The Michelin Jet XC2 is a dry weather cross-country tyre that has the potential to deliver incredible levels of grip for the style, size and weight in the right conditions. As you might expect, it doesn't cope with mud well, and there are question marks about the casing protection, but it is incredible as a race-day summer tyre.
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For any mountain bikers that may have been riding since the early 00s, of which I am one, the Michelin Jet tyre is a name that you might be familiar with and perhaps invoke some old memories. Michelin as a brand was at the very top, with models such as the Wildgripper and minimally treaded Jet S that were available in the iconic green colours. The Jet name is back, now called the Jet XC2, but the only other similarity is both are designed for speed.
The Jet XC2 is only available in a single 29 x 2.25” size. It features a 3x150 TPI carcass, aiming to strike a balance between weight and protection, with a single compound throughout. The new tread pattern uses several different shapes, including the trefoils (yes, I had to google the name), which are the shapes that look like ninja throwing stars in the centre, moving out to more traditional outer edges with a very slim overall profile and rounded overall design.
Mounting and inflating was simple, with no compressor or special pump needed. On a relatively narrow 22.5mm internal rim, the 2.25” tyres inflated to the quoted width. On rims with a wider internal measurement, I would expect them to inflate slightly more. The pair weighed 718g and 721g, which is a tiny bit more than the quoted weight of 710g. Compared to other XC orientated tyres, it is roughly in the middle, with some sub-600g options on the market and tyres like the recently tested WTB Ranger at over 800g.
Michelin Jet XC2 | Riding
Through necessity, I used the tyre during a race and again on surfaced roads to access mountain bike trails. It felt smooth and fast on all hard surfaces, and if it wasn't for a slight hum noise, you could think they were slicks. Off-road and during the dry weather spell we've had, they feel far more capable than you might expect by looking at the depth of tread. From the very first descent, the feedback they can deliver allows you to push and have confidence in them. The rounded tread gives equal grip on dry soil, grass, or rocky trail centre surfaces as you start to roll into the corners. I kept expecting the front tyre to drift and slide, but it stayed stuck to the terrain, with the rear only drifting under braking or on loose over hard gravel terrain.
I set up the tyres at high teens and low 20s PSI, and at these pressures, I did start to feel the sidewalls rolling slightly when really pushing through the corners. The supple, lightweight carcass seems very flexible, and the more I used the tyre, the more I felt they might benefit from being used with rim inserts to increase support and allow you to run even lower pressures while protecting the rim.
Not everything was rosy while testing. While it could have been an unfortunate one-off, my first ride ended with the rear tyre having a huge slice that wasn't repairable to patch and limber home. The tyres feature the Cross Shield protection, which Michelin claim is a "very high-density reinforcement ply". However, in my experience, seeing the thin walls of the tyre after the slash leaves some questions in my mind over the true durability, especially in sharper rocky terrain.
On wet trails, the grip was OK, especially on the rear with a tenacious amount of grip available, out-climbing other tyres with far deeper and more aggressive trail patterns. Performance in slippery mud is not a strong point on the back and poor on the front, but this is something to be expected for a tyre with a design focused on dry conditions. The occasional patch of mud on a ride or race is fine, but you wouldn't want to leave them on for prolonged periods of wet weather riding.
The grip and confidence during early test rides were enough for me to leave them on for a local cross-country race on a twisty and technical course with lots of climbing. The tyres were superb, with nothing to complain about, with a track that was 99% dry probably helping.
Michelin Jet XC2 | Value & verdict
At £58 each, they are quite expensive for a single-compound tyre, and for me, at least one tyre would have made for a very costly first ride. As with many other cross-country focused tyres, the balance between low weight, cost, and performance will always be a tough balance to strike.
After many more successful rides and a great race, they proved impressive overall and as a race-day only or dry weather tyre where the risk of punctures is lower, they are very good, making the price a little easier to stomach. Other popular race tyres include the Schwalbe Racing Ralph, with the 2.25" Super Race version at a claimed weight of 680g and costing £56. The Maxxis Pace shares a similar low profile tread and comes in at £55 for the 2.1", 650g claimed weight in EXO protection casing.
Although the first ride and huge puncture was a big upset and far from a perfect start, the Jet XC2 seriously impressed me with the levels of grip they offer for such a low-profile tyre. While testing on a 3.4km singletrack descent that I know incredibly well and have logged over 150 attempts on, I had repeatable times just 20 seconds off my best and the fastest time logged in 8 years; such was the confidence and control they delivered. If you want a fast, competitively priced tyre for racing or faster riding conditions, and you're prepared to take a slight risk on puncture proofing and durability, the Jet XC2 is a worthy contender. For me, I love them, and I will keep using them whenever the sun is shining and there is a chequered flag to race towards.