Dunlops Newest Hypersport Tire
TThe Dunlop Qualifier was never really on my list of tires to have. I’ve run several Dunlop sport tires of yesteryear and never really felt much love for them. I always felt like the profile was too tippy and the wear too rapid and the front tire too prone to cupping to really fall in love with the Dunlop. And on a vanity note, I always despised the tread pattern of the D207/D208 series – particularly when I saw that pattern tattooed around a guys arm
So it was with hesitation that I shod my first set of Dunlop Qualifiers in the spring of 2006. Like with any new tire that hits the market, we were hearing all about how glorious this new Dunlop sport tire was. Stuff like;
“The Qualifier offers true racetrack-level grip and performance for the street. The Rear-tire compound blends three race-developed polymers to maximize grip and warm up quickly in the wet or the dry. Race-derived front-tire profile promotes quicker turn-in and lighter steering while also contributing to a larger footprint at maximum lean angles. Advanced belt design and Jointless Band (JLB) construction reduce unsprung weight for quicker acceleration and enhanced steering characteristics. Next-generation cosecant-curve tread pattern allows the driving and braking forces to remain aligned properly under cornering conditions.”
That’s cool and all, but the magazines were saying good things about the tires too and when we heard that Jason Pridmore say (when nobody was watching him) that the Qualifier is the perfect track day tire and that Freddy Spencer can turn laps within a gnats-ass of a full-fledged race tire we decided to give them a go.
The first set went onto the Hawk where they performed flawlessly for almost an entire summer of track-day riding. The tire profile still allows you to tip into corners with minimal effort, but doesn’t have the twitchy or nervous feel; the falling into corners feel like the older D207/D208’s. The grip was also exceptional. The tires never once slipped or did anything even remotely unpredictable creating a tire that just inspired confidence. On the street, they warmed up very quickly and were ready to grab asphault at the drop of a hat.
We were impressed with the Q’s on the Hawk so we threw a set on the SV650. The SV had been running Michelin Pilot Race tires and they just seemed to grip and grip and grip. Could the Dunlop Qualifier (a street-biased sport tire) compare to the Pilot Race’s. The short answer is yes. In fact, we found ourselves turning quicker lap times on the Qualifiers. The more compliant side-wall made for a tire that was easier to understand without providing for a harsh ride.
While the Pilot Race’s seemed to grip and grip and grip, the Dunlops seemed to do the exact same thing, particularly the rear tire that just seemed to hang onto the road with voracious tenacity. In other words, we really could not tell the difference in grip between the street/sport tire and the dedicated race tire. However, the Dunlop was more compliant and lasted several track days longer than the Pilot Race.
We haven’t run every sport tire on the market, but we get to sample quite a few. As of right now, we think the Dunlop Qualifier is one of the best sport tires available, particularly if you spend more time on the track than the road. Additionally, the Dunlop’s don’t last quite as long as the other sport tires, like the Sportec M3’s and Pilot Powers, but they sure hang onto the tar macadam much better and handle the way a supersport tire should.