Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart II Test
Kawasaki’s 2014 Ninja 1000’s reworked suspension and other subtle tweaks have turned the slightly vague, understeering machine into a much sharper motorcycle. As an ostensibly sport-touring machine, the stock Bridgestone Battlax tires work well enough.
However, the snag is that the big Ninja now handles so well that it encourages riding that can reveal a lack of grip, especially at the front. Pushing deep into one corner, I quite scared myself.
Dunlop’s Sportmax Roadsmart IIs fall neatly into the gap between the traction needed for sport riding, and the mileage needed to go the distance. The Roadsmart IIs are not quite the Q3s — but they’re not that far off either — and I was intrigued enough to find out if they would help the new Ninja 1000 and the aggressive riding I felt I could put through the chassis.
The Roadsmart II uses high-grip silica rubber like the Q3s, but the construction is slightly different and lacks the carbon-fiber component. I typically run 32 psi (front and rear) on street tires, and used the same on the Roadsmart IIs.
A cosecant-curve tread pattern on the Roadsmart IIs is efficient at clearing water and minimizes tire squirm on the brakes. The front bit down powerfully and felt stable when braking hard from high speed, contributing to my confidence when setting up for a corner.
Because the Ninja 1000 encourages faster entrance speeds, I need a more aggressive turn-in to avoid running out of road on the exit. Dunlop’s Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) is noticeably triangular on the front, so the fast, positive turning and bigger footprint allowed me to really exploit the Ninja 1000’s handling.
The stellar grip was exactly what I was looking for, and it gave me the front-end feel I needed. Despite pushing harder than I had on the stock Bridgestone tires, I never once had a greasy moment or got out of shape.
The rear tire uses Dunlop’s Multi Tread (dual compound) with a harder center section for mileage longevity. It handles the Kawasaki’s impressive mid-range shove well without any spinning or slip; the drive out of corners was strong and the Ninja’s traction control only intervened twice.
The Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart IIs suit the Ninja 1000 perfectly. The tires warm up quickly and grip is improved to the point I had the confidence to really exploit the Kawasaki’s now-sharper handling, excellent stability on the brakes, and monster mid-range coming off corners.
For additional information, visit dunlopmotorcycle.com.
Story is from the March/April issue of Ultimate MotorCycling. For subscription services, click here.