For 2017, Michelin revamped their existing lineup of mountain bike tires with cross country and all mountain riding in mind. Early this spring, Michelin introduced the JETxcr, the FORCExc, the FORCEam, and the WILDam tires. These four tires cover cross country riding and racing in both dry and wet conditions as well as all mountain riding for both hardpack and loose conditions. Today in this review, we will be taking a closer look at how the Michelin FORCEam tires standup to the trail. For more infromation on the entire 2017 range, check out the 2017 Michelin product release here.
The FORCEam tire is designed to be one of the most versatile tires in their lineup. The medium sized lugs are position in a way to balance grip, braking performance and rolling resistance seamlessly.
Mounting the tires turned out to be a little more difficult that I would have imagined. The FORCEam tires used here were paired with Stans NoTubes ZTR ARCH EX rims. This combination proved to be a very tight fit and took some muscling to get on. This tight fit meant airing up the tubeless was no problem at all, even with a low volume road pump. Once the tires were mounted, they were rolling straight and looked to have a good shape to them.
The majority of riding on these tires was done at Saxon Hill in Essex-Junction Vermont. The trails at Saxon Hill all have a sand base which allows them to be ridden in both dry and the wet weather conditions. After a big rain storm, most of the time you can count on the trails at Saxon drying out before some of the other trail networks in the area. This trail network is great for beginner level riders as well as the experienced expert level riders. With a mix of smooth single track, rooty and rocky technical sections, and manmade berms and jumps, Saxon Hill has a little bit of everything and a great place to test out Michelin's new tires.
+The FORCE am tires were best when the trail was smooth and fast. They seemed to excel in the smooth hard pack along with loose sandy terrain. The cornering knobs gave enough support to lay the bike in to turns. The center knobs did give some good bite under braking and when shifting your weight from one side of the bike to the other.
+The tighter fitting bead made tubeless setup easy. Once the tires were mounted, they aired up without the need of an air compressor and boost floor pump.
+The cornering knobs shed muck very nice. The ample lug spacing between each cornering knob allows mud, wet sand and any other trail muck shed off the tire with ease. This kept the tire clean and digging in hard through the turns.
+The ribbed tire casing seemed to give the tire good support while remaining lightweight. The ribs on the outside of the tire casing acts like a skeleton preventing the tire from rolling over as much in the turns. I had expected the tire to roll around a bit more for how light it is.
+When the trail got gnarly, the FORCEam tires felt overwhelmed. I guess this is what you come to expect from a tire designed to work best in hard pack terrain. In sections of trail where the ground was loose or filled with lots of rocks and roots, the FORCEam wasn't performing as well. I think I would have preferred the WILDam at least in the front on those kinds of trails.
+The tighter bead made it tougher to get the tires mounted. I really had to muscle to get these on the Stand ARCH EX rims.
+The 2.35" width felt smaller than other 2.35" tires on the market. The 27.5" x 2.35" tires had a decent footprint on the trail but I certainly wouldn't want the smaller 2.25" model.
After riding the FORCEam tires for a month or so, I think they are suited best for a beginner or intermediate level rider. An expert level rider is going to left looking for more grips, something Michelin's WILDam can deliver. The FORCEam tires are lightweight, fast rolling and perform their best on fast smooth terrain. For your 130mm travel trail bike, the FORCEam may be just what you are looking for. They do the job they were assigned to and not much more than that.