Michelin Wild Enduro Front GUM-X3D 2.4 Tire Review
What it is: A front specific enduro mountain bike tire offered by Michelin in several tire sizes and compounds.
I purchased this tire on a whim several months ago just to bump the cost of an order over the free shipping threshold from Europe to the US. After letting it sit in my garage a while, I regret I didn't try it sooner, because I found an excellent tire with great consistency and characteristics, but few downsides.
There are other reviews that cover the history of the tires, compound choices, and so forth in greater depth. Since I didn't have the option to try all of the compounds and options, I'll just stick with my experiences running this tire in 29x2.4 form with the GUM-X3D compound.
The other reviews I read claim that this tire measures true to size, however that was not the case for me on 30mm internal width rims:
As you can see in the image above (sorry for the garage shot), the knob to knob width measures around 60mm or 2.35in. It's a minor difference compared to how other manufacturers miss the sizing mark, but worth noting.
The casing width surprisingly measured the same. The knob depth comes in at around 4mm for the center knobs and 5mm for the outer knobs.
The sizing on this tire comes in at about the minimum I'd be willing to run on an enduro or DH focused bike, but it's within what I'd consider an acceptable range, however I think some may want more volume. That said, I wouldn't discard the tire based on the lack of volume alone, as it more than makes up for it in the majority of areas I consider when evaluating a tire.
The casing feels fairly thick, but definitely not as burly as something like DoubleDown, maybe more around EXO+ territory, although that's just by hand feel and I'm not entirely convinced that is the best measure of casing durability. That said, I have had no issues with punctures or tears with the tire, although I only ran it in the front, so I can't speak to how long it would last in the rear.
The summary is that this tire corners very well, tracks well, handles loose conditions better than any tire I've tried, and seems to work well on every surface I've tried it on, even hardpack. The only downside is the lack of volume doesn't provide much comfort or compliance over small bumps compared to larger options.
Starting with the cornering performance of the tire, it stands up very well and lacks that vague feeling you sometimes get with other tires that have thin casings or weak side knobs. Instead, it seems to cut through the dirt more like a knife, remaining rigid and standing firm, which allows for very good precision in cornering and, more importantly, consistency in feel. You rarely have to wonder what the tire is going to do.
I feel like this is due to the size, shape, and construction of the side knobs relative to the rest of the tire, however the volume of the tire certainly plays a role, which is where you get some tradeoffs with it.
Larger tires will tend to squirm more under hard cornering, but give you more compliance over small bumps and greater traction over wet surfaces where the tire can put more tread down on the surface. The narrower tires allow for more precision and don't fold over as easily, but you lose the benefits of the larger tire in the process. It's a tradeoff and one I think potential buyers of this tire will have to consider more than any other aspect of the tire.
I ran the tire on hardpack, wet dirt, loose dirt, and almost every condition we have here in western North Carolina. The performance in loose conditions was a marked improvement over the Butcher 2.6 I was running previously, so I suspect it would be an improvement over similar tires like the DHF and Assegai in those conditions.
Traction on wet roots and rocks is good, but again, the lack of volume can make it slide around a bit more than some may be used to, especially on off camber roots, however the compound and tread pattern seem to make up for the lack of overall volume.
Braking performance is excellent, I ridden some really steep and loose sections of trail exceeding 45% grades, coming to a near track stand with the front brake locked up and it hasn't slipped at all. In one instance, I rode a very dusty trail that reaches a peak grade of about 48%, I had to slow down on the steepest part and come to a near track stand, which I was able to do with complete control, something I can't say about other tires I've tried.
Overall, the tire impressed me in every way, but prospective buyers will need to consider the volume and what comes with that. I've also heard of issues with tread life, but have not experienced any issues myself.
So who would I recommend this to?
If you are looking for a tire that performs very well in loose surfaces in particular, this is a very good option, although it does well on every surface I've tried it on so so far. The tread pattern is really effective at grabbing whatever traction is there and remaining consistent throughout it, however performance in the loose is what makes it stand out.
The key decision factor for most I believe will be the volume, especially in current times where many are running larger 2.5-2.6 inch tires. The size is a marked decrease compared to other tires I've run recently, however it doesn't appear to compromise performance much. That being said, it probably is not the right choice for those looking for a more compliant tire or one that provides greater comfort on chattery bumps like a larger 2.5-2.6 will.
For those that value a consistent tire feel, this is one of the best options I've experienced recently, it's feel has not changed much from the first time I ran it until now and I can always expect it to perform the same in various conditions.
Personally, I feel longer travel bikes like my Enduro perform better with a firmer tire that allows the suspension to do more work and allows the tire to stand up at speed rather than fold over and offer a vague, inconsistent feel. That said, if I was on a hardtail or shorter travel bike, I'd probably opt for something larger.
vs. WTB Vigilante 2.5 Light/High Grip : My experiences with the WTB tires were very good and really close to how this tire performed, especially when cornering grip is considered. The WTB options are much larger, though, especially at the casing. The knob to knob width of WTB tires is slightly wider, maybe 1-2mm, but the casing is larger by about 4-5mm. The casings are also more compliant. That said, the WTB tires don't perform as well on hardpack and I found them to be vaguer than the Wild Enduro, due to their tendency to fold a bit especially without inserts. Both tires appear to wear similarly, both perform well in wet or loose dirt, and both grip slippery surfaces well thanks to softer compounds. It's a tossup for me on which I'd choose, but the slight consistency benefit over the Wild Enduro wins me over for now.
vs. Assegai 3C/EXO+ MaxxTerra : As noted in other reviews, I did not get along with this tire at all. I found it to be inconsistent, harsh, narrow, and unpredictable. I believe the softer compound tires may have better performance, but I haven't tried them. That said, compared to the Assegai I have tried, the Wild Enduro is better in every way especially in loose conditions. The knobs on the Assegai just don't seem to have the biting power through loose dirt like the Wild Enduro does.
vs. Butcher 2.6 : These two tires are very different, despite being designed for similar purposes. The Butcher is a good comparison for those interested in the larger volume side of things, however. Overall, most of the comparison points are the same, however the Wild Enduro again offers greater consistency in cornering especially at speed, while the Butcher offers better compliance over bumps and off camber sections. The Wild Enduro also performs much better in loose conditions, something I was finding more and more was a bit of an issue with the Butcher (although I still prefer the Butcher to some other options even in these conditions).
Consistent cornering performance
Excellent performance in loose or wet dirt
Traction is consistently good across all conditions and surfaces I was able to try it on
Excellent braking traction, even in very steep, loose, and dusty areas where other tires will skip or lack enough bite
Reasonably inexpensive compared to other options (especially if purchased from an EU vendor)
Easy to setup tubeless
Tire life seems on par with other soft compound, large knob tires I've used
Lower volume compared to other enduro options provides less compliance over bumps and terrain features
Tread life likely isn't as good as a DHF or Assegai