Dunlop 803 review


15 replies to this topic
  • jerryls

Posted November 28, 2006 - 10:41 AM

#1

One word review: "velcro"

I put a Dunlop 803 on the rear of my '04 WR450 last week. 8 lb of pressure, two rim-locks, stock rim, and a heavy duty tube. Mounting wasn't any harder than a normal knobby. Tried it out on some tight rocky/sandy single-track in AZ (Rattlesnake Ridge, Indiana, Otero, Dagger, and Pickaxe for the Phoenix guys).

When I came to the first series of uphill rock ledges, I gave it plenty of throttle (as it usually involves plenty of spinning and floundering on the way up). But the 803 stuck like glue and launched myself and the bike over the entire series of ledges. And no, I didn't stick the landing. Impressive traction.

The tire was also great on hills that have decomposing rock (kind of like sand and marbles mixed together). Normally I have to hit the approach at speed or have no chance of making it. With the 803 I could tractor on up, or even stop midway and restart, making it up the hill without any tire spin. Pretty sweet.

Rode down a creek that was full of big wet rocks. Tire stuck without much sliding. Feet didn't touch the water once. Dry boots are good.

I was really surprised by how well it performed in deep powdery sand. The tire doesn't dig a hole like a knobby, but seems to just float on top of the surface. Couldn't roost around the corners, but had a very controlled, stable feeling in the sand.

Smacked the 803 into lots of rocks and ledges going fast, but no problems with pinch flats. I was really leery of running such a low pressure (especially on a heavy WR), but it doesn't seem to be a problem.

The best thing was that I rode nonstop for 3 hours and wasn't exhausted afterwards. After doing the same loop with a knobby I'm usually ready for the morgue. I spent much more time just riding and less time getting unstuck or fighting over obstacles.

Overall its a great tire for technical riding. I think I'll still use a knobby when racing in non-technical conditions, where getting traction isn't an issue. Two great big thumbs up. :worthy: :D

  • mauricedorris

Posted November 29, 2006 - 05:21 AM

#2

Good review. Although I have the IRC trials tire, I complete agree with your review. My opinions are the same regarding trials tires. I also ride a wr450 in desert terrain.

That extra traction is great. I did notice that I was having big problems "roosting around corners" as you put it. I was having quite a bit of trouble taking corners at speed in deep sand with the trials tire. But there is a bigger possibility that the problem is me instead of the trials tire in this situation. I was also running 12lbs instead of the 8 you were running. I bet it would have made it easier for me to lower the pressure.

Going up and down hills is about confidence and technique. The trials tire gives you plenty of confidence, thats for sure.

Have fun with it!

btw... how can you explain not being so tired after running the trials tire? How does this happen?

  • jerryls

Posted November 29, 2006 - 11:16 AM

#3

btw... how can you explain not being so tired after running the trials tire? How does this happen?



Less crashing, less paddling with my feet thru tough stuff, less pulling the bike back onto the trail, etc. Energy conservation!

Jerry

  • ONLY4STROKES

Posted November 29, 2006 - 11:32 AM

#4

How long do these trials tires last out in the desert?

I might be interested in trying the 803 since all I ride are pretty technical spots with steep hills.

  • Bill_P

Posted November 29, 2006 - 04:14 PM

#5

Good review. Although I have the IRC trials tire, I complete agree with your review. My opinions are the same regarding trials tires. I also ride a wr450 in desert terrain.

That extra traction is great. I did notice that I was having big problems "roosting around corners" as you put it. I was having quite a bit of trouble taking corners at speed in deep sand with the trials tire. But there is a bigger possibility that the problem is me instead of the trials tire in this situation. I was also running 12lbs instead of the 8 you were running. I bet it would have made it easier for me to lower the pressure.

Going up and down hills is about confidence and technique. The trials tire gives you plenty of confidence, thats for sure.

Have fun with it!

btw... how can you explain not being so tired after running the trials tire? How does this happen?


Maurice, roosting thru corners with a trials tire takes more commitment than with a knobby. It's completely do-able though. Just lean further and gas more. :worthy:

  • Bill_P

Posted November 29, 2006 - 04:16 PM

#6

PS - if you lower the pressure to 8lbs, it will take even MORE commitment!!!! :-O

  • Enterprise

Posted November 30, 2006 - 07:51 AM

#7

I agree with all of the positive comments on this tire. I really like riding with one in everything except mud (which we don't get a lot of out here in Colorado/Utah). I've ridden exclusively at 8psi in some pretty nasty stuff and never had a problem with a flat; found the tire to offer exceptionally good traction in sand; and it's everything everyone says (and maybe some more) in technical sections.

However, one big negative that I'm still trying to come to grips with is the very limited ability to ride at higher speeds for any length of time (e.g. 50mph on a road between trails, etc.). It doesn't sound like such a big issue until the group you're with streaks away from you, while you're trying to baby the tire along. My understanding is that higher tire pressure makes this less of an issue, but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to changing the tire's pressure every time I jump on/off a road.

  • mauricedorris

Posted November 30, 2006 - 11:34 PM

#8

Maurice, roosting thru corners with a trials tire takes more commitment than with a knobby. It's completely do-able though. Just lean further and gas more. :worthy:


OK... I'm working on that. My lack of commitment and confidence is what led me to the trials tire.

I am doing better now. I'm a rider who still has a lot to learn and lighting up the rear all the time was scaring me back then. The trials tire helps me learn. I've have since come to learn that my real problem with wheelspin was my wrist and not the tire.

Nonetheless, I am having a blast trying different tires and riding them in different terrain and conditions.

  • XR4play

Posted December 03, 2006 - 03:10 PM

#9

I have watched this thread with interest and since I needed a new tyre anyway I took the plunge and put on a Dunlop 803 and HD tube on the rear. The guy at the tyre shop reckoned that one rim lock was sufficient; he was wrong (more on this later). I rode it at just under 10 lbs pressure.

The verdict: I never thought I’d ever say this, but sometimes you can have too much traction from a tyre!

For the first time ever I looped my bike. This tyre (and I assume the same could be said for any Trials tyre) gripped like Velcro. I have never been too heavy handed with the throttle, but I found it very difficult to break traction with this tyre. On steep hills the bike just kept climbing when standard knobbies would be spinning. Once the front wheel was off the ground it was very difficult to get it back down and I got out of shape many times as a result (no steering). Looped it big time and saw my butt several times. I imagine I will eventually adjust my riding style to take this ultra-traction into consideration and maybe spend less time taking soil samples. The terrain varied from rock to loose gravel to deep sand (not beach-sand but fine powdery dusty sand).

The braking effect was PHENOMINAL! On your average gravel road where I'd lock up a knobby every corner I could NOT get the back wheel to lock up. This meant I could ride the straights much quicker and leave my braking later than I usually would. There was no need to slide into the turn because the tyre was so sticky I needed only concentrate on keeping my front wheel on line and the rear followed through. This also meant I could get on the gas earlier. Because the wheel did not spin the noise was being directly transferred into acceleration (not roost). My overall speed on fire roads was increased (based on the fact that my buddy who's 'speciality' is being super-quick on forest roads and fire trails, had problems keeping up with me).

Because of the increased braking effect, downhills were a dream. I did lock up a few times on the downs (but then so does everybody), but I just dabbed off the rear brake to get the wheel turning again. I really felt in total control, to the point of actually allowing the bike to descend quicker than I normally would, confident that I could slow or stop the bike easily and quickly if I needed to. More speed meant a safer and smoother descent. Too good!

Jumps (ski jumps) were no different to knobbies although I might have imagined slightly cushier landings. I did notice a bit of wallowing from side to side at speeds over 90kph but not scarily so, and not all the time.

I expect this tyre will last a VERY long time. My buddy had a new knobby for that same ride and took just under one quarter of it off by the end of the ride (it was a tough ride). His knobs were well rounded and chunked in some places. He will probably only get 4 or 6 more rides out of it. With the 803 Trials tyre however I did not even lose those skinny slivers of excess rubber on the edges of the knobs left over from the moulding. I swear that the knobs (leading AND trailing edges) look as pristine as they were when I put the tyre on.

On the negative side, it was not long before some passing riders stopped to 'laugh' at the tyre. I was parked at the top of a gnarly hill and they were coming up. "How'd you ever get up the hill on that road tyre?" they commented. I did a sales job on them and we joined them on the next treacherous hill (the ride back to the trucks). Of the 4 of us 3 crashed (multiple times) 10m before the top. That was where I got too much traction and looped out. One guy needed to be pushed up because he could not face a third ride to the inevitable crash point; even while bulldogging the bike (while three of us pushed) up he could not get his rear to take hold.

From the same place I just re-started my bike on the slope and in a loose mess of rocks, gravel and sand) and did a simple hill-start like you would on a road bike (release back brake when the clutch takes); I did need to get someone to hold the back of my bike to stop it slipping down the hill until I could get on it and apply the rear brake. The bike just moved forward and I cleared the last 10 metres with ease. Everyone was stunned and made comments like "never in my life have I seen anything like that". Concept sold.

The second negative was that the single rim lock did not seem to be sufficient. After about 2 hours of full-on riding the tube valve was at a noticeable angle. The angle suggested that the errant movement had been done through braking rather than acceleration. I had marked the tyre and the rim and it did not appear that the tyre had moved at all on the rim. I can only guess that the rim lock had worked well and that the tyre was moving/flexing back and forth on the other side of the rim. The net change to the tyre position would have been zero but the movement of the tube inside tyre may not have matched that of the tyre (different loads on it during braking and riding perhaps). We opened the tyre and re-seated the tube (not easy to do in the bush but we proved that it can be done). I then tried my damnedness to see if I could get the tube to shift the other direction through aggressive acceleration. I did succeed at this and at the end of the ride the tube valve was angled the other way. I think the second rim lock will fix this.

In summary therefore (whew it doesn't take long does it), I was amazed at the grip this tyre gave me (several orders of magnitude over a knobby). Its added traction through braking and acceleration has made me quicker on fire roads and trails. I just need to learn to tame this new grip (and stop it putting me on my arse). To be honest I can see this tyre making any ride relatively stress-free and I don't know (yet) if that is necessarily a good thing (let's face it we ride for kicks not just to get out of town for a day). I imagine that once I am used to the traction I will be able to push the envelope further still, and will get my kicks from doing things I would never dare to on a lesser tyre. If I can tame the extra grip (I’m sure I will), I will never use a regular knobby again. I would put good money on it that other guys in my group will follow my lead. I will also put money on it that I will soon get bored of ‘defending’ the tyre to what I know will be an endless stream of joking comments (riders are a social lot and will always stop to chat if there is something to chat about).

Dunlop 803 Trials tyre for trail riding: I give it two wheels up,

  • coffee

Posted December 04, 2006 - 05:13 PM

#10

The verdict: I never thought I’d ever say this, but sometimes you can have too much traction from a tyre!


I agree with everything you said about the 803.
My bike lifted up the front end and fell to the side - and I got a foot peg just above the ankle - ouch.

The 2nd rim lock will make the tire more balanced. Put a 803 on the front and like it a lot - very sticky still after 1000 miles. Allows me point the bike were I want it to go with less regard to the terrain & bumps.

.

  • Dwight_Rudder

Posted December 04, 2006 - 05:18 PM

#11

I tried 2 803 Dunlop. Straight line traction is great. Cornering sucks. As does braking in sand / loose dirt. Destroyed each tire in 65miles on my 525 EXC and I torque the engine a lot with little wheel spin. Bottom line if you want a tire to play / trail ride on, it is great. Otherwise I suggest a tire more like the MT16 Pirelli. Much better control. And actually lasts longer ( for me ) than the Trials tires.
Cher'o,
Dwight

  • 625SXC

Posted December 23, 2006 - 06:19 PM

#12

How do you guys think a set of these would do on a heavy bike? And by heavy I mean 300lbs of KTM 625SXC. I am going to be riding in Tucson for 3 days then Parker AZ for a day. After that I am going to San Diego and ride a 130 mile D/S loop in Borrengo/Ocotillo. I have S12's on my bike that will be wasted by the time I am done in Parker. I am going to spoon on a new set of tires when I get to Kalifornia.

  • XR4play

Posted January 10, 2007 - 09:15 PM

#13

Dwight, I am still amazed that you destroyed a trails tyre in 65miles. I have now done 3 long hard rides on mine and I still have those thin slivers of rubber that you get on the edges of the knobs with new tyres. I have rounded the leading edges of the knobs a bit, but I do like to get on the gas a bit more enthusiaticly that I perhaps I should (and it does breack away now and then). Perhaps you had too much pressure; I have mine at 10 pounds

I have raved over the performance of this tyre on dry sandy/clay/gravel/looserock tracks. This weekend past I had the opportunity to try the tyre in the most trecherous wet and muddy conditions.

If the tyre could find bottom and be able to flex it behaved OK. There was one hill where almost all the less talented riders (myself included) came to grief on. The surface was sloppy wet red clay, and 25 bikes had souped it up before me. First attempt up I got sideways and ate mud, second attempt I just went up. ALL the bikes - even those with new sharp knobs were spinning; the 803 barely broke traction but when it did I just clutched it and got the traction back.

On one downhill section it was so steep, rutted and greasy that EVERYONE (even the most skillful riders) "paddled" their bikes down (feet on the ground at dead-slow pace). On this section I was very surprised to find I had great traction on the rear and was probably the only person not using both feet (I was using the right to brake the rear). I watched almost everyone in front of me struggle, but as I hade some degree of braking I was not stressed.

In the deep mud and water I think the trials tyre behaved no better or worse than any of the conventialal knobbies; we were all churning it up.

A couple of times at speed I hit the rear brakes and had an alarming 'sphincter moment' as the rear tried to pass the front. I managed to stay up though, but the experience(s) shook my confidence to the point where I began riding slower than I would normally and the consequence was thet my FRONT tyre caked up and I had a few unexpected front-end washouts.

I did crash in the mud (several times), but I put it down more to lack of talent than the ineffectiveness of the trials tyre. I really believe that at it's worst, the trials tyre did not perform any less than a half-worn knobby would have. (I have ridden half-worn knobbies in this same area and under similar conditions and can attest to the fact that the tyres behaved very similar)

The problem is that you get VERY used to high traction with a trials tyre so when the trials tyre behaves like a normal tyre the contrast is so high it feels worse than it might otherwise.

I am still very happy with this tyre and estimate it will last me another 20 or 30 rides at a very minimum (at the rate I'm going).

  • cleonard

Posted January 11, 2007 - 02:07 PM

#14

What happens if you run at high speed. Does the tire just wear more or are tire failures a real possibility. I have a XR600 and when I hit a dirt road in the desert, I go 70+. Will that kill one of these tires? I see that the Dunlop has a M speed rating, which is 81 mph. I guess that this is at high tire pressure. I could try and keep my speed down if it's really necessary for the tire to live.

What about planted sharp rocks? Will these shred the D803? I can completely fry a D756 in just a few rides at this area. Since it's only 5 miles from my home, I ride it a lot. I like my XR600's torque and I'm worried that I will waste the tire in short order like Dwight's report.

Other than these concerns I'd really like to try one.

  • Enterprise

Posted January 12, 2007 - 08:34 AM

#15

Based on my limited experience - you do not want to ride this tire if you are regularly riding high speeds (especially on hard packed/paved road).

To get the performance the tire is famous for, you need lower pressures (8 psi +/-2psi). Unfortunately, at those pressures the tire flexes too much and the knobs will literally melt after even shorter (1-2 miles) stretches on hard surfaces at high speeds (you'll feel the tire getting squirrelly and the knobs get so soft you can break them off with your fingers).

I've heard of people riding trials tires at higher pressures on hard ground (e.g. to/from a riding area) without any issues, but then they have to adjust the pressure to get good traction/performance (not a very appealing proposition if you're jumping on and off high speed sections, as you tend to do in desert areas).

Also, I would be concerned with all the torque a bigger bike can put to the tire - you don't want to break this tire loose. It is designed and intended to stay stuck. Spinning it is going to limit it's ability to perform as intended and severely shorten its life (I would think).

FWIW - on my 250, a 756 lasts up to 300 miles. Yet, I have 400 on my 803 and it's still in very ridable condition.

Finally, I was very concerned about sharp rocks as well (we have a lot of those here in Colorado, as well as the desert in Utah where I ride as well), yet I haven't had a single problem (although my experience is very limited). From talking to other 803 riders, the only flat that I'm aware of was cactus related.

  • billgear

Posted January 12, 2007 - 02:47 PM

#16

I've had a Michilen Trails tire on my KTM 450 for the last 700 miles. Last weekend it finallaly started loosing knobs. Even with the missing knobs i had a great ride on some pretty technical single track. Even did pretty decent in the mud. I'm odering another one. I run 8--10psi, two locks.

Regards,
Bill





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