Tires. The most important part about touring around the world on a bicycle is the tires, obviously. The only thing was that I had no idea about what I should look for in in touring tires other then what I read on the internet and word of mouth. I had one source in tires that I could trust, that was the “Mustached Prince of Michelin” Himself, Randy Richardson. His presents on Instagram is the stuff of legends and I the pleasure to be his friend on there. So I reached out and asked for his input on what tires to use on this extreme journey. Being that he was more on the motorcycle side of Michelin, he got in contact with the right people and they recommended me getting the new Power Gravels and test out the longevity and strength of these higher end gravel tires. I basically was going to torture test tires that weren’t meant to hold 300lbs for an ungodly amount of miles, but I was up for the challenge.
Getting the tires, I noticed right away that they were a very aggressive tread pattern and a medium compound which is not ideal for the lifespan. I also decided to go tubeless on this trip knowing that these tires were setup for it so I wouldn’t have to mess with those pesky tubes on every flat I got. Once mounted on the wheels, I quickly realized I couldn’t make time for a test run. That meant me going out without even knowing if these tires can hold and maintain the weight of everything on the bike or not. Luckily my first leg of my journey was in the great country of Australia and if I came across any issues with the tires, I wouldn’t be far from a bike shop.
I got rubber to road 7 days after landing in Australia and floated over to Tasmania. My plan was to ride along the east coast of Tassie. It was slow going at the start and pretty tough with the hills, but had no issues with the tires throughout Tasmania. Actually I didn’t have anything wrong with the tires for about 300 miles when I got my first puncture which was fixed within 5 minutes with a plug. After that flat is when I started to notice the tire ware on the rear tire. It was a slow ware, but it was starting to be more prominent. I brought a spare tire that fit in one of my bags on the bike just in case the worst happens. After about 630 hard miles on rough asphalt and dirt roads, the back tire finally needed changing. Hoping for another 600 miles on the fresh tire, I set off to my ending destination in Australia. Unfortunately a short time after I got caught up in the bush fires that was covering most of the east coast of Australia, forcing me to the coast and some of the roughest road on the trip. I got to the only campsite that was open at this time which is where I noticed an inch long cut in the side rear tire and was somehow still holding air, but I wasn’t going to trust it. The rest of the trip in Australia was done with a cheap off-brand tire on the back.
As a result of the end of my Australia portion of the journey, I made the choice to buy tires that were meant for touring so I wouldn’t worry about tires for the remainder of the trip. That does not at all mean that these were “bad” tires or that I wouldn’t recommend these tires to buy. I would say to not buy these tire if you are planning a world cycling journey. There’s other great tire brands in that market that are proven for that. As for what these tires are meant for in the gravel/cyclecross class, I would say that they could hold up to a lot of abuse. You got to keep in mind that it was torture compared to the weekend rider that would be looking for these tires. One month of my trip would be the same as year of a casual rider. I would personally use the Power Gravels for riding back home when I’m not living on the bicycle.
I’m not a professional of anything, let alone a pro cyclist which means I am not really qualified to give a review about bicycle tires. That being said, I did live on this bike with these tires for about 5 months and got some quality time on the road. The Michelin Power Gravels are great tires with premium grip although they rolled smoothly. The Power Gravels are well made in the fact that they hold up an oversized bicycle with no blowouts. My favorite part of these tires were the really good protection for flats because no one likes to deal with a flat tire with a trip like this.
I was happy to get the chance to try out these fairly new series of tires for Michelin and hope I could do some more of these in the future. I would like to personally thank Randy Richardson for the help and introducing me to these tires.