With both models, an ability to grip when it is needed, but without compromising straight line speed. A good pair of tread styles which would be versatile in most conditions, with a tough anti-puncture build. In very muddy conditions though, the mud version, I think, tends to struggle for traction.
Relative ease of fit (on the rim tested)
35mm option would be welcome for non-UCI races
The mud tread could be more ‘aggressive’
The colour may not appeal to all
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When Wout Van Aert won a very muddy 2017 World Cyclocross Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg, the main talking point was the colour of his tyres. Michelin green mud tread, circa late 1990s, glued onto a ‘Dugast’ tubular carcass.
It spurred a fair bit of nostalgic rumblings amongst the cyclocross fraternity, not all of it complimentary (longevity mainly), one thing most agreed at the time of their first appearance, was that the colour was pretty cool and the tread pattern perfect for muddy conditions. Almost 20 years later, Van Aert arguably benefiting from both aspects!
Maybe on the back of that adulation, Michelin has introduced the latest version – the Michelin Power Cyclocross. In two tread patterns, the spaced out knobbles of the ‘Mud’ and the sleeker, directional tread of the dry weather ‘Jet’.
The big difference in ‘then’ and ‘now’ is tubeless technology which Michelin says, in this case, offers “tubular performance with all the advantage of a clincher tyre”.
At a UCI legal 33mm width they are unapologetically meant for racing, the Jet being a little more versatile for general off-road and ‘gravel’ riding (the Power Gravel, introduced earlier this year, fills that space with a 40mm tyre – in black).
I fitted the tyres onto a Mavic Ksyrium rim, firstly without latex they pinged onto the rim satisfyingly with just a few rapid pumps of a track-pump, easier than I expected. Latex then applied and ready to go quite quickly (must be a French tyre/French rim thing?)
First race of the cyclocross season being a dusty, grassy and rooty affair, I fitted the Jets at around 30psi. I probably could have gone lower, Michelin boasts extra puncture protection “due to its 'Bead 2 Bead Protek' cross-laid reinforcement on the tyre's crown and sidewalls”.
‘Trust the tyre’ is an oft said adage when racing and I found it true in this case. A fast descent into some tight grass turns and I was able to ‘crank over’ without losing any speed. Grip on the dusty trails, which became progressively broken up, was perfect, skipping over roots was very forgiving and puncture/burp free despite my attempts to prove otherwise!
As the weather changed I fitted the ‘Muds’, a clear advantage in having just the one pair of race wheels over tubulars, the ability to swap tyres without the worry of glue or tub-tape.
The first race on them - on a notoriously puncture strewn course - I went for a slightly higher psi and survived unscathed whilst the DNF count went up. The spacing of the ‘knobbles’ provided good grip on slippery corners, but not too deep in tread to ‘drag’ on the firmer ground. They also gave good grip enabling me to ride a steep slope each lap, despite it getting progressively cut-up. (After the race I noticed I had sustained a cut of about 4mm in the tread, the latex sealed from the inside and with a little glue I was able to seal/smooth from the outside).
Buy now: Michelin Power Cyclo Cross tyre Mud and Jet from Tredz for £39.99 (opens in new tab)
Further on into the season & the weather conditions deteriorating, things have got decidedly muddier. The lowish profile of the ‘mud’ tread have not given the greatest confidence at times. Especially noticeable being the lack of ‘aggressive’ side tread for cornering in really slippery ‘clay-ish’ type mud. Still competent, and perhaps more noticeable with my riding style, but in very muddy conditions a more aggressive/deeper tread may be a better option
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