Michelin Starcross 5 off-road tire test

Great performance, outstanding durability.

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The Michelin Starcross 5 tire is among a vast selection of off-road tires available to us right now. We understand that the majority of riders are not able to have multiple tire choices on hand for different types of terrain. The goal for most casual riders has always been to find a tire that performs well in varying conditions and will last a lot longer than one race weekend. Woods riding is very demanding on tires so simply choosing a tire that performs well doesn’t mean its going to hold up to the abuse. Rocks, logs and roots will destroy tires. Every rider has their preferred tire and most opionions will vary but the Starcross 5 from Michelin has just jumped up to the top of our list.

About the tire and our test.

The Michelin Starcross 5 series was released in late in 2015. Michelin had a mountain to climb as the previous range of tires left something to be desired. If you weren’t happy with Michelins previous off-road range, you’re not alone but I’d urge you to try the new line. They are available in four versions; hard, medium, soft and sand. They include all bike big sizes including 18″ and 19″ rear options. Our testing used only the medium and soft tires as we don’t believe hard and sand tires are ever required in the woods. We performed the testing on a 250 two stroke with well broken in mousses. This wasn’t a single day of use, we put over 25 hours on these tires and a lot of those hours were spent racing. The brunt of our testing was performed in the Ganaraska forest and other Ontario single track.

Michelin Starcross 5 review
The SC5 Medium rear tire had no problem hooking up in some rooty single track.

First impression.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the SC5s is the soft bead. Michelin claims they mount up easier and they were right. Even a mousse install was a breeze for both front and rear. We opted to run the medium compound rear for durability in the woods and stuck with the soft front for much needed tracking in the sandy and soft corners of Ganaraska’s single track.

I heard that the tires could be a little “springy” due to the new casing design. Maybe it was the mousses but I had no bouncing in the rear and felt no need to re-adjust the chassis to suit it. Initially I was very impressed at how the tires performed in the sandy single track and tracked very well up multiple hillclimbs. I even sought out sharp rocks and roots to find out how well the lugs would hold up. I didn’t get too excited at this point as any fresh tire can provide great traction in the wet sand based dirt here. The next session would be at the Mexican 500 where it would see some really nasty stuff.

Michelin Starcross 5 rear medium
Michelin Starcross 5 medium rear tire
Michelin Starcross 5 front soft
Michelin Starcross 5 soft front tire

 

 

 

 

 

Michelin Starcross 5 review
After approximately 10 hours of use on the SC5 Medium rear. All lugs accounted for, no cracks and only a slight rounding on centre knobs.

How did they handle the Mexican 500 Sprint Enduro.

After ten hours of use, I rotated the tire to use the fresh side of the lugs for the Mexican 500. I couldn’t wait to see how the Starcoss 5s held up in the endurocross section and grass track.

Even in the sloppy wet first lap of the Mexican 500, the Starcross 5s had no issues hooking up on the muddy climbs. I was even more surprised at how they handled the logs and tires. Not once did the tires slide out, deflect or do anything I didn’t expect them to do on the slippery features. They hooked up better than expected on the logride, tire pit and even climbing over a broken down truck.

I had some issues with traction on lap one of the grass track since the grass was still wet and no lines had developed yet. Lap two and three of the grass track went fantastic. Traction for days, the front soft tracked extremely well in the shallow ruts and the rear hooked up beautifully with a little clutch work. No berms means I was using nothing but the side of the tire to get around corners. There was no mysterious front end wash and only had the rear end break loose on me a few times from a greedy throttle hand. Even after the messy terrain of the Mexican, all lugs remained and tire durability still looking really good.

Find out more about the Mexican 500 by reading our race report.

Michelin starcross 5 review
Logs, tires, roots and even trucks were no match for the SC5s.
Michelin starcross 5 review
Maybe not our first choice for hard enduro but the SC5s could hold their own on most enduro features.

The testing continues.

Since they were holding up so well, I ran the exact tires in the same configuration for RJs XC. It was really dry and parts of the track looked a bit hard packed. To my surprise the tires continued to perform in the varying conditions and didn’t cause any surprises throughout the 2.5 hour race.

Once they survived the XC race. I even sought out some clay based trails immediately after a rainfall that were still holding water. I wanted to see how they would handle the really slick stuff. Stability and traction remained consistent in these conditions and I still had full confidence in the front end to keep my speed up in the slop.

Conclusion.

There are certainly better tire options out there for hard enduro riding. There are even tires designed more suitably for woods riding. Our goal here was to find a tire that is readily available at nearly all local retailers and could provide the more casual rider a tire they could run in most conditions. Most importantly a tire that will likely last them an entire season. Not to say this tire wouldn’t impress most professional riders, I’m sure it would. I’ve even seen them on some of our local Off-road Ontario Pro class riders.

Michelin Starcross 5 review
After over 25 hours of hard use, the SC5 Medium has all kinds of life left.
Michelin Starcross 5 review
The front soft tire still shows next to no wear after over 25 hours of use.

Overall I’m giving the Michelin Starcorss 5s a great review. Both the performance and durability of this tire really impressed me. Don’t take my word for it. Try a set of SC5s out for yourself! Be sure to let us know what you think.