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Track Tested | Dunlop MX53 Tire


Track Tested | Dunlop MX53 Tire

Last week, Dunlop Tire invited the motocross media to Perris Raceway for the debut of its all-new MX53 tires, designed for intermediate- to hard-terrain usage. Available in all sizes, the MX53 replaces the MX52 and has a much broader range of usable traction as far as conditions go. SML brought along our part-time tester and full-time jester Alex Ray, to help us put the new rubber to the test.

The new MX53 is designed to offer great performance in a wider range of track conditions than the MX52 that it replaces and enjoys many of the advancements that the MX33 intermediate- to soft-terrain tire did when it was introduced a couple of years ago. 

The rear tire enhancements include a reemergence of Dunlop’s Tornado Wave block distribution. The staggered placement of the rear tire blocks provide a more linear land ratio for more ride compliance. The consistent placement of knobs along the shoulder of the tire increases confidence at greater lean angles. However, the interior blocks have more separation, which allows loose soil from softer terrains to clear the spaces more easily, while also exposing more surface area of the knobs to the dirt when more traction is needed for harder surfaces. 

Dunlop has introduced a new horseshoe-shaped cluster of knobs to the front tire of the MX53. This horseshoe pattern acts as a giant claw to dig into the ground and give the rider even more traction on hard-packed terrain and maximizes braking grip. This bold new pattern features hollowed out portions of the center of the tread. The hollow area of this horseshoe cluster results in less stiffness in the center of the tire, giving riders better feedback and more compliance. The MX53 also has a taller profile than the previous MX52, providing gentler handling, a higher lean angle and better maneuverability. Additionally, each of the blocks are 1 mm higher. This extra height is what allows the MX53 to perform better in intermediate terrains, extending the range and versatility of this tire.

On the Track

At the MX53 intro held at SoCal’s Perris Raceway, we were very impressed with the performance and feel of the new tire. Early in the day when the track was fresh, the front and rear tires enjoyed ample traction in all areas of the track. One thing that we all noticed was that both tires have a more compliant feel than the old MX52, and this both inspired confidence and provided comfort. 

As the track deteriorated, the tires really began to shine. The front, especially, enjoyed great traction under braking and had a nice, predictable feel. When the water trucks came out and sprayed the now-hard-packed surface, we were anxious to get out in the slippery conditions and see how the MX53 worked. Again, we were very pleased as the tires offered plenty of traction and were quite effective when paired with good throttle control in the wet areas. The taller front knobs on the front tire seemed to penetrate the sloppy initial track surface and find traction we didn’t expect.

Before we published our opinions, though, we wanted to try the tires at a few of our other favorite tracks around Southern California so we headed to Milestone MX and Glen Helen Raceway to see how they performed. Much as we suspected, the MX53 delivered in all conditions and provided the same performance at the other tracks that they had at Perris Raceway. While we will say that we still prefer the MX33 in many conditions, the new MX53 is superior when the track surface hardens as it offers more predictable traction and a trustworthy feel when the going gets dry.

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Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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