Here we go with another review that has been in the “behind the scenes mode” for far too long. I have been getting the Michelin Wild Grip’R tires out and riding them, but conditions did not change dramatically here, until recently, for months, leading me to await drier times. Now I must bring this review to a close. The last posting on these tires can be found here. (Yes! I know….January! )
The Michelin Wild Grip’R is touted as a wet or dry terrain tire. I can easily attest to its prowess in wetter conditions. If there is a modicum of traction, and the mud isn’t cake-like or sticky goo, the Wild Grip’R is a capable, tractable tire. I used similarly low pressures that I did while reviewing the Wild Race’R tires, (reviewed here), so around 20-ish psi, or slightly lower. However; it was not until recently that I could even have the chance of riding these tires on dry trails. Now that this has happened, I can continue and finalize my thoughts on these trail tires.
Tubeless Performance: But first, let me say a word or two about the tire’s tubeless performance and what happened when I switched these tires over to a wider rim profile. As with the Wild Race’R, which I gave high marks to for its tubeless performance, the Wild Grip’R held air pressure well, and never gave me pause from a tire burping standpoint. The tires seem durable as well, and I learned not to be too concerned, even if I heard a loud pop or ping when the tires would hit the occasional rock off camber or on edge. If you match the UST dimension bead with a UST dimension bead seat on a rim, you should be rewraded with easy inflation and low maintenance. Again, the Stan’s type rims will be more problematic with their increased bead seat diameter, but then again- Stan’s rims are really meant to set up non-tubeless tires as tubeless anyway.
When I started this review, I set up the tires on the Deore XT wheels, (also on review here), and they measured at 57+mm wide at the casing. The XT wheels are narrow profile rims, (19mm inner rim width), so I decided to use my Project Wheel Build wheels with their WTB Frequency i23 rims, and the width went up to 58.1mm. A slight increase, to be sure, but the tires did feel much better at lower pressures on these wheels than they did on the XT rims. These wheels then went on the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29″er from the Inbred, and I concluded this review in that configuration.
Dry Weather Performance: While the Wild Race’R was a stellar dry conditions tire- that was about its limit. The Wild Grip’R, as stated earlier, does quite nicely from slop to loam and tacky conditions. But how does it compare to the Wild Race’R, (or other good dry condition tires, like the Geax AKA and others)? Well, it holds its own here as well, but it is a different feeling tire, and there are some differing characteristics to tell here also.
First, the Wild Grip’R is a tire with “give”. The knobs seem to have “squish” without failing as we noted with the WTB Bronson tires. (See here) In terms of hard cornering, the tire would suddenly “squish”, then grip. It was a bit disconcerting at first, and actually, I was blaming the rear wheel, but I had never remembered the Project Wheel Build wheels doing this before. At any rate, the Grip’R is quirky in this way, and then when it does give way, it is a drifty tire, breaking loose and sliding controllably. This was on the driest trails with a slight loose cover of sandy soil. Rocks were no big deal, although, as mentioned above, once in a while I would hear a loud “pop” from a side knob off a rock. The tires feel very supple, so in that way they are a great feeling tire on a hard tail.
Conclusions: Great tubeless performance, great size and volume, and a very wide range of conditions that this tire works in are a few of the reasons you may want to consider the Wild Grip’R. It is a tire you can put on and know that you are going to get at least a decent feel from all year long with traction that is fairly consistent across a range from, but not including, sticky, wet cake-like mud to perhaps very loose over hard pack. Only those extremes will give this tire fits. Otherwise, this is such a comfortable, tractable, fast tire that I can not find a reason to take it off for almost all of my 29″er riding needs.
Yes- it is UST based in dimensions. This may put Stan’s rim owners in a state of dismay, but as I have noted before, the mtb world seems to be separating into two camps for tire dimensions, and while both are really good, neither are very compatible with each other at all. If you do have a UST based dimension rim though, these tires will fit perfectly, air up easily, and hold the pressures well with a quality sealant inside.
Michelin has come a long way in 29″er tires since the days of the XC AT and I have to compliment them on their latest efforts in 29″er tires. The Wild Grip’R is another ace model for them. These tires definitely are high on my list of favorite 29″er tires.
Note Michelin sent over the Wild Grip’R tires for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review,and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.