MC Tested: Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tires

By Ari Henning, Photography by Brian J. Nelson

Dunlop's assiduous pursuit of performance has left the manufacturer lousy with roadracing championships, and its previous street/track-day tire, the Qualifier, was good enough to be chosen as Motorcyclist's Best New Product of 2006. Dunlop's new Sportmax Q2 will supplant the Qualifiers, and promises to deliver even better grip and handling.

The Q2's Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) is designed to provide quick steering characteristics and a larger footprint at steep lean angles. This was achieved by raising the tire's crown and steepening the shoulders, creating a taller, more pointed profile. Working with a new carcass design, the IRP creates a larger contact patch with a more even pressure distribution, resulting in higher grip and better feel at full lean.

The front tire's architecture is very similar to the Qualifier's, with two nylon carcass plies and two aramid belts, but it's slightly stiffer overall. The rear Q2 features a new aramid belt constructed using Dunlop's continuously wound Jointless Band (JLB) technology. Winding the belt onto the carcass with varying tension, Dunlop has engineered the tire to be stiffer at the crown for enhanced stability and more compliant at the shoulders for better cornering feel. The tires also benefit from Dunlop's new continuous hexagonal beads, which are both lighter and stronger than those used on the Qualifier.

Dunlop's Multi-Tread (MT) technology is a familiar feature, and incorporates different compounds to balance straight-line wear and cornering grip. The Q2's lateral compounds descend from the GP-A roadrace tires and utilize ultra-fine carbon black (UFCB) polymers.

Our affinity for the Qualifiers had us eager to try the Q2s, and we were not disappointed when we tested them at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, Nevada. That challenging, technical track features numerous hairpins, sweepers and tight chicanes, so the bike is constantly turning or transitioning, making it a great place to test a tire's handling and traction.

Waiting for the tires to warm up was not an issue, in part due to the high-desert heat, but also due to the tires' advanced rubber compounds. The Q2s' light handling and excellent grip were immediately evident, and encouraged us to turn up the speed.

The IRP is an improvement over the Qualifier's design, with noticeably quicker turn-in and a more planted feel when cranked over. The front tire displayed nimble steering and little opposition to trail braking, thanks to the stiffer carcass. The new profile strikes an excellent balance between the razor-sharp responsiveness of more triangulated (and twitchy) race rubber and the stability of lower-rung street tires.

Despite the soaring temperatures and extreme speeds, the rear Q2 remained firmly anchored to the pavement, and could only be persuaded to loosen its grip when confronted with the ferocious power of a literbike. Even then, the ensuing drive spin was minor. Considering their intended application as street tires, we were genuinely impressed with the Q2s' performance, which places them on par with many treaded race buns.

Dunlop Sportmax Q2 Tires
Price: $190.67-$333.12
Contact: Dunlop
www.dunlopmotorcycle.com

Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
Phenomenal street tires that are equally at home on the racetrack.

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