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Race tech: Adam Craig's wheel and tyre prototypes

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Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) tested his repaired ACL at the Mellow Johnny's Classic with a prototype Shimano XTR 15mm thru-axle front wheel and new Michelin tyre tread.

Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) tested his repaired ACL at the Mellow Johnny's Classic with a prototype Shimano XTR 15mm thru-axle front wheel and new Michelin tyre tread.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The moderately squared-off profile looks to offer a smooth transition from upright to cornering angles plus a prominently squared-off shoulder for a sure grip through the turns.

The moderately squared-off profile looks to offer a smooth transition from upright to cornering angles plus a prominently squared-off shoulder for a sure grip through the turns.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) tackled the bumpy Mellow Johnny's Classic on this Giant Anthem Advanced SL.

Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) tackled the bumpy Mellow Johnny's Classic on this Giant Anthem Advanced SL.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Adam Craig's (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) controls get the gold treatment courtesy of Shimano's Yumeya hop-up parts.

Adam Craig's (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) controls get the gold treatment courtesy of Shimano's Yumeya hop-up parts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Shimano hasn't yet announced a 15mm thru-axle version of its XTR front wheel but it looks like it's coming soon.

Shimano hasn't yet announced a 15mm thru-axle version of its XTR front wheel but it looks like it's coming soon.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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White pulley wheels and gold alloy bolts adorn Adam Craig's (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) rear derailleur.

White pulley wheels and gold alloy bolts adorn Adam Craig's (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) rear derailleur.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team bikes are fitted with Chris King InSet headsets. Note Adam Craig's use of a road stem to get the bar height he prefers.

The Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team bikes are fitted with Chris King InSet headsets. Note Adam Craig's use of a road stem to get the bar height he prefers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Michelin's as-yet-unnamed tyre bridges the gap between its current Race'R and Grip'R treads with low-profile centre knobs linked to aggressive shoulder blocks and a relatively open spacing to handle loose conditions.

Michelin's as-yet-unnamed tyre bridges the gap between its current Race'R and Grip'R treads with low-profile centre knobs linked to aggressive shoulder blocks and a relatively open spacing to handle loose conditions.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The hollow central knobs are low-profile to decrease squirm and present lots of biting edges for grip on hardpack.

The hollow central knobs are low-profile to decrease squirm and present lots of biting edges for grip on hardpack.
(Image credit: James Huang)

Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) tested his reconstructed ACL at this past weekend's Mellow Johnny's Classic with a new front wheel and new tread design, both of which we expect to be officially introduced later this year.

Craig's new tyres looked to fill the gap between Michelin's current Wild Grip'R and Wild Race'R treads with a low-profile centre section for low rolling resistance and minimal squirm on hardpacked linked to progressively more aggressive transition and shoulder blocks for a confident hold through the corners.

The central knobs are also hollowed out to provide more biting edges - a critical feature on hard terrain - and the shoulder blocks are notably well supported for what's expected to be a solid bite when the bike is leaned far over.

Craig says the new design feels nearly as fast on hardpack as the Race'r but is more predictable and less prone to sliding when the ground is also covered with loose gravel.

Michelin has yet to announce details on the new tyre but we expect to see a full range of sizes (2.00-2.30") as casing types later this year.

Craig's front tyre was also mounted on an as-yet-unannounced Shimano XTR front wheel that uses the same scandium-enhanced tubeless-compatible rim and unique brazed-on spoke eyelets but built around a dedicated 15mm thru-axle hub.

Shimano US press officer Devin Walton wouldn't confirm that the new axle fitment is on the way, saying, "We have a 15mm E-thru front hub, but not a wheel set... yet," but it's quite clear that it's coming soon. Stay tuned.