Michelin Wild AM2 2.4 Review
Cons: Moderately heavy, not the fastest rolling
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Michelin Wild AM2 2.4
|Price||$80 List||$61.99 at Amazon|
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|$53.90 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Great cornering traction, solid braking traction, good in mixed/loose conditions, long tread life||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||Moderately heavy, not the fastest rolling||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 great front tire for aggressive all-mountain and trail riding in loose conditions||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 Wild 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 Wild 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||1037g||954g||1123g||950g||945g|
|Front, Rear, or Both||Front, 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 has been making mountain bike tires for decades, and they recently added the Wild AM2 to their range. Based on the popular DH34 downhill tire, the Wild AM2 is a lighter-weight model aimed squarely at the all-mountain and aggressive trail riding market for use in mud and mixed/soft conditions. It comes in both 27.5 and 29-inch diameters in 2.4 (tested) and 2.6-inch widths. We tested this tire for weeks and came away quite impressed by its cornering and braking traction, sidewall support, and long tread life. Additionally, our test tire measured just slightly wider than 2.4" on our 35mm rims and weighed in at 1,037-grams, 3-grams under their claimed weight.
The Wild AM2 has great cornering traction. It's not the absolute best cornering tire in the world, but it is really good. We found them to shine in loose conditions where the tall well-supported side knobs and open spacing could go to work. Additionally, the Gravity Shield casing provided great support, without being overly stiff, to run lower pressures without the tire folding, squirming, or burping when you you really get on it.
Michelin has employed their Gum-X rubber compound in the Wild AM2. While the word "gum" might sound pretty sticky, this rubber doesn't feel nearly as tacky as Maxxis MaxxGrip or Schwalbe Ultra-Soft, for example. Those rubber compounds are super grippy, but tend to wear out in a few shorts weeks. The Wild AM2 has firmer rubber for the center tread and supporting the side knobs with softer rubber on top. While it isn't super tacky, this rubber grips very well on firm surfaces like granite slabs, but it's the tire's tread design that does the work while cornering. Also, the open tread design clears mud well should you find yourself in sloppy conditions.
The center tread features pairs of tall square knobs that are arranged in sets of three that get progressively farther apart. The tall rectangular side knobs are inspired by those on the DH22 and are also in sets of three at a slight angle that matches the center tread which they are staggered between. There is a bit of open space between the center and side knobs, but no so much that the tire has any dead space or vagueness while rolling it on edge or at moderate lean angles. The side-to-side profile of the tire is square-ish, but not absurdly so. When you tip the bike into a corner, it rolls easily on edge and you can really feel the well-supported side knobs engaging and holding. The spacing of the knobs really allows each one to get purchase, particularly in the loose/soft conditions for which this tire was designed. There are a few tires that feel a little edgier and grip in corners a bit more impressively, but the Wild AM2 can absolutely hold its own.
The Wild AM2 is not short on pedaling traction. As a front tire, this is a relatively moot point, but should you choose to put this on the back wheel for a more aggressive setup, you won't be left wanting for traction in loose conditions.
As a rear tire, the tall tread knobs and open spacing claw their way in to loose conditions where faster rolling, lower profile treads will be prone to spinning out. The ramped front edges of the tread knobs helps ease them into the surface, and the height of the knobs and the space between them allows the individual knobs to grab hold. They also do a good job of clawing their way up and over roots, chunky rock gardens, and the sipes on each knob help them conform to firm surfaces pretty well too. Of course, there's a bit of a trade-off, and all that traction does result in a bit more rolling resistance on hardpack.
Much like its big brother, the DH34, the Wild AM2 was designed to provide good braking traction in loose conditions. When riding in aggressive terrain in chunky, loose dirt and decomposing granite soils, we could feel the open tread design and tall knobs doing their job, inspiring confidence to ride fast while knowing we could shut it down when needed.
The relatively open spacing of the tall tread knobs really allows the individual knobs to dig in to loose conditions with squared-off edges that do a great job of grabbing and holding when the brakes are applied. We found braking to be a predictable experience, and this tire was not prone to unexpectedly breaking into a skid. We also found them to provide solid traction on steep granite slabs, where the Gum-X rubber felt adequately grippy and the horizontal sipes on the center tread helped them conform slightly to the surface.
The aggressive open tread and tall knobs of the Wild AM2 don't make this the fastest rolling tire. As a front tire, this is hardly noticeable unless you're riding on pavement, nor is it as much of a concern. If used as a rear tire, however, this resistance will be much more noticeable, but still not terrible either. Riders concerned with rolling speed would do well to mount this tire at the front of the bike and pair it with something faster rolling like the Force AM2 in the rear.
At a measured weight of 1,037-grams in the 29" x 2.4" size we tested, the Wild AM2 isn't exactly lightweight, but considering the aggressive tread and burly casing, we feel it is pretty respectable. The nature of the Wild AM2's aggressive tread design results in a fair amount of rolling resistance, although Michelin has ramped the front edges of all the knobs slightly to help them ease into the trail surface. This tire is designed to provide traction in loose, soft conditions where the tall knobs with open spacing can dig into the trail. It does this quite effectively but rolls a bit slower than less aggressive or more tightly spaced tread designs as a result. It's not egregiously slow-rolling or draggy feeling, but there is definitely a bit of a tradeoff in rolling speed for the traction it provides.
After over a month of testing and several hundred miles of aggressive riding, we've come away very impressed by the longevity of the Wild AM2. We've put this tire through the wringer in every condition imaginable and both the tread and the sidewalls have held up surprisingly well. Despite lots of reckless riding and numerous rim outs, we experienced no punctures or sidewall tears, and the cornering knobs are still well attached with plenty of life left in them.
While the Gum-X rubber compound used on the Wild AM2 isn't the tackiest rubber out there, it has proven itself to be impressively durable and long-lasting. Michelin seems to have struck a very nice balance of grip and durability with firmer rubber on the center tread and supporting the side knobs with slightly softer rubber on top. The side knobs feel very well supported, so they aren't prone to folding or tearing from aggressive cornering forces. All of the tread knobs are still intact with nice square edges with only the slightest bit of erosion beginning on the inside of the side knobs. The Gravity Shield casing has also weathered the storm very well with 3 layers of 60 tpi protection running from bead to bead. Several cringe-inducing rim outs caused no punctures, and despite lots of encounters with sharp granite, the sidewalls show only minor scuffing. There isn't even any evidence of sealant seepage that is common with several other tire brands.
We found the Wild AM2 to be relatively easy to install. They have a somewhat snug fit to the rim which required the use of a tire lever to coax the last bit onto the rim, but it was by no means a challenge. Once on the rim, the snug fit made it easy to inflate, and we were able to seat the bead using a standard floor pump. A booster pump would make it even easier but certainly wasn't necessary in our experience.
We feel the new Wild AM2 is a great value. They are offered a competitive price that is lower than many similar tires and perform alongside the best in the business. Add to that a burly, durable casing and a long tread life, and we feel you'll get your money's worth.
The Wild AM2 is a great new addition to Michelin's tire lineup. It has great cornering and braking traction, a burly casing, and an impressively long-lasting rubber compound. It's a competitive weight compared to similarly aggressive tires but feels slightly more durable than most. This is a fantastic new option for the front end of any aggressive trail rider's bike, or use it front and rear for a rugged combo for loose conditions.
— Jeremy Benson
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