Michelin officially launch Power tyre range – the “new benchmark on the market”
The inside story from the launch of Michelin's Power Competition, Endurance and All Season tyres
Michelin are very proud of their new range of Power tyres – declared as the “new benchmark on the market”. And the French manufacturer has the right to be if the tyres live up to the performance claims being made about them.
“The Power range is a condensation of all of Michelin’s tyre know-how,” says Karl de Quick, the general manager of Michelin bike tyre division. “It is unparalleled; the new benchmark on the market.”
De Quick was singing the Power tyres’ praises at the official unveiling of the new range at Michelin’s Ladoux Technology Centre in Clermont-Ferrand, central France, and we were there to get the full story.
Developed at Ladoux over the course of 24 months and due to go on sale on April 1, the Power range is made up of three tyres: the Competition, Endurance and All Season.
Each of the tyres is geared towards a specific type of riding but Michelin say that not only is the three-tyre range enough to cover almost all road applications, but it also offers significant improvements over the current Pro4 tyre collection and its main rival in the market. (De Quick wouldn’t be drawn on exactly which tyre Michelin sees as the rival to the Power but dropped hints in the direction of Continental).
For racers, Michelin have made the Power Competition, which is said to deliver a 25 per cent reduction in rolling resistance. Long-distance cyclists and sportive riders get the Power Endurance, which is claimed to offer a 20 per cent improvement in puncture protection. The Power All Season, on the other hand, has been designed to provide a 15 per cent improvement in grip to deal with riding the worst weather conditions.
In the era of ‘marginal gains’ and incremental improvements, such large figures are a bold statement. But Michelin have put the Power tyres through more than 200,000km of test rides in the course of their development and the results of those tests – which have been validated by the Wheel Energy laboratory, an independent test facility in Finland – are what the company’s pride is based on.
“We looked for the area where the biggest gains could be made when we were designing the Competition tyre,” explains Michelin’s Pierre-Yves Formagne when introducing the Power Competition tyre.
“And, of course, aerodynamics are huge in racing right now but the potential aero benefits for a tyre are very small.
“The amount we can reduce a tyre’s weight isn’t enough to provide much help either. There are, however, big gains to be made by reducing rolling resistance so that’s what we focussed on with the Power Competition.”
The Power competition uses a blend of rubber, elastomer and silica, inspired by the tyres Michelin developed for passenger cars and electric vehicles, where energy efficiency is the priority.
And the result, according to Michelin’s tests using a rider and bike package weighing 70kg, is a slick tyre that saves you ten watts when riding at 35km/h.
To put that ten-watt figure in perspective, it’s the equivalent of losing 1.5kg in weight or riding the 2015 World Championship Time Trial course 54 seconds faster than you would with a rival tyre. It’s a huge figure and, understandably, the number Michelin are highlighting for a tyre intended for racers.
The Power Endurance tyre, geared towards long-distance riders, also benefits from similar improvements in rolling resistance, with a saving of 8.6 watts at 35km/h. But durability and puncture protection are the priorities for this model.
A dual-compound rubber allows the tyre’s crown to provide the improvement in rolling resistance while the shoulders of the Endurance offer grip for cornering in wet weather. The combination has been designed to resist the cracking and cutting that the Pro4 tyres were prone to after prolonged use.
Beneath that rubber is a robust layer of newly formulated aramid, christened Aramid Protek+, that enables the Power Endurance tyres to better resist punctures. In tests using a 3mm-wide spike to penetrate a Power Endurance inflated to 8bar (116psi), it took 62kg of force to pierce the tyre. In comparison, the spike pierced an equivalent tyre from a rival manufacturer with 53.6kg of force.
To a lesser extent the Power Competition has also benefited from this improved puncture protection and was able to withstand 53.7kg of force before the 3mm spike pierced its carcass.
Power All Season
The Power All Season is all about grip, particularly in the wet. Not only for cornering (latitudinal grip) but also for braking (longitudinal grip), especially with the arrival of disc brakes since without sufficient grip in the tyre, the greater braking forces of discs can lead to skids.
Cornering grip was tested in various ways, one of which involves a Michelin test rider riding in circles on a sopping wet test track, while another relies on a machine to press the tyre, mounted on a wheel, onto a section of tarmac elevated to 20° and adding weight until the tyre slips.
In the machine test, the Power All Season held all the way up to 12.3kg. The tyre deemed to be its best rival let go at 8.3kg.
Braking grip was tested in a similar way, except that the piece of tarmac was flat and the tyre, mounted on a wheel, was pushed with an increasing weight until it slipped. It took 34.2kg to shift the All Season, while its rival withstood 26.8kg.
Confidence and cost
So confident are Michelin in the Power range of tyres that to date they’ve chosen not to supply them to any pro teams. Instead, de Quick points out, they’re going to wait until rider experience and word of mouth brings the teams to Michelin’s door.
The rest of the cycling world will be able to ride the Power tyres when they go on sale on April 1. Although exactly how much it will cost to buy a pair remains a mystery as De Quick was cagey as to exactly what the recommended retail price for the Power tyres would be. He would go only so far as to say, “the market will decide how much it is prepared to pay for the Power tyres”.
But his obvious pride in the tyres and the performance advantages they appear to bestow seemed to suggest the Power range will lie at the more expensive end of the price spectrum. What we do know is that the Competition will come in two sizes (23mm and 25mm), while the Endurance and All Season will also have a 28mm option.
That’s what Michelin have to say about their new Power tyres. We also had the chance to ride them for ourselves at the launch. Check back for a first ride report.
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