as much is its sensitivity to tire pressure – or rather lack thereof. Once set to Dunlop’s recommended pressures – it’ll vary depending on the size of the bike, but generally 30-32 psi (cold) in the front, 28-32 psi in the back – you don’t need to worry about them. At least I didn’t. Proper racing slicks can be sensitive to how much air is in them and give back all kinds of weird sensations if there’s too much or too little. As long as the Q5 is in the zone, it’s a “set it and forget it” ordeal. Enough to make Ron Popeil proud.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. The Q5 front tire is an amazing feat of engineering. Apart from getting up to temperature very fast, it instills so much confidence and feels planted and stable immediately. No matter how hard I tried, or how brave I felt trailbraking into a corner, I couldn’t get the front to protest at all. Not even at the end of the fourth day. Tire wear looked great and even, and there was still enough life to keep going multiple more days as I hadn’t reached the wear indicator bars yet.

After one trackday at Buttonwillow the rear tire wear pattern looks pretty good, but we're already getting close to the side wear bars.

Like the front, the rear has many of the same qualities. It warms up fast and provides much better edge grip on a 1000cc bike compared to the Q4 before it. But there’s a caveat: after the first trackday there appeared to be significant wear on the left side of the tire due to the track orientation having mainly left turns with hard acceleration zones. This meant the wear bars were approaching fast. However, Dunlop says there’s still meat on the tire once you hit the wear marker (approximately 4mm, according to Dunlop’s Senior Tire Engineer John Robinson), so I was determined to look past the wear bars and roast the tire until I could see cords showing.

By comparison, the Q5 front almost looks brand new still. The huge chicken strip tells me I could have been trailbraking and leaning much more aggressively.

By the end of the first trackday, held at the now (sorta) defunct Auto Club Speedway, the performance degradation of the rear tire was seen by a top speed differential. Driving out of the last corner onto the NASCAR oval meant getting to full throttle as quickly as possible. As the day went on, the Yamaha’s traction control light started illuminating more and more as it worked overtime to keep the wearing Q5 driving forward instead of spinning uncontrollably. The result was a top speed difference of 4-5mph at the end of the track’s longest straight between the new tire and worn one.

Thanks to the Yamaha’s excellent traction control, I felt just as confident applying the gas like I normally would even when the tire was getting closer to the end of its usable life. Had I been riding an analog motorcycle with that much power, I would have exercised considerably more caution and trepidation from my right wrist.

This is the tradeoff with the Q5. At least in the rear. The extremely soft compound and flexible carcass (which is a big departure from previous Dunlop tires) warm up fast but also wear out quickly. Nonetheless, cords were far from being exposed at this point, so the torture test had to resume elsewhere.

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway does weird things to tires. Changing tire pressures to try and clean up this graining negatively altered the MT-10's handling. So, I learned to accept the wear pattern.

At Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, the new challenge was a track surface notorious for chewing up tires. As it turned out, the Q5 wasn’t immune. All the traits from before about the tire’s performance apply here, but after each session the rear had bizarre wear, resembling a cold tear situation. Efforts to change suspension settings or play with tire pressures either didn’t help or resulted in awkward handling from the bike that didn’t justify the change. In the end, we just accepted the unusual wear pattern that couldn’t be tuned out.

Two more trackdays later and the rear Q5 finally started to wear to the point where I could start to see a cord showing. Mission accomplished. To the Q5’s credit, despite the sides of the tire wearing out fast and testing the sophistication of the MT-10’s traction control, it never felt unstable leaning on its side. Turning effort didn’t feel much different, either – which means it transitioned from side to side nearly as effortlessly as a new tire. And as mentioned before, the front still had a few more trackdays left in it.

This is another beauty of trackday tires, especially the Q5 – it’s seemingly impervious to heat cycles. If you can manage to get four days out of a racing tire, it’ll feel terrible by the fourth day. The constant heating and cooling will suck out the tire’s oils and make it feel stiff with little grip.

We've gone well beyond the wear bars on the left side of the tire by this point. Now the Yamaha's traction and slide control systems were being put to the test.

Street Impressions

Granted, the street miles I put on the Q5s were limited, but there wasn’t any reason to believe they’d perform any different. If half a lap was enough to get them warm enough to lap around a racetrack in anger, then the freeway hop to the good canyon roads was more than enough to get them up to temp.

And remember the point about tire pressure? I didn’t adjust a single PSI between the track and the street. Some track tires that are road legal require vastly different pressures between the different environments, with track pressures being considerably lower (to allow more flex, which generates more heat, which gets the tires sticky, and also raises the tire pressure). The lower stress of a street ride requires these tires to have more air to maintain proper shape and performance.

Thankfully with the Q5, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. The cold pressures for the track worked just as well on the street. Cruising along, the ride doesn’t feel harsh or strange, and I could simply forget about them.

Post Mortem

When it was finally time to replace the tires, the post mortem was revealing. Both tires came off easily, but the rear practically melted right off. I could almost break the tire off the bead of the wheel with the palm of my hand, and once the tire was off the wheel I could see why. The left side of the tire had worn down so much, simply pressing down with my finger would cause the tire to fold in on itself. New tires don’t do that.

What About Smaller Bikes?

So far, I’ve been mostly impressed with the Q5 as a trackday tire. They warm up fast, don’t require warmers, and provide plenty of grip. However, getting a tire warmed up on a 1000cc motorcycle is relatively easy. I wanted to know how the Q5 would behave under something much lighter and less powerful. Would it still be the same?

The test subject? My personal Kramer HKR-EVO2. With only 80-odd horses coming from its KTM LC4 Single, and only 270-ish pounds to haul around, it’s a vastly different animal than the MT-10SP I’d been testing the Q5 with prior.

Originally, the plan was to take it to a trackday and replicate the testing done with the MT-10. But life has a funny way of getting in the way, and I never did make it out. Instead, my next opportunity would be an AFM club race at Buttonwillow Raceway. Talk about going into the deep end! Luckily, I’ve done more laps than I can count around Buttonwillow.

The little Kramer, ready to go. Note the front stand and generator off to the side. Both items saw zero use over the race weekend.

At this point it’s worth bringing back a quote from my original review of the Q5:

“Modern trackday tires provide plenty of grip and more longevity than your average race slick. (But let’s make one thing clear: if you’re actually racing, a slick is still the way to go.)”

Not one to follow my own advice, I actually went racing. But no, the slicks didn’t go on. Instead, I was going to see how the Q5 stacked up on the pressure cooker that is racing. Albeit at the club level.

Due to availability issues, I had to use a 180/60 tire instead of my usual 180/55. Chain clearance with the tire is extremely tight, and in this case the chain took it upon itself to clear away the extra rubber on the Q5 so it could operate.

First the good: From the moment the bike rolled out of my van on Friday, until it went back in at the end of Sunday, I didn’t once touch my tire warmers. Hell, I didn’t even bother to put the bike up on the front stand. Just like they had on the MT-10, the Q5s on my Kramer were ready to rock after the first lap of each practice session. And as the days reached their hottest, just a few corners was all it took before I could really push. Minimal changes to the bike were needed, too, in comparison to the usual tires I run on the bike. Two turns less compression damping and actually running the front tire with slightly lower pressures (30 psi hot instead of cold) because the bike is so light, gave the carcass more compliance.

A better view of the clearance between the chain and tire.

Normally, my Kramer uses a 180/55 rear tire due to tight clearances with the chain. I was instead sent a 180/60, and after installation the chain would rub against the tire. However, it didn’t take too many laps for the chain to take it upon itself to slice off the left side of the tire and give itself room to move freely. As it turned out, I really didn’t need that extra contact patch anyway, as the chicken strip on the right side of the tire was sizeable (even though I felt like I was leaning the bike over pretty far…). Similar chicken strips on both sides of the front tire told me that I could lean the bike over much more than I was. Not that I wanted to.

Photo: Oxymoron Photography

Come race time I had zero concern about the tires getting up to temperature. The warm-up lap before taking my grid position fulfilled its purpose. I was more surprised to find that, after a day and a half of practice, the tires weren’t moving around under race pace, so I pushed a little harder to dice with my fellow competitors. There’s no traction control on my Kramer, but there wasn’t any reason to worry. The rear never stepped out or gave me cause for concern. In fact, I even managed to bag a podium spot in one race, taking second place somehow. I got fourth in my next race, too.

So all good, right? Well, not really. While I felt fairly comfortable out there, I found myself pushing harder than I used to just to stay with people I had no problems racing with before. In some cases, I couldn’t keep up at all. The stopwatch doesn’t lie, and it was showing my competitors weren’t going remarkably faster – I was going considerably slower. To the tune of five seconds a lap.

Let me write that again: I was consistently five seconds slower than my previous times on slick tires. Even if I had only four seconds back, that would have been enough to win both of my races. My guess is, while the Q5s felt stable on the edge, they still don’t provide the same level of edge grip as a slick, and especially on a little bike like the Kramer that depends on corner speed and momentum, edge grip is everything.

The front, as you can probably imagine based on my adoration for it, worked brilliantly all weekend.

The Verdict

So here lies the conundrum. For the track enthusiast, or even club racer, who values convenience over outright speed, the Q5 brings a lot to the table – depending on how powerful your motorcycle is, your comfort level on worn tires, and the sophistication of your bike’s electronics package. I can’t stress enough how nice it was to never touch my tire warmers or front stand all weekend. I didn’t need to change to new tires before my races either, as I ran the same times in both.

The catch, of course, is the massive difference in lap times between a trackday tire and a proper race tire. Losing is never fun, but having my tire choice cost that much time is also a hard pill to swallow. Personally, if I’m racing, and the wallet can handle it, I’m sticking with slicks.

For trackday use, the Q5 is worthy of consideration. Photo: CaliPhotography

And speaking of price, here’s an interesting breakdown between the cost of a set of Q5 tires and similarly sized Dunlop slicks:

Dunlop Q5

Slicks - 0129 (front), 0197 (rear)

Front 120/70 - $207.81

Front 120/70 - $155

Rear 180/60 - $253.96

Rear 180/60 - $240

Total: $461.77

Total: $395

Difference: +$66.77 for the Q5 tires

It’s a little shocking to see a set of slicks cost less than a trackday tire, isn’t it? However, you won't get the same performance, consistently, from a set of soft slicks after four full days of riding as you will with the Q5. And forget about riding on the street with slicks.

If racing, not trackdays, is what you're doing. Stick to slicks.

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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Join the conversation
  • Aron A. Aron A. on May 08, 2023

    Appreciate the thorough followup review of these loops and agree that the front Q5 is an amazing tire compared to the Q4.

  • Stephen Buskirk Stephen Buskirk on Nov 13, 2023

    Thank you for the picture and comment regarding the wear pattern similar to "cold tear" encountered at Chuckwalla. I've been seeing the same wear pattern on the Q5S rear on my GSX-R750 at Chuckwalla.