Dunlop Elite 4 Tires Review: Long Term Test on a Sportster

In 2018 we put a set of Dunlop’s Elite 4 high-mileage motorcycle tires for a long-term review on a 2007 Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster. Dunlop’s Elite 4 touring tire is designed to be a long-wearing tire that provides solid handling on wet or uneven surfaces, and deliver a high ride quality at a competitive price.

Dunlop Elite 4 Motorcycle Tire Test: Front
Dunlop Elite 4 front tire

The Dunlop Elite 4s followed a set of Michelin Commander II tires on the same bike, also claimed 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 our review of the Michelin Commander II tires that concluded in 2018. Note that the Commander IIs are still in the Michelin motorcycle tire lineup.

Dunlop Elite 4 Motorcycle Tire Test: Rear
Dunlop Elite 4 rear tire

For the Dunlop test, we ran a 100/90 x 19 front tire and 150/80 x 16 rear tire. Both Dunlop Elite 4 motorcycle tires tested bias-ply construction and were used as tubeless tires, though they can be mounted on a  rim that requires a tube. There are also radial versions of the Elite 4.

“For Want of a Nail”

In August 2019, the long-term Elite 4 review hit a snag—or more precisely, a nail through the rear tire’s tread. The rear tire had 3515 miles on it when the puncture took it out of service. Tread wear was evidenced by some flattening of the tread profile, though there was a lot of service life left. Dunlop provided a replacement tire for the review, and so we continue. However, we’ll have to keep the mileage mismatch between the front and rear tire in mind when it comes time to sum things up. Note that road hazard damage such as a puncture is not covered under warranty.

The review began in May 2018 with 22,630 miles on the Sportster’s odometer. As of this writing, with 2021 drawing to a close, there are 30,692 miles on the odometer. The front tire has 8062 miles on it, while the replacement rear tire has racked up 4547 miles. The front tread depth has gone from 0.188 inches to 0.091 inches. The back started with a tread depth of 0.312 inches and is down to 0.163 inches. The worn measurements were taken at various points in the tires and averaged.

Used front Dunlop Elite 4 motorcycle tire.

The rear Elite 4 features what Dunlop calls Multi-Tread (MT) compound. Dunlop claims, “With the all-new Elite 4, you could cross the country six times before needing to replace your tires.” 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.

The front Dunlop Elite 4 tire has a central rain groove with sipes that angle toward it but don’t connect to it. The rear tire does not use a central rain groove like the front model. Instead, it has sipes that angle toward the tread shoulder, leaving substantial tread in the primary load-bearing part of the tire.

Dunlop Elite 4 Tire Test: MSRP
Used Dunlop Elite 4 rear tire.

The Dunlop Elite 4 tires have proven to be very stable and planted for acceleration, cornering, deceleration, and braking (with non-ABS brakes) on both wet and dry pavement. Of course, in addition to the day-to-day, all-purpose road performance characteristics, total service mileage is a key performance indicator we’ll be tracking. We will make a final report when the tires are at the end of their lives.