If you’re making a tire in the sport-touring category, you probably have one of the most difficult jobs in the entire tire business. Where racers want the grippiest tire they can find, longevity be damned, and the touring set seek high-mileage with modest grip, the sport-touring crowd wants the best of both worlds. Oh, and it better have good wet weather performance, too. No easy feat.

With the Dunlop Roadsmart III, Dunlop thinks it has created the holy grail of sport-touring tires.  Not only is Dunlop touting the longevity of the tire, but it’s also bragging about the grip and consistency of the Roadsmart III’s performance throughout the life of the tire – an important aspect sometimes overlooked. Our own John Burns got to try a set of the tires when they were introduced in 2017 and came back pleasantly satisfied with the results – even if he only got to ride on the tires for two days. (Click on the link for background and Dunlop’s story about the tires)

Tire companies are always claiming their latest products are the best yet. Usually it’s BS, but after logging some miles on the Dunlop Roadsmart III, I tend to believe it this time.

All the hype was enough to convince me to get a set to replace the worn out rubber hoops on my Kawasaki Versys commuter bike – which I then proceeded to ride for roughly 7,000 miles. The results? Well, not so fast. I will say it’s a truly impressive tire, but first let’s break down the RS3 to better understand Dunlop’s approach.

Construction

Tighter windings in the mono spiral belt help with the tire’s compliance, while dual compounds in the rear (hard center, soft shoulders) give it both longevity in the middle and grip in the corners.

Most manufacturers employ a ton of acronyms for their tires to show off their latest technology. The Roadsmart IIIs follow in that trend. We start with HES-JLB, or High Elongation Steel Joint-Less Belt. Basically the steel belts that make up the circumference of a tire, the degree to which they are wound, and the amount a manufacturer uses, goes a long way in defining the carcass of a tire. Compared to the Roadsmart II, the IIIs are wound tighter and there are more of them, closer together. Combined with the tweaked sidewall design, the tire is now more compliant over bumps.

The cross-groove design of the tread pattern, Dunlop says, drains more water than before for better grip in wet conditions. In the rear, a new tire profile puts a bigger contact patch on the ground while also adding to the increased mileage Dunlop claims. Using multiple compounds on a tire is one clever way manufacturers are able to achieve the mileage and grip goals they seek, and it’s a trend the Roadsmart IIIs continue with the MT – Multi-Tread – design; a harder center compound and softer compounds on either side.

High-Mileage Testing

After all these miles the front tire looks hardly used at all.

It’s not often we get to test a tire’s performance over its lifespan. So, when these opportunities come around, we make the most of them. In short, I’m nothing less than amazed at the Roadsmart III’s performance. Somewhat surprisingly, however, even after 7,000 miles I didn’t get to try the tires in the rain. Nonetheless, I’m hugely impressed with its performance over time. Burnsie already commented about the tire’s performance when new – planted, stable, and plenty grippy – and I don’t disagree.

On chilly morning commutes (back when I still had one), the tires seemed to get to temperature quickly with hardly any vagueness sometimes apparent in a cold tire. This characteristic is indicative of a tire with high silica content, as it’s the age-old trick to getting a tire to come to temp and provide grip fast. When enduring the boring slog down the freeway, the Roadsmarts tracked right over expansion joints without any nervousness, easily staying true whenever I had to stomp the brakes hard to avoid a distracted driver. Spirited canyon rides on my wee Versys couldn’t get the Roadsmarts to misbehave, with neutral handling from side to side and compliant bump absorption too.

The rear after 7000-plus miles. You can see the tread hasn’t come close to the wear bar (the little ridge in the middle of the top tread sipe in this image). Pretty impressive.

The part I’m most amazed about is the consistency of the Roadsmart IIIs over time. The tires have seen about 7,000 miles, and through it all, the performance has barely dropped off. Because straight-line riding is where this thing spends most of its time, the tire has squared off slightly, but not anything like other tires I’ve used in the past. Edge grip has also remained consistent, though I’ve never taken it to the extreme edges because, well, this isn’t a track tire.

In case you didn’t get it by now, the Dunlop Roadsmart III is very high on my list when it comes to sport-touring tires. I’m simply blown away by its performance both when new, but especially over time. Somehow Dunlop has found a way to answer the two biggest demands sport-touring riders crave: more mileage and more grip. I don’t know how they did it, but I do know this is going to be a hard one to top.

The Dunlop Roadsmart IIIs are available in most popular sport, sporty-bike, and even ADV sizes, meaning 17-, 18-, and even 19-inch hoops. At the time of this writing, online retailers are offering nearly 30% discounts, meaning even the biggest sizes are coming in at under $400 for a complete set.

Shop for the Dunlop Roadsmart III tires here


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