It is pretty much unheard of to meet someone who isn’t familiar with the Michelin brand. We see it everywhere from TV to all sorts of on-road and off-road vehicles. For most of us, Michelin is best known for their car tires as well as their big white mascot (the Michelin Man). However, many dirt bike riders will know that Michelin also makes great quality motocross tires! In this article we are going to talk about Michelin dirt bike tires and which one to choose depending on the conditions you ride in.
There is a lot that goes into tire development, but for the sake of the readers, we will point out only key points and things that we think are the most important for you to know.
Michelin StarCross 5
The most recent dirt bike tires released by Michelin are known as the Star Cross 5 lineup. This consists of 4 different tires which are each specially designed to excel in different riding scenarios. These 4 tires are, Soft, Medium, Hard, and Sand terrain tires. Below I will break down each tire so you can get a better understanding as to how they will help with your riding.
StarCross 5 Sand
As you could probably have guessed, the Starcross 5 sand tire is designed for riding in sandy conditions. If you look at this tire you will see the large spacing between knobs which helps keep the tire from building up sand while riding. You will also notice that the lugs are scooped (on the rear especially) which will help propel the bike forward through the constantly collapsing terrain.
Looking at the rear tire you will see a few lines of rubber between lugs that look almost like sideways M’s. Michelin calls these mud phobic bars which of course aid in the tires sand and mud shedding ability while also increasing traction. The main knobs also have rubber tread lines across them to help even more with finding traction. It is clear that Michelin has put their years of tire knowledge to the test with these sand tires. There is not much more you can ask for! They are even relatively lightweight (especially over previous generations)!
StarCross 5 Soft Terrain
The difference between a soft terrain tire and a sand tire is huge. The StarCross 5 soft terrain tire will thrive in deep mud and loamy conditions. It is not the type of tire you take out on a mixed terrain type of track. However, if it has been raining all weekend and the mud is deep, you will love this tires ability to clean itself. Similar to the sand tire, the Soft terrain tire features widely spaced lugs and mud phobic bars.
Although these may not be the tires that you will run the most often, having a set of these at the ready is a great idea for a lot of racers! Especially when the weather seems unpredictable.
StarCross 5 Medium Terrain
If I could only ever use one style of tires, the StarCross 5 medium terrain tire would be it. Why you might ask? It is because this tire can be ridden through just about anything. It is a middle ground tire that will find traction anywhere (although not as well as the correct tire for your specific terrain selection). I know people that run these Michelin dirt bike tires all season at motocross tracks and some that even use them for trail riding.
The spacing between lugs is, as you would have guessed, smaller than the sand tire but larger than the hard terrain tire. This is the most diverse tire in the StarCross 5 line up and can be found in a ton of sizes.
Starcross 5 Hard Terrain
The hard terrain tire is perfect for hard packed and rocky conditions. The knobs are placed so that they slightly alternate. This allows the tire to bite into the ground more which translates to traction. The lugs are also more tightly spaced so that there is as much contact with the riding surface as possible. If you find a medium tire to be spinning on the ground too much, try these hard terrain tires. I doubt you will be disappointed!
StarCross Junior Tires
Little bikes are getting ridden harder and harder as the talent pool thickens. This is why Michelin scaled down some of their full size tires for smaller bikes. Sizes included will fit 50cc, 65cc, 85cc bikes as well as some pit bikes. The two tires are as follows:
StarCross MH3 Junior- This is a tire designed for medium to hard terrain.
StarCross MS3 Junior- This tire is ready to tackle medium to soft terrain.
The tires are more general than the big bike tires which makes it cheaper for the parents and more diverse for the small bikes. These tires offer awesome traction and a lot of the features that can be found on the full sized tires.
I could talk about technology and rubber compounds for a very long time, but that probably won’t help anyone. So instead I have picked what I consider the two most stand out features of Michelin’s StarCross lineup.
Case Comfort Technology
Case comfort technology was designed so that the tires feel less harsh to the rider, but could still be ran at a decently high air pressure. Essentially, it is a tire casing that is more flexible than previous generation tires. This in turn absorbs more energy and will help the rider to feel less fatigued. At the same time, it also allows you to run a higher air pressure which will hold the tire in place with the rim more and help to eliminate it from spinning on the rim.
2 Ply casing
This technology seems standard, however it was an important change for Michelin dirt bike tires. By swapping from 3 ply to 2 ply, Michelin shredded a ton of weight from their entire StarCross lineup. For those who are worried about the durability, don’t! When they swapped to 2-ply, they chose a denser rubber for the casing which is a strong as the original 3 ply.
AC 10 Tires
These are still Michelin dirt bike tires, however, they are more for leisure than racing. Instead of offering many different terrain types, there is just one. The nice thing about these tires is that they are road legal. They also work well on a variety of terrains. I won’t get into them too much here but if you need a dirt bike tire for all around fun and aren’t worried about high performance, these tires are still quite good! They also have excellent longevity.
Final Thoughts About Michelin Dirt Bike Tires
Michelin dirt bike tires have always been good, but in my own opinion, never the best. Well, that may have finally changed. The StarCross 5 line up is ready to compete with the best of them. They are a good weight and offer awesome traction in a variety of terrain. Well done Michelin, I can’t wait to spend more time on these tires!
If you are here to get valuable info about dirt bike tires, then make sure you also read my fresh review on Bridgestone Battlecross dirt bike tire series; Pirelli Scorpion MX dirt bike tires; Maxxis Maxxcross Motocross Tires;