From Cars to Mountain Bikes
Michelin is one of the oldest and most recognizable tire companies on the planet, making treads for everything from cars and motorcycles to bicycles. Michelin has been operating in France since the late 1800s and has a long history in cycling. Over the years its tires have evolved, and while Michelin has flown under the radar compared to some brands, its mountain bike treads have always been a favorite around the Mountain Bike Action office.
Last spring Michelin invited us out to Santa Barbra to preview its lineup of tires and see firsthand what the French brand has been working on. We picked some new treads to put to the test on our hot, dusty trails in Southern California. The Force XC is Michelin’s dedicated cross-country tire that had us searching for PRs and KOMs.
Tech info: The Force XC is a cross-country tire that will cross over into some lightweight trail riding. Michelin offers the Force XC in 26-, 27.5- and 29-inch diameters with 2.1–2.25 widths. Our set of test tires were 29×2.25 with a weight of 674 grams per tire. The Force XC uses Michelin’s Gum-X3D compound that makes the tread tackier and allows for more traction over varied terrain.
The sidewalls are designed with Michelin’s Cross-Shield technology with a 110-tpi reinforced casing for a little extra strength and stiffness. The tread design is fairly versatile, with taller, more aggressive shoulder knobs offering more traction when cornering and slimmer, tighter knobs down the center for more speed. Keeping up modern standards, the Force XC is tubeless-ready and has a retail price of $65 per tire.
On the trail: We mounted our test tires to a set of SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels. The Michelins were easy to mount and seated on our rims at 40 psi. Once we seated the tires with Orange Seal tubeless sealant, they held pressure and didn’t leak during our testing. We started our tire pressures at 28 psi in the front and 30 psi in the rear for our 150-pound test rider. On loose over hardpack, these pressures felt comfortable—although we did drop them a little for some extra traction. With the lower pressures, the Force felt stiff and retained its shape when pushing hard into corners or rolling over chunkier terrain.
At speed, the low-profile center knobs offered minimal rolling resistance and moved quickly on the trail. In corners, the taller shoulder knobs gave us plenty of confidence to lean over and push hard. The Force XC rolled well on loose-over-hardpack trails and even handled moderately technical trails comfortably. On steep climbs, the Force XC clung to the trail, maintaining traction even when we pushed down hard on the pedals.
The Force XC has a versatile tread design and can be used as a lightweight trail tire or for burlier cross-country courses. Gram-counting XC racers will find the Force a touch heavy but won’t have to worry about weak, paper-thin sidewalls.
• Versatile tread
• Heavy for XC racing