French tyre giant Michelin will be rolling out a new line of Power tyres April 1, which come with claims of improved rolling resistance, grip and puncture protection compared with its current line of PRO4 tyres.
Michelin designed the Power tyre range in Ladoux, France, at its extensive R&D facility. The tyres use newly developed materials including new rubber formulations and textiles to reduce rolling resistance, increase puncture protection and improve grip. While all models benefit from these improvements, each tyre type represents a focus on particular gains.
There are three new tyres for the global market, plus a fourth, presumably for the gravel market, that will only be sold in North America. They are the Michelin Power Competition, the Michelin Power Endurance, the Michelin Power All Season and the Michelin Power Protection+. Pricing for all regions was TBC at the time of writing; we'll update when we have more.
The Power tyre range
Aimed at racers, the forthcoming Power Competition comes with claims of a 10-watt power gain over the PRO4 Service Course, based on a test at Wheel Energy. Michelin claims this could save a rider 85 seconds over 40km at 35kph with a total bike/rider weight of 70kg (and an unspecified CdA). Claimed weight is 195g for a 23mm tyre and 215g for a 25mm model.
The Power Endurance is stronger than the PRO4 Endurance tyre, with "up to 20% additional protection against punctures", according to Michelin. Claimed weights are 220g (23mm), 230g (25mm) and 255g (28mm). These tyres will be available in black, white, blue and red, in both 23mm and 25mm widths.
The Power Endurance tyres have been designed with robustness in mind
The Power All Season is a wet conditions tyre, one-upping the Michelin PRO4 Grip with "up to 15% extra grip" than that current tyre, according to Michelin. The company breaks it down further, indicating that 13% of these gains come from the new materials used in the tyres, and 2% from the new tread pattern. Claimed weights range from 235g for a 23mm tyre up through 295g for a 28mm model.
Finally, the North American-only Power Protection+ appears to be a gravel tyre, which Michelin says "provides additional protection for use on the sort of terrain encountered in North America". Michelin does not yet have target weights for this tyre.
The Power range benefits from a newly develop ply textile; ‘protect armada’. It's thicker and heavier than the previous ply material used in the PRO4 tyres, and sticky to the touch as it contains resin, and Michelin claims the benefits in terms of puncture resistance and longevity far outweigh the weight gain the material results in, combined with the improved rolling resistance.
Origin and testing
Michelin already has a line of Power motorcycle tyres, and the new bicycle tyre line have evolved from technology used in their development.
The numbers Michelin quotes are based on comparative testing against either its PRO4 tyres, or what the brand deems to be the best market competitor from another brand.
Testing is done in a number of ways. For each attribute, the tyres are tested in and out of the laboratory, ridden by Michelin’s team of 200 test riders, and ridden in controlled conditions on test tracks. As part of the Power launch, BikeRadar had the chance to put some of Michelin's claims about the range to the test.
Grip is tested in the lab using a simulated road surface, in both wet and dry conditions, with a resistance meter that records the relative displacement of the tyre to the surface, both lateral and longitudinal. In the ‘real world’ testing scenario, a test rider on an electric bike completes 10 circuits of a wet skid pan, with systems to measure speed, location and tilt. Each comparative test consists of two circuit sets on the test tyres, and two circuit sets on the comparison tyres, with the average of each set compared to produce the stats.
Unless you're a fan of gravel riding, you wouldn't want to ride over this surface too much
Robustness or puncture protection also involves the test rider who, in this case, rides a wet track strewn with flint pebbles. Each tyre in the test is ridden for five repeat out-and-back journeys along the track at a steady 20kmph, with any punctures or wear and tear recorded. The lab tests for robustness includes pressing a 3mm punch into the tyre running at 8 bars of pressure, and recording what force is required to fully perforate it, taking the average from from perforations per tyre.
Michelin demonstrated one of the machines it uses to test rolling resistance, which accelerates a tyre mounted on a wheel up to 44 kmph. The motor stops and the wheel continues its rotation, moving against a surface, until it slows to a stop. The equipment measures the distance covered by the wheel once it drops below 20kmph until it slows to zero.
For each of these tests, the same wheels are used irrespective of tyre, and the inner tube is changed if it has been punctured. The tests are partially blinded: competitor tyres are covered to ensure the tester does not see the product name or manufacturer, and the Michelin tyres are labelled ‘prototype’, with no indication given to the testers as to the specific purpose of the prototype tyre.
Michelin has conducted all its tests on 25mm width tyres, as it states this is the new standard width in use by the consumer. It will then complete comparison tests between different tyre widths within the Power range.