If claims are true, this new race-ready tire will save riders 10 watts at 35kph for 40km (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Michelin/Brian Hodes
Full disclosure: Two rides on a tire (here and here) does not a full test make. But being that RoadBikeReview was one of just three cycling media outlets that got a chance to ride the yet-to-be-released Michelin Power Competition tire at a recent press event in Austin, Texas, it seems worthwhile to pass on initial impressions.
First a little background. Michelin, the world's largest tire maker, first announced this new line of road rubber back in mid-January. It was developed at the company's tech center in Ladoux, France, and will be available for purchase starting April 1 (apparently April Fools has not made its way across the pond). Pricing has not been announced.
Grip was confidence inspiring, though none of the turns we encountered were particularly technical (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Michelin/Brian Hodes
Focus of development was on rolling resistance, grip, and resistance to puncture, along with ensuring even longer tire life than its predecessor, the Pro4. The new line will consist of three tires, Michelin Power Competition (the fastest in the range designed specifically for racing), Michelin Power Endurance (training tire), and the Michelin Power All Season, which as the name implies, is geared toward riding when roads are wet and/or strewn with puncture causing obstacles. There is also a fourth tire, available exclusively in North America, called the Michelin Power Protection+, which provides additional protection for rough terrain such as gravel roads and dirt paths.
Read 10 Things You Need to Know About Michelin.
Now here's the real mic drop. According to Michelin, the new Power Competition tire provides a 10-watt gain compared to its predecessor, the Michelin Pro4 Service Course. That's right, 10 watts, which is equivalent to 85 seconds when traveling 35kph for 40km, or more than enough to blow the doors off your riding buddies.
Our author (L) managed to mostly hold onto the group, despite some hard efforts (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Michelin/Brian Hodes
So is it true? No idea… What we can say is that during two spirited rides in the ever-rolling hill country outside Austin, the set of 25mm Michelin Power Competition tires spec'd on our Giant TCR Advanced road bike with Profile Design 58/TWENTYFOUR carbon clinchers felt supple, fast, and plenty grippy while zipping in and out of the wide arcing turns that make up what was once Lance Armstrong's primary U.S. training ground. The Michelin Power Competition also did a reasonable job helping to soak up road buzz delivered by the occasionally bumpy chip seal surface beneath our bike. As for endurance, the only flat was suffered by yours truly. But in defense of the tire it happened after inadvertently slamming the rear tire into a curb while jogging through the busy Texas capitol at the end of our second ride.
We didn't get a chance to weigh the new tire, but Michelin claims the 25c comes in at a highly competitive 215 grams, which is on par with Zipp's Tangente Course (215g for 25c) and the Specialized S Works Turbo (220g for 26c). There will also be a 23c version with a claimed weight of 195 grams. It's also worth mentioning that our hosts for the rides in Texas, the UCI Continental-level Elevate Cycling Team, will be running these tires for their upcoming U.S. racing campaign. And yes, we're talking racing on clinchers, not tubulars.
If road feel counts, then this new tire is race day fast (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy Michelin/Brian Hodes
Circling back to the 10-watt claim, which while massive, is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Take a look at the latest test data on RollingResistance.com and you see that the Pro4 Service Course is not a particularly fast tire, lagging well behind top tires from Continental, Vittoria and Schwalbe.
In another test overseen by Lennard Zinn of VeloNews.com, the Michelin Pro4 Service Course ranked 27th out of 34 tires, well back of top offerings from Specialized, Continental and Zipp when measuring the power required to maintain a speed of 40kph. In fact, the Pro4 was a full 15 watts behind the test winner, Specialized S Works Turbo Road Tubeless. The point being there is a lot of room for improvement - and maybe Michelin has managed to close that gap.
The French tire maker has invited us to yet another press event in early April, which it says will verify claims of gains. We'll report on our findings soon after. In the meantime, for more about Michelin's current bike tire line visit bike.michelinman.com/ and watch the video below.