Michelin Wild Race’r Review – 29 x 2.25

I liked this tire in the 26″ circumferenceway. I do not like it in the 29″ size – during dry conditions.

For some reason the 29″ size was extremely difficult to mount and remove from my WTB i19 rims. I had to use a tire jack and/or a special tire lever to complete the install. So that kind of set a negative tone going into using the tire.

Overall the tire rolls fine and is well made. Runs true laterally and radially and has consistent bead, knobs and sidewall thickness. Seems like it’s about average as far as suppleness goes – my normal PSI set it to a normal amount of sag and the sidewalls seemed well supported during hard cornering and off-chamber root/rock strikes.

However I think the tread design is just too aggressive in the 29er size when riding dry trails.

Well, actually, it’s the wrong kind of aggressive. It has well-spaced diamond knobs in the center that are mid-height and grip well without impeding rolling resistance. But the outside knobs are significantly more aggressive and do not interact well as the bike leans into a turn. The tires, especially in the front, tend to turn in like this.

No lean – normal rolling ok traction

Mid lean – less traction normal rolling

Hard lean – EXTREME TRACTION

As the center knobs hand off to the side knobs the tire bites hard and causes significant oversteer. It’s hard to track and hard to adjust to since the increased traction pulls your front wheel into the turn but it’s dependent on the dirt surface/composure. I can sort of account of it by counter-steering and leaning the bike but it’s harder to do this when I’m tired or have a high mental load like during the start of a race or very fast technical sections.

For some reason (maybe I’m crazy?) this oversteer is less pronounced in the 26″ size? I never had an issue and liked the way the 26″ tire handled but for some reason the 29″ just doesn’t perform as well during high speed and aggressive riding on dry singletrack.

Now, I think the tire is probably great in more muddy conditions when some of the trail is dry and some is muddy and it’s pretty good for gravel with mixed pavement too. I’ve replaced it with a tire that has more consist tread from center to sidewall but do plan to bring it back once the gravel season if over and just use it as a regular every day tire.

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