Handling, traction and durability, all made in the good ol’ USA

Words by Rick Kamrath      Photos courtesy of Dunlop Tire

My 2009 Street Glide represented a big change for Harley-Davidson’s touring bike lineup, the bikes getting new frames, swingarms, engine mounts, bodywork, fuel tanks, wheels, exhaust systems and more. The result was better handling, more power and comfort, and higher carrying capacity.

Around that same time, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires, in lockstep with Milwaukee’s technical improvements, introduced its upgraded American Elite tires, which promised to match the performance the fatter rear and larger front bagger wheels were designed for.

Dunlop, which prides itself on producing the only motorcycle tire designed, manufactured and tested in the U.S., was already racking up great reviews for the Elite’s grip and handling abilities. But the tires’ reputation was about to get even better, especially among long-distance riders, with the second-generation’s MT Multi-Tread technology (on the rear tire), which offered even higher mileage. 

In basic terms, Multi-Tread technology blends a medium/hard compound down the center of the tire for longer wear, with the compound transitioning to a softer chemistry on the outer thirds of the rear tire for increased cornering grip – so you get the best of both worlds. Dunlop says the American Elite’s tread pattern also offers better wear and more grip than the Street Glide’s stock rubber, which is saying a lot.

I wasn’t able to fact check Dunlop’s wet-road performance claims due to the always present lack of rain in So Cal, but once we got the Elites installed at California Harley-Davidson, I headed out of town ASAP to see what I could see.

I got things warmed up with some highway riding, the Elites behaving perfectly on the line-painted and rain-grooved L.A. freeways, some of which were smoother asphalt, some rougher concrete. Ride quality was quite good there, with no shimmying at all, which some tires exhibit on these demanding, rough surfaces. So far so good.

Once out of town and onto some curvier backroads, things continued to go well. Traction was everything I could ask for, even during some fast cornering and hectic braking maneuvers, and when I got onto some scraped, base-gravel areas where construction guys were preparing to lay fresh tarmac, they stuck fine and gave excellent feedback. Feedback was very good everywhere, come to think of it.

We’ll see how the Elites do mileage-wise down the road a ways (reports from regular riders on them are very good), but in terms of handling, traction and feedback, they scored all As in our book. 

Dunlop offers both narrow and wide whitewall options in addition to the standard blackwall style, but whichever you choose, you’ll find that Dunlop’s American Elites seem to have captured the best of both important worlds – handling, traction and durability. It’s the perfect complement to Harley’s awesome touring lineup. 


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