The Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ tires are a step forward from the Q3 model that was introduced in 2013.Many riders know the Q3 as one of the top choices a seasoned sportbike rider might select to connect his bike to his favorite canyon roads, use on track days, and wherever else life leads him.
Well, I didn’t manage to put a set of Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ tires on a track. Rather, I mounted them on my Yamaha FZ-10 (aka MT-10) and headed straight to Lake Tahoe from Southern California for a thousand-mile trip that included hundreds miles of very fast mountain and canyon roads.I tested these new skins on my FZ-10 right after chewing through the OEM Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S20 tires. Bridgestone has been making them since around 2012, so they are not the latest in tire technology and this review is not a comparison. I burned out the rear S20 in 2425 miles and only mention this as a baseline number.When riding the freeways, I found the Q3+ offered a smooth and supple ride. The stiff, carbon-fiber reinforced sidewalls upon which this tire is built, and what imparts its characteristic stable ride at any lean angle, did not intrude on the calm atmosphere while droning out the miles, when smoothness is everything and the cruise control is engaged.The new compound used in the center section of this dual-compound Multi-Tread tire has been reformulated for the Q3+. In fact, Dunlop states that over 80 percent of the Q3 components on these tires have been redesigned for the Q3+.I find it interesting that with so many changes, the Q3+ retains all the general characteristics of which I had grown fond in the Q3.My rear Dunlop Q3+ delivered 3040 miles, and I would guesstimate that a third of those miles where in a relatively straight line. In fact, I wore through the soft compound on the edges of the rear bun just as the wear markers appeared in the center.You know you’ve done your job when the edge of your tire wears out before the center section. The single compound front tire has not been changed to any great degree when they added the “+” and still had some good life left, which is typical of the wear I put on tires.Of greatest importance to me is a sport tire’s personality when exiting the straight roads and looking into a canyon full of warm pavement. This is where these Dunlop tires have earned their reputation with me, and my thanks. They simply become an extension of my thought process. Turns are initiated, methinks more from the mental vision of what is required than actual physical forces. The tires respond intuitively, and the engineering and components cash the check your brain writes.This almost telepathic connection between the rider’s brain and the contact patch is further enhanced by the responses from the Q3+, which are mostly neutral and always deliver what is asked of them with no surprises.That “no surprises” part is important. The Q3 has always given me linear feedback throughout the turning process. I know when I am approaching the edge of the envelope and that is what engenders the confidence I feel when hustling through a curvy road.Upon initiation into a turn, I find that the Sportmax Q3+ does not fall-in as some sport tires do. The fairly rounded profile of the Q3+ gives one the true impression of the nature of the way the tire wants to deliver—linearly.Rather than falling into a turn then rapidly approach the limit, the Q3+ simply edges in, one degree at a time, until it reaches its limit of grip—all along narrating its condition to any rider who pays attention to this feedback. At that point, the pucker factor is high. Then you’re through the turn and probably telling yourself that you could have taken the curve faster.Corner entry under hard braking is stable, with no wiggles from the Q3+, even on some squirrely, downhill, overcooked entries. Turn-in is not dramatic as the bike leans incrementally with input. Midturn/apex feel is confidence inspiring as maximum lean angle is attained, and then throttle is applied.The Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ grip here is massive. As the weight of the bike and g-forces reach a peak, the tires have settled in and encourage a bit more speed. Corner exit is rock solid as the contact patch is at its fullest. Hard throttle application causes no more deformation of the rear tire, thus yielding a solid place to crack the throttle wide open.They have massive and predictable grip and this combination is what has made this tire so good for me and so popular for so many riders. The Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ simply delivers all the characteristics I desire in a high-performance road tire—grip, stability, feel, confidence, consistency, and relatively long life.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.