Dunlop Mutant Tires Review

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Dunlop refers to their new Mutant tire as a crossover tire. The idea behind that is that it blends the best parts of the DNA from sport, touring, off-road/trail, and wet race tires into a single magic do-it-all tire. Unfortunately, the problem with trying to be good at everything, is that you often end up not really being particularly good at anything. Fortunately, the Dunlop Mutants don’t have that problem, and generally succeed at their stated mission of being a pretty legit do-it-all tire.

I have roughly 7,000 miles on this set of Mutants on my Z900RS, and have developed a good sense of what they’re all about.

So, let’s break down where the Dunlop Mutants shine – or fall short – in each of those do-it-all categories they draw their DNA from: sport riding, touring (mileage), off-road/trail, and wet weather.

Sport Riding

A tire needs to nail a couple of fundamental qualities to ace the sportier side of street riding:

  • Soft, sticky, compliant compound on the outer edges for getting onto the side of the tire.
  • A sharp profile for quick and consistent handling.
  • Durable construction for reliable performance over the life of the tire.

The Mutants crush it across the board on all these fundamentals. The compounds of the tire, especially the MT Multi-Tread compound of the rear, provides a soft rubber that sticks to the road across the entire width of the tire.

The profile is very conical, providing sharp, light handling with quick turn in, but not so much that handling feels twitchy. It’s a good balance, that feels responsive and just right.

Finally, these are tough tires with a very durable construction. The combination of Dunlop’s Jointless Belt (JLB) design and MT compound makes for a tough, but compliant tire that retains much of its initial performance and capability throughout the life of the tire. With roughly 7,000 miles, they still feel like new tires. I think we’ve all been there with some tires where the handling and traction turns to total crap like you flipped a light switch or rapidly degrades as you put more miles on them. The Mutants don’t do that.

Now, I’m not a track guy or anything, and while these are good for sporty street riding, I don’t think these would be particularly great track tires. You could probably make them work, for a more chill track day, as they’re every bit as good as (if not better than) the majority of other sport touring tires on the market, but at the end of the day, the rubber probably isn’t soft and sticky enough to push super hard.

Touring

What makes a good touring (or rather, sport touring) tire is longevity. They need to be in for the long haul, and capable of racking up huge mileage. The Mutants are, so far, pretty solid in that regard.

With about 7,000 miles on them, the rear is probably about 70% through its lifespan right now and the wear bars are now pretty visible, but the front still practically looks like new. I bet I’ll get around 10,000 miles out of the rear, and twice that out of the front. It’s pretty typical to go through two rear tires for every front tire, and the Mutants aren’t an exception to that. This is a lot more mileage than you’ll get out of a set of GPR300‘s, but less than the 12,000+ you’d get out of some Roadsmart III’s or Roadmsart IV’s. The Mutant’s fall somewhere in the middle. They’re not the best, but I can’t complain too much about it.

Off-road/Trail Riding

Is an off-road capable sport tire for the street really even possible? Well, yes and no. Despite having the look, the deep blocky tread channels on the Mutant aren’t exactly comparable to the tread on a true adventure tire, let alone an actual off-road trail tire. They are much more functional in low traction situations than typical street tires, though.

What this translates to in my experience with the Mutants is significantly more traction on loose road surfaces, sand, gravel, grass, and surfaces like that than you’d get out of pretty much any other sport or sport-touring tire made for the street. Whether that’s riding through a field of wet grass to park at Southern Throwdown, taking an unpaved gravel farm road detour, or hitting a patch of wet leaves in front of my driveway, the Mutants have maintained traction 100% of the time.

But they’re not an off-road tire, or even a 50/50 adventure tire, by any stretch of the imagination. They’re more like a 90/10 tire. They’re designed entirely for street riding, and just happen to feature an off-road inspired tread design that gives them some extra grip when traction is compromised.

So, I wouldn’t do something stupid like race the Baja 1000 on a set of Mutants, unless I wanted to embarrass myself. However, for a daily commuter like my Z900RS, or an adventure or sport-tourer that sees mostly paved roads and just needs some extra insurance when facing the occasional loose surface that pops up, they’re going to consistently perform better than any other sport tire out there.

Wet Weather

This is probably where the Mutants are seriously impressive. I’ve probably never experienced a tire this good in rainy and wet conditions. That deep, aggressive tread pattern combined with a high-silica compound pushes water away from the tire surface incredibly well, and the Mutants do a great job keeping their composure when the road gets wet.

Eric and I got caught in a nearly biblical downpour on the way back from Southern Throwdown. The water got so deep on the road in a few places that I half expected to hydroplane, but the Mutants didn’t skip a beat.

I’ve dealt with a few other gnarly Texas thunderstorms since, and the Mutants are just rock solid every single time.

The bad stuff

Do the Mutants have any downsides? When it comes to their overall performance and versatility for riding on the street, not really. They do everything they set out to do, and do it all pretty well. They come in a wide variety of sizes that’ll fit the majority of sport, naked, sport-touring, and adventure bikes out there. There really aren’t very many tires out there that are on the Mutant’s level.

However, that performance and versatility does not come cheap. A set of Mutants for my Z900RS set me back almost $400. Are they worth it? Yes and no. They are great tires; easily among the best tires on the market. However, Dunlop’s GPR300 and Roadsport 2 tires punch way above their weight, which it makes it hard to justify the expense. You can go through a few sets of either of Dunlop’s “budget” tires for the cost of one set of Mutants, or save $50-100 for some Roadsmart III’s or something. The Mutants, while excellent, aren’t objectively that much better.

There are several situations where I think the Mutants are the best option, though. If you routinely have to deal with unpaved roads with sand, dirt, and gravel; you don’t have a quick, accessible, or affordable way to change your tires and need the longevity so you don’t have to deal with changing tires as frequently; you live in a very wet and rainy place and your motorcycle is your only form of transportation; or you just love the way they look and can’t live without that aggressive tread pattern, then go with the Mutants 100%.

For me, as great as they are, since I can change my tires myself in my garage with my lift and No-Mar Tire Changer, the bang for the buck just isn’t quite there. I’m probably going to stick to the GPR300’s, Roadsport 2’s, and Roadsmart III’s.

Final rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Awesome tires that deliver on the promise of being a serious do-it-all sport touring tire with a dash of off-road DNA end up falling a bit short in the value department since Dunlop’s cheaper tires are way better than they have any business being.

Buy the Dunlop Mutant tires on Revzilla.

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