Dunlop produces tires for both European and US racing series. Given the dramatic difference in track surface and conditions between the two continents, Dunlop has decided to make tires for each respective nation’s series. The Dunlop GP-A (‘A’ standing for America) is a tire made here in Buffalo, NY for US tracks. Rather than having the tire produced in Europe and then sent over via ship, when distributed here on home soil, they can arrive in racers’ hands in as little as 2-3 days.
Developing specific compounds of tire for individual tracks is nothing new at Dunlop. The famous Daytona 200 has had a tire made for this race only for years. The nature of the track and length of the race mandate it. This year, Dunlop introduced another one of these specific compounds called the 8477. This tire was developed after June 2012 testing at NOLA Motorsports park (www.nolamotor.com) by the AMA series. The new style of asphalt construction at NOLA gives it a more abrasive nature and is generally not kind to softer compound tires. In reaction to the riders’ feedback during the test, Dunlop manufactured a tire with a Medium+ compound, offering an even harder contact patch than what was currently available. The carcass is also much stiffer with more steel built in than competitors. This not only gives the tire unrivaled support during braking and accelerating, but also means they’re much less likely to succomb to the high temperatures of a summer trackday or race. These tires have proven to be the tire of choice at NOLA Motorsports park for fast lap times and confidence inspiring feel.
DOT vs Slick
Slick tires regardless of the brand have no tread grooves with which to evacuate water, and are therefore not approved by the department of transportation for road legal use. DOT tires have these tread grooves and can be ridden on the road legally as they are deemed safe enough to ride through rain as well. The GP-A and Ntech are unique in they share the same carcass and general profile, however the GP-A is a DOT approved tire, and the slick Ntech is not. The tires even display different sizing on their sidewalls, the GP-As being offered in a 120/70 and 190/60, while the Ntechs are only available in 125/80 and 200/55. This may be off-putting to 600cc riders who’s bikes call for 180 rear section tires. Dunlop assures, and I can attest, that even the 200/55 Ntech rear tire fits on smaller 600cc machines.
How Long do they last?
Contrary to popular belief, these tires do not have a specific amount of heat cycles they can be put through. Their grip is based on tread depth and the resulting carcass temperature. Deeper tread means the tire can have a larger contact patch and generate more heat for superior grip. When the tire is more worn down, the contact patch is smaller and the tire is unable to produce the same amount of heat in the carcass and loses that grip. Dunlop says the loss of grip on the 8477 should be very gradual as well.