Dunlop 209 GP tire review
12/4/2009 6:28 AM
I thought I’d mention my favorite tires on here - the Dunlop GPs. This “review” is kind of biased, since I really haven’t had a chance to try all the other nice new tires out there, but “if it isn’t broke…”
I’ve always liked the Dunlop GPs, the 209GP, the 208GP, the GP-A, whatever they were called - they are in my opinion the best tires out there. Yes, some people swear by the Michelin’s, Bridgestone or the Pirellis, but if you have ever been to the track, you’ll notice most people are using Dunlop. There is got to be a reason, why they cost more than anything out there. I think that piece of mind they give you is worth any amount of money.
Why do I like them? Well, the obvious reason is the grip. These tires are “race” tires so they are much softer than your standard tire or the stock tires you get on your new sport bike. The new 209 GPs are dual compound (just like the Michelin Power Sports). I am not sure why Dunlop doesn’t push that aspect of it as a selling point, like Michelin does, but I guess they don’t need to. The tires speak for themselves. I use these on the track and on the street. Some people ask me, why I use “race” tires on the street… and my answer is simple, I don’t want to crash because my tire lost grip, be it on the track or on the street. The GPs give you the stability and what they call in the “biz” - predictability, and definitely more confidence. I never knew what they meant by “predictability” until I started getting better (me getting better is still argued by some of my friends) and pushing these things more. When you slide your rear tire out on the GP, it doesn’t feel “dangerous” or scary… even the slides are predictable, you can still feel your tire gripping - its hard to explain, you got to try it on your own to see what I am talking about.
Now to tire sizes… I’ve seen so many forums and blogs arguing about which size to use on which bike, well I can tell you what I do - if it works for you great, if not I guess you can just ignore this.
The 209GPs used to come in 3 different rear sizes. 190/60×17, 180/55×17 and 160/60×17. I say “used to” because since the original “release” of the 209GPs, they’ve replaced the 190/60×17 with the 190/55×17, so you can’t really get the 190/60 anymore. I’ve heard from others and personally experienced the reason for the 190/60 replacement. They were too big/tall for most bikes setup to be stable. In other words, yes, you can probably make them work on your bike, but if your suspension is closer to stock than race setup, your bike will probably feel unstable, especially at high speeds. I’ve noticed this myself and when I talked to the Dunlop guys at the track, they told me that this was the reason they got replaced. I haven’t tried the 190/55 yet but I’ve got one ready for the next time I go to the track . Here is my general opinion: 180/55 works better on the street (slower, tighter roads) and the 190/60 or 190/55 works better on the track (high speed). You do (well at least I do) feel more grip coming out of corners on the gas on the bigger tire, but the trade off they are harder to turn in or harder to turn in as fast. Its mostly preference… I’ve seen some arguments about 190 is for the 1000 cc bikes and the 180 is for the 600 cc bikes, and thats true, but probably due to the fact that the 1000s ride faster or ride faster roads. From my personal experience, I’ve used both sizes on my 1000 and different ones are better at different things. And yes, they do both fit on both 6? rim and the 5.5? rim just fine. Like I said, its mostly a matter of preference and where and how you ride.
Of course they won’t last as long on the street as “standard” tires, but the dual compound feature of these 209GPs helps a lot compared to the old 208GPs. So if you ride your bike to work and back, you probably don’t want to spend $300+ on a set of these, but if you ride for “fun”, these things are a must. You just can’t put a price on safety and confidence.