Michelin say their WildRock’r ‘extreme terrain’ tire excels everywhere from hardpack, to loose conditions, to mud. We'd agree it's a jack-of-all-trades – but as is often the case, it's master of none. That doesn't mean you should write it off, though. It warrants a look if your regular riding terrain varies as much as the Colorado winter we've been testing it in, where conditions have ranged from wet to dry, and just about everything in between, including snow and ice.
Ride & handling: Confidence inspiring girth without any major misgivings
The WildRock’r does a couple things very well. For one, it inspires confidence simply due to its massive size. Mounted to a 26mm rim (internal width) it measures 2.41in/61.5mm at 25psi. Over the course of our testing just about every person we rode with commented on how large the tire is – it looks as if it should be mounted to a motorcycle. Despite this, it's relatively light, at 905g (actual weight of our 2.4in sample with reinforced casing).
This translates to good puncture resistance. Set up tubeless with sealant – and Michelin do green-light this – we ran 20psi and never bottomed out on the rim or burped the tire. That low pressure ensured we had some traction in all conditions. However, the tire clearly works best when its knobs can penetrate the trail surface and bite. Because of this, it prefers wet soil to dry dirt. It tears up loam, and gains good purchase in decomposed granite when wet.
The tire is massive and the tread is an all-rounder
In mud the tire packs up but it clears readily if given the chance, either when speed increases to fling the crud off or when dry/rock sections knock it out of the tread. However, we did have one experience where the tire didn't clear fast enough in a transition from mud to off-camber rock that put us on our face.
When things dry out, the round shape of the tire becomes more apparent and handling becomes considerably sketchier when you stand it up. In a lean with the uniformly spaced side knobs engaged, it offers a predictable slide that's relatively easy to control. We found the biggest challenge was to control slides that started on the tire’s crown and transitioned to the side knobs. In some cases we ran out of trail, laterally, before we could bring things back under control.
On hardpack and road the tire performed better than we'd expected, given its tall, narrow knobs. It squirmed a bit, but did so in a predictable fashion, and rolled impressively well for its size and weight. Finally, we found braking traction excellent in just about every condition. So ultimately, despite a few quirks, the WildRock’r is a decent choice for those dealing with a wide variety of surface conditions.
Transition from the center tread to the side knobs proved the tire's greatest shortcoming
Construction: Reinforced and tubeless ready casing, all for around 900g
The consequences of running tube-type tires tubeless in all-mountain terrain can be dire: a blow-off in a landing or burp mid-berm are at best painful and can lead to broken bones and bikes. Thankfully, Michelin get this. All three sizes of the WildRock’r (2.1, 2.25 and 2.4in) come tubeless ready, which keeps weight reasonable (615g, 690g and 900g, claimed, respectively, with standard casings) yet gives the benefit of a tubeless bead, which should keep the tire on the rim in almost all instances. They’ve struck the right balance of light weight and safety.
Our Colorado test terrain is rife with sharps, from rock to cactus. Paired with some less than smooth riding, this meant we appreciated our test tire's reinforced casing. It held up throughout a month of testing without flatting or showing any signs of undue wear.
The rest of the tire seems wear resistant, too. Despite long paved approaches and harsh off-road terrain, many of the knobs still have their mold ‘hairs’ still attached. We expect the WildRock’r to last more than a season up front (we rode the 2.4in WildRock’r as a front tire only due to its size, and would opt for the 2.25in model in the rear, where clearances tend to be tighter).