Lost my appetite for Michelin Optimum Pro tires

Michelin Optimum Pro tire lasted 2,700 miles, but had serious sidewall fray.

Michelin Optimum Pro tire lasted 2,700 miles, but had serious sidewall fray.


Without question I love French cuisine, but I’ve lost my appetite for Michelin bike tires.

The French manufacturer was one of the first to abandon pattern tread, which I’m sure is one reason Jobst Brandt tried their tires back in the late 1980s. The tires didn’t last long and Jobst quickly quit using them.

I got 2,743 miles on my Michelin Optimum Pro ($46.39, 700×25) and probably could get more but the sidewalls look so shabby that I’m not going to take the risk of a sudden failure. I had a couple of other Optimum models and had the same issues.

I’m no tire expert, but from the looks of it the sidewalls are a separate layer of fabric from the inner tire wall. I can peel back the outer layer in areas where it’s separating.

The tires seemed good in every other respect. The rear “model” was supposed to have more tread than the front, which is a dubious selling point. I’m not pleased with 2,700 miles. A tire should last at least 3,000 miles, which is the length of a U.S. transcontinental ride.

I don’t see this tire listed on the Michelin website. It’s just as well.

6 Responses to “Lost my appetite for Michelin Optimum Pro tires”

  1. Larry Fieman Says:

    Ray, what do you think about Compass tires. I hear they ride real nice.

  2. Jon Spangler Says:

    I have been riding 700 x 28 Panasonic “Panaracer” tires since my LBS (Stone’s Cyclery here in Alameda) recommended them to me 12-14 years ago. The Panaracers with the Kevlar or Aramid belts are terrific, offering great cornering grip at speed, few flats, good durability, and a nice, classic look (tan sidewalls) that goes with my lugged steel Eisentraut.

    What tires do you like, Ray?

  3. jay Says:

    I think tires to some degree are like wine vintages. You might be sold on a particular model/width one year and the longevity and wear may disappoint on subsequent versions manufactured in later years.

    That said I’ve had good luck recently with Gatorskin 28m tires on the rear. Since I’m much larger than Ray I’m not going to get anywhere near his mileage, but still 3K miles is still very good for me.

    Replacing tires feels like an inexact science. I tend to be pretty conservative about replacing–I have about 15 used tires in the garage that I’ve relegated to trainer use. I didn’t like cuts or cracks in the rubber, but Sheldon Brown wrote that these are largely cosmetic so I’m running tires a bit longer than I used to. Fraying fibers would unnerve me though.

  4. Tom Says:

    I also have a pair of Pro Optimums with non-tread issues. I suspect that they either got the rubber mixture or the curing process wrong – mine have some areas of sidewall which are falling apart for no obvious reason and they’re not that old, with no more than 1750 miles on. It’s irritating because otherwise they seemed superb, being very high volume – mine measured 28mm across when mounted – with a supple casing. Perhaps the Pro4s will be an improvement, but I’ve always had better durability from various Conti offerings…..

  5. Sourav Says:

    Hi Ray, It was good to finally meet you in person (at the bakery in Pescadero on Sunday).

    I have tried a couple of Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires and was not impressed with their longevity (lack of). I don’t think I got a flat till the threads started showing, but they did not roll as well and it often felt like I had flatted only to realize it was a false alarm.

    However, I have had very good experience with the Michelin Krylion Carbon. I think its being sold only by selected retailers (Nashbar, seen a few on Amazon). Its not as good as Continental Gatorskins, but it was $10 cheaper and I didn’t get flats despite riding frequently on crap-laden Tasman Rd.

    I had a sidewall burst with a brand new Vittoria Diamante Pro SE (thankfully it happened when my bike was parked at home) when they tore up Fremont Ave in Sunnyvale last year. Lasted less than 50 miles. It still hurts each time I see it lying in my pile of used tires.

    • jay Says:

      Well Sourav,

      Sorry about your ruined tire, but at least Fremont finally got fixed (about 10 years too late). It’s much nicer, but I think the striped buffers they painted on the road (to separate bikes/cars) try to push riders too far to the right at times (like by the post office). I sometimes ignore the buffer zone and ride to the left of it.

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