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Trials Tire? Yeah, Right!

Written by: Steve Claus ~ April 2002

I know what you're thinking, "A trials tire on a dirt bike?" When a friend of mine told me that he had been running a trials tire on his GasGas 300 and would never go back to a knobby, I was skeptical. The following is my experience with the Michelin X-11 Trials tire....


First impression: this thing makes my 2001 Yamaha WR426 look really wimpy in the rear! I was almost embarrassed to go riding that first Saturday; Bryan said, "Who cares if you look like a dork…we're going riding!" He has a way with words.

It was a wet Southwest Washington day, which meant that the conditions would be great for the first of my three-part tire test (mud & snow, sand, dry-dirt mx track). Wet clay, wet roots, wet rocks…well, everything in the Pacific NW is wet. After just a few miles I found that this tire is unbelievable! I'm getting hook everywhere we go! Wheeling on wet clay and in deep mud, tracktoring up wet-rocky hill climbs; even in the mud, Bryan's new Dunlop 756 was no match for the Michelin X-11. It cleans-out well and hooks-up great.

Later in the day we headed up the mountain to get some snow riding in. The Michelin X-11 wasn't stellar in the snow, but neither was Bryan's Dunlop 756. Granted, the snow was really a mix of slush and ice; we got to where we wanted to go but didn't have a real easy time of it.

After putting about 500 miles on the tire (yes, 500 miles) I moved to San Diego. Soon after my move I headed out to the desert for some sand and loose-dirt riding. Again, the Michelin X-11 performed great. I assumed the soft stuff is where a tire like this would struggle; no such luck. I didn't do any huge sand hill climbs, but there wasn't anything at Ocotillo Wells that could slow the WR down.

The final part of the test was the dry-dirt mx track; for this I headed up to Lake Elsinore MX Park. By this time I had about 800 miles on the tire and just had an ElectrexUSA Dakar dual-sport kit installed (read the ElectrexUSA Dakar product review). So there I was, out on the track, trials tire, blinkers, horn…the whole street legal setup (did I forget to mention that the Michelin X-11 is a DOT approved Radial tire?). This tire hooks-up! Where others were sliding out of corners, I was hooking-up and wheeling! Jumps, berms, whops, whatever…this tire just plain hooks-up!

For this particular product I've added an on-road section in case you're interested in dual-sporting your bike. It has a strange feeling on the road if you run off-road tire pressure (I was running 12psi), but if you pump it up to 30psi it rides much better on the road. I wound-up the WR to 100mph (which I got off of the TrailTech Panoram Enduro Computer) and it did fine. Fast corners don't inspire a lot of confidence, initially, but that comes with miles.

To sum it all up…this is a great tire! And as much as I hate admit it, I'll never go back to a knobby. They say that seeing is believing, and with a trials tire, well, it's not much to look at but, in this case, trying is believing…and I strongly recommend trying.

UPDATE:
Well, the X-11 is finally dead! After a great day at the track (Comp Park MX in Hemet, CA) I noticed a few more knobs were missing from the center row. After work I jumped on the WR and and headed down the road...unfortunately I didn't pump up the tire before leaving. 10 miles up the road, on a nice straight stretch, at 90mph (so my TrailTech Panoram read) my WR's rear-end rolled out to the left about 45 degrees and back to the right the same. I rolled off the throttle and the swing continued 3-4 more times until I brought the wild ride to an end.

The X-11 was flat! I assume I hit something in the road and it was probably in a place where one of the knobs was missing. I rode the remainder of the trip (3 miles) home on the flat tire at a nice, relaxing 5 mph. The X-11 got me home with no damage to the rim. I'll be going to the local trials shop and picking up another X-11.


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