Dunlop’s Q-designation Sportmax motorcycle tires have ruled American roads for nearly a decade. They’re the rubber of choice for sport riders seeking a performance tire that does it all. Yet longevity has been one of the few squawks, until now. Introducing the longer-lasting Sportmax Q3+.
The majority of R&D focus went into the rear offering with 80% of its components tweaked from its predecessor, according to Dunlop. The uniform-compound front tire on the other hand, earns its “+” designation via a slight tweak in terms of tread stiffness, thereby reducing tread squirm.
On a related note, Dunlop uses a single-compound design rather than multi-compound solution, as it offers more consistent and organic feel — important characteristics during corner entry — especially the faster you go.
Still a dual-compound design at the rear (Dunlop calls it Multi-Tread), the center compound uses a revised silica-infused (think sand) rubber formula as opposed to Q3’s carbon-black rich mixture. This decreases center line wear by as much as 30% as measured during road-testing on a 2015 BMW R1200RT. It also boosts grip on wet roads— a feat that the previous tire certainly wasn’t lacking.
The motorcycle rolls on this tread zone from straight up and down to 35-degrees of lean. From there you’re on the softer, shoulder compounds designed to boost road holding. The chemical formula of the lateral compounds is unchanged, however the “baking” process has been modified, as has the volume of rubber extruded into the shoulders (slight reduction). Dunlop claims this adds cornering stability, in excess of 55-degrees of lean, by increasing the tire’s footprint.
Despite this update, the existing Intuitive Response Profile is unchanged with the contact patch increase stemming from the added pliability of the tire’s shoulder sections. The sidewall also carries over and continues to benefit from ground up pieces of carbon fiber strategically placed in specific sections, above the steel bead for precise and favorable feeling flex character under load.
How it Rides
Dunlop’s certainly carved out a nice niche in the sport tire segment with its firm-feeling Q-designation hoops that are more rigid and precise than the competition’s name-brand offerings.
Yet the Sportmax’s continue to offer favorable bump absorption character and a pleasing ride quality. High-speed stability is exemplary as well.
As usual, warm-up time is nearly instantaneous, meaning you can sample your motorcycle’s performance almost immediately. They generate heat so quickly, they almost render tire warmers useless if track days are what the day’s agenda calls for. As a side note, track-based riding schools, the likes of Yamaha’s Champion Riding School and Star School, both outfit their fleets with the American-made rubber.
While the tires ride well during straight-line highway outings, at lean is where they’re in their element. Despite Dunlop’s performance claims (nearly a second faster at its 1.3-mile Huntsville Proving Grounds), we were hard pressed to note any difference in terms of grip and stability at Circuit of The Americas, during our 40-minutes of track time on both Honda’s CBR600RR and CBR1000RR following the annual CoTA tire test.
We did however experience similar race tire-like carcass feel, steering precision, and the lofty level of adhesion that we’ve come to adore with Dunlop’s Q-spec Sportmax rubber. The tires reward deep lean angles and strong but smooth braking or acceleration load. Grip remains consistent with no perceivable grip decrease as the tires get hot. Though to be fair, the track conditions were relatively mild during our test.
Due to the limited miles we spent on these shoes, we can’t verify Dunlop’s durability claims, but we do hope to address in a future installment. It’s also worth noting that the Q3 and Q3+ are compatible when used as a set.
If you prefer a sharp-feeling tire, with loads of grip, that offers just the right amount of flex, then you’re going to continue to love Dunlop’s Sportmax Q3+ rubber. Although the changes are modest, it’s great to see Dunlop continuing to elevate the bar, for only a modest 6% up-charge (compared to the Q3), in the hotly contested sport tire segment.