Sport-touring tires are among the most difficult tires for a manufacturer like Dunlop to construct, the reason being that the tire must excel in a number of categories. A sport-touring tire must provide good grip in the dry, for instance, plus equal grip in the wet and great mileage to boot. The Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart has done an impressive job of performing this balancing act, but roughly four years after its introduction, Dunlop engineers feel they’ve come up with an even better design. Enter the Roadsmart II.
The Roadsmart II looks strikingly similar to the original Roadsmart. A closer look at the tire reveals a new tread pattern, however, as well as a new profile. Up front, the primary difference is the more and deeper tread grooves designed to improve water channeling characteristics. Out back there are actually fewer grooves. Dunlop’s new Intuitive Response Profile, which was developed on the D211 GP-A and Q2 tires, has been utilized. The profile features a steeper tread drop and provides a larger contact patch at increased lean angles.
The Roadsmart and Roadsmart II are similar in that they both feature a Flex Steel-Jointless Belt (FS-JLB) construction, which uses a steel belt to minimize carcass distortion under heavy loads. The rear tire also features a similar Multi-Tread compound, with a long-wearing compound in the center section and a softer compound on the edges. In contrast to the Roadsmart however, the Roadsmart II uses more high-traction resins and silica. The front tire remains a single compound in contrast.
Like its predecessor, the Roadsmart II uses a Multi-Tread compound. In the center is a long-wearing compound and a softer compound is used on the edges.
The Roadsmart II front tire...
The Roadsmart II front tire features more and deeper grooves for better water channeling.
Opposite the front tire, the...
Opposite the front tire, the rear tire features fewer tread grooves, especially through the center section of the tire.
Dunlop claims the Roadsmart II’s wet-weather performance has been improved drastically. Disappointed were we then when we showed up to test the new rubber in scenic Westlake Village, CA under sunny skies. But even in the dry, it is immediately apparent the new Roadsmart II tire is a step above its predecessor.
the Roadsmart II also offers great bump absorption both when leaned over and when straight up and down "
In order to demonstrate how versatile the new Roadsmart II really is, Dunlop spooned the tire onto one of the most eccentric group of motorcycles we have yet seen assembled for a press launch – everything from a Suzuki GSX-R600 to a BMW K1600 GT was made available. We mounted first a Kawasaki Concours, keeping in mind that sport-touring bikes are the best fit for the new Dunlops.
What we like most about the Roadsmart II is its ability to turn a heavy bike like the Kawasaki into a relatively quick and nimble steering machine. As tested, the Roadsmart II also offers great bump absorption both when leaned over and when straight up and down. On the significantly lighter GSX-R600, the tire's stiffer carcass doesn’t provide as comfortable a ride. Remember, this isn’t a high-performance Q2 though. That said, grip levels are more than adequate, and we were never had a concern with overall traction.
At the end of the day, we were very pleased with Dunlop’s latest sport-touring tire, confident that it will provide a high enough level of performance for sportbike riders and enough mileage to satisfy sport-touring riders. Retail on the front tires will range from $201.59 to $213.54 depending on size, while the rear tires will range from $266.62 to $292.95.
For more information on the Roadsmart II be sure to check out the April 2012 issue of Sport Rider Magazine, which goes on sale February 14.