Michelin recently introduced a full range of new MTB tires. From fastest to slowest the new lineup is: Jet XCR, Force XC, Force AM, Wild AM. The Force XC that I've tested for this review is an all-round XC tire that can be seen as an alternative to the popular Schwalbe Rocket Ron/Racing Ralph tires. It's good to see Michelin revamped their MTB lineup as the older lineup was a bit dated and a lot of tires weren't available in the most popular sizes.
The Force XC comes with a reinforced 3x110 TPI Tubeless-Ready casing which definitely is stronger than the Schwalbe LiteSkin and Continental RaceSport casings; no ultra-thin sidewalls here. Together with the triple compound Gum-X3D compound, this results in a tire that provides improved grip, performance and puncture resistance. As the main thing I'll be testing here is rolling resistance, it's interesting to note that Michelin doesn't mention anything about a low rolling resistance.
I didn't test any Michelin MTB tires yet, but their road bike tires often perform excellently on the rolling resistance tests. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for the new Force XC tires as it ends up near the bottom of the rolling resistance results table. Read on for the full test results.
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||670 grams|
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||670 grams|
|Measured Weight||660 grams|
|Measured Width Carcass||55 mm|
|Measured Width Tread||58 mm|
|Measured Height||54 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Center||2.3 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Edge||5.0 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall||0.90 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)||2.20 mm|
Weight. The specified weight of the 29 x 2.25 Force XC is 670 grams; my sample comes in a bit lighter at 660 grams. For a reinforced 29 x 2.25 MTB tire, a weight of 660 grams is excellent.
Size. The Force XC comes in close to the rated size. On a 17C rim, at an air pressure of 35 psi / 2.4 bars, the casing has a width of 55 mm. The edge knobs even stick out a bit further resulting in a maximum tire width of 58 mm. On wider rims, this tire could come close to 60 mm.
Knob Height. The center knobs have a height of 2.3 mm which is comparable to many other all-round MTB tires that mostly come in somewhere between 2.3 - 2.8 mm. The Edge knobs on this tire are quite big and have a height of 5.0 mm which is a bit bigger than most other tires in the all-round category (3.5 - 4.5 mm).
Tire Thickness. At the center of the tread, the measured total thickness of the tire (excluding knobs) is 2.2 mm. The sidewalls have a thickness of 0.90 mm. Both these measurements are better than most of the other (reinforced) tires which means this tire should have good resistance to cuts and punctures.
Rolling Resistance Test Results
|Rolling Resistance Test Results (Speed: 29 kmh / 18 mph / 8 m/s, Load: 42.5 kg / 417 N)|
|Inner Tube||Conti MTB 29 (225 gr butyl)|
|Rolling Resistance 55 psi / 3,8 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 45 psi / 3,1 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 35 psi / 2,4 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 25 psi / 1,7 Bar||
|Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load|
The rolling resistance tests is where the competition crushes the Force XC. As the Force XC is positioned as a cross-country/race tire, I expected it to at least perform decently on the rolling resistance tests. Unfortunately, this isn't the case as rolling resistance at an air pressure of 25 psi / 1.7 bars comes in at 35.3 watts while the Schwalbe Racing Ralph SnakeSkin (PaceStar) (read review) comes in at a much lower 24.0 watts at the same air pressure.
I feel the name of this tire is a bit misleading as it appears to have the same compound as the Force AM which I've tested as well (review soon). The Force XC only has a marginally lower rolling resistance than the Force AM mostly because of a different casing (3x110 Vs 3x60) and slightly smaller knobs (2.3 mm Vs 2.9 mm). I expected the Force XC would have a more XC oriented compound as compared to the Force AM to make it a true contender to the low rolling resistance tires.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||10|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||6|
In contrary to the rolling resistance tests, the Force XC performs excellently in the puncture resistance tests. With a score of 10 points in the tread puncture tests, it scores much better than the competition. In the sidewall puncture test, performance is comparable to other MTB tires with reinforced sidewalls.
I'm quite disappointed the Force XC isn't the tire I expected it to be. I expected the Force XC to have a lower rolling resistance rubber compound than the Force AM (review soon). In reality, both tires come with the same compound which results in both tires performing nearly the same in all tests. The only difference between the Force XC and AM is the AM version comes with slightly bigger knobs and a slightly stronger casing.
I rate the Force XC a 3/5 (barely) because although it doesn't perform the way I hoped it would, you do get a strong, reinforced tire with a compound that is probably more optimized towards grip than the name suggests.