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[Tested] Michelin Wild Rock’R² And Wild Grip’R

[Tested] Michelin Wild Rock’R² And Wild Grip’R

28/03/2016
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28/03/2016

[ad3]Back in the earlier days of mountain bike racing, Michelin were once the standard by which other tyres were to be compared to.  Although mountain biking was never a significant portion of their business (mainly auto/moto) they’ve recently started to invest in new molds and patterns few years back.  In doing so, they’ve worked with top riders to develop some of their new tires.  Names like Fabien Barel, Jerome Clementz and Nicolas Voiulloz have recently had a hand in R&D. The Wild Rock’R² and Wild Grip’R are the fruits of those investments and efforts.  Fabian Barel back in 2012 was developing the Rock’R² as Enduro was taking off as a race series. At that time we had some advanced looks at the tyres, but we didn’t have the chance to test them until recently.

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Our Cannondale test bike has been equipped with Wild Rock’R² and Wild Grip’R tyres in various combinations for the last season. We followed all kinds of recommendations but finally settled on the Wild Rock’R²  in a MAGI-X compound on the front and  a Wild Grip’R in a GUM-X on the back which we have tested for about 9 months now.

Specifications

Last July Michelin sent us on one of their educational press camps to look in detail at their company and tyre production ideals. With a barrage of information it is best summarized below. The tyres are available in a wide range of wheel sizes although they all have a standard width and hardness factor. Michelin highlight their intended characteristics which we we have detailed below.

Wild Rock’R²

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“A tyre answering all your expectations even in the worst conditions:”

Excellent steering accuracy
– Massive side blocks creating a rail insuring remarkable steering accuracy
– Remarkable grip.
– Numerous small sipes in the tread pattern, increasing the mobility of tread blocks improving adhesion.
– Tyres benefit from the newest compound: the MAGI-X Series or the GUM-X series
– Ease of rolling and exceptional braking thanks to the alternate transverse and longitudinal blocks in forms of teeth establishing the tread
– The “REINFORCED” casing allows you handle the harshest of terrains, It offers a good compromise between weight and strength which is ideal for Enduro riding.

Wild Grip’R

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“Shape and distribution of the central blocks are optimised for the best trade-off between the grip, rider output and self-cleaning tread.”

– The bases of the central blocks are reinforced for better stability and robustness.
– REINFORCED TECHNOLOGY for excellent resistance to cuts and damage
– Very efficient holding at an angles and on a slopes
– Tyre featuring the new MAGI-X compund or the GUM-X series.

Magi-X Compound
Developed and used in the “Enduro World series”, very high efficiency with exceptional grip on the angle; but also excellent braking under the most demanding conditions.
…MAGI-X series is mainly intended to be used on the front wheel.”

Gum-X Compound
An excellent balance of performance between grip, efficiency and wear. Used on front and Back Wheels.

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The  Wild Rock’R² uses soft square side knobs that give excellent stability and predictable grip.  As its name indicates, this tire is mainly aimed at hardpack and rock.  It uses a slow rebounding durometer.

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The Wild Grip’R is more of an all round mountain bike tyre that sheds dirt fast and hooks up really well in a variety of coniditons.

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Wide spacing on the  Wild Grip’R for better mud shedding and good for grip in climbs as well as hooking up on wet roots.

On The Trail

Punta Ala where we spent a significant amount of time testing has such varied conditions that it’s possible to really get to grips with different tyre combinations. The Michelin Wild Rock’R² And Wild Grip’R that we mounted worked incredibly well on our Enduro setup on rough and rocky trails.

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Davide checking our bike before we did one of our test rides in Punta Ala.

The MAGI-X combination on the front was designed for racing and it’s possible to feel that pedigree when cornering and pushing the limits of the bike in corners and over rocks. The tyre is fast and when you grab the brakes, especially in technical sections you are not left hoping for grip.

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Leaning the bike over in corners is a great way to find out where the limits are of a tyre.

The Wild Rock’R² is very forgiving and it’s possible to feel the bike as it leans over and starts to predictably break away giving great control in dodgy situations. The mid weight casing of the tyre is outstanding at absorbing the shocks, it really feels like an extra couple of inches of travel up front compared to a normal trail tyre.  It also helps prevent the tire from rolling under heavy cornering and prevents it from flatting on rocky bits.  Averaging at just over 1000 grams, these tires are supportive without compromising rotational weight too much.

Out back, the Wild Grip’R became our standard tyre for a number of reasons. First, it shed mud well and hooked up when we braked hard. It also had a tread pattern that was robust enough to follow the performance of the front of the bike in a complimentary manner despite being a bit of a harder compound.

The combination grip/performance characteristics are very similar to how a Minion front and rear works in our experience. The pedal characteristics of the rear of the bike were a good combination between rolling speed and grip. The GUM-X compound is slightly harder than the MAG-X and that produced a fast rolling combination.

Reliability is an important aspect of Enduro tyres. Despite some low pressures we found the tyre carcass resisted all kinds of puncture inducing damage.  This meant we could use sensible pressures (around 1.8-2 bar) that kept grip even and shock absorption in balance, whilst maintaining speed on the trail.

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We have spent a lot of time looking for a classic tyre combination that we love to ride in all conditions with.

Wear was on par with other brands, the tyres did not start losing bits or blocks like some other makes which we have tried in the past. The wear was even and within our expectations of time a tyre should last. In our case we felt we had about three months of top performance with wear degraded performance after that. We rode around twice a week with this tyre combination, with an average of 20km rides that were all off road.

Conclusion

There are a lot of tyres on the market all aiming at the same thing in different ways. The Michelin Wild Rock’R² and Wild Grip’R seem to be built from the ground up based on race experience. We tried the 27.5″ tubeless advance versions in a MAGI-X and GUM-X compounds. We swapped tyres around and found that Michelin’s recommendation of the front tyre being a MAG-X to be spot on. The extra grip was noticeable under braking and in tough conditions. If you are looking to install a solid performing tyre on your Enduro rig then the Wild Rock’R² And Wild Grip’R is a good way to go for all round performance and reliability at a respectable weight.

Michelin
Test Center: Punta Ala Trail Center

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