Date reviewed: June 2021 | Tested by: Steve Rose | RRP: £119 (f) £161 (r) | www.dunlop.eu
Dunlop’s Mutant tyre has ambitious targets. A high-performing tyre for road bikes (it doesn’t matter if they are road, sports, adventure or Supermoto) for all weathers. Designed for quick warm-up, sharp steering, high-speed stability and longevity with outstanding wet-weather performance and grip too. If you, like me are thinking ‘cake’ and ‘eat it’ then I guess you’ve been waiting for a thorough review of the tyres too.
BikeSocial has a couple of pairs on test. Both are on road bikes – our own personal weather-beaten hacks that get thrashed about in all weathers, usually with the challenge of being somewhere fifteen minutes ago. One is my 130bhp 2002 Yamaha Fazer 1000 and the other is Luke’s 94,000 mile 2001 VFR800.
They are available in 17,18 and 19-inch front and 17-inch rears from 150-190mm wide meaning there’s a fitment for most road bikes from 500cc upwards, supermotos, nakeds and most of the adventure bikes too.
Multiple tread compounds, jointless belt technology and cunning profile design – modern motorcycle tyres are complex things
In order to meet Dunlop’s ambition for the grip of a hyper sports tyre, wet-weather performance of a racing-wet and the durability of a touring tyre, they’ve gone all-out on the technology. And, not surprisingly, they are keeping the details close to their chest. What we do know is that their Jointless belt construction is claimed to give a more stable contact patch between tyre and road. The use of Rayon belts, Hisilica and considered carcass construction enable faster warm-up in all weathers and that dual-compound technology allows softer edges for more grip and a harder middle for longer life (because however sporty your riding almost every tyre these days need replacing because the profile squares-off rather than because it goes bald)
Four available front sizes;
And five rears
This range means you can fit Dunlop Mutants to pretty much any road-style bike (apart from cruisers and some of the retros) and many of the big adventure bikes over 500cc built since the early 1990s. The obvious choice of bikes most suitable for these tyres are those ridden in all weathers where dependable performance – wet or dry – and confidence on cold, wet roads are needed. If you use the same bike for Sunday fun as you do for three-season commuting, the Mutants will be ideal. For two-season touring on a fully-laden adventure bike or tourer doing lot of motorway miles there are probably better choices.
Supermoto-style tread patterns look a little odd on a Fazer 1000, but the Mutants suit the bike very well
Evaluating tyres can be tricky. If a tyre steers well, grips consistently and has excellent high-speed stability you tend not to notice it. Instead, you enjoy the ride, happy that you are indeed the finest motorcycle rider in East Sussex and you chose the absolute perfect bike.
It’s only when a tyre doesn’t suit your bike or your riding that you notice.
Most modern radials work very well and, unless you’ve put a track day tyre on your commuter (which will never even get close to operating temperature on the road), you’ll be happy. The Dunlop Mutant fit into the first category here. I don’t notice they are there. Never feel them doing anything untoward and instead, just enjoy the ride from the minute I set off to when I get back. The Fazer steers quickly enough to feel like the sporty road bike it is, remains stable at the speeds I ride at and doesn’t react to raised white lines or overbanding.
Rear grip is excellent in the wet but it’s the way the front steers that really impresses
Dunlop’s biggest claim for the Mutants is that they offer much of the performance of a racing wet tyre with the longevity of a road tyre. I’ve never used a racing wet tyre, but I can say that, having headed out in the rain deliberately to test these tyres on a few occasions (and of course, being caught in it as many times as you do as a UK rider), the performance is excellent.
It’s not just about grip. When I ride in the wet I instinctively ride more smoothly, which helps tyres find grip. My biggest bugbear with tyres that don’t work in the wet is how they affect steering going into something like a slippery roundabout.
Many sports tyres on bikes with wide bars and sporty steering geometry (super nakeds are a good example of this, as is my Fazer where the fork legs have been raised through the yokes to make it steer quicker) feel really unsure as you brake into a roundabout, release the brakes and then steer.
On unsuitable tyres they feel like really don’t want to turn-in, needing a lot of effort (and faith) to turn right at the point where you are trying to be smooth and subtle. With the Mutants fitted, my Fazer steers easily into slippy roundabouts and that’s a big test passed in my book.
Plenty of grip on the dusty, back roads too
As mentioned above, for me tyre performance is all about confidence. If I don’t notice tyre performance then generally it’s because they are working well. I was really curious how the Mutants would feel because the tread pattern is so unlike most other modern tyres.
The answer is that they feel just like every other tyre – demonstrating that most of how a tyre performs (in the dry, at least) is down to the construction rather than the tread. In the wet that tread pattern obviously helps shift a lot of water and the compound warms up fast enough to grip.
I had wondered if a tyre with so many small tread blocks would feel a little ‘loose’ at high speed if the tread blocks were able to oscillate, but if they are, then I don’t feel it on the road.
Only 1100 miles so far. It’ll be interesting to see whether the front tread pattern wears evenly or forms ridges on the tread blocks
So far they’ve only done about 1000 miles so it’s too early to say how long they’ll last. Looking at the tread pattern and knowing how long modern tyre compounds last I suspect they will either ‘square-off’ at 3-4000 miles (around 1000 miles before becoming illegal) because that’s what tyres seem to do these days.
I’m happy if they give 3000 miles of this level of performance rather than less performance, but last 4000 miles where the last 1000 miles are plagued with notchy steering and horrible wet weather performance because the tyre has squared-off.
And the other interesting thing I’ll be looking for is how the tread blocks wear, especially on the front. These kind of patterns can form small ridges on the edges of the tread blocks, which knocks the edge off the stability. Having said that, my last experience of this was on a Yamaha FZ750 in 1990 – tyre compounds, construction and design have moved on a long way since then.
But those are both thoughts and questions, not a review, which is what you came here to read. So I’ll update this review as the miles increase.
Tyres – essential but dull to look at. So here’s another picture of Steve’s Fazer
I’m guessing that when the marketing department at a tyre company visits the R&D department and says, ‘Our studies show that riders want fast warm-up, plenty of grip, predictable steering, long life and great wet-weather grip on all bikes from a Supermoto to a sports tourer please?’ there is usually much rolling of eyes, vague promises made and a a hope that this year’s new ‘Panda paw’ tread pattern will suffice.
Dunlop’s engineers didn’t seem to get that memo and, instead, have listened to marketing and actually built a tyre that does what their road-riding customers want.
I’m really impressed with the performance of the Mutants in wet and dry conditions. Longevity will be the decider, I’m doing my best this summer to wear them out. Watch this space.