A long-term tire test is hard to do these days. With the internet’s insatiable devouring of content, it’s hard to be away from the desk while still managing to deliver enough fodder to appease an entire world wide web of curious readers.
My plan for the long-term test of the Dunlop Trailmax Mission tires would involve a daily faux-commute (the MO team was working from home before working from home was cool) and at least a few long trips that would span as many miles as I could cram in, both on-road and off. Well, that plan lasted about as long as it took me to type the previous sentence. Looming deadlines, tight schedules, and what little personal life I manage outside of this gig dashed my plans of consistently putting down miles for this review. After a few months, I still managed to log 1,907 miles over various Southern California terra – and it gave me a reason to keep the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE in my garage longer. Self-serving? Slightly.
Dunlop Trailmax Mission Tire Review – First Ride
Despite not hitting the mileage numbers I had hoped for, I did manage to use the tires for everything from the odd jaunt around town, to rocky jeep roads and no-trackers through sand and cacti. Overall, I came away impressed after spending more time with the Trailmax Missions, even if my observations over the past few months don’t stray far from my initial impressions.
The big story with the Dunlop Trailmax Mission is going to be its longevity. We’ll get to grips with traction later (pun intended), but after nearly 2,000 miles, the tires hardly look much worse for wear. The rear tire’s massive tread depth combined with Dunlop’s single-compound bias-belted construction seem to be a perfect equation for tire life. Comparatively, after just a day of flogging the 2020 Honda Africa Twin, its Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross Tourer AX41 T tires are experiencing dramatic wear, actually chunking out of the center tread and showing significant leading edge wear and deep cuts from rocks. While we weren’t being easy on those tires, I’ve spent much more time in rockier terrain with the Trailmax Missions, and they had none of those issues.
The rear had approximately 1,600 miles on it at this point and was hardly showing any wear, aside from some very slight rounding of the tread’s leading edge.
As is typically the case for street tires, the front was showing even less wear than the rear. Depending on your riding of course, I can imagine the front rather easily lasting through a couple of rears. At the introduction of the tire last year, Dunlop mentioned a third party company had tested the tires on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and were able to get 8,000 miles out of the rear tire. Even with the amount of abuse I put our test set through – which involved a lot of tire spinning – I could see them lasting that long even for those with a heavy hand. Dunlop’s test riders also claimed they saw the used set after they came back, and both agreed that they personally would’ve continued to run them.
During the introduction in Lake Arrowhead and my time spent over the last few months with the Dunlop Trailmax Missions, I’ve continued to be impressed by the tires on-road performance. Footpeg scraping lean angles on all sorts of different bikes were easily achieved, and the tire feels 100-percent stable while doing so. That kind of performance mated to the longevity I expect out of these tires is going to be an absolute home run for riders who spend more of their time on tarmac than not. Dunlop’s research and development focused on giving riders a longer lasting tire and given my experience, they hit the mark on that objective.
At 1,907 miles, the front tire isn’t showing much wear.
What’s more, Dunlop didn’t just stop at creating a longer-lasting compound, but they also considered how the tire would wear over time. The stepped tread design should give the tire a fresh edge as it wears.
The 90/90-21 front tire used in our test has a slightly different tread design than the wider smaller wheels found on some adventure bikes. The wider tires use an additional hollowed-out area in order to achieve the appropriate level of flex.
My time off-road with the Trailmax Missions mounted on the Scrambler 1200 XE has spanned miles of rocky switchbacks, deep sand, fast fire roads, and hard packed dirt. Basically everything Southern California has to offer. Almost every time, when I would switch the Scrambler into Off-Road Pro (read: no rider aids) to have a little fun, I was always surprised by how well the rear tire would hook up, no matter the terrain. That just meant I had to give ’er more beans to slide around, but when I was looking for traction, the rear served surprisingly well. In deep sand, the 150/70-17 rear tire would effortlessly claw its way up on top of the sand, which, aided by the Triumph’s 1200cc parallel Twin’s grunt, allowed me to never shy away from a sandy trail (or lack thereof).
We were told at the intro that the tire’s sidewall is so rigid, it allowed Dunlop’s testers to run the tire at zero PSI without the bead breaking. While that means running really low pressures off-road should be safe, it also means the tire will be a real pain to get off the wheel should you find yourself in dire straits. I should also mention the tire can be used with or without tubes. Our test set was used without tubes, and I kept normal street pressures in them.
Trails? We don’t need no stinking trails.
My biggest complaint with the Trailmax Missions would be the front tire’s off-road performance. It had a tendency to push through the soft stuff. While many adventure riders’ idea of a good time doesn’t involve deep sand, it’s a fact of life here in Southern California that if you ride off-road, you’re likely to find yourself in sand at some point.
With the 21/17-inch wheel combo, it’s totally manageable, but again the front doesn’t bite well while turning in loose terrain. It tracks straight once you’ve managed to get on top of the sand/gravel/etc., but as you might imagine, something a bit knobbier is going to be a lot more confidence inspiring in sandy terrain.
The photo to the right is the rear tire after 1,907 miles when I, unfortunately, had to return the bike and end the tire test. After hundreds of miles of dealing with a throttle-happy MO editor off-road, the Dunlop Trailmax Missions are nowhere near used up and they were still delivering footpeg grinding on-road performance. I’ll stick with my original statement that calling the Trailmax Mission a 50/50 tire is incorrect. It simply does not offer the same performance off-road as it does on. Is it a fantastic tire option for those looking for stellar street performance from an adventure tire and decent traction when pointed off-piste? Absolutely. I’d be happy to throw a set on my personal adventure bike, maybe I would ride it more.
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Source: All Bikes news one