Michelin makes a lot of tires, upwards of 160 million for all sorts of cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and even space shuttles. Back in the late nineties, the company made a mark with green-colored XC tires and then in the early 2000s with some of the burliest downhill tires around. Now, the French company's looking to make a comeback with the Wild AM tire, which is the rowdiest of its new, four mountain bike tire line up.
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Michelin Wild AM specs
- 29 x 2.35in claimed
- 815 grams on my scale
- Trail Shield 3 x 60 TPI casing
- Tubeless compatible
- Gum-X3D compound
More of a precision trail tire than an enduro smasher
I've managed to put quite a few hours on the Wild AM tires and on two very different bikes, one being a custom, steel 29er hardtail, the other a 160mm travel enduro 29er.
While not sporting super-soft and gooey tread like some halfway disposable mountain bike tires have, the Wild AMs impressed with their grip.
The key, I believe, was running them a bit more firm than my typical +/- 22psi front and 26psi rear. Michelin told me 28psi front, 32psi rear, and I ended up bleeding off a few psi to settle around 25psi front and 28psi rear.
With those pressures, punctures were kept at bay and there was plenty of support to really lean on the knobbies.
In the corners, the pronounced square profile hooked up well, with a consistent feel through the transition zone. From straight-lining to leaning them over, there was no vague lack of traction or wonky handling.
The Wild AM handled the decomposed granite (think kitty litter texture) of my home trails in the Rocky Mountains. The smallish, siped knobs were able to pierce through the loose little rocks and endless layers of dust to find purchase.
Even the occasional wet rock and root didn't really phase the Wild AMs, counter to my at-the-ready expectations. Credit goes to the Gum-X3D compounds doing their job.
The Wild AMs seem to be holding up, too. I haven't had to deal with any flats, so that means no ripped sidewalls, no punctured tread, and no snake-bit beads. All the knobs are surviving with nary a loose knob in sight.
With all that said, the Wild AMs felt more at home on the hardtail than the longer travel enduro bike. The borderline narrow width of only 2.25in (actual width on a 25mm internal width rim) and the harder pressures required made them good for big mileage days and the more nuanced riding style that a hardtail requires.
The good and bad of crazy tight beads
The beads of the Wild AM tires I have on review are crazy tight. On one hand, this makes airing them up tubeless as easy as can be. It's also reassuring that burping a bead in a corner or on a sideways landing is unlikely.
On the other hand, mounting and unmounting is a giant battle. A battle filled with snapped tire levers (I broke my favorite Pedro's lever), throbbing hands and forearms, and quite a few colorful words.
I've used three different rims and with all three I experienced the same issue where mounting was a struggle and then slipping off the rim's bead shelf almost seemed impossible.
The tight fit seems to extend to Michelin's other MTB tires as well, with the Force AMs being equally easy to set up tubeless but challenging to mount and unmount.
Bottom line: a durable tubeless tire for trail bikes that's a pain to install and remove
If you're the type of rider who likes to set up your gear once and not fuss with it, Michelin's Wild AM tires are a good bet. The beads are super secure, the knobs are long lasting, and the traction is good in a range of conditions.