Dunlop launches SportSmart2
Motorcyclists are an ageing consumer group – according to some figures, more than 60 per cent of riders now over 40 years old, almost double the proportion of ten years ago. While motorcycle performance has improved with significant increases in horsepower and top speeds, many riders run older models, and according to a recent report from German publication Motorrad, the average two-wheeler age in now more than 14 years old, two years older than in 2007.
Dunlop has a released a new tyre that aims, in addition to meeting the higher performance requirements of the latest generation of sport bikes, to improve the riding experience of these older models. The SportSmart2, developed by the tyre maker’s European R&D team, is said to exceed the comfort and handling of its predecessor the SportSmart while offering optimised wet and dry grip, durability and high speed potential. The range is available in two front and four rear wheel sizes.
Describing the latest generation tyre’s individual features, Dunlop says wet performance has been improved by introducing a new tread pattern, developed using finite element analysis, which maximises water evacuation. The front tyre has a ‘reverse V direction’ pattern in the centre of the tread, which improves drainage. Wet grip is also enhanced due to the new, 100 per cent highly dispersible silica compound on the rear tyre’s shoulder area, which gives better cornering in wet and dry conditions. Dry performance is also optimised over a wide range of operating temperatures due to the incorporation of liquid polymer and several grip resins that have been refined in Dunlop’s racing programme.
The new front shape improves the footprint pressure distribution for better dry braking stability, Dunlop shares. Compared with the predecessor tyre, the SportSmart2 gives a reduction in shimmy plus a 23 per cent faster steering response time. The resulting lower twisting torque also means less steering effort is required.
Comfort has been improved by changing both the front and rear tyre construction. Steel JointLess Belt (JLB) technology, fewer components and a new shape are incorporated in the front while the rear includes the JLT (JointLess Tread) technology. The unsprung mass has been reduced with the new front tyre being seven per cent lighter and the new rear up to eight per cent lighter than SportSmart. Steel JLB also improves the high speed capability of the tyre, as does the replacement of two breakers in the rear construction with one floating ply. Both design features reduce excess heat generated at high speeds. A harder centre compound enables high mileage and increases the riding stability at higher speeds. Even wear maintains handling performance, extends tyre life and reduces vibration compared with the SportSmart.
Dunlop summarises the technology behind the SportSmart2 as follows:
• Front steel JointLess Belt (JLB) increases manoeuvrability, stability and high speed capability (up to 300kph)
• No tread joints on the rear tyre leads to better uniformity, less vibration, less balancing weight and more comfort
• New front tyre shape brings improved handling with fast turn-in and accurate line holding, braking stability in corners and reduced sensitivity to shimmy
• Reversed centre tread pattern on the front increases water drainage by 20% on forward rolling direction and improves wet grip
• Dry grip is enhanced by the use of liquid polymers
• Multi-Tread technology increases mileage by using a bespoke harder compound for the centre section while a 100% silica compound is used on the shoulder to improve cornering grip in the dry and in the wet
“Dunlop is very proud to have the ability to cascade racing success to the road so quickly and efficiently,” stated Sharon Antonaros, director Dunlop Motorcycle EMEA. “SportSmart has been a strong product in the range but we now have the technology to improve and we want riders to have the increased comfort, handling and grip that we have developed. We believe that the performance improvement of SportSmart2 is going to enable riders to get much more from their sport motorcycles – both new and older models.”
Patrice Omont, Dunlop research and development director, Motorcycle and Motorsport EMEA, added: “Our focus has been on improving the comfort and the handling while optimising the wet and dry grip. Riders today also want confidence at higher speeds so that has been incorporated into SportSmart2 too. JLB, JLT and Multi-Tread capabilities mean that we have had many more design options available to us and today’s computer techniques mean that we were able to produce more virtual models and then prototype only the best performers to identify the right compounds and constructions.”