With its blocky and spaced-out tread, the Michelin Wild XC Racing Line looks a bit like massively popular and much-loved cross-country mud tyres from years ago, such as the Maxxis Beaver, Specialized Storm and Bontrager XR Mud.
Based on that appearance, I had high hopes for this new Michelin tyre, launched as part of the brand’s new cross-country tyre range earlier this year.
Michelin Wild XC Racing Line specifications and details
The Wild XC is part of a family of Michelin cross-country mountain bike tyres with the Jet XC2 and Force XC2, with this one leaning closest to loose or soft conditions (and, we’d expect, being suited to more aggressive trail riding).
According to Michelin, the Wild XC tread and casing is inspired by the meatier enduro-targeting Wild Enduro tyre, designed to provide ‘maximum braking and responsive cornering’ in this category.
The un-ramped tread is formed of broad rubber blocks with huge gaps in both the central strip and evenly spaced, angled shoulder knobs. Alternate sipes, or cuts, on the middle knobs run left to right and then front to back, whereas the shoulder blocks have more diagonal cuts.
All tread cubes have slightly rounded edges and the edge blocks are also twisted in the direction of rotation similar to the Schwalbe Wicked Will.
Michelin uses a single-compound GUM X rubber blend, but the casing construction is massively complex with multiple layers of very fine 150 TPI plies and an extra layer of fabric around the bead to resist pinch flat punctures or bead damage on bottom-out.
The casing is labelled Cross Shield 2 by the brand and is incredibly supple and flexible in your hands when installing, but also feels thinner than other cross-country tyres.
Michelin Wild XC Racing Line performance
Despite this suppleness in the casing, this Wild XC is less comfortable than the Schwalbe Wicked Will and Vittoria Syerra 4C I’ve tested recently.
I suspect this is due to the huge gaps on the crown of the tyre, where there are patches with no rubber blocks to damp and dull micro impacts from small bumps. It might also be in part due to being skinnier at 2.25in than similar tyres.
The lack of comfort clearly doesn’t seem to affect rolling speed though; this tyre rattles along at a fair old clip, whether on smooth forest roads or proper off-road dirt and bumpy broken-down trail centre surfaces.
The pure pace likely reflects some of the harshness in the ride and the very plastic-like feel of the GUM X rubber, which simply doesn’t grip as well as most.
There’s a bouncy, disconnected feel when you’re really leaning hard into the tyre. I also found the casing lacks stability, so it’s too easy to make the Wild XC squirm too much from side to side and deform when riding hard on a 120mm trail bike on aggro trails.
Michelin’s fine-weave carcass also proved too fragile when I punched a hole clean through the crown, landing a jump.
The impact from touchdown landed in the zone with no tread, and with no rubber blocks to damp and reduce forces transmitted, the crown of the tyre split and spat sealant out immediately.
I only ever usually punch through tyres with sharp roots or rocks, so to split one landing a jump smoothly isn’t common or ideal.
Even without this hiccup, grip is seriously lacking in Michelin’s too-hard rubber blend, in both wet or dry conditions. The tyre feels especially sketchy once you throw some moisture into the mix.
Michelin Wild XC Racing Line bottom Line
Despite the promising looks, the Wild XC is too wild in terms of control and seriously needs a softer, grippier rubber blend to bring back any fond memories.
Plus, it’s not very comfortable, needs pumping up rock-hard to resist too much twist under cornering forces and is pretty expensive.
This new Michelin tyre hasn’t got enough to recommend it in the crowded, aggro XC category.
How we tested
- Maxxis Rekon 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ review
- Michelin Wild XC Racing Line tyre review
- Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss T7 tyre review
- Teravail Ehline Light and Supple review
- Vittoria Syerra 4C review