The Michelin Comp 34 is one of two brand new downhill models tapping into their unrivalled heritage, designed for hard-pack and bike park terrain.
The Michelin Comp 34 uses the brand’s slurpy Magi-X DH rubber blend and is labelled as faster rolling than the Comp 22 model. This, in turn, is targeted at slightly looser, more varied conditions. If that’s the case then I dread to see how slow the 22 is, as this is one of the stickiest, slowest-turning tyres I’ve ever used (excluding pure mud tyres).
Although it has to be said that Michelin can legitimately claim that its iconic downhill treads spawned many imitators, and influenced most of today’s popular patterns. The siped tread pattern comprises of outer blocks of alternate offset cubes and L-shaped lugs, and then centre knobs in the same vein as a Maxxis Minion DHR II.
Michelin’s casing is seriously robust. The bead is wire, so doesn’t fold, and the carcass is proper double-layer downhill spec with two coarse 55tpi plies and extra reinforcement on sidewalls and bead. In total, up to four layers protect the sides, and there’s a bolstering wedge in the bead to provide extra pinch protection at bottom out.
You can run lower pressures with minimal squirm, although running around 20psi up front felt great for grip and plenty supportive, I did have multiple rim dinging moments smashing through the tyre to the rim wall. I never burped the bead once, however, and had zero punctures or issues with damage. The 34s are pretty porous though, and needed multiple re-inflations every few days to seal fully and hold air pressure. Wear life is about the same as a Maxx Grip Maxxis and tread blocks scrub off evenly with no torn knobs or sidewall damage.
From the first roll on gravel to get to the lifts, the sound of the ultra-sticky rubber squelching and firing small stones at my downtube hinted at the grip the Comp 34 was going to deliver. The tyre has absolutely shed loads of it, and a great feel with a dull, stable, predictable touch. Damping and hold on every type of rock, root and dirt is at least as good as any leading DH compounds I’ve used including Maxxis Maxx Grip and Schwalbe Addix Ultra Soft, and the slightly lower tread and slightly thinner profile makes it very precise on hard-pack.
Braking control and leant-over grip are totally trustworthy and the Magi-X compound is very confident on wet days with no pinginess or unsettling breakaway. One area where the Comp 34 isn’t as versatile as some is in deeper soil or loam when it’s greasy, as the shoulder blocks aren’t quite as tall as a Schwalbe Magic Mary or Maxxis Assegai.
So, Comp 34 grip and damping is fantastic and I felt super-confident on these tyres. One thing worth reiterating is the slow rolling speed; a real-world consequence being that lighter riding pals were consistently pulling away from me on their Maxx Gripp Maxxis tyres. So unless you’re riding the steepest trails, the friction and resistance will bring a speed penalty.
This aspect, plus the heavy weight, means this Michelin Comp 34 needs to be considered as a pure, aggressive DH tyre, rather than versatile enough to double up for a bit of enduro. If you do lug it round though, expect to be rewarded with hero levels of confidence and assurance all over the mountain.