Dunlop Introduces New Elite 4

John Burns
by John Burns

Dunlop's new tire teaches old, ah, motorcycles, new tricks

There are only three things you really need to know about the all-new Dunlop Elite 4, sayeth Dunlop: mileage, mileage, and more mileage. According to a test performed by an independent lab in March of 2016, with 130/70R18 and 180/60R16 Dunlop Elite 4 tires on a 2007 Honda Gold Wing, you could cross the U.S.A. six times before needing to replace your tires. Correct, up to 18,000 miles.

That’s down to Dunlop’s MT Multi-Tread rear tire technology; the rear tire uses a tough, long-wearing compound in the center, and special lateral compounds along the outside edges of the tread for cornering grip. Dunlop says it’s the only true multi-tread design the cruiser and touring tire market, and gives riders the best of both worlds: outstanding mileage and handling.

They also point out somewhat jokingly that, like Ford trucks, nine out of ten Honda Shadows are still on the road. Rather than focus on developing a tire solely for new machines, Dunlop went about it a different way than usual, using registration data to target the most popular models on the road today, and engineering a tire to work well across that very broad cross-section.

Tires can have a transformative effect on a motorcycle, says Dunlop. Older bikes rolling on older tire tech, with less braking and cornering grip and less compliance than modern tires, will be in for a treat. “The E4 gives new life to older bikes by taking all those evolutionary advancements to the next level with better mileage, more wet and dry grip, less road noise and improved ride compliance.”

The Elite 4 will be offered in a plethora of sizes to fit nearly every motorcycle still rolling, some radial but mostly bias ply – but most riders will at least double their mileage compared to whatever tire they’ve been running. Unless it’s a car one. (The Dunlop people attend a lot of bike events, and have gone from being amazed to amused at the number of riders who think car tires are a good idea. They, naturally, think it’s a terrible one.)

Old, new, retro, whatever, there should be an Elite 4 to fit. Unless you’re a Harley, then it’s Dunlop’s American Elite for you.

While Multi-Tread technology forms the central advantage of the Elite 4, other technologies round out the package. Dunlop’s continuously wound hexagonal bead construction – originally developed for Dunlop’s racing tires – stiffens the lower sidewall and is claimed to supply superior feel when cornering.

The new Elite 4 (right) totally derives its “cosecant” tread pattern from Dunlop’s performance tires ala the Q3 (left). The small “bridges” in the grooves eliminate cupping over the much longer projected life of the Elite. When the round holes are gone, it’s time to think about new tires.

The tire’s aggressive new tread pattern is an outgrowth of the cosecant-curve design Dunlop first introduced in its DOT race tires, then carried into the Sportmax family. This new pattern features significant land area and long tread grooves that put more rubber on the ground for greater dry grip and mileage. These long grooves help evacuate water, contributing to greatly enhanced wet-weather performance compared to the Elite 3, which had been around since 2005. The new tread is also designed to provide even wear from center to shoulder for consistent handling as the miles add up. Also, Dunlop says, both front and rear patterns were designed to limit road noise for a quieter ride.

The new pattern also includes innovative tread depth indicators incorporated into the tread pattern design that disappear when the tread depth reaches 1/32-inch of remaining tread – the legal limit – providing a clear visual indication when it’s time for a new tire.

In the “I learned something new today department,” rear tires don’t have a central groove because the front tire has already cleared the water. Which is I think the same reason you almost always get nails in the rear and not the front. Also, rain grooves don’t “channel water away” like the ads always say; they just give it a place to go.

The design team, Dunlop says, targeted high mileage and balance, easy handling, excellent straight-line, braking and cornering stability in dry and wet conditions. The Elite 4, it concludes, “sets a new standard for mileage and versatility in the Dunlop product line.”

The only radial sizes available at this time just happen to be the ones that fit the Honda Gold Wing. They’re longer-lasting, evener-wearing and much quieter than the Elite 3, says Dunlop.

Furthermore, the tire was designed and engineered at Dunlop’s Buffalo, New York, headquarters, tested on the road and at the Dunlop Proving Grounds in Huntsville, Alabama – and 75% of the tires will be manufactured in Dunlop’s Buffalo plant. They’ll be available May 1.

Elite 4 Bias Front

SizeSpeed Index

Elite 4 Bias Rear

SizeSpeed Index

Elite 4 Radial Front

SizeSpeed Index

Elite 4 Radial Rear

SizeSpeed Index


John Burns
John Burns

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  • 48n123w 48n123w on May 27, 2016

    If anyone at Dunlop is listening, an 18" Elite 4 rear would be nice. As it is I have to go elsewhere for both rather than slip around in the rain on the greasy predecessors.

  • Glenn Hughes Glenn Hughes on Aug 03, 2016

    Just got mine on my 2015 Indian Roadmaster. They Rock and my Ride loves them as I do.
    Yes Front and Back tire available.