Putting the Michelin eMTB specific E-Wild tyres to the test
Words and photos: Ryan Walsch
The world of eMTBs has been progressing at lightning speed. Over just a few years we have seen improvements in geometry, suspension, batteries, brakes and more. But one thing that until recently has been an Achilles heel is finding quality rubber that gives great traction, puncture resistance and reliability. After being seriously impressed my Michelin’s Wild Enduro tyres, I was keen as mustard to mount up a pair of front and rear specific Michelin E-Wilds to our Trek Powerfly LT 9.7 test bike.
As eMTBs are heavier and slightly more cumbersome than their analogue counterparts, tyres have their work cut out for them. When you are riding an eMTB the bike's total weight means you are less likely to finesse the bike over some trail features, and more likely to charge through – especially because most eMTB designs are sporting at least 130mm of travel and often more. It also means that the system weight (of you and the bike) is greater, so the forces on the tyres and all the bike parts is greater. To keep the overall weight of en eMTB down, companies often fit thin side walled tyres that are not up to the rigours of eMTB use. With 2.6” to 2.8” tyres becoming the norm, traction is a plenty but can be often be at the expense of tyre stability, squirm and rim damage. Or to put it bluntly, you get flat tyres and that ruins your ride.
A closer look at the Michelin E-Wild
Michelin have packed their tried and tested 3 x 60tpi ply “gravity shield” casing into the E-Wild which keeps the big bagged 2.8” tyre from feeling too buoyant on the trail and giving much needed pinch flat protection. Where the sidewall meets the bead, the tyre is extremely tough and this is essential for the tyre to remain holding onto the rim, and it adds impact protection to go along with the strong casing.
The Michelin E-Wild tyres have a front and rear specific model. So the front and rear tyres have different duties and significantly more meat has been added to the rear weighing at 1330g compared to 1090g for the front. Both the E-Wild front and rear tyres utilise Michelin’s multi compound Gum-X rubber. This means there are slightly harder centre knobs which reduce rolling resistance and improve durability and a softer compound rubber on the side knobs to hold on when pushing through turns. Softer rubber does wear fast and it is common for companies to use different compounds in different parts of the tyre to optimise the given characteristics of a particular compound.
Fitting the E-Wilds is a fuss free affair, the high quality construction and materials ensure an air tight fit is made with tread aligned perfectly on the casing with no visible wobbles and near perfect balance. Despite the tough exterior, the tyres are easily mounted up onto tubeless ready rims thanks to the big bagged 2.8” inch casing, which gives you some room to move and something to hold onto when getting the bead over the rim edge as well. The tyres sealed with ease using Orange Seal tubeless sealant. Depending on the rims you are mounting these to, I do recommend either an air compressor or a tubeless specific pump like Bontrager’s Flash Charger for large volume tyres such as these. I would also recommend mounting them to rims with a width of 35mm to 50mm. Most modern eMTBs will have a 35mm rim, but this is something worth keeping in mind if you are considering upgrading your tyres on an older eMTB.
On the Trail
Looking more like a Michelin S12 Enduro motorbike tyre the E-Wild’s side knobs sit proud of the tyres' casing and it’s the side knobs that really set this tyre apart. The Michelin's side knobs are reinforced down the sidewall of the tyre 5mm to 10mm further than many other staple models of tyre giving the E-Wild an unmatched edge to corner on when riding loose and soft trail. Setting up high into turns and holding the high line is surprisingly simple with so much traction to be had. With technical climbs on an eMTB being considerably easier, seeking out more technical lines is all part of the fun. The large footprint of the 2.8” E-Wild digs into the rough stuff keeping the bike climbing like a goat.
The E-Wild rolls surprisingly well thanks to the slightly lower profile center knobs and the Gum X dual compound construction. I did note that on hardpack and loose over hardpack the E-Wild struggles to find purchase with its large knobs. When riding tight uphill switchbacks on hard surfaces I experienced the front wheel pushing and understeering. This is obviously more pronounced due to the additional power driving the bike forward and required slightly more preparation into the corner and a different body position to keep weight on the front wheel and holding a good line at the corners exit. Loose conditions, dirt, loam anything but hardpack and the E-wild is a beast - just point them where you want to go and hold on!
- eMTB specific tread
- Front and rear specific
- Easy to mount, not crazy heavy
- May not be the best on hardpack
- Limited sizes (at time of print)
RRP: $99 per tyre