When it comes to picking tires for gravel riding the options are vast. Every tire brand offers a myriad of options that cater to all conditions from hard pack to muddy adventure.
Michelin has loads of road and mountain bike tire options covering just about every application and riding conditions whether it's urban commuting or World Cup Downhill. Their gravel tire options however are limited and despite being one of cycling's fastest growing segments, Michelin only has two gravel tire options in their range.
The Michelin Power Gravel is the brand's first gravel tire and I have been clocking up the miles to see how it performs.
Design and specifications
The Michelin Power Gravel features a low profile triangle-shaped tread which is now commonly used by a lot of brands who want to produce a fast-rolling gravel tire. The directional tread has larger blocks in the center and becomes smaller, deeper, and less densely packed towards the edge of the tread. In order to give a little more corner bite when on the edge, Michelin has added a column of larger shoulder blocks to dig into the dirt when you're really leaning the bike over.
Michelin says that its Magi-X Compound enhances grip whilst maintaining a long lifespan. The tire casing uses Michelin's Bead to Bead Shield Technology which layers three 100 tpi sheets across the entire tire to ward off punctures.
The tires come in a relatively small number of options. You get the standard black or trendy tan wall – as expected from a gravel tire range – and there are four sizes to choose from, although the range of sizes isn’t the best. 33mm barely registers as a gravel tire anymore and 35mm is also small by today's standards, there’s the 40mm size I have on test and a larger 47mm option. I think potential customers would be better served by tire increments of 5mm between 35mm and 50mm as riders are increasingly looking for more volume.
These were the first set of Michelin tires I have ridden and straight away I was impressed with the Power Gravel. They roll impressively fast on dirt and still manage to hold a good pace on the tarmac for a 40mm gravel tire.
Like most gravel tires, the Power Gravel works best on dry to intermediate, hard to loose trails where its small triangle treads can deform and grip the surface. Traction is very predictable and when the tire does break free, it does so in a very calm and controlled manner. This meant I was confidently ripping around gravel corners and able to carry a lot of speed through sections that would otherwise require a bit more caution.
For a dry-weather tire they aren't terrible in the wet, the grip predictability is a big help here as is the last-minute catch support of the larger shoulder knobs in order to keep things upright. The tight tread can get a bit choked with proper mud at slow speeds but it soon clears as you ride.
I put these tires through a lot, specifically tackling a 300km route that retrospectively really should have been ridden on a mountain bike due to the fast rocky descents. Despite this, the Power Gravels have so far been impervious to punctures despite some very sketchy moments and a fair share of rock-to-rim impacts.
Comfort levels are pretty good too, they don't match some ultra-supple tires like Schwalbe’s G-One RS or Teravail’s Cannonball, however, they still absorbed more than enough trail buzz and I could happily run them at low pressure without pinch problems if I wanted a cushy feel. It's also worth noting that my tires were mounted to relatively narrow rims, pop them on something wider and I would expect them to feel even better.
I have covered almost 1,200km on my test tires and while the front one still looks good, the rear is starting to show a significant amount of wear. That said, the last few rides have been particularly hard going and involved a lot of steep and fast descending which has probably contributed to the accelerated wear on the rear.
Who needs an extensive range of tires when you have a tire as good as the Power Gravel? Michelin’s Power Gravel tires have quickly become one of my favorite gravel options thanks to their fast rolling speeds, predictable grip, and impressive puncture protection.
It's great in the 40mm width and the 47mm will give more adventurous riders an option for more volume, however, I would like to see a 45mm and 50mm instead to give more options.
Tech specs: Michelin Power Gravel tire
- Price: $79.99 / £52.00
- Weight: 469g
- Sizes: 700 x 33mm, 35mm, 40mm, 47mm
- Colors: Black, Classic