Let me start off by saying I am by no means a motorcycle tyre expert. I’m incapable of waxing lyrical about rubber compound chemistry, heat transfer technology or the science of tread pattern design. What I am though is a long time rider and regular commuter. I’ve ridden my motorcycles rain, hail or shine, for close to 2 decades and almost always opt for 2 wheels over 4 when I have the option.
These days I ride on a lot of different surfaces and types of roads. This is mainly due to the fact I live in a rural area about 2 hours away from the nearest capital city. This also means I do regular trips that place me in the saddle for a couple of hours at a time. So although I’m no tyre expert, I know how I like my bikes to feel on the road.
After acquiring a Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe I read a lot of other Z owners opinions. Similar to my own judgement, most of the comments expressed satisfaction with Kawasaki’s retro sports Z1 homage. There were however a couple of gripes echoed across the forums and Facebook groups. One of the most contentious was the stock Z900RS tyres.
Out of the factory the Z900RS wears Dunlop Sportmax GPR 300 tyres. The GPR 300 is pitched as a well-priced, hardwearing tyre designed for standard and sports motorcycles. As Lemmy from Revzilla put it the GPR 300 are “equivalent to or better than your motorcycles OEM tyre” and “If you’re a Joe average rider and need a solid performing tyre the Sportmax GPR 300 is a great contender”.
The reason Kawasaki went with the GPR 300 was obviously a financial decision. But it is also because of how they estimated most Z900RS owners would be riding their bikes. Being a retro model they assumed this was a bike that wouldn’t be pushed as hard as a dedicated sports bike. This is, of course, a generalisation and where the GPR 300 fall short is when a rider expects them to stand up to more aggressive sports riding.
My issue with the Dunlop Sportmax GPR 300 was a little different though…
Part of my daily ride consists of navigating a stretch of unsealed road that leads to my home. It’s only around 200m long but riding it at any speed on the GPR’s was comparable to walking on ice in flip flops. So although the GPR’s were holding up just fine on sealed roads – my rides would always end with an awkward walking pace crawl to my garage.
After only 2500 km on the GPR 300s, I was well and truly ready to try something new.
As fate would have it, I received a press release from Dunlop about their latest evolution in motorcycle tyre design, the Dunlop Mutant.
The Mutant is the first tyre Dunlop has released in a new category they have coined the “Crossover Tyre” and on paper, it seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for.
What’s a Crossover Tyre?
With their new Crossover tyre category, Dunlop has taken a “conquer all conditions” design approach. This means they have strived to create tyres that are capable in all manner of scenarios. Whether that’s the type of surface you’re travelling on, the style of riding you’re doing or even the weather you’re navigating. Achieving this meant combining technology from their acclaimed Hyper Sport and Touring tyres and merging it with their knowledge of wet-weather racing.
Mutant by name. Mutant by nature.
This all sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? How can a tyre provide a high standard of performance under all of those conditions?
For years we’ve been told to buy tyres that are designed for a dedicated purpose – If you like to tackle the occasional trail – grab a set of dual sports. Want to scrape your knees in the corners? Get some sticky sport-oriented rubber. But in reality, most riders do all their riding on a single set of tyres and expect them to perform well at all times. This is where these tyres come into their own.
So how does a Dunlop Crossover tyre do it?
The first tyre in the Crossover range is the appropriately named Dunlop Mutant. Dunlop says that the Mutant is the most versatile street tyre they’ve ever made – ideal for anyone from sport tourers to supermoto riders. They attribute this to a state-of-the-art rubber compound and a Rayon Ply Casing that promises excellent mileage and a short warm up time. For Hypersport riders the Mutant features Dunlop’s a DFF (Dynamic Front Formula) which promises to deliver excellent handling and stability characteristics. This has then been combined with a multi-tread pattern to offer increased grip in the corners.
As for their ability to tackle any weather condition, the Dunlop Mutant boasts a high surface silica area and Dunlop’s 4 season technology. This, according to Dunlop, allows the tyres to produce levels of grip as close to racing wets as possible.
And finally, a 90/10 tread pattern rating (pavement vs dirt) makes them suitable for light dual-sport duties.
“The Mutant is what you might expect: A mutation of unique components that create one of the most versatile street tires Dunlop has ever produced.” – Dunlop Tyres
Riding on the Dunlop Mutant
I had the tyres installed on the Z900RS by the guys at Rogue Motorcycles in Perth, Western Australia. During the 2 hour journey home I took things easy. Driving through the city and cruising on the freeway was no different to my experience on the GPR 300. And surprisingly, despite the much more aggressive tread pattern, there was no obvious increase in noise or vibration. However, once I reached the stretch of unsealed road to my home the differences were instantly apparent.
On the gravel, the change in feel and grip between the GPR 300s and the Mutants was night and day. The bike felt more planted and manageable and a hell of a lot safer. I hardly had to shave off any speed as I crossed from one surface to the other and my cheeks were noticeably less clinched.
Finally, my rides would no longer be tainted by a bit of loose dirt. I was once again loving every aspect of my Z thanks to the Mutants. End of review…
Since that first ride, I’ve clocked up a similar amount of miles on the Dunlop Mutants as I had previously done on the GPR 300. I’ve gained a lot more confidence in the tyres ability and they’ve rewarded me with a great riding experience.
In the corners, the Mutants actually instil more confidence than the GPR did. This is probably due to how well they tackle the bumps and uneven surfaces I encounter day-to-day on local country roads. They also turn in very easily and I’ve found myself having to work less to get around bends at a spirited pace. Side by side with the GPRs I had removed the Mutants also show minimal signs of wear. Dunlop did say they made the Mutant durable, and if they continue to wear at this rate I’m going to get some great mileage out of them.
Another key selling point in Dunlop’s Mutant marketing is how fast the tyres warm up. I can confirm this is also accurate. Most days, after I’ve come off the gravel near home I do a bit of light zig-zagging to make sure I’ve cleaned the bulk of the dirt off the tyres. What I noticed about the Mutants is that after this the tyres are already giving me great feedback. This has also been a welcome change over the GPR 300’s on wet days. I’m yet to find the point at which the tyres let go and due to my style of riding, I doubt I will.
For those who like to push limits and want to hear the opinion of a more aggressive rider, check out the video below by BMW Master Technician, Motorcycle Racer and Youtuber Smiffy 775. He fit a set of Mutants to his BMW GP S1000RR and tackled the Cadwell Park Circuit in the UK. Here are his thoughts on how the Dunlop Mutant performed…
“These tyres have never been used on track before and certainly not on a 200bhp Superbike. Designed for the road I decided to give them a try to see if they were suitable as an Intermediate race tyre, I have to say I was mega impressed with them, I wouldn`t go as far as to say they would be ideal as a race tyre but overall a fantastic tyre.
I pretty much did the whole day on them on a damp to drying track and the grip and feel they gave was way better than I was expecting with great longevity. Certainly a superb road/track day tyre. I also have a pair fitted to my BMW R1250GSA for the road and have found them far superior to the previous tyres fitted. All in all very impressed!“ – Smiffy 775
For me, the strong point with these tyres is of course the ability to tackle loose surfaces and rainy roads without issue. Of course, there’s a limit to the kind of “off-road” surfaces the Dunlop Mutant will handle. But if the extent of your off-road riding is tackling the odd unsealed backroad, they’re the ideal companion.
On a side note, if appearance is important to you, the Mutants will add an aggressive edge to your bikes look without completely sacrificing performance (Firestone Champion Deluxe I’m looking at you).
The Dunlop Mutant tyres come in mainly 17-inch sizes with one 18 and 19 front variants. Front end widths go up to 120 and all the way up to 190 for the rear.