Michelin is definitely a tire manufacturing specialist. The French company this year introduced the latest Pro 3 Race clincher, drawing on 120 years of experience in this domain. As its name indicates, this tire is the third in the series that started with the green and black Axial Pro, which performed very well in the dry but was unfortunately unsafe under wet conditions.
The second iteration, the Pro 2, was released in 2003 and received a couple of important improvements to increase grip while cornering in the wet. It was offered in several colors.
The development of the latest Pro 3 has captured our attention. We followed its development last summer during the Tour de France when some teams were checking the tires lived up to Michelin's expectations in terms of puncture resistance - they are among the best on the market.
The first dual-compound road tire
Technically speaking, the Pro 3 features the dual compound technology well proven in MotoGP and MTB: it differentiates the central rolling compound from the cornering compound, allowing both a low rolling resistance and a high grip while cornering. The cornering compound provides about 40% more grip than the rolling compound and thus, the cornering adherence is about 27% higher than the same tire with a single compound. According to Michelin's laboratory test, this allows the rider to "attack a roundabout of a 25 meters radius on a wet and slippery road at an angle of 34 degrees. This translates to 41km/h, which is 5km/h faster than a competitor race road tire under the same conditions"
According to Michelin, the rolling resistance, which is very important for road racing, isn't affected since a new compound with new mechanical and physical properties, providing high deformations (meaning low loss) were invented.
A puncture-proof tire?
Michelin began road tests on the Pro 3 Race early in December 2006. With almost one million kilometers ridden on this high end tire, the company from Clermont-Ferrand only had 169 flats. The figure by itself may sound high, but taken as a whole, it statistically only means a flat every 5919km...! Considering the average life of the tire is about 3600km, it seems like this is one of the most resistant tire. You shouldn't be able to expect a flat before the tire is completely worn. How cool is this?
This feat is achieved thanks to a high density puncture protector belt made out of nylon, just below the rolling compound. It sounds really good, at least on paper.
We are currently testing this tire and we will be able to give an objective point of view in a few months.
The installation: for athletes!
It's a fact, Michelin's tires always have been hard to mount. The internal diameter of the kevlar folding bead, which will hardly stretch at all, seems a little smaller than usually. Although it prevents the tire leaving the rim bed in case of a flat, it makes fitting a bit of a fight! If you have a Campagnolo wheelset, whose external rim diameter is a very little bigger than the standard, the mounting process is a strength challenge.
The first bead is quite easy to place, however the second one is almost impossible to place without a lever. So take care not to pinch the inner tube.
The judgement of the scale
The rolling resistance and the weight of a tire are very important. Choosing a tire is almost as important as choosing a wheelset. That's why we have to pay attention to these two properties. The first one is not possible to check, unless the tire is poor, which is not the case. However, the weight is much easier to verify. The Pro 3 we have, weight only 203g. This is in the lightweight range for a high performance, puncture resistant clincher.
The Pro 3 Grip and Pro 3 Light will be unveiled at Eurobike. Although Michelin has not given any information regarding these two tires, the Grip version will certainly be more durable and puncture resistant (even more?!). The Light version will probably lose some precious grams to weight a nice 180g, at least if we translate the current Pro 2 range differences to this range. The durability and resistance will obviously be a little lower than the standard version.
Some other "concept" colours, Michelin said, will be offered to match different colour schemes on 1st June.
Previous Roues Artisanales articles:
- Michelin Pro 3 Race
- Michelin bibendumized us
- Michelin Pro 3 Race, Vittoria Prototype, Veloflex 2008 [en]
- Michelin Pro 3