SEA OTTER CLASSIC 2010 – Michelin has developed a new series of tires called Wild, with three versions for varying terrains.
Rather than specify the intended use (freeride, XC, etc.), Michelin is trying to reduce the clutter of choices catering to the seemingly ever expanding range of riding disciplines, instead labeling the rather simple Wild line by the type of terrain they’re designed to handle.Â And, they’ve set up a new website to match your riding style with the correct tire via a simple Q&A at michelinwildbike.com.
Despite the attempt to simplify, their media kit and website do little to clarify the myriad options within the Wild series, leaving you to basically trust their auto-generated tire recommendations or find a bike shop that’s stocking the full range to compare.Â Here, though, I’ll do my best summarize:
Three main versions are available, the Race’r (hardpack), the Grip’r (mixed terrain) and Rock’r (extreme terrain, which also has a Dig’r version for muddy downhill runs).Â The Race’r, shown above, will come in five sizes: 2.0, 2.1, 2.15, 2.25 and 2.3 and its tread is designed to roll fast and maintain traction on off-camber trails and hard leaning turns.Â There are a range of options, from tubed to tubeless, and even a 29er model, with weights ranging from 590g to 750g and prices from $50 to $65.
The gray-ish central tread compound is their dual compound casing, which means they’re tubeless (the tubed versions are all black) and have Gumwall sidewalls to further protect against scrapes and cuts.Â There are “Advanced” models with 127tpi casings, and Descent Technology is taken from motocross and applied to some sizes of the Rock’r and Grip’r to improve traction and sidewall protection. Not all sizes have all options.
More pics, plus two additional models beyond what’s mentioned above, shown after the break…
The Grip’r is the mixed terrain tire.Â It has thicker center tread blocks that are spaced close enough to offer some rolling efficiency but not so close that they’d hold a lot of mud.Â They’re offered in 2.0, 2.1, 2.25, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6 widths.
By now you’re probably wondering why there are so many sizes with so little difference between them. Good question. As the Rock’r and Grip’r get fatter, they get more downhill-specific tread designs, casings and compounds. The Grip’r 2.5 and 2.6 are designed for downhill racing, and the blocks’ rear walls are tapered to allow for more progressive braking.
Weights range from 575g all the way up to 1,450g, and all Grip’r models are 26″ only.Â Prices range from $50 to $76.
The Rock’r is the extreme terrain model.Â Illustrated well in this pic is the change in knob size as the tires increase in width, making the tires more appropriate for bigger, nastier terrain as their width grows.Â The Rock’r is designed with rocky, muddy surfaces in mind.Â The “claw like” shoulder tread boosts grip on sidehill slops and curves and helps you crawl out of ruts easier.
The tread design uses an open central groove that Michelin says improves steering in muddy conditions by creating a channel.Â They’re available in 2.1, 2.25, 2.4 and 2.5 widths with weights ranging from 615g to 1300g.Â Prices range from $50 to $76. The 2.25 and 2.5 sizes use Michelin’s Descent Technology and are made for downhill racing.
Not pictured is the Dig’r, a muddy downhill specific tire with tall, spikey rubber knobs staggered through the center and sidewall.Â It’s offered only in a narrow 2.2 width for slicing into the muck and hitting the firmer rock and ground layers underneath.Â Weight is 1,250g and it retails for $70.
Also unshown is a winter training tire called the Run’r that’s made for road use (on 26″ mountain bike rims).Â It’ll be available in two sizes with two very different users in mind:Â A 420g, 1.4 width training tire and a 200g, 2.1 width Advanced Light tire for making your roadie friends look like noobs after you school them with your MTB gearing.