Our track day at Buttonwillow coincided with Dunlop's release of its new DOT-race tire, the Sportmax D211GP, and we were able to snag a set of the new tires for each bike. Like the Sportmax D209GP it replaces, the 211 utilizes the company's N-Tec construction, and the front and rear tires incorporate continuously wound aramid-fiber tread belts around their circumferences as well as N-Tec steel beads. New are dual compounds, the front tire with three zones of rubber and the rear with seven. Both tires have a harder underlying base rubber compound that spans the entire tread width and extends to the tire's surface in the center of the tread's profile. On the front tire's sides a softer compound is laid over the top of the base compound, resulting in the three zones-the company's first multicompound front tire for production-based racing. The rear tire has additional small, triangular sections of the base compound extending through to the surface in the center of each of the two side sections, adding support to the softer rubber and splitting the tread into seven sections. The new Sportmax also features a next-generation tread pattern that continues the company's evolution of the cosecant-curve pattern.
This diagram shows the construction...
This diagram shows the construction of the rear tire as well as the positioning of the two compounds into seven areas across the tread. The front tire's tread has similar layering but without the small, triangular strengthening ribs.
"Flypaper," Kunitsugu commented after burning his first hot laps on the new tires. Grip from the D211GP was superb on all our test bikes, and steering from the front tire was linear and neutral at all lean angles. One big benefit of the D211 rear tire is that it is offered in a more conventional 190/55 size as opposed to the huge-diameter 60-series rears used previously. While the Kawasaki's OEM tires are an identical size, the other three bikes have 50-series rear tires as standard. Still, we needed only minimal suspension and ride-height changes to accommodate the sticky tires. At the end of our track day the front tires looked hardly worn, while the rears were displaying some abuse from the 160-horsepower pounding they had been subjected to. Edge grip and overall traction degraded only slightly near the end of the day. The new tires are available from Dunlop's race-tire distributors, and more information can be found at www.dunlopmotorcycle.com.