*This article was revised Oct 2 2018 after long term testing was completed.
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 and 300 two stroke with new and well broken in mousses (Both Michelin and Nitro Mousse). This updated review includes two full seasons of use and well over 80 hours in varying terrain all over Ontario.
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. *Updated note. Due to the soft carcass, Michelin recommends running a higher air pressure for optimal performance (13-14psi). This is not a concern if you’re running mousses but…if your mousse is too small for the tire, you may experience trouble getting the bead to set to the rim properly.
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 upcoming Mexican 500 race where it would see some really nasty stuff.
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.
The testing continues.
Since they were holding up so well, I ran the exact tires in the same configuration for a 2.5 hour cross country race in central Ontario. It was really dry and parts of the track looked a bit hard packed but most of the trails were loamy and sandy. To my surprise the tires continued to perform in the varying conditions and didn’t cause any surprises throughout the 2.5 hour race. The front tire (SC5 Soft) is absolutely perfect in loamy corners. It is perfect predictable and tracks all the way through the turn. I noticed improved braking and a lot more confidence in the front end.
Once they survived an 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.
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.
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.
*After an additional season and many many more hours on these tires, our opinion has not changed! Great all around tire and can handle any trails or track the east coast could throw at it.