Dunlop Elite 4 Motorcycle Tires | Long-Term Review
Dunlop’s Elite 4 Touring tire is touted as being a long-wearing tire that doesn’t sacrifice handling in the wet or uneven surfaces, doesn’t compromise on ride quality and doesn’t break the bank.
Earlier this year, we decided to put those Elite 4 qualities to the test; at least to the extent we can by mounting a set on a road bike (2007 Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster) and riding. And riding. And riding.
The review began in May 2018 with 22,630 miles on the bike’s odometer, and as of this writing, as 2018 draws to a close, the tires have 1,779 miles on them. That resulted in no appreciable wear or change to the profile of the tires. As the miles accumulate, however, we plan to check consistency and amount of wear by direct measurement of tread depth with a depth micrometer.
We had hoped to get a lot more miles this summer but much more rain than usual led to less road-tripping than anticipated. Indeed, twice late in the season the tires got to perform in the wet, including a very wet and cool Slimy Crud Run (see that story here: https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2018/10/09/a-fairly-cruddy-slimey-crud-cafe-racer-run-october-2018-recap/ )
While I don’t enjoy riding in the rain, I have to say the tires held southern Wisconsin’s wet, twisty town roads very well.
The miles are pretty much routine riding almost exclusively on pavement, mainly state highways and paved county and township roads, though the occasional class II gravel track and chip-seal pea gravel surfaces have already been encountered.
Conditions of use have included mostly one-up, dry pavement, except as noted, a few hard stops on pavement, no burn-outs, drag racing, track days, stunting, wheelies, stoppies or other shenanigans. Inflation pressures are checked very regularly and installation was professionally done. No vehicle over-loading is done and all the needful things for routine maintenance of tires in normal use are observed.
What should make this long-term review particularly interesting is the fact that the Dunlop E4s are the immediate successor tires to the Michelin Commander II tires on the same bike we used for a long-term review of those tires, which are also claimed as long-range capable.
The Commander II tires delivered 10,896 miles before the rear tire was worn through the outermost tread layer and required replacement, which we did as a set. Read that final review report here: https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2018/06/13/michelin-commander-ii-tire-test-5-years-later-harley-sportster-883r/
Dunlop says the Multi-Tread (MT) compound used for the rear versions of this model is the key to long service life. Dunlop says, “With the all-new Elite 4, you could cross the country six times before needing to replace your tires.”
That statement doesn’t include mention of which country they mean or whether they’re talking about crossing north to south or east to west. Fine details that make a big difference in the end. With a long-wear compound in the middle of the tread pattern and the shoulders made of a lateral-grip compound, the Elite 4 is designed to deliver long range and stable cornering.
Back in the day, if I bought tires touted for “long-wear” they might last seven or eight thousand miles, but the feedback from the road was about the same as if you were riding on wooden wagon wheels.
Wet or dry, pushing it in the corners felt risky and in the wet, well, hang on, partner because slipping was not uncommon, almost without regard to tread pattern. The “best cornering” tires of the day did a little better as to stable, predictable handling but the rear tire might last only about four or five thousand miles. In some cases, even less.
These days, my experience with dual-compound products indicates the handing is composed and predictable wet or dry and service life is much better, even on heavier, more powerful bikes than anything I rode back then.
So, our long-term review of the Dunlop Elite 4 tires is now underway. Stay tuned to Ultimate Motorcycling for periodic updates the final report after we’ve put on as many miles as the tires can deliver.
Tire tech data:
- Tires: Dunlop Elite 4
- Warranty: Six years from date of manufacture. More information: https://www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com/about/warranty-info/
- Motorcycle: 2007 Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster, cast alloy wheels
- Size front: 100/90B-19 57 H, tubeless or tube, bias ply construction (radial also available; tread depth: 6/32” 0.188”).
- Size rear: 150/80B-16 77 H, tubeless or tube, bias ply construction (radial also available; tread depth: 10/32” 0.312”).
For complete details on Dunlop Elite 4 tires, see: https://www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com/tire-line/elite-4/.