Michelin says the Power Gravel TLR is best “on smooth trails or untamed roads” and that’s a perfect description. Small tread blocks spaced closely together make for a fast rolling option when the road is dry and dusty
- - Directional tread blocks keep forward progress brisk
- - Large edge blocks help give bite during cornering
- - High TPI keeps a relatively supple feel
- - Options limited to 700c (no 650b option)
When it comes to gravel riding, and the tyres that support it, the options are vast. The definition of gravel is completely different for everyone and there are tyre options for seemingly every niche and surface you might encounter. Michelin makes some outstanding road tyres and the Michelin Power Gravel TLR is on our list of the best gravel tyres. Now that we've spent time testing them, we are ready to discuss the details.
As we racked up saddle time with the Michelin Power Gravel TLR, we've had the blessing of a wide range of weather, as the Pacific Northwest of the United States is having record-breaking spring weather. Finding the dry days has been a challenge this year but we've managed both dry, and wet riding, as well as gravel racing, and we are ready to share what we've found.
If you are looking for new gravel tyres for the upcoming season keep reading to see what we think of this option from Michelin.
Design and aesthetics
The graphics are loud, bright, and white with a clean, uncluttered look. The text that designates the tyre size is perpendicular to the rest of the text and picks up a yellow accent which only adds to the modern look.
Depending on your point of view, the sizes offered might feel limited as well. As long as 700c works for you though, there's plenty of choice with 33, 35, 40, and even 47mm widths available. It's a decision that makes sense given the focus of the design. If getting rowdy in mud, deep dirt, and big rock gravel is your aim then you are more likely to be looking for a 650b tyre and there's no option for now.
For those who are looking to move fast over loose dirt, and occasional paved surfaces, then the design details are going to be a good match in 700c. There are tyres such as the WTB Raddler that try to use large blocks with relatively uninterrupted placement to keep things moving quickly. Michelin takes it in a different direction with shorter tread blocks with more space between them. They do move closer together as you approach the centerline of the tyre but there's also an arrow-shaped directionality to each tread block. To handle cornering, the farthest outside tread blocks are the biggest and have the most space between them.
Looking at pictures of the Michelin Power TLR you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a rowdy tyre. It can be difficult to tell the depth of the tread blocks in the images, mine included, but they only sit proud of the tyre by a small amount. In the centre, the blocks are closest together but they are also shorter with a depth of around 1mm. As you head to the edge they space out and they get deeper. The largest of the centre blocks are about 2mm at the edge and the far edge blocks are roughly 2.5mm. All that is to say, it's not a rowdy tyre.
The short tread blocks work best when things are dry and dusty. That matches exactly what Michelin claims but given the crazy spring weather, I had plenty of chances to put mud performance to the test. While tyres such as the Panaracer GravelKing Slick or WTB Byway feel like ice skating over mud, the Power TLR is only one step beyond that. It doesn't take much to pack the tread full, and while it does a great job of shedding that mud in a reasonable time, there's better choices for that kind of riding.
The places where the Michelin Power TLR really felt at home were places where you find a light coating of loose dirt. I tested them initially on mixed-surface rides that took me off the pavement on what you might consider luxury gravel roads - smooth, dirt surfaces. Charging straight ahead the small tread blocks roll fast but there's enough grip that you can hold a line with ease. During those rides, I spent time on double-track logging roads with packed surfaces and plenty of plant growth. The surface wasn’t loose and there was plenty of traction on hand.
I also used the Michelin Power TLR tyres for the 2022 Gorge Gravel Grinder and, in this scenario, they felt tailor-made. It's a 150km / 93-mile course with 106km / 66 total miles of dirt roads that are, again, very smooth but in this case, the top layer was deeper and looser than my earlier testing. There are also significant descents where speeds can get up to 58km/h (36mph). The length of those descents means that cornering is a concern. I hate the feeling of the bike moving around under me so in this situation the ability of the small tread blocks to grip the loose, dusty, top layer was something I appreciated. As I cornered, the transition to the larger edge blocks felt smooth and there was always enough grip on hand, even for me.
This is what I expected out of these tyres, but the paved performance was more of a surprise. Both in my initial testing and during the race, I never felt held back on the paved roads. During the race I organised pacelines, and led them, each time I found myself covering paved miles and I mostly forgot what kind of tyres were under me. They don't announce themselves with much noise and they are fast. My experience is backed up by Bicycle Rolling Resistance, whose test shows a relatively low rolling resistance number compared to competitors.
If you ride mixed surfaces that cover loose but dry dirt, small gravel, and pavement then the Michelin Power Gravel TLR is a good choice. That's what Michelin says the tyre is for and in this case, that's exactly what it excels at. Low rolling resistance and a competitive weight of 473 grams (700x40 as measured) keep them feeling sprightly and they are a good choice for a lot of gravel races. In our testing, the bead-to-bead puncture protection did its job.
The only reason you might want to look elsewhere is if your use necessitates it. If you ride rougher terrain or mud, or require a 650b option, you'll have to keep looking.
Tech specs: Michelin Power Gravel TLR
- Price: £42.99 / $58.49 / AU$81.99
- Tubeless Compatibility: Tubeless Ready and Inner-Tube Compatible
- Weight: 473g as measured at 700x40mm
- Inflated width: 42mm at 27psi on a 25mm internal width wheel
- Puncture Protection: Bead-to-bead shield technology
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx
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