Tires are my favorite piece of mountain bike gear to test. They can make the largest difference in the way a bike rides, for the least cash. They affect grip, bump damping, braking, energy output, puncture protection, cornering agility and stability, roostability, and a host of other critical fun-factors.
While I recognize that grip is a positive personal affair, I work hard to objectively evaluate tires. One element of that attempted objectivity is to share my bias. For reference, I like my front tire to be as grippy as tree sap, not overly square but far from road-tire round, measure 2.35-2.5″ wide, with a burly enough casing to stand up in high-speed corners, and confidence bolstering breaking tread for any emergency scrubs.
Out back I prefer a much harder and faster-rolling tread compound, a good transition between the shoulder and center knobs so that the tire breaks loose predictably when I need a rudder, a super tough casing that can withstand some rim-strikes and sidewall slaps, and enough braking traction that my bike’s tail doesn’t slide all over the place. I look for tires that are good for all weather conditions, but I will err on the side of mud and dust lugs when they are available.
Michelin Wild Enduro, front & rear specific tread
Tubeless setup with the Wild Enduro tires is a snap in terms of the time and effort it takes to mount them. Mine leaked a fair bit of sealant and air through the sidewalls for the first few days after mounting them up, which I haven’t seen a tire do in a long while. I used Stan’s Race sealant, which has not reacted this way with other tires. You may want to add a little extra latex to the tire when you first mount it to make up for the initial sidewall weeping.
The rumors about these tires are no joke. They grip hard. I was able to ride them in deep mud, dust, damp rocks, and on hardpacked clay, and was generally impressed with the grip throughout. Their massive shoulder knobs give the tires a bit more of a square shape than I am used to, which required some adjustment time. I didn’t love them on the first ride, but they quickly grew on me. Fortunately, the castle-wall-like shoulder tread doesn’t feel squirmy with the bike leaned into the turns. It stands up tall and has more of a bite feel than a classic grip feel, somewhat akin to a motocross tire.
The tires did slide about on the wet rocks of Piatra Ligure, as nearly any tread will. For wetter rides and races I might opt for Michelin’s “Mud Enduro” rubber to guide the steering end of the bike.
The sidewalls on the Wild Enduro tires are reinforced from bead to bead, and alongside a pair of anti-snake-bite strips that line the beads, the sidewalls feel plenty sturdy. Despite this sturdiness, I was inclined to run a bit higher pressure in the tires than I do with others. The need for higher pressure is partially due to the fact that I have been cornering faster on these tires, thanks to their ample grip.
- $64.99 – 69.99 (compare prices)
- Size 29×2.4″ front and rear
- Actual weight: 1151g rear, 1036g front
- Tread Compound: Grip+ GumX rear, Extra Grip+ MagiX2 front
- Protection: Bead to bead Gravity Shield and Pinch Protection at the bead
- Front and rear specific tread patterns
- Made in Thailand
For a rather grippy tire, the Wild Enduro tread looks fairly good after a couple months of almost daily riding and a few enduro races. The center knobs are starting to get what I call an “elephant’s foot” wrinkle pattern around them, and the inner edge of the shoulder knobs is showing a fair bit of wear from hard riding on off-camber rocks. I would happily ride these tires for another two to three months before relegating them to the “dry hardpack tracks only” pile that all of my file-treads end up on.
Both the front and rear sidewalls have a few small cuts and gouges to tell the tales of where they have been, but none of them are leaking air or sealant. The tires have retained most of the sealant I originally dumped into them, and I would have no problem continuing to ride with these smaller rubber slices.
I would buy the Michelin Wild Enduro tires again, with the same compound front and rear. They made it through an awkward suspension setup I was recently running, a few races, and countless adventures, with aplomb. They roll fast, grip as advertised, and the compound sounds like callused dog paws slapping the trail.
We would like to thank the Michelin for sending the Wild Enduro tires to test.