If you're after a fast and tough tyre that works well on dry, hardpacked trails, the Michelin Force AM is a capable choice, but it lacks the bite needed for an aggressive front tyre and it's definitely not one to reach for if things get remotely wet and muddy.
The Force AM is a fast tyre - and pretty tough with it, considering its lighter feel and weight. It uses Michelin's Gum-X3D technology which is a mix of three compounds of rubber - traction, race and grip, aimed at providing traction for the tyre to perform well in the recommended dry conditions.
The triple-layered 60tpi casing and high-density inner fibres provide a good level of resistance and my favourite flint and square edged boulder trail didn’t inflict any damage, despite unfairly low pressures - just the odd burp when I ran it too low over roots.
The tread profile is obviously geared towards dry trails - a fairly low profile in the centre, which keeps rolling resistance reduced, with intermediate off centre and then even larger edge knobblies to hook up grip when leant over. The arrow or dart shapes make the tyre appear to have a quite an open to puncture appearance - and I had a couple of thorns embedded at times - but no tyre defeating damage.
Mounting the tyre was easy enough, but I (and others who've used these) did have a slight issue with having to use a little more sealant than usual to get the tyre inflated. Over the test period it needed topping up more than usual too and I've not had these issues with other tyres on the same rim either.
Out on the trail, in dry, loose dusty trail centre tracks, the tyre offers a consistent amount of grip, and when leant over, it has a sort of infinite feel, sliding out consistently but a little early for my liking. Once I had adjusted my riding to this, I was impressed with the speed I could feel in the tyre when sprinting, the tyre held shape well, without a huge amount of distortion under power, when running around high 20psi to low 30psi range. The lower profile central knobblies go a long way to creating this speed, with the firmer central compound.
Running pressures lower increased grip over roots and smaller rocks, but the 2.25" size feels sort of twitchy these days when compared to the tyres that are either wider or with larger or more pronounced grip patterns. You can also get the Force AM in a 2.35" which we've tested as well - if you're looking for a fast rolling rear summer tyre for an enduro or trail bike, it's definitely the pick of the bunch. It's preferred conditions are said to be hard/dry and mixed - whatever mixed might mean. Either way, once off rocky or hard trails, the tyre lacks real tenacity to dig in and climb well in loose or mud conditions.
The low to medium depth profile means that the tyre cleared okay in dry or slightly damp conditions, but as soon as anything really muddy or damp was ridden my confidence in the tyre really decreased. There just isn’t enough height and aggressive shapes to give that grip. For me, a good trail tyre should be a fit and forget solution for the majority of my riding and the Force AM isn’t that tyre.
Used in the right conditions, its capable and has a good turn of speed, with a fairly low rolling resistance. What I felt it lacked was a bit more clout and confidence inspiring feel to it. It reminded me of an old Tioga Psycho in looks, but with far better grip. Its a fine tyre for rockier and reliable dry conditions, but for the majority of UK riding, it lacks wet weather capabilities.
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