Dunlop Roadsmart III Motorcycle Tire Review

A sport-touring tire boasting impressive longevity claims.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tires
Dunlop has developed tires for this sport-touring category in the past that follow the changing trends and characteristics of bikes, and their new Sportmax Roadsmart III tire does just that—with the added bonus of providing what Dunlop says is class-leading mileage and consistent handling over the life of the tire.Photo: Dunlop

Designing tires for the sport-touring category is an inherently difficult task. On one hand, consumers want a sturdy tire that endure miles and miles of straight-line touring, but on the flipside, they want tires that are just as at-home on the fun, twisty back roads. This presents something of a challenge for the designers, and the resulting designs tend to lean heavily towards one side, as opposed to a true 50/50 compromise.

Dunlop has developed tires for this sport-touring category in the past that follow the changing trends and characteristics of bikes, and their new Sportmax Roadsmart III tire does just that—with the added bonus of providing what Dunlop says is class-leading mileage and consistent handling over the life of the tire.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tire
The two main focuses of the Roadsmart III are mileage and performance over time.Photo: Dunlop

THE TECH

The two main focuses of the Roadsmart III are mileage and performance over time, all while ensuring that the tire itself outlasts the other top contenders (such as the Pilot Road 4 from Michelin). Continuing the lineage of the previous Roadsmart II design, Dunlop say the Roadsmart 3 sees improvements in longevity, handling, and both wet and dry grip.

The wound bead encased in the sidewall of the Roadsmart III provides better damping characteristics than previous versions, as measured during the R&D phase utilizing 3D modeling and simulations. Once the initial design was established and moved on toward the development stage, the profile of the tire was readdressed, focusing on improved mileage. Dunlop’s jointless band—a steel wire that runs longitudinally around the carcass—was updated with heavier, tighter windings that add strength (gaining mileage) as well as flexibility, allowing the tire to warm up quicker, providing grip consistency sooner. This adjustment is said to increase stability over the previous Roadsmart II.

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New sportbike tire impresses at Losail circuit.
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The Roadsmart III continues to utilize Dunlop’s multi-tread technology design, with a firm compound in the center and a softer compound on the shoulders, however this version sees tan updated compound that’s said to be more durable. The tread pattern has also been altered significantly over the Roadsmart II, and this new “cross-groove” configuration sees overlapping grooves along the center tread of the tire. Dunlop found that this provides better wet-weather stability in testing, as it forces the water out and away from the contact patch.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tire
The Roadsmart III continues to utilize Dunlop’s multi-tread technology design, with a firm compound in the center and a softer compound on the shoulders, however this version sees tan updated compound that’s said to be more durable.Photo: Dunlop

Speaking of testing, and considering how the Roadsmart III’s apparent claim to fame lies with the consistent handling over time, Dunlop relied on data acquisition from extensive tests using a control rider and Roadsmart III tires at various levels of use. Telemetry systems on their BMW R1200RT relayed the vitals over to the developers, and they were able to track a visualized margin of variance among tires that were either brand new, 3,000, or 5,000 miles along in their lifespan. Grip, lean angle, corner entry speed, slippage and corner exit speed were among the key aspects focused on by the team of developers, and a high rate of consistency was observed.

Dunlop also provided the Roadsmart III tires to an independent testing agency in Texas, and the resulting information after testing with a BMW R1200RT projected a hypothetical 12,500 mile lifespan on the rear tire, while the front showed a projected lifespan of 20,000 miles. This was gathered by analyzing the tires after 5,000 miles of use, using formulas to gauge the probable life expectancy. Which is to say that the tires haven’t been tested to that mileage, only projected to last that long. There’s a difference there, and 20,000 miles is a lot, even for a front tire.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tire
The tread pattern has also been altered significantly over the Roadsmart II, and this new “cross-groove” configuration sees overlapping grooves along the center tread of the tire.Photo: Dunlop

THE RIDE

My initial commute from Huntington Beach to the press launch in Thousand Oaks, California, was atop none other than Honda’s NC700X, fitted with a similar set of sport-touring tires from an alternative manufacturer. Coincidentally enough, among the fleet of heavy BMW R1200RT steeds that Dunlop had provided was one lone NC700X, so I decided that choosing this bike would allow for one more level of comparison in terms of a comprehensive test.

The first thing I noticed was the eagerness of the new Roadsmart III tires to fall into corners naturally as opposed to fighting my steering inputs. Seeing as how California had recent rain, the roads were still somewhat slick, and I was happy to find that the edge grip on the new tires was solid and consistent, and didn’t flex noticeably under harder direction changes. Braking feel was consistent between the two NC700s, however I noticed that the Roadsmart III tires tended to hold traction better under harder braking. Once the tires had warmed properly and we had scrubbed them in, they held the road well and transmitted the feel of the road commendably without any excess noise or abnormal vibrations.

Twisting through the canyons of Malibu during the latter half of the day proved to be far more exciting than I had initially suspected, and aside from the road closures and dirty conditions of certain corners, the Roadsmart III tires held on well, no matter how far I edged the spindly Honda over on its side. While I can’t accurately access the wet-weather handling of the tires, I can tell you that the tires didn’t wander while riding through the residual puddles left from the recent stormy weather.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tires
The Roadsmart III Tires were designed to work on everything from middle-weight sport bikes to larger, powerful performance-touring machines. The Roadsmart III tires were tested by the Texas Test Fleet, and were projected to have more life than the other leading competitors.Photo: Dunlop

While I can speculate about the projected lifespan of the Roadsmart III until I’m blue in the face, I landed on a rather interesting quandary: With as much importance as Dunlop placed on these tires responding consistently over their projected lifespan, why did they not have sample tires with 5,000 miles on the available to try, so as to display the similarities in handling and feel? When the tires are marketed towards the sport-touring crowd (“performance” touring as Dunlop called it), I might have imagined that this would have been more of a key focus.

Dunlop remains a strong force in the sport-touring category, and the new Roadsmart III tires definitely handle a variance of terrain accordingly. Edge grip feel is good, and I was fairly surprised at just how consistently the tire performed on the twisty roads . If the longevity really is on par with what was discussed, I’d say Dunlop have really hit a homerun in terms of their given “performance touring” category, effectively mixing a tire with good all-around grip across myriad conditions with something that can handle the occasional spirited jaunt through the canyons.

Dunlop Roadsmart III Tires
The Dunlop Roadsmart III Tires held on well, no matter how far I edged the spindly Honda over on its side. While I can’t accurately access the wet-weather handling of the tires, I can tell you that the tires didn’t wander while riding through the residual puddles left from the recent stormy weather.Photo: Dunlop

Sizes

Front Rear
120/60ZR17 160/60ZR17
120/70ZR17 160/70ZR17
110/80R18 170/60ZR17
120/70ZR18 180/55ZR17
190/50ZR17
190/55ZR17

Price Range
MSRP: $120-$185