The Trials Tire Debacle

I’ve been a huge proponent of Trials Tires for trail riding since 2008. The guys I rode with out West insisted that I mount a trials tire before heading to Idaho. Their suggestion was spot on and I’ve been hooked ever since. Generally, I start using a trials tire in April or May and won’t take it off until the ground freezes in the fall. I only buy one rear knobby tire a year now, that’s it. Using Tire Balls eliminates the need to change tires frequently. However, what I’ve been through over the past several days has been interesting . . .

Tire Ball (1109)
Tire Ball (1109)

About three weeks ago I ordered a Michelin Trials Competition Tire. The one and only trials tire I have ever used. It came in to the shop and the list price was almost $280!! Geez, they’ve really gone up in price!! But then we looked closely and it was a Radial. On top of that we learned that Michelin discontinued the non-radial version I’d been using for years. Oh, more $$, but surely the “radial” makes it better. Right?

So I finally get around to mounting it late last week. It goes very well, but I note the tire is much heavier than the older one and it has a stiffer sidewall. I surmised that this was due to the “radial” design and the description did say that the sidewalls were stiffer. When the mounting was done, I tightened down the rim lock and aired it up. It popped right onto the rim and all was good. Or so I thought. I cleaned up the mess and put away my tools and then looked over at the tire changing stand and saw that it wasn’t beaded up on the rim. I applied more air, and it popped back on the rim. 5 minutes later, it was off again.

The next evening I took it off and added another ball. Same result. So I added yet another. Same result. One more time and three more balls than normal. Nope, it came off again and if it had stayed on the number of balls made the tire to stiff overall. Not good.

My next idea was to get the Michelin Trials X Light tire. It is supposed to weigh less and be more supple than the Trials Competition Radial. So it arrives, and guess what? It is a Radial too. Hmmm. I go through the routine once again and get it mounted. No issues. Unfortunately, it won’t stay seated. I took it off and added two more balls but it felt like maybe it was too many. Oh well, I stuffed it on the rim and aired it up. It seated and stayed seated! Next, I put it on the bike and rode it around the yard for 5 minutes. Parked the bike and looked down to see it had come unseated. Argh!

 

IRC Trial Winner
IRC Trial Winner

At this point I’m convinced this is all due to the “Radial” design. Then I remembered that Jesse had an IRC Trial Winner in his garage. Brand New! Philip went to pick it up and upon arrival I quickly determine it too is a RADIAL! Here we go again.

But, I dive in and give it another try. I’m getting really tired of the Tire Balls right now. They are a pain to deal with but I’m fairly efficient at the whole process. Normally, I only change tires and balls 2-3 times year. I’ve now done it 8 times in the last week alone.

This time it works. I could almost tell that it would when I got the first side of the tire on the rim and started to work it down to start on the second side. Something was different. The IRC Trial Winner went on well, but just a bit tougher than the Michelins. Regardless, it stayed seated. It stayed seated all night long and I’ve ridden with it on for about 20 minutes and all seems well.

The Line Up
The Line Up

So I laid out the Michelin Trials X Light Radial, the Michelin Trials Competition Radial, and an old Michelin Trials Competition Non-Radial on the driveway. I inserted a tape measure into the Trials X Light and it was just over 4″ deep. The Trials Competition Radial was just a small bit under 4″ and guess what . . . the old Non-Radial was only 3.5 inches deep. That is the issue!!! I didn’t measure the IRC before I put it on but I bet it is closer to 3.5 than the Michelin tires.

You learn something new everyday!

See you on the trail!