“Capable of going more quickly” is the key phrase buried in the press kit for the new PRO4 range of high-performance road tyres from Michelin. Unveiled recently at the French tyre manufacturer’s Clermont Ferrand headquarters and expected to be available in the UK by late autumn, the latest generation of Michelin clincher tyres has been three years in development and has racked up an impressive 250,000 km in testing.
The range supersedes both the existing three-model Pro3 “racing” series and the Krylion Carbon “performance” model and, like-for-like, promises a marked improvement in rolling resistance, grip and durability.
The mainstay of the range is the PRO4 Service Course, which offers, according to Michelin, “performance in all circumstances”. It’s the all-rounder of the bunch, then; fast, if not the fastest, with good durability to go with it. It also offers exceptional wet weather grip, cornering on wet asphalt around 16 percent faster than the old Pro3 Race rubber.
The tyre is used, as an alternative to Michelin’s tubulars, by the pros of the AG2R La Mondiale race team and is preferred in slippery conditions, so much so that, following the Tour de France stage nine crash on the treacherous descent of the Pas de Peyrol that claimed Alexandre Vinokourov, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Dave Zabriskie, AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud dropped back to his team car and asked to swap his tubular-shod wheels for the new clinchers.
Details of the PRO4 Service Course include a new long-life dual-compound slick tread with extended lateral bands and a slightly egg-shaped profile designed to enhance agility and grip when banked over plus a Nylon breaker ply under the tread for added puncture protection. Claimed weight for the tyre, which has a 110 threads per inch casing fabric, is around 200g.
Faster by seven percent, or at least offering a seven percent saving on rolling resistance as measured on Michelin’s test roller drum, is the PRO4 COMP Service Course. This tyre, with a claimed weight of 180g, has a 30percent lighter 150tpi casing than the PRO4 Service Course but is otherwise identical, with the same tread compounds and profile.
Fastest of the four models is the PRO4 COMP Limited Service Course, which weighs just 165g in 700x23c format. It is essentially the PRO4 COMP Service Course without the Nylon breaker ply under the tread and offers what Michelin says is “the market’s lowest rolling resistance.”
So, the three tyres above share tread compounds and profile, with the fastest having a 150tpi casing but no puncture belt, the middle having the 150tpi casing and puncture belt and the standard PRO4 Service Course having the puncture belt and a 110tpi casing…
Engineered to offer long life and resistance to punctures and cuts, the PRO4 Endurance has the 110tpi casing with additional breaker ply running from one bead to the other to protect the sidewall from cuts. It also has its own tread compounds, which are formulated for grip and longevity.
There will be several sizing and colour options for the PRO4 Service Course, with Black and White samples the first to arrive. Other colours will be Digital Blue, Dark Blue, Ivory, Pink and Red. The PRO4 COMP Limited Service Course will be available in 700x23c and Black only, with the 23c version of the PRO4 Endurance offered in Grey, Yellow and Red and the 25c version in Grey only. The PRO4 COMP Service Course, meanwhile, will come in Black, Red and Dark Blue and in 700x23c only.