Thursday, February 7, 2013

Michelin Wild Grip'R2 29" Review

Ever since switching to a 29er SS, it seems I have been looking for a replacement for the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs I have been using. I have some strange obsession with tires. I should go to a support group because I know they exists, and I know I should just stop wasting time and stick with Schwalbe's but it is what it is. Over the last couple years (since going tubeless) I have tried (besides RaRa's) Maxiss Ikons, Kenda Slant 6, and now Michelin Wild Grip'R2. The three main factors that drew me to this tire are:
1. The cost ~$35ea. (at back in December)
2. They are Tubless ready. Hopefully this means I will avoid the Ikon problems of bubbling up etc.
3. They have what looks to be a nice tread pattern...something that will grip well and roll well.
O.k., 4. The are not tooooo heavy at ~720g (on my scale). I wanted something heavier than the RaRa (and more durable) to use as a rear winter tire, and to use on the wifes bike (my backup) when she hits the rocky trails with me in the Spring and Fall. Hoping this will fit the bill.

Next to a 2.35 RaRa
 Mounting: Son of a B!#% that was hard. I could mount RaRa's by hand and by going crazy on the floor pump, I could get them to mount without a compressor. In fact I would get the bead to set, let it sit for a day and it would still be holding air before putting in sealant (same experience with Ikons). Unfortunately I needed a tool, make that two tools, to mount the Michelins. The first was really tough. Then second I had to double check to make sure it was not a 650b tire because there was no way it was going on the rim (Stans Arch EX). Finally, after warming up the tire a bit, and after a lot of frustration, swearing and a bit of rage, it finally went on.

Sealing: Used soapy water on the sidewalls and pumped them up with a compressor to 40psi. The bead started popping in and I continued up to 50psi with a floor pump. Within a couple hours the tires were flat, but whatever. Added sealant the next day as I was going to use the rear on my SS the day after. Did the shake n' bake/flip/rotate and the side resting tricks to seal the tire. Unfortunately it was still loosing some air and was flat the next morning for my ride. Well, this sucks! I did not want it to just loose air on the trail (no way I am putting a tube in this tire), so I pumped it up to ~45psi, grabbed two cartridges and off I went.
Again with a 2.35 RaRa

Riding: That first ride was ~42 miles (6600' climbing...that's right B!%$#) in semi-slick conditions (my front tire is a 2.35 RR at 18-19psi). Note that all rides have been in the Auburn-Folsom area.
I must say that the tire held pretty well considering my rear RaRa is usually at ~23psi. I spun out a couple times on some wet, loose gravely steep sections and maybe once on a slick section, but anything might have. With a much lower pressure, I was sure the grip would improve, and it did.
The next ride was ~24 miles ~4000'. I had both tires holding air well now, so I put them both at ~25psi and off I went. During the ride I adjusted the tires a couple times and eventually settled on 20psi front and ~23pse rear. Now I am on a rigid SS and was getting beaten up w/25psi. The 20 was a great improvement, but in the future I will be sticking with the 2.35 or 2.4 front tire at ~18-19psi. Still, the front tire held it's line very well and braking was very good. I think it will do very well on the backup geared hardtail w/front susp.

With a 2.25 RaRa

The rear tire was great at 23psi. Took the rear for a couple more rides in more challenging conditions and it was fantastic. They roll fast and grip well, if they are durable/long lasting, I think I have a winner.

Volume Etc: The volume is good for a 2.25. I don't have calipers but it seems slightly larger than the 2.25 RaRa I was using (closer to the 2.35 RR). The side nobs make it a tougher fit in my bike tray than the 2.35 RR (of course, 45psi can make a difference).  Note that these tires are directional with the tread reversed on the rear...though it looks like the rear would be fine run either direction, and it seems that many that have the 26" version have been doing this for a while.

So, to summarize, after all my belly-achin' I am pleased with this tire. It seems thus far like it will make a solid tire for the backup bike, and I will use the rear tire on my rigid SS during the winter and at times when I feel the trail calls for a beefier, more durable tire...or if a trail has a rep as as tire destroyer I will go with the $35 tire rather than the $65 tire (my momma din't rase no dummee).

Note: A form of this review is a thread on MTBR, check there to read the thread/get more info from others.


  1. Perhaps your feeble little hands aren't as strong as they used to be and you no longer have the strength to push a tire on by hand.

  2. Sad to say that there is some truth there. I use to do 100+ pushups and situps at least 3x a week (while watching t.v.). Recently, I have added a day on the trainer (30-60min workout), but have stopped with the pushup/situp routine. Maybe I will also pick up some kettle bells...Nah! That's just crazy talk. Still, it is time to get back on track!