It has been only two month since Michelin gave us the full low down and let us ride their revamped mountain bike tire line-up this spring, and now we’ve already spotted some new prototypes being race tested in World Cup cross-country. The elite men of the BH-SR Suntour-KMC team were riding two prototype tires that looked for the most part to share the same new casing. Keeping the same Jet and Force tread designs that were just introduced (and were said to have been developed in a partnership with the BH team), the new supposedly more supple tubeless tires get an updated tan sidewall with ribs and texturing that transition from the current tread designs all the way over to the bead…
While the only the current Jet gets the existing XCR designation for the light weight 150tpi cross-country race casing, the BH team were racing prototypes of both the Jet and Force at the XCO World Cup in Nové Město, in what looked like similar tan wall casings. From what we have garnered these could be even lighter versions of that same tire, testing a more advanced rubber compound.
The Jet (above) has a scalloped edge to the black rubber of the tread that perfectly looped from the tip of each shoulder knob to the next all the way around the tire. It then included the same small sidewall ribs that extend from the shoulder knobs to the bead like we saw on the recently introduced tires.
The Force tires likely make a bigger leap here. Their currently available XC casing tops out at 110tpi, so a step up to an XCR casing or beyond would move them more to a proper cross-country race tire. The Force prototypes get a similar looking tan wall but have a much less regular edge to the black rubber of the tread. Instead of the simple straight line ribs of the recently introduced Force XC & Force AM tires, this new race tire uses a different design. Mixing an angular arrow design that extends back from each shoulder knob, the design actually extends the angled lines that are already there in the currently available tires, suggesting that this sidewall design had at least been on the drawing board since the beginning of the new tread’s development.
The different sidewall ribs seem to be designed to provide some level of protection, although it’s not clear if these designs will make it to production, as we’ve seen some images from Michelin themselves that show differing variations. All of the team tires that we were able to get a close look at were 29″ x 2.25″, although we expect that since these are race-specific tires that a 2.1″ will likely be available, as will 27.5″ variants.