Michelin Tires vs. Squamish Dirt

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Jérémie Reuiller
Date Sep 4, 2015
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During the Crankworx week I was invited to join a Michelin Tires Mountain Bike Ride Event. This event was originally planned to unveil and test out some new tires from Michelin. Unfortunately the tires didn’t make it across the ocean from France in time. Michelin made the most of a crappy situation and put on a test event in Squamish along with Michelin riders Jérôme Clémentz and Kat Sweet. I appreciate their fortitude.

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After a quick breakfast in Whistler, we were hustled into some vans and driven down to Squamish.

Michelin had arranged some Rocky Mountain Thunderbolts for us as mules to evaluate a few of their current tires. I tested the Michelin Wild Rock’R 2, Wild Grip’R and Wild Race’R on the rear of the 27.5 Thunderbolt, paired with a Wild Rock’R 2 on the front. I thought it was a little odd to be using a 120 mm trail bike on a shuttle trail like Cakewalk with relatively aggressive tires, but the upside of the shorter travel bike is it accentuated the differences in the rear tires.

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Home base for testing was set up on the Diamond shuttle road.

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Getting the Thunderbolt setup with Jerome.

The strategy was simple with tire pressure checks before and after each run:
Lap 1: Recon lap to get the bike setup and see the trail
Lap 2: Develop a baseline read on Tire A. After this lap we evaluated Tire A over a number of categories. Remove Tire A. Install Tire B
Lap 3: Ride Tire B. Evaluate Tire B relative to Tire A. Remove Tire B. Install Tire C
Lap 4: Ride Tire C. Evaluate Tire C relative to Tire B
Lap 5: Trail party fun lap
Lap 6: The Watershed Bar and Grill in Squamish

The trail we shuttled was Cakewalk in Squamish; easiest shuttle trail in the Sea to Sky corridor. Cakewalk belies its name for most folks, with a mix of corner speeds, grades, and surfaces, which proved to be a good testing ground.

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The conditions were dry and dusty on Cakewalk, so braking and cornering over firm and loose terrain was evaluated.

The three tires I tested were all from Michelin’s Advanced line and were all in the Gum-X compound; 2.35” width for the Rock’r 2 / Grip’R and 2.25” width for the Race’R. Tires were set up tubeless and pressures for me on all tires were 27.5 psig front, 30 psig rear, which was checked before and after each run.

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The Grip’R.

Chasing Jerome on a short travel bike was not easy.

Chasing Jerome on a short travel bike was not easy.

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The Race ‘R.

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In these conditions the Race’R was the surprise of the test. I thought this was a great fast rolling tire, that was forgiving at the limit.

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The Rock’R 2.

My final two laps were with the Rock’R 2 mounted front and rear.

My final two laps were with the Rock’R 2 mounted front and rear.

Michelin was certainly careful with their testing process, and all their steps seemed to make sense. This type of testing is part of a bigger plan within the Michelin Tire development program. The folks at Michelin explained that they start off with a concept, perfect the concept through computer modelling / analysis, then perform machine testing, vehicle testing with their team riders, and only then perform subjective tire testing with a small set of riders / racers. Once the tire has been developed through that process the tire will finally be released to production. Michelin knows this process is rigorous and as such they usually take two years from first concept to production. It’s clear that Michelin feels they produce high quality products as a result.

The Michelins were excellent at ladder bridge jumps.

The Michelins were excellent at ladder bridge jumps.

The stand out tire of the day for me was the Wild Race’R. Based on the appearance of the tire I thought it was going to be a sketchy fast rolling tire, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Race’R rolled fast, but provided surprisingly good traction on the side knob in the loose conditions. The transition from centre knob to side knob was graceful. Braking traction was better than expected too. Further proof that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Bonus lap down Full Nelson, always a crowd pleaser.

Bonus lap down Full Nelson, always a crowd pleaser.

While we didn’t get to see or ride the new tires, I can say Michelin made the most of a bad situation. It was great to meet the folks behind the tires, learn more about their development process, ride some tires I hadn’t ridden before, and shred trail with Jerome Clementz and Kat Sweet. It was hard to get a good read on how the Michelin tires I rode compare to my current favourites considering the limited ride time, foreign bike, and rather loose conditions. I can say all three Michelin tires seemed to work well, there were no flats in the group, and I was comfortable riding quickly – but more ride time would be needed for a proper review. If all works out NSMB.com should be getting some of those new Michelin tires to try out, and we’ll post up our results.

The Watershed Bar and Grill in Squamish was a great way to wrap up the ride. Thanks to Michelin for a fun and educational day.

The Watershed Bar and Grill in Squamish was a great way to wrap up the ride. Thanks to Michelin for a fun and educational day.


Michelin hasn’t had a lot of tire hype lately, but maybe that’s about to change.

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Comments

matt-whip
0
Matt Whip  - Dec. 9, 2016, 9:18 a.m.

Are you guys planning on doing a comprehensive review of the Michelin line? I think the Rock'r 2 proves a viable upgrade in performance vs the Minion and the Wild Grip'r might be too good of a grippy rear tire.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Sept. 5, 2015, 9:37 a.m.

Tire sociology is an interesting thing. When Panaracer came out with the Smoke, it was THE tire. It seems that there was almost always one tire that was the one to have. Velociraptors, Ground Control, Python (xc) DHF, all those tires have been in their day mythical. I ran Michelin tires at times and had good and bad experiences. Michelin have been off the radar for some time now. Nice to see them back. More good choices is always a plus.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 5, 2015, 1:11 p.m.

DHF has been THE tire of DH/FR/AM/TrEnduro for what a decade plus though?

Reply

andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Sept. 5, 2015, 1:47 p.m.

Pretty much since it was introduced whenever that was its been a go to tread.

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dj
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DJ  - Sept. 4, 2015, 7:56 p.m.

can you even buy Mish tires anywhere in BC?

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jesse-oneill
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Jesse O'Neill  - Sept. 5, 2015, 7:26 a.m.

Lynn valley bikes in north Vancouver has been bringing some in. That's where I got mine. So far it's been a great rear tire.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 4, 2015, 11:55 a.m.

Euro riders sock length game on fleek!

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Sept. 4, 2015, 10:54 a.m.

Important to consider that the conditions they tested in are highly unusual for Squamish. This was one of our driest summers on record, and the forests and trails were bone-dry without any moisture to hold the soils together. This made for dusty drifting scrabbly loose skid-fests. So potential riders should keep that in mind both for the tires, and for riding in Squamish.

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jitenshakun
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Jitensha Kun  - Sept. 4, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

The Watershed bar is an "ok" way to wrap up a ride in Squamish. For a "great" wrap up you should head to the Howesound brewpub.

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