28 April 2010

bikefix Initial Review: Michelin Krylion Carbon tire

Here in New Mexico, there is a lot of talk among roadies about tires. While the purists accept regular flats in order to run high-end, lightweight tires, the region's abundance of goat head thorns and broken glass have most of us running something a bit more substantial. Though there are always tradeoffs between durability, puncture resistance, light weight and road feel, Michelin seem to have struck a near-perfect balance with their Krylion Carbon tire.

After suffering a number of delaminations on my previous commuting tires, I set out to find something else that would hold up to my daily commute (in all weather) as well as faster, longer weekend rides. The interweb was littered with 4- and 5-star reviews of Michelin's $60 Krylion Carbon, so I figured that they were likely worth a shot. On both my fixie's Sun ME14A and road bike's HED Ardennes rims, the Krylions were a bear to fit, forcing me to resort to tire levers (which I generally try to avoid). I can only hope that their beads stretch a bit before I'm stuck trying to remove and remount one on some rainy afternoon with frozen fingers and a single tire lever.

My first 'ride' with the Krylions was on the trainer- and it didn't bode well. Tiny balls of rubber formed a trail from the rear tire back- across the carpet, over the coffee table, and on to the sofa. There was no visible wear on the tire itself, so I have to think that there was some sort of soft layer over the tires themselves- the balls haven't appeared since. In fact, several months later, there is still no visible wear on either tire.

Through several months of cold, wet, and occasionally snowy riding, the Krylions have been fantastic. Though I did have one slow leak (but was able to ride the 15 miles home with only 50psi in the tires), I have (touch wood) yet to hear the fft-fft and feel the spray of escaping sealant. Looking closely at the tire while writing this review, I found only a handful of small slices and one piece of embedded glass to pick out of the tread- my previous tires would have been holding on to a half-dozen or more. Of course, wooden wagon wheels are puncture proof as well- and that's where the Krylion Carbons get even better. Though I credit my wide HED rims with improving the feel and grip of many tires, the Michelins provide traction as far as I'm willing to push them. They are markedly better than any other puncture-resistant tires I've ridden when wet and are amazingly solid feeling in an inch or two of wet snow.

At 235g (claimed), the Krylions are within spitting distance of race-only tire weight. Though I'm not a racer, I'd venture that they'd do just fine as race tires in areas where punctures are a fact of life (and support vehicles are not). For commuting, $60 might be a bit more than most are willing to spend, but over the 3,000 expected life (people are claiming 5,000 miles online) it's looking like they'll be pretty inexpensive in the long run. I'll be back with an update if an when anything interesting happens...



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