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Dunlop Tyres INFO

Dunlop (and Bridgestone and Pirelli) tyre information

UPDATED: 1st May 2023


Equivalent Dunlops vs Pirellis vs Bridgestone are very similar in size and shape, and no geometry changes are needed to switch between brands.

Generally, Pirelli grip really falls away after only a handful of laps, where the Dunlop and the new Bridgestone last much longer overall and grip just as well all through their life.

We still recommend the KR106 front slicks over the newer KR109. Either the #3 or #4 for 600s and the #4 for 1000s is the front of choice. The KR109 MS2 is my pick of the compounds for almost all conditions. They tend to need higher pressure than the KR106 too.

KR108 rear in the 200/70, use the MS1 for the warmer months and the MS2 for cooler weather (and not even all that cool). Don’t bother with the MS0 unless you are either on a Ducati V4 or want maximum grip for a push for a P.B. or a quali lap.

KR108 SSP both the MS0 and MS1 are too soft for regular use. The MS2 is a fantastic tyre, but we struggle to get stock of them here in Australia.


Superbike Source Pty Ltd sells and has sold more Dunlop slicks in NSW than anyone else for years. Our philosophy is to only sell products we use ourselves and wholeheartedly believe in. I (Nick Marsh) have personally been using them on and off for 25 years, along with sampling and extensively using other brands.


Previously the top-of-the-line race tyres from Dunlop were made in a factory in the UK. However, seven or eight years ago, for cost and consolidation reasons, the UK factory was closed and production of these tyres (the KR106 fronts and KR108 rears) moved to the manufacturing facility in France. Key technicians from the UK factory went to France to show them how to make the good tyres properly ;)

Dunlop race tyres are also made in the USA (the KR448/KR451 tyres), and Japan (the KR133 rears). More on these later.

Compound codes etc

Prior to the move to manufacturing solely in France, the different compounds were only referenced by a 3 or 4 digit code. Somewhat confusing to those not in the know, but easy once you learnt the different compound codes. More recently, the tyres have a simple numbering system of MS0 (softest) to MS5 (hardest), often referred to as #0 or #5. We don’t get all the different compounds here in Oz (nor do we need them), and mostly use #2, #3 and #4. Another advantage of the new system is that they can change the underlying compound (ie a different compound code) but still retain the, say, #0 moniker as the softest compound in the range.

French Ntec KR tyres

The venerable and much loved KR106 and KR108 race tyres in the 120 front and 195 rear have been the exact same tyres as Moto2 have used for many many years (Dunlop have been the control tyre supplier to Moto2 and Moto3 for many years). You might hear Simon Crafar talking about them (quite a lot) in the commentary, as they were literally the exact same tyres as we get, and that he uses all the time. Some of our stock even has Moto2 on the sidewall :D

However, at Round 4 of the Moto2 class in 2019, Dunlop introduced a bigger tyre, ostensibly to better cope with the stresses of the new Triumph donk. They’ve been developing these new sized tyres for a while. More on those later. Recently the KR106 fronts have been discontinued (although there’s plenty of stock here in Oz for a year or more). The 195 rears are all gone now. The rears are now available in two sizes: a 180 for Supersport, called the SSP, and a 200/70 for Superbike.

KR106 front slicks:

The only available compounds in Australia have been the MS3 (the 343 compound for traditionalists) and the MS4 (the perennial favourite 302 compound). These have also been the two front tyre compounds supplied to Moto2 for many years, and both are simply excellent. They frankly allow you to get away with things you shouldn’t really be able to get away with. Plus they last forever! Honestly, unless your suspension is broken or your bike setup is truly dreadful, they basically never show much sign of wear at all. We recommend keeping a note of the number of days you’ve done on the front (you won’t be able to tell visually), and change it after a set number of heat cycles. I use a white paint pen, and put a mark on the sidewall for each heat cycle (using warmers all day means that it’s only one heat cycle for that day, regardless of whether you do one session or ten). Other people keep a record on a notepad or their phone.

As they age from heat cycles, they don’t actually feel any different, but it’s pretty common to come in from a session after pushing hard and be a second or two off the laptime you think you should’ve done. They just get a little slower, rather than noticeably sliding.

Everyone is a little different with how many heat cycles they feel is enough. Personally, I change my front after 3 days, perhaps 4 if it’s a training/trackday and I won’t be pushing too hard. Slower trackday riders might use them up to 10. Rule of thumb: the faster you’re lapping, the more often you need to change the front. And at $225, it’s cheap insurance! I happily run rear tyres with no tread and no grip (sliding the rear is awesome fun!), but you don’t usually get a second chance when the front lets go. My motto for front tyres: “When in doubt, change it out”.


MS4 (302) – the hardest front available, with a very firm sidewall, this compound has been around for many many years, and is universally loved and praised. I actually use the 302 at every track and in all temperatures, but I vary the hot pressures significantly. A cold Wakefield morning or a chilly Phillip Island day, and I use 30psi hot. At the Creek, or QR etc in very high temperatures, I’ll use 35 to 36 hot.

MS3 (343) – the next step softer, the difference between the 343 and the 302 isn’t as pronounced as it was when they were made in the UK. So generally it’s a ‘rider feel’ preference, with the 343 being a little more giving in the sidewall, so it compresses a little more under hard braking. This can add extra ‘feel’ for the rider, depending on preference. They are particularly well suited to a 600 all year round, and a 1000 in the colder months. In the middle of summer on a litrebike, they don’t hold up to heavy braking as well as the 302.

KR109 front slicks:

The replacement for the discontinued KR106 is the KR109. It’s very slightly taller, and has a wider shape off-centre. It comes in three compounds, the MS1, MS2 and MS3. Some of the ASBK guys are loving them, but others are like me and don’t like them anywhere near as much as the KR106. Like the new rear, the outright performance of these tyres is potentially better than the KR106, but the operating window “sweet spot” for maximum grip is smaller than the KR106, so it’s more important to have the right compound for the conditions and the track. They don’t seem to heat cycle quite as well either; the first couple of laps on a subsequent heat cycle can feel less grippy until they scrub back in.

KR108 rear slicks:

For many years the KR108 was only available in the one size, a 195/65/17, which was used on both 600 and 1000 bikes (5.5 inch and 6 inch rims).

The new 200/70 KR108, based on the new, bigger Moto2 tyre, which is quite a tall tyre with different characteristics. The SSP 180 tyre is similar in compound etc, but is obviously quite a bit smaller. These are described more below.

The KR108 is a low pressure tyre, with stiff sidewalls (the opposite of the Pirelli, which has very soft sidewalls and runs a higher pressure). The pressure range is usually between 17 and 21 hot (lower when the ambient temperature is low, to allow the tyre to flex more, which generates heat). Dunlops are designed and work best at high operating temperatures, so getting the pressure right to generate the correct carcass temperature is important (and quite easy, in fact).


KR108 200/70/17

Confusingly given the same model designation, the new 200/70 rear is HUGE. It’s 15mm overall taller than the 195/65, meaning you need to drop 7.5mm out of the rear shock (or equivalent chassis adjustment) to compensate for the additional height of the tyre (axle to ground, not top of tyre to ground, so just the radius, or half the overall height). At tracks like Phillip Island, even the slight change of gearing is worth considering.

MS0 200/70 – The softest available compound, good for very hot temperatures and outright laptimes, at the expense of longevity. This tyre is grippy as hell, but doesn’t last that long. Some bikes and riders make them last longer than others (the Ducati V4s are surprisingly gentle and can run the MS0 when the weather is hot. For most people, if cost and longevity are at all a factor, then it’s probably not worth considering.

MS1 200/70 – Roughly the equivalent of a 195 MS2 (or perhaps somewhere between the MS2 and MS3), the MS1 in the 200 is a fantastic compound, usable in most conditions from very hot to quite mild. The grip is fantastic, especially drive grip, and has helped reduce wheelspin on my bike. Initially I didn’t think the tyre was any better than the 195 MS2, and it’s probably not, but once I had set my bike up for the size, I actually really like the tyre now. Once the ambient temperature gets below low 20s, the MS1 will wear excessively, and an MS2 should be used.

MS2 200/70 – In cooler weather, the grip is just as good as the MS1, but the wear is dramatically less. It’s fantastic for tracks that are harder on rears (eg Phillip Island and The Bend).

Dunlop are developing more new compounds for the 200 tyre regularly.

USA-made Dunlop KR448 and KR451

We don’t use these tyres a lot. They are cheaper than the European tyres, and not quite as good. Slower trackday riders might not notice, but hard-core racers probably will (although the AMA guys in the USA think they’re great). Most rear compounds were too soft and just got chewed up immediately, even on 600s. The current 180 rear is a bit better, but still not the best lasting tyre available. The fronts are fine, but not as good as the KR106, and only a little cheaper.

Japanese-made Dunlop KR133 rears

Dunlop Japan have been hard at work developing these tyres, and they are now simply excellent! In hot conditions, the Soft and especially the Q tyre was unbelievably good! The harder Medium isn’t wearing quite as well, so there’s some learning still to do with pressures etc. They like to be REALLY hot – coming in from the track at 100c is normal for these, which is 15 to 20 more degrees than the KR108s like.

Tyre temperature

Immediately on returning to the pits after a session, get in the habit of having a quick feel of the tyres, front and rear. Not hot enough and you need to drop some starting pressure (once they have equalised back on the warmers for a while!), whereas too hot and put a little more air into the tyre. With rear tyres in particular though, don’t go too high, trying to prevent excess heat – the tyre becomes to firm and wheelspins too easily, generating a huge amount of surface heat! Which, if you’re not careful can trick you into thinking you need to go up some more, which is the opposite of what the tyre actually needs. You’ll quickly learn what the tyre should feel like with a quick touch of the hand, and let this guide your pressure choice for the next session (yes, check and adjust your pressure just before each session – tyre pressure changes with changes in ambient temperature, plus you may want to make an adjustment, and very occasionally it’ll prevent you going out with a flat tyre or a cold tyre if the warmer wasn’t on. Thank me later).

Bridgestone V02 rears

Like Dunlop, Bridgestone has spent significant time and money developing their race tyres, and it shows. Whilst the older V02 tyres were good value, felt great and lasted very well, they weren’t fast! They were typically 1.5 to 2 seconds slower that a rear Dunlop, for anyone lapping sub-1:40 at Sydney Motorsport Park.

However, they have very recently released a new version, and after doing a bunch of testing days on them, I’m very pleased to say that they are an amazing tyre. My new favourite, especially as we are heading into the cooler months, and already it’s too cold for the softer KR133s and the super grippy KR108s. The new V02 feels frankly quite similar to the Dunlop (although it is slightly more rounded than the new 200/70 Dunlop, so turns into corners more easily, and with a reassuring feel.

Yet whilst the Dunlop and Pirelli require some circumspection in applying full throttle so as not to spin them and overheat them, the Bridgestone allows you to be much more aggressive with the throttle, and it doesn’t spin or complain, just digs in and goes!

And the wear is insanely good! Incredibly smooth-wearing, no hint of tearing or overheating, and they just last and last. Amazing.

The 200 tyre is a newer model than the current supersport sized V02, so those comments above don’t automatically apply to the smaller size, although I haven’t personally tried them yet either.

Dunlop versus Pirelli

TBH both the fronts and rears actually feel quite similar (eg the MS4 front feels quite similar to the SC2 front), but the Dunlop has slightly more edge grip at maximum lean. In a blind test, I wouldn’t know which I had on until the middle of a turn, and then the Dunlop feels slightly better on the very edge of the tyre.

The newer rear Pirelli (200/65) are very similar in size to the Dunlop 200/70, and to be honest also don’t feel massively different. However, the Pirelli might arguably have more outright grip for the first 4 or 5 laps (this used to be true with the old Dunlops, but I’m not sure it still holds with the new tyres), but then drops off a cliff. They also tend to wear out much more quickly than the Dunlop. Dunlop have also spent decades designing tyres to have as much grip on the last lap as the first, and it’s absolutely true. They simply don’t fall off like the Pirelli; the grip is consistent from the start to the end of the tyre’s life.

Along with the sidewall construction, the overall construction of the two brands differs in approach. The Pirellis have ‘grip rubber’ moulded onto a base rubber, and have very deep wear indicators (tread depth indicators; the little holes spaced around the tread surface). However, these are misleading because once you are about halfway down into the wear indicators, you get to the bottom of the grip rubber and hit base rubber (with no grip!), and the tyre is worn out.

The Dunlop wear indicators are, when new, shallower than a Pirelli when worn out. But the entire Dunlop tyre is constructed of grip rubber, so you can run them right down to no dot showing, and still have plenty of grip. Once there’s no visible dot at all, then they are done.


Tyre sizes/diameters/circumferences

The previous detailed data is now out of date and won’t be updated immediately. Essentially the front and rear equivalent tyres from each brand (including Bridgestone) are very similar in size, and no geometry changes are needed to switch between brands.


Old data sheet (and Dunlop even give you the rolling radius at lean....):  Dunlop data sheet KR106/108


Other things to note:

  • Like Pirellis, but unlike Bridgestones, soft rear Dunlops are good in hot temperatures and hard rears are good in the cold. The fronts are the other way around, with hard compounds for the heat and soft for the cold. Yes, it’s counterintuitive. No, I don’t understand it either. AFAIK, nobody does. Just accept it and move on.
  • When the weather is very cold, let pressure out of the tyre to generate more heat. When the weather is hot, put more air in to reduce tyre heat. The flexing of the tyre (mostly the sidewall) is what generates tyre heat, and with less pressure the tyre flexes more.
  • Rear Dunlops are very happy to be flipped and run backwards to even out wear. I often swap out a rear after half a day with another rear rim and tyre (so each tyre only gets half a day on one side), then take both home and flip them for the next outing. Doing this has an unbelievably positive effect on tyre life. Finally, the new 200/70 rears and the SSP rears don’t have directional markings at all, so a tyre shop can’t refuse to put it on the wrong way, because there isn’t one.


These are my personal opinions, observations, experiences, and repetition of rumours and speculation that I’ve picked up in 25 years of racing motorcycles. Your mileage may vary.

View our range of Dunlop race tyres here:  Dunlop tyres

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