Aggressive, block-treaded tyre from French rubber wizards, Michelin.
This Wild AM2 is another brand-new Michelin for 2021. It’s meatier and knobblier than the Force AM, with a more uniform, square, blocky tread pattern. Central paddles are similar to the DH34 tyre, whereas the pretty-spiky shoulders use staggered knob trios, more like the DH22 model. The pattern is arguably more optimised for front end use, but doesn’t jut out at quite such an extreme angle as some of the more aggressively-fanged tyres here.
Michelin’s Gum X compound uses two rubber blends with softer shoulder knobs, and it works well in all conditions – grip isn’t outrageous (and is clearly not as tenacious as Vee’s Top 40 blend Snap Trail) – but there’s no sense of pinging off roots or any dramatic or unsettling behaviour either. The Wild AM rolls and accelerates more easily and turns over better when climbing up smoother fireroads and tarmac than Vee’s option too.
Being very predictable extends to the sturdy three-ply Gravity Shield casing offering plenty of support against loads generated when rider weight pitches forward during braking and on steeps – this is even at lower pressures that boost comfort and grip too. It’s a personal preference, but we also prefer the more uniform, continuous feel to the cornering hold here over its Wild Enduro sibling with its bigger gaps in the tread edges.
As well as good durability, braking behaviour and wear life, the price compares favourably with many similar premium trail tyres. The Wild AM weight means they tip more into the enduro category than pure trail though, and we can’t help but feel Michelin is one of many manufacturers missing a trick by not making this a sub 1kg tyre with a similar weight/toughness balance to Maxxis’s EXO models, considering most riders seem to have settled on that as something of a sweet spot.
One further consideration is that this tyre (just like the Force AM) was a total dog to mount tubeless. Michelin was the only brand on test necessitating removal of the valve core and multiple air dumps to seat on the exact same rims. We also had to top up both several times until they consistently held air.
A heavyweight option with a decent blend of grip, predictability and rolling speed. You'll need strong thumbs and the patience of a saint to get it mounted though.