Tyre choice on any bike is important, but arguably none more so than on mountain bikes. With ever varying terrain, conditions and high-consequences; MTB tyre choice is vital in order to have confidence in your bike. Any bike – and any ride – can be ruined by poor tyre choice, so while you may think fancy components make a difference to your ride, it’s actually those black rubber circles that make the biggest difference of all.
As your one contact between the bike and the ground, tyres have a pretty crucial role in keeping you upright on the bike. You want to ensure you invest not only in quality tyres, but the right tyres for your bike, riding style and the terrain you ride. Cheap, plasticky feeling tyres may last an eternity and roll reasonably quickly but will offer next to no grip when you venture out on to proper off-road trails. More expensive, softer compound tyres will grip far better but roll slower and wear quicker.
There’s a compromise to be made, so it pays to do your research; asking local riders who you see out on the trails on their own choices is a great way to learn what works in the area, (and pick up a few tips at the same time). You may find one brand in particular is recommended by a whole host of riders who frequent your riding spots.
Michelin having been making MTB tyres for years and have produced some real classics in that time; the Comp 22 DH tyre is still fondly remembered by DH riders from the late 90’s and early 00’s, while the classic Wild Grip-R (which has had a recent upgrade) was the XC tyre of choice for many riders. Their latest range of tyres features some all-new designs, so we’ve put together a quick guide to get the best out of their range for Enduro, Trail and Cross-Country riding.
With the rise in popularity of Enduro racing and with bikes becoming more and more capable, it’s been a scramble to get tyres that are up to the task. The Michelin Wild Enduro MTB tyre comes in front and rear specific versions to suit the needs of the modern Enduro rider and racer.
The Wild Enduro Front is designed with a soft Gum-X compound and aggressive, blocky tread to deliver maximum grip on a range of surfaces, while the Wild Enduro Rear uses the same rubber compound teamed with a shallower, faster-rolling tread pattern to give a great compromise between speed and grip. Michelin even go one step further by giving the rear tyre extra reinforcement to cope better with the harder hits your rear wheel will take!
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from two of either tyre front and rear if the conditions call for it.
Trail riding (or what we like to call “mountain biking”) is what the vast majority of riders actually do, so this is arguably where the most attention is paid, too.
We don’t all need tacky, 1kg-plus tyres for our riding. The Michelin Wild AM is one such tyre that meets the demands of riders who will be best served by a lighter, faster rolling tyre that still offers plenty of grip in a range of conditions. It has an intermediate tread pattern that gives plenty of grip when cornering but still rolls well on climbs and flat sections, ticking all boxes, really. Using a harder Gum-X3D rubber compound and lighter Trail Shield casing, the Wild AM is a great all-rounder. Those looking for a little extra speed should check out the faster-rolling Michelin Force AM as the combination of grippy front tyre and fast-rolling rear makes for a great summer tyre setup.
Cross-country is all about speed and efficiency, so tyres are generally lightweight and fast-rolling with just enough grip to not be absolutely terrifying on descents. Michelin Force XC tyres have been designed to be a super fast-rolling cross country tyre that flies up climbs but doesn’t flinch on descents. The lightweight Cross Shield casing is supple enough to provide excellent traction yet tough enough to see you through the course of a race without issues. If your cross-country bike also sees double duty as a trail bike away from the races, the Force XC can be teamed with the grippier Force AM up front to better deal with technical trails.