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Review

Michelin Wild AM Tire Reviewed

Words AJ Barlas
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Oct 18, 2018

Once a top tire name in mountain bikes, Michelin has steadily begun rebuilding a following. Michelin never completely stopped making mountain bike tires, but their range lacked anything for the aggressive rider. There is now a selection of tires for most disciplines; from race-worthy cross-country to enduro. It also looks like a new DH tire is in development…

The Wild AM tire sits comfortably in the middle. As the name suggests, it’s targeted squarely at the all-mountain rider. Who is that though? Some brands consider it level with enduro, but Michelin appears to place it below, in terms of travel and terrain difficulty. Looking at the range, and based on experience with the tire, the Wild AM is well suited for general trail riding.

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Highlights

  • Gum X3D rubber compound
  • 3 x 60 TPI carcass
  • Developed with Nico Vouilloz and Rémy Absalon
  • Available sizes: 27.5 x 2.35 (tested), 2.6 and 2.8, 29 x 2.35
  • Weight: 27.5 x 2.35 – 785g (claimed)
  • MSRP: 74.99 US


Michelin has a history of good rubber compounds. The Gum and Magi-X compounds used in the formidable Rock R2 tire proved they know a thing or two about MTB tire traction. In the Wild AM, and many of the newer tire designs, we see a compound evolution. Gum X3D is Michelin’s version of a triple compound tire. Unfortunately, Michelin doesn’t reveal durometers so we can only talk in relative terms. The Gum X3D tire's base layer is a firmer, ‘race’ compound, the centre lugs are softer with a balance of traction and durability, and the side lugs are the softest, for cornering grip.


The Wild AM tire carcass is quite light and feels similar to an EXO casing, for those with experience on Maxxis tires. Michelin says that it consists of three layers of 60 TPI material. Tire width is a claimed 2.35 inches, however, when mounted it becomes clear they don’t measure up. A set of digital callipers revealed that these are closer to 2.28*. Coming off e*thirteen TRS tires, which also claim a 2.35 width, the smaller size was a bit of a shock.

*The tires measured 2.28 to the furthest from centre side lugs. Carcass width measured 2.25. Measurements were made on a 27mm internal width rim.

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The e*thirteen TRS+ next to the Wild AM. Both tires claim the same width, but the Wild AM didn't compare in the carcass or tread. 


Riding the Wild AM tires, the smaller volume was apparent. More trail feedback made its way through the wheel to the rider, and grip was lower too. After coming off proper meaty treads, they felt dainty fitted to a 160mm travel bike. They required more planned moves and a smoother approach to the trail. The Michelin Gum X3D compound isn't as soft as the TRS+ rubber compound or the Maxxis Maxx Terra, and it led to reduced grip. While this general purpose compound performs admirably, it doesn’t provide the grip of the early Gum-X compound* (and doesn’t come close to the Magi-X).

*Michelin have updated versions of their Gum-X and Magi-X compounds and I hope they retain the incredible grip of the first iterations.


Consider all of the above when thinking about all-mountain/enduro, or simply put, aggressive use. If you are looking for a trail tire, it’s more positive. The smaller volume and faster rolling compound suit general trail riding very well and will be at home on a shorter travel bike. Less involved trails are a breeze with the Wild AM, with the tire providing ample cornering and braking traction. They also survived quite well during some of the most abrasive conditions of the year and show minimal wear. Despite their lightweight casing and small volume, I didn't flat during testing. This could be thanks to unconscious decisions to favour finesse while riding lower volume tires.

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All the details… Textured sidewalls for abrasion resistance.


The side lugs hold well and didn't fold unpredictably under aggressive cornering. When they break loose, the tires do so in a controlled manner and more often than not it was expected when it happened. The small lugs dig in well when seeking traction on a climb and under braking there was plenty of stability on offer.

If you don't fall for the ‘all-mountain’ label, you're off to a good start with the Wild AM. Where a 150mm+ bike is your go-to, this is the wrong tire for you. Michelin also makes a 2.6 (and a 2.8) version of the tire, which could perform well in the rear, but I'd steer clear of it for front tire duties. For shorter travel trail bikes, this is an excellent tire. It would also make a great aggressive XC tire.

Visit the Michelin Bike website for more on their Wild AM tire. 

Comments

MTBrent
0
MTBrent  - Oct. 18, 2018, 6:15 a.m.

Good stuff, AJ.  Michelin tires are simply great.  Their combination of performance in the wet, respectable weight, cost, and wear life is what brings me back each time.  The Wild Grip'R2 initially sucked me in and I'm now a full-time Michelin fanboy.

I run 29x2.35 Force AMs front and rear on my singlespeed hardtail (Canfield Nimble 9) which is pretty much the bike I ride all the time now, from XC to DH.  The tires roll for days and hold their own when things get a little rowdy, I'll definitely be stepping up to the Wild AMs next or go full Wild Enduro if my legs oblige.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Oct. 18, 2018, 6:45 a.m.

Thanks MTBrent. These will go well with the Force AM. I’m hopeful that the incredible confidence of the Rock R2 is equalled with the Wild Enduro if all goes well, will have a review of those in the future. If you get some before such a time, let us know how you find them.

Reply

bikecruz
+1 AJ Barlas
bikecruz  - Oct. 18, 2018, 8:11 a.m.

I would agree that this is not an "All Mountain" tire, mainly because the casing is not that strong.  I had a side wall on one of these Wild AM's cut wide open on a rock roll.  But they do have good grip, so if your local trails don't have rocks, they might work for you.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 AJ Barlas
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 18, 2018, 9:30 a.m.

I’m running the Wild Enduro 2.4 650 Gum-X on my hardtail. Fantastic tires. Wear has been very good too. Still plenty of life after an entire summer. A few knobs have torn a bit on the rear one. They measure just under 2.4 at the casing on a 30mm internal width rim.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Oct. 18, 2018, 10:20 a.m.

My interest is high. Thanks for sharing some insight into them, Andy.

Reply

natbrown
0
natbrown  - Oct. 18, 2018, 9:57 a.m.

I totally agree with you on wishing companies reported the durometer used in tyres these days. It runs counter to the industry culture to withhold specification as far as I can tell. If anything they tend to invent useless parameters to confuse us.  Measuring the layered rubber on these and others like Maxxis 3C tyres must be fraught with inaccuracy though.

Reply

JVP
0
JVP  - Oct. 18, 2018, 10:07 a.m.

Agreed. If they want to sell any tires, they should list durometer. Until then, I'm just going to stick with the standard Maxxis combos we all seem to run.  Not worth finding out the hard way the rubber is too hard when the default option is really good.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - Oct. 18, 2018, 10:18 a.m.

Great point, Nat. Surely the manufacturers are capable of accurately measuring and reporting on what they're using. But yeah, for us consumers it will be really tricky.

Reply

thehfk
0
thehfk  - Oct. 18, 2018, 7:05 p.m.

I used the Force AM rear and Wild AM front this summer on my Commencal Meta AM V4.2 and loved them...as long as they held air. I flatted the Force more than any tire before or since - and that was tubeless. The few times I set them up with tubes last minutes before flatting. I weigh 145 and am not sure hard on wheels. That being said, the Island has a lot of sharp rocks.

I went back to Maxxis but would be really interested to try the Enduro version. The grip, weight and quick-rolling character of the AMs was second to none. They transformed my bike...as long as they held air.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Oct. 19, 2018, 9:20 a.m.

Is there a Wild Enduro review coming?  That's a tire I'm really interested in.  I'm thinking about them for my next set of tires.. although these Wild AM's being a little narrow is concerning...

Reply

jonas-dodd
0
Jonas Dodd  - Oct. 20, 2018, 10:27 a.m.

They should have called it Wild AF

Reply

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