Michelin Force AM2 2.4 Review
Cons: Not the best braking traction, moderately heavy, not great in mud or sloppy conditions
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Michelin Force AM2 2.4
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|Pros||Reasonable price, low rolling resistance, versatile tread works well in a range of conditions, comes in 2.4 and 2.6-inch widths||EXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front or rear, dual compound increases longevity||Great cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widths||Versatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rolling||Reasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tire|
|Cons||Not the best braking traction, moderately heavy, not great in mud or sloppy conditions||Not the best for hardpack, high rolling resistance, requires good technique||Moderate weight, not the fastest rolling||Not the best braking traction||Moderate braking traction, firmer rubber compound|
|Bottom Line||A durable and fast-rolling trail and all-mountain tire well suited to duties on the rear of the bike||One of the most popular tires ever, and for good reason||Specialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great value||A versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of riding||A versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bike|
|Rating Categories||Michelin Force AM2 2.4||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Pedaling Traction (20%)|
|Braking Traction (20%)|
|Rolling Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Michelin Force AM2 2.4||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Size tested||29" x 2.4"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.6"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.3"|
|Weight as tested||1051g||954g||1123g||950g||945g|
|Front, Rear, or Both||Rear, Both||Front, Both||Front, Both||Rear||Rear|
|Casing Tested||Gravity Shield||EXO||GRID Trail||EXO||GRID Trail|
|Compound Tested||Gum-X||3C Maxx Terra||Gripton T9||Dual||Gripton T7|
|Tread Count (TPI)||3 x 60||60||60||60||60|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Michelin recently introduced two new models in its range of mountain bike tires. Along with the Wild AM2, the Force AM2 is a new all-mountain and trail riding tire intended for use in dry, hardpacked, and mixed conditions. We tested it primarily in the rear with the Wild AM2 in the front, and we found it to be a fast-rolling tire with solid cornering abilities and a relatively robust feel. It's a bit heavier than similar tires we've tested, but it corners better than most and has a more supportive and durable casing. Our test tire measured just slightly wider than 2.4-inches on our 35mm rim and weighed in at 1,051-grams, just 11-grams heavier than Michelin's claimed weight. It comes in 2.4 and 2.6-inch width in both 27.5 and 29-inch diameters.
One place the Force AM2 stands out from other similar tires is in the corners. While it doesn't corner quite as aggressively as tires with burlier treads and tackier rubber, it outperforms other fast-rolling tires thanks to its substantial row of well-supported side knobs inspired by the DH22 downhill tire. The casing feels beefy and this tire doesn't fold or squirm under heavy cornering loads. We preferred using it as a rear tire, but it could certainly work well in the front depending on the conditions you ride.
While the closely packed moderate height center tread allows this tire to roll fast, Michelin lined the edges of the tread with taller side knobs to enhance it cornering abilities. These knobs look very similar to those found on the Wild AM2 and they are arranged in sets of three that are angled just slightly. There is no empty space in the tread's intermediate zone, so there is a seamless transition when rolling this tire on edge. Moderate lean angles feel natural, and once you get to the side knobs they provide nice support and communicate well. In the firm, dry conditions this tire was designed for, and even in moderately loose or loose over hard, it grips very well. When things get really loose, you begin to feel the limits of this tire's cornering grip. It holds well to a point, but it is more likely to drift than more aggressive tread designs. It's pretty easy to tell when it is going to break loose, and those tall knobs make it easier to recover than some.
For a fast-rolling tire, the Force AM2 provides great pedaling traction in all but the loosest of conditions. In hardpack, firm, slabs, and even moderately loose conditions, these tires hook up well and feel quick while climbing. These tires are not ideal for use in wet or sloppy conditions, however, as their more closely spaced tread knobs are prone to packing with mud.
From side to side, the tread of the Force AM2 is covered with lots of smaller, moderate height knobs that have lots of edges to grab hold of the trail surface. This works particularly well on the conditions this tire was designed for. The Gum-X rubber compound feels relatively firm, but we found it to grip quite well on hardpacked dirt and granite. Every knob on the tire has a sipe through it, further enhancing the grip as the tread can conform better to the surface. When things get super loose, the lower-profile knobs don't penetrate into the surface as far as taller, more widely spaced knobs, so it can be prone to spinning out. So, it's not the best choice for loose or wet conditions, but we feel it works quite well just about everywhere else.
Braking traction isn't the Force AM2's strongest suit, but we feel it performed well given its lower rolling resistance and intended use. Of course, a lower profile tire like this will never brake as well as a more aggressive tread design, but it certainly holds its own and outperforms similar tires.
The more tightly packed and lower profile center tread of the Force AM2 works well when using this tire in the dry, hardpacked conditions for which it was intended. Places like the desert southwest, where the trails are a mix of hardpacked dirt and slickrock, are where this tire shines and more aggressive treads are overkill. When conditions get loose, the Force does still perform well, but it's easier to break into a skid than something with taller, wider, or more openly spaced tread. That said, when compared to a similar tire like the Maxxis Ardent, for example, the taller center tread and more substantial side knobs of the Force AM2 provide noticeably more braking traction. The burly row of side knobs is one thing that really sets it apart when you do lose traction, as it is a little easier to recover.
Michelin bills the Force AM2 as a "fast tire on hard-packed terrain" and we can't really argue with that. It's not necessarily the fastest rolling tire, but it does feel quick and it definitely rolls faster than most more aggressive tread designs. We really enjoyed using it as a rear tire, where its lower rolling resistance was most noticeable, paired with the more aggressive Wild AM2 in the front. At 1,051-grams in the 29" x 2.4" we tested, it is heavier than some similar options.
A quick glance at the Force AM2 and it's easy to see why it's a fast-rolling tire. The directional center tread consists of relatively tightly packed moderate height knobs that are arranged in an arrow-like pattern. This tread looks strikingly similar to tires like the Maxxis Ardent and the Vittoria Aggaro, but the Force AM2 has a more substantial row of cornering knobs. The center tread knobs also use a firmer rubber compound, and they roll smooth and fast over firm surfaces. We rode these tires back to back with a Maxxis Minion DHR II, and the difference in rolling speed on firm conditions was immediately apparent and quite dramatic. They aren't XC race tire fast mind you, but considering their weight and durability we were quite impressed.
Much like the more aggressive Wild AM2 we've been thoroughly impressed by the durability of the Force AM2. The Gum-X rubber compound has withstood several hundred miles of abuse as a rear tire, and the Gravity Shield casing has handled multiple rim outs and poor line choices with no issues.
While it may not be the tackiest rubber out there, Michelin's Gum-X compound strikes a great balance between grip and longevity. The center tread and base of the side knobs consist of firmer rubber with softer rubber atop the side knobs for extra grip. Despite hundreds of miles of rear use, the tread on our Force AM2 test tire is in much better condition than we expected. At this point, the inside of the cornering knobs are starting to show some erosion and pitting, but it is very even and less than expected. The side knobs are also very well supported, so they have resisted folding and tearing and there are no abnormal chunks taken out. Likewise, the Gravity Shield casing offers lots of puncture protection. Three layers of 60 tpi protection from bead to bead have proven to be very resistant to punctures, pinch flats, or cuts. In fact, there isn't even any sealant seepage often experienced with other brands.
The Force AM2 was pretty easy to install. We found the bead to be snug, and it did require the use of a single tire lever to coax the last bit of it onto the rim. Once on the rim, the bead's tight fit meant that it was easy to seat using only a standard floor pump. During our test period, we found that it would lose a small amount of air between rides, and it needed to be topped up after sitting overnight.
We think the Force AM2 is a great value for the aggressive trail rider seeking a fast-rolling and durable tire for dry and hardpacked conditions. This tire costs less than most similar tires on the market and its long-lasting tread and beefy casing will likely outlast most of them. In this case, you do pick up a little weight in trade for its more aggressive feel and overall durability.
The Force AM2 is a great new trail riding tire for the rider who prioritizes rolling speed but doesn't want to sacrifice durability or support. This tire works best in dry, firm, and moderately loose conditions, and it offers more in the way of cornering and braking traction than similar options. We found the sidewalls to be supportive and resistant to punctures and the tread impressively long-lasting. We think this is a great rear tire paired with something more aggressive up front, or for both tires in firm conditions.
— Jeremy Benson
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