We recently did a long term test of the Michelin Force AM 2.35 tire. Here’s what we found.
The AM in the tire name stand for “All Mountain. “All Mountain” is a term not used as often in the states. Looking at Michelin’s lineup it appears that AM tires slot in between their enduro and cross country tires. So for our U.S. centric purposes I would refer to this a trail tire.
Upon receiving this tire though, I was immediately struck by how low profile it was. The center knobs barely leave the surface of the tire. The side knobs are not a ton larger. Even though Michelin says this tire can be used front or rear I would consider it suicide using this tire as anything but a rear semi-slick. I’ll get more into that here in just a moment.
For my use, I purchased a 29x.2.35 version of the tire. This tire weighs in at a very respectable 790 grams on my scale. This makes this tire a little bit lighter than something like a Maxxis Ardent.
After mounting up any tire my first experience with it is always riding it on some level pavement. This gives me an initial first impression of the rolling resistance and sidewall feel of the tire. The Michelin Force AM felt good after mounting but not amazing. The overall lightness of the tire was very apparent but the rolling feel did not reflect how short the knobs on the tire were.
The real test though is applying any tire to dirt. I’ve been able to ride this tire in loose desert sand, sedona slickrock, high alpine trails, aspen and pine forests and bike parks. My impression across all conditions was basically the same. The perks of lightness and decent rolling resistance were far outweighed by the downsides.
The Force AM tire on my back wheel in just about any condition was pretty inconsistent on descents. Even after riding it for multiple months, I was never sure how well it would hook or when traction would break. This resulted in skidding during braking, less aggressive cornering, and more difficulty with line choice.
Unlike other semi-slick rear tires I have ridden, when leaning the bike over the side knobs did not seem to engage well or be aggressive enough. Overall descending on the Force AM felt like descending on a purpose-built XC tire.
While climbing the tire did not fair much better. On steeper climbs wheel spin was common and I felt that I needed to baby the tire to get it to crawl up technical terrain.
The tire did do ok on relatively flat sections of trail. But any time the trail got steep or curvy things did not go well.
During my testing I did not slice or flat this tire. It did hold up admirably for having a relatively light casing. Whether this was luck or not is hard to tell.
The tread itself however did not fair so well. After a month or so on my primary bike I could already see the the knobs were beginning to break free of the tire. A couple more months in and the tire was basically shot and needed to be replaced in order for me to be able to stop with any semblance of control. Of all the tires I have tested long-term, the Michelin Force AM tire lasted the shortest period of time. I can usually ride a tire for a full season before I begin thinking about a replacement. Not so here.
Overall, I think this is a mislabeled tire. It really didn’t seem to have any place on my Kona Process 153. On a sporty hardtail? Maybe. For the average rider though, this is not the right tire. There are simply too many compromises and too many other great tires on the market to choose from.
- Low Weight
- Relatively Fast Rolling
- Inconstant Traction
- Poor Climbing and Cornering Traction
- Short Life and Lack of Durability