Moar Rubber: the Michelin Power Protection+

Moar Rubber: the Michelin Power Protection+

Last spring I and a few of my colleagues flew to South Carolina to visit Michelin’s proving grounds for the launch of their new Power line of bike tires. It was the first big overhaul their tire line had received in nearly 20 years. They were, as we are wont to pronounce, overdue.

I still marvel at the facility. It was big enough to hide a black ops site, rehearsal space for 100 rock bands and a liberal arts college, and still leave enough room for all the different test tracks. I mention this because my takeaway was that if Michelin was willing to put this kind of muscle into testing and research, they really are different from a tire company that’s picking compounds and casings out of the catalog of some Taiwanese factory.

A couple of months after our visit I received a set of one of the variants of the Power tires. At our presentation I was told that the Power Protection+ provided all the flat sanctuary of the market’s leading flat-resistant tires but didn’t give up the feel of a high-performance clincher. One other little detail that made me, well, salivate: they come in a 28mm width.

I put them on a favorite set of wheels and rode them on Sonoma County’s awful roads. And crushed gravel. And hard-pack dirt. After doing that for two months, I pulled them off those wheels and mounted them on the wheels I travel with. They’ve been there ever since. Belgian pavé. Swiss climbs. Rain-slicked farm roads. Winding Corsican descents. And the absolute trifecta—wet cobbles in a port littered with crushed glass.

They have yet to flat. I run them at 75 psi and treat them like a rental car.

I should clarify something. When I travel, while I always travel with a couple of tubes, a few insta-patches and a mini-pump, I don’t want to get a flat. There are a couple of reasons for this. I’m often under time constraints and don’t want my ride time eaten into by a flat tire. Also, replacing a flatted tube isn’t always easy, as I learned the hard way on one trip to Hawaii. And patching tubes when you’re supposed to be hanging out with other people is too lame to even be called passé.

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So I place a premium on having flat-proof tires that don’t ride like flat-proof tires. I rode the original Specialized Armadillos. They had the ride quality of a bare aluminum rim—all the traction and most of the comfort. And while tires have come a long way over the years, the Power Protection+ is the first flat-resistant tire I’ve ridden that didn’t make me think I was giving up ride quality.

The Michelin Protek belt reaches from bead to bead, so the Power Protection+ isn’t just reinforced at the tread; this tire is more resistant to sidewall cuts as well. Lest anyone worry that this tire, which is likely to be preferred by commuters and racers looking for a high-mileage training tire, Michelin gave this model a wear-resistant rubber compound (and included wear indicators to let you know how much rubber is left). The casing between the belt and the tread is a three-ply 110 tpi, which is a big reason these tires don’t ride like skateboard wheels.

The Power Protection+ tires come in three sizes (23, 25 and 28mm) and one color, basic black. On the Stan’s Grail rim (20.3mm inner width) the 28 measures out at 29.5mm wide. Suggested retail is $59.99, which puts them in the premium category. I estimate I’ve got more than 600 miles on them and they show little wear. I may end up with twice the mileage of most similarly priced tires, which makes their value double that of equal-cost rubber.

Final thought: Getting worked up over a clincher is unseemly for a grown man. Pardon me while I retire to the garage.

 


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15 comments


    1. Author
      Padraig

      No, not tubeless ready. This tire at this width runs a nick under 300 grams. There will be a bit of variation, a gram here or there.

  1. ken3737

    This is probably an unfair question to ask you — but if you had a to choose a 28mm road tire for Winter riding — dealing with beat-to-Hell tarmac — is this the one you’d choose?? There are so many choices out there now…


    1. Author
      Padraig

      This tire. Exactly this tire. I’ve yet to encounter another flat-resistant tire that feels as good.

  2. Chris Tough

    If Michelin were really interested in flat free cycling they would make road tubeless tires. For their first overhaul in 20 years they are still way
    behind the curve on this. Did you ask when they might be ready to offer their first road tubeless? Maybe they can introduce it before Campy can come up with a disc brake.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      On the road, most of the wheels I run aren’t tubeless ready. For gravel riding, I run tubeless as much as possible. For mountain biking, I only run tubeless.

      When I use tubes they are usually butyl.

  3. dave

    Why in the world would someone wanting to run low-pressure 28s choose these over the Schwalbe Pro One? ESPECIALLY someone wanting to minimize flats? 75 psi in a tubed tire is a nice recipe for pinch flats. Tubeless lets you drop the pressure down to 55-60 for more comfort, cornering, and speed.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      I respect that some may think running a tubed tire at 75 psi may be a recipe for pinch flats, but at my weight (~158 lbs.), it’s never happened. Ever. So there’s that. Also, because I travel with this bike, regularly I might add, running tubeless on tires that must be fully deflated before packing them in the case is a guaranteed recipe for spooge (technical term) all over everything in the case. Guaranteed. So running tubeless on a travel bike is maybe not the way to go. All that said, I’d be curious to try the Schwalbes; just haven’t had a chance.

  4. Dave

    Frequency of pinch flats is very much a function of riding style (skill?). I would never pinch flat at 75psi, but my 150lb father gets them ALL the time on his 28s. He took up cycling late in life and just doesn’t have the eye for road hazards that riders like us do. He is rolling over stuff that you and I would avoid.

    Anyway, you MUST try the Schwalbe Pro Ones. Supple yet orders of magnitude tougher than any tubed tire I’ve ever ridden. If you have the bike handling skills, these tires can take ANYTHING. I’ve ridden down Sullivan Canyon on them. Fast. Amazing tires.

  5. Carson

    I’ll join the chorus of those wishing that these came in a tubeless version. I’ve been a 28mm Hutchison loyalist for many seasons, but I’m getting very tired of the sticker price.

  6. Misha

    I plan to visit Sonoma sometime next year. Are 28mm Vittoria Corsa G+ suitable for King Ridge and other Sonoma County popular rides or something stronger is recommended?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      You’ll be fine with 28s while you’re on pavement. The moment you leave payment you will need a bigger tire. I like stuff in the 35 to 40mm range for unpaved riding around here.

  7. Pingback: Old Michelin Man Winter | RKP

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