One tyre to rule them all?
French tyre giants Michelin introduce a completely new range of tyres specifically suited to the discipline of enduro racing. Consisting of just three tyres, Michelin claim that this new Wild Enduro range will cover over 80 percent of trail conditions with just the one tread pattern.
At a glance:
- Only 27.5” and one width, 2.40” currently.
- Two front tyre options. Same tread pattern but different compounds; the all-round GUM-X3D and ‘race’ MAGI-X compound.
- One rear GUM-X compound tyre.
The eagle-eyed followers of the EWS (Enduro World Series) will have probably seen these tyres before, under the capable wheels of both Adrien Dailly and Jérôme Clémentz. Finishing second and fourth place respectively overall, both riders opted for the new tyres in six out of the eight rounds of the 2017 series. In fact, the Wild Enduro range has actually been under development since 2015, when Michelin’s enduro team started testing and fine-tuning the compounds and tread patterns. The list of riders credited with helping the creation of the new tyres sounds like a who’s-who of the EWS, Remy Absolon, Nico Vouilloz, as well as Adrien and Jérôme all played a part in developing, testing and finalising the range as it looks today.
One of the issues Michelin faced when developing the new tyres is the Wild Enduro needed to work with a huge variety of different trail conditions. Just looking at the locations on the EWS rounds as a starting point they needed a tyre that works just as well on the dusty, rocky trails of Finale Ligure as it does for the loam of Ireland. Normally riders would almost need to second guess which tyres to fit or need a variety to cover all bases. Extremely versatile, the new tread design covers a wide spectrum of uses and simplifies tyre choice. Providing riders with an efficient solution for practically every situation, from forest trails to damp or sandy surfaces.
This is where the interesting stuff happens. Normally a tyre company tries to utilise the softest rubber compounds for its high-end or ‘race’ tyres. Michelin however, has turned this concept on its head and actually utilizes a slightly harder compound for the MAGI-X version of the Wild Enduro. This rubber technology has been taken from Michelin’s Moto GP tyres and is designed to work best when pushed as hard as possible. This makes it the best option for racers and the super fast. For the rest of us mere mortals the GUM-X3D compound is the tyre to go for. With a more consistent level of grip and a more flexible construction for cornering stability, the GUM-X3D will deliver even when out for a gentle pootle.
We were fortunate enough to be invited by Michelin to the trails of San Romolo for the official press launch and have also been putting the miles in with a set since October. So far, the impressions are pretty damn good. Front wheel grip is nothing short of phenomenal from either compound, certainly the equal of most other brands ‘enduro’ style tyres. The rear tyre is very predictable, complementing the front exceptionally well, it’s equally happy towing the line or being chucked through my version of a ‘Scandi-Flick’. Strength wise, again there have been no issues. Even smashing through the sharp rocky descents around San Romolo failed to make a dent in the casing.
However, much like many, expensive softer compound tyres the tread has suffered from the rocks. This wear though isn’t any worse than from any other tyre ridden in those conditions. Where the Wild Enduro does suffer a little is in the rolling resistance. On steep trails the tyres have no noticeable holdups, but on flatter trails it is a little more noticeable that the sticky rubber drags a little more than, for example, a Maxxis DHF/DHR MaxTerra combo. So if you tend to spend all your time on flat, pedally trails then you might want to get a test ride on these before you make your mind up.
UK prices are still to be confirmed but expect them to be similar to existing Michelin pricing (approx. £45 for GUM-X3D, £57 for MAGI-X).
The Wild Enduro range is scheduled for March delivery. For more information go to Michelin’s website.