TESTED: DUNLOP TRAILMAX RAID TIRES
WORDS BY: CHAD DE ALVA
PHOTOS BY: CHAD DE ALVA AND TIM BURKE
Choosing tires for an adventure bike is an exercise in compromise. With stock wheels and road-focused tires, an adventure bike can be an absolute hoot to ride on the road and there is something that never gets old about getting after it in the corners. Yet when road-focused tires get into the dirt, especially in soft sand or in the mud, things can get scary in short order. The other end of the adventure bike wheel and tire spectrum is to run an off-road wheelset with narrower rim widths, which allows for running more aggressive dirt bike style tires. This essentially turns your adventure bike into a big dirt bike, and 100 + horsepower dirt bikes are their own unique kind of awesome. However, dirt bike knobby tires can be really scary (read: dangerous) on the road, and it’s definitely a buzz kill to have a perfect section of tar in front of you and dirt bike tires squirming around under you anytime you go anywhere near the throttle. Yet for riders who want on-road and off-road performance in one tire, there are a number of “adventure bike” tires on the market that are designed to provide a balance of off-road and on-road performance. Dunlop makes outstanding road and off-road tires, and their latest adventure bike tire, the Trail Max Raid is a 60/40 tire that is a shining example of how to combine top shelf performance from road and off-road tires into one tire.
Riders who are familiar with Dunlop tires, specifically the outstanding D908RR will instantly recognize elements of the Trail Max Raid’s design. The familiar bow-tie center blocks help provide impressive off-road grip on powerful adventure bikes, and in Raid trim, their design has been further optimized to perform well on the road in terms of both sound and grip. If you’re familiar with the howl that full knobbies or blocky tires can make on the road, know that the Raids are very quiet, even at high speeds. Dunlop’s new Hi Silica compound provides impressive performance in the wet and at cold temperatures, so much so that in Dunlop’s internal testing, the Raids lead to faster lap times in the wet than more road focused tires. The Trail Max Raids are available in both bias and radial ply construction, with 21 and 19 inch front sizes, and 17 and 18 inch rear sizes.
To get to know the Trail Max Raid we mounted a 90/90-21 front on to a 2.15inch rim and a 140/80-18 onto a 3.5inch rear rim that we installed on a KTM 890 Adventure R. Installing these bias ply sizes was unremarkable using ultra heavy duty tubes, and balancing took a reasonable amount of weight.
Our first ride on the Raids would prove to be a textbook example of why Adventure bikes are so awesome. Starting on a cold morning, we quickly got onto wide dirt roads that were comprised of sand and decomposing granite. On the hard packed and gravelly parts of the road, the Raids tracked straight and provided great levels of grip. Transitioning in and out of power slides was predictable, consistent, and as always great fun. A section of the road was in the process of getting bladed, and the Raids were equally confidence inspiring and composed in the soft sand. Fifty or so miles into the ride, the decomposed granite surface had given way to a regular dirt surface, and thanks to rainstorms moving all around us, the dirt had a perfect moisture content and the tires stuck like Velcro. Eventually, we lost the game of dodge the rainstorm, yet the Raids continued to provide predictable, consistent grip on the wet dirt road that was now full of embedded wet rocks.
After more than a half of a tank of riding all sorts of awesome dirt roads, we tied into a paved mountain pass that had all sorts of awesome corners. We may have even run the pass more than once because it’s that much fun. On this wonderful section of tar that climbs almost to tree line, the Raids quickly proved that they were great on road tires. This ride was one of those days that you’ll look back on and tell your buddies about. Hundreds of miles of awesome dirt and super fun slab, and thanks to the Trail Max Raids we were able to aggressively enjoy every mile of it.
Our next ride, would be one where we really lost the game of dodge the rainstorm. It was one of those deals where the place you needed to get to is completely obscured by a wall of falling water, and the only way to get there was to go right through it. A couple dozen miles into riding through this deluge, the dirt roads and two tracks that were our route were getting properly soaked, and in many cases debris flows were crossing the low spots in the road. One of these low spots had become a greasy mire of mud, and it’s here, and only here that the Raids slid around and things got sporty. In all fairness, things were also slick on full off-road knobbies at this point too.
After hundreds of miles of use including spirited canyon commutes to work and the aforementioned off-road use, the Raids are holding up great. Careful inspection of the tires has found only one minor slice in a block, which is quite impressive given the amount of time this tire has spent in the Rocky Mountains. Wear at this point is even, and we are curious to see just how many miles we can get out of these tires. Our plan at this point is to completely kill the tires, and report back with a mini-tested of sorts when we’ve done so. Yet for now, call us impressed with the Dunlop Trail Max Raids. They certainly have great road performance, and off-road they’ve proven to work quite well in everything but greasy mud. They’re certainly not full-height knobbies, but the Raids quite handily make up for that by not walking all about the place on the tar. Are these the new do-it-all adventure bike tire to beat? Time will tell, but so far the Trail Max Raids are looking quite good. For more information on Dunlop’s Trail Max Raid tire, visit the www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com.