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Reviewed: Dunlop Trailmax Raid tyres

Dunlop Trailmax Raid Tyres 1

Dunlop has a new 50/50 tyre, designed to perform well on both road, and off-road. Three years in the making, the new Raids are aimed at adventure bike riders who want solid street performance, but also need rubber to cope with some light off-roading.

We went to test the new tyres along the twisting roads and trails of Tuscany. Then to end the day, we got the chance to put them through their paces around a private off-road facility. Fitted to a variety of adventure bikes, riding on the new Raids was a very impressive experience, especially on the road.

These sorts of tyres are probably the toughest ones for any manufacturer to get right. It’s an almost impossible task to get a single type of tyre to happily cope with such very contrasting environments. As a result, there simply has to be some level of compromise, and limitation to just how well they can deal with each of those very different situations.

 

Dunlop-Trailmax-Raid-2

 

I’ve ridden on many ‘dual-purpose’ tyres, and happily acknowledge they simply can’t be great at both roles – especially on the Tarmac. Usually, the heavily treaded rubber tends to move around and run out of grip early when you try to push them harder on the road. However, some less-informed testers are unfairly unreasonable with their expectations, unrealistically anticipating solid, stable, and grippy performance allowing them to ride harder without problem. I’ve known some of them give a very negative assessment of 50/50 tyres, writing them off and actually declaring them unsuitable for road use. The fact is, because you can’t have everything, you have to be prepared to make sacrifices.

It took me a while to learn this is the case. I remember all too well in my very earliest days of sampling such types of tyres, thinking 50/50 rubber was simply unusable on the road thanks to excessive movement and the feeling that I’d surely crash if I rode anything other than dead slow. But with experience I learned to accept the limitation, and more to the point, adjust my riding style to suit. Once you do that, you’ll be surprised at what can actually be achieved.

 

H2V0052

 

The only dual-purpose tyres that perform well on the road, are those with a design bias appropriate to that side of the equation. Only rubber labelled as being 70/30, or 80/20 in terms of its road/off-road suitability for example, can be expected to be ridden on in quite a spirited manner.  

And that’s where the new 50/50 Dunlops are really impressive. After just a few corners into the road ride, I knew I was dealing with something different. To fast forward a bit, after twenty miles or so into the ride, along some challenging twisty and undulating routes I’d never seen before, I felt comfortable enough to push unexpectedly hard. Aboard an 1100 Africa Twin, a relatively weighty and powerful adventure bike, I was confident enough to ride way more aggressively than I normally would on such tyres. Happy to haul the Honda over to surprising angles of lean, content enough to get on the throttle early, and perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay the Raids, confident enough to slow down hard and then trail brake into corners, all confirmed I was experiencing a much more capable tyre in this category.

And so it continued aboard a Tenere 700, even if the lighter and less powerful bike obviously wasn’t stressing the Dunlops quite so much. Even so, the grip, feel, feedback, and overall faith in the tyres was just remarkable. If I’m honest I was beginning to think I could possibly use the Raids on a track, and quite probably get my knee down! And no, I’m not exaggerating.

 

GMR62600

 

In fact, because the road performance was so impressive, I really expected the tyres to be below average when it came to off-road use. But aboard the Yamaha they seemed adept at coping with the dirt. Yet as the off-road route was of a quite easy, hard-packed nature at that point, I still remained mildly sceptical. However, switching to a KTM 890 Adventure, and tackling appreciably more testing terrain later, still brought impressive results. The Raids it seemed were going to be hard to fault. After time on a Triumph Tiger 1200, and another rapid stint on the Africa Twin off-road, my opinion remained positive – especially as the subsequent progress on the Honda on the road was rapid enough to have me thinking the Dunlops would actually make a decent, dedicated sports-touring tyre! There was none of the usual squirming and shuffling of the tread blocks you normally get with 50/50 rubber. Instead, the Raids feel planted and very stable – at both ends of the bike, even under pressure. And with the excellent feedback and edge grip they offer, I felt safe throughout. You simply don’t have to make the sort of allowances you usually do on tyres of this kind.

 

H2V0072

 

We then took them around a short enduro style course and something resembling a flat profiled MX track. Back on the Tenere 700, I was happy to push on. I’m not the fastest off-roader, but I did feel comfortable, as clearly did those progressing more quickly than me. The flat turns, and those with adverse cambers had me worried the front would wash out, but grip seemed more than sufficient, and I had no real moments to speak of. Drive grip was just as commendable, and I could only spin the rear wheel when I deliberately delivered engine power to do it. Most of the time the tyre just dug in and propelled me forward.

It was disappointing to have to end the day when we did. The riding had been hugely enjoyable, especially as mixing on and off-road routes is my favourite sort of riding these days. I would have loved to have carried on testing for several more hours, or better still another day!

It has to be said the Dunlops are great tyres and given their performance on-road is so remarkable, I’d happily call them game-changers in this regard.

The tyres are available in 90/90-21 and 130/80-17 & 140/80-18 sizes now. With 110/80-19, 120/70-19 and 140/80-17, 150/70-17, 150/70-18, 170/60-17s coming in mid-May.

Words by Chris Moss

Pictures by Dunlop

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