Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ Test, Track and Street | Value Added
Dunlop’s strategy to support the motorcycle industry is paying dividends for both the consumer and the company itself. Ongoing support for the sport as the control tire for MotoAmerica and American Flat Track, plus support for Supercross, demonstrates the company’s commitment to the US market.Dunlops are the only motorcycle tires manufactured in the US, and the only tire company with a full-time test facility and test riders within our borders.
Even though the Dunlop Sportmax Q3 is the best-selling street performance tire in the US, Dunlop continues to innovate and recently launched an improved version, the Sportmax Q3+, at the recent MotoAmerica tire test at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.1. The Q3+ has been engineered to allow up to 20 percent more mileage without sacrificing performance. The comment most often heard by every tire manufacturer is “I wish it lasted longer” and, of course, performance-based tires are even more susceptible to wear. The Q3+ now has a purely silica-based compound around the center of the tire that will last much longer, so for those of you who commute during the week or have some distance to go before reaching your favorite set of twisties, you will see significantly more mileage from the new tire.2. The construct of the Q3+ is slightly improved, as well. The “plus” changes to the recipe add rubber to the footprint and stiffen the tread, without changing the profile.3. The carbon-black compound on the multi-tread shoulders of the rear Q3+ is unchanged, so track mileage there will be largely unaffected.4. Although the compound remains the same, more than 80 percent of the tire’s carcass construction has been redesigned. This update results in a claimed 20 percent more drive grip, a 25 percent increase in stability, and 15 percent more edge grip.5. The changes in construction will help the Q3 Plus run slightly cooler. Lower running temperature may help the tire last longer.6. Both Dunlop test riders claim the new Sportmax Q3+ performs better than its predecessor. Dunlop Senior Development Test Rider Rich Conicelli lapped 1.24 seconds a lap quicker at Roebling Road Raceway, and that is a big improvement. “The Q3+ lets you brake later for a turn, carry more lean angle through the apex, and get on the throttle sooner at the exit,” according to Conicelli.7. I definitely felt the difference between the Q3 and Q3+. I rode a Honda CBR600RR shod with the Q3, and then with the Q3+ through the Texas Hill Country outside of Austin, as well as on the track at COTA. Riding both tire models back-to-back allowed me to properly compare the two under consistent conditions and verify Dunlop’s claims. The performance improvements with the Q3+ are very apparent.8. The Q3+ has noticeably superior edge grip compared to the Q3. Increasing the contact patch without changing the profile is achieved by changing the tension of the carcass. This results in approximately six percent more footprint and, therefore, much more grip at maximum lean angle. I found I was dragging my footpegs through COTA’s Turns 3/4/5 combination because I was carrying more speed and lean angle. Coming out of COTA’s first gear corners, the Q3 would spin a little on hard acceleration. In contrast, the Q3+ stayed absolutely planted.9. The Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ also has improved stability over the Q3. Dunlop’s brilliant carbon-fiber technology gives the carcass enough integrity to avoid any vague feeling. It remains compliant enough that the tire still has that amazing Dunlop feel and forgiveness. Under hard acceleration, the Q3+ didn’t squirm; on the brakes, the front tire felt even better than the Q3, even over small bumps. This was also very evident on the street ride.10. There is noticeably improved steering feel from the front when turning in with the Q3+, especially if trail braking. Coming off the high-speed back straight and into the super-slow Turn 12 needs lots of confidence in the front. I came in a little too hot and had to trail brake longer than normal on one lap, and the Q3+ handled it perfectly.11. The Plus retains compatibility with the Q3. Every tire manufacturer will always tell you to buy tires in sets; of course, that’s best. However, the Q3s are compatible with the new Q3+, so if you have only the rear that needs replacing, the Q3 Plus rear will work just fine with the Q3 front. There is no need to junk a good tire with plenty of life left in it.12. The Q3s’ recommended (cold) pressures of 32 psi front, 30 psi rear still apply to the Q3+. 13. The price will only change very slightly. Although yet to be announced, Dunlop’s Director of Marketing, Mike Manning informs us that there will be minimal change to the pricing.ConclusionThe Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ is not a quantum leap over its predecessor. However, an already brilliant tire has seen some significant and noticeable improvement in key areas. Demanding street riders will be delighted with a 20 percent improvement in wear, and track day enthusiasts will be happy to lower their lap times and feel even more confident in the tire’s stability and handling.Overall, Dunlop tires have such amazing feel and such a broad range of performance that their level of forgiveness is unparalleled; that’s incredibly useful to have on both the street and track especially if you get in a little over your head. The new Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ simply adds a large bit of everything to the already amazing Q3.Photos courtesy of Dunlop
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!