First Ride On Michelin’s StarCross 6 Tires
Story by Trevor Hunter
Michelin has been around a long time. Like a really long time. The first glimpses of Michelin date way back to the 1890’s, and over time, they’ve grown to be a powerhouse in the tire department. A few years ago, Michelin made a big push back into the off-road motorcycle market with the StarCross 5 MX Tires, and now they’ve updated their lineup with the introduction of the StarCross 6 Tires.
The StarCross 6 tires come available in Sand, Mud (rear only), Medium/Soft, Medium/Hard, and Hard Terrain applications, but our first day on the tires only saw us ride on the Medium/Soft tires at the newly revamped Perris Raceway.
Our testers who rode with the older StarCross 5 tires were generally pretty impressed with the performance of those tires when new, but the drop off in traction and performance after a certain period of wear was more drastic than they thought it should be. Michelin’s goal with these tires is to prolong the window of performance, while also increasing the performance of the tires even when new. The use of Silica technology, something Michelin has been using in the road segment, has made its way to their dirt tires and is something that Michelin may be the only tire manufacturer to incorporate in their dirt bike tires. It is the bonding agent that is used when constructing the tire and it takes the place of the more traditional “carbon black” technology used by most.
Getting to the performance of the tires, we were pretty impressed with the StarCross 6 rubber. Perris Raceway was ripped very deep and the track conditions weren’t something that we’re used to seeing here in SoCal. Ruts got deep, traction was plentiful in most areas, and conditions were quite good. But, by the end of the day, we did get some hard-packed areas as we’re used to seeing at the famed Perris track. We ran a 80/100-21 and 110/90-19 on a ‘22 Yamaha YZ250FX with the recommended 13psi front and rear.
The front tire worked really well. Under braking, the tire tracked straight, predictable, and didn’t roll or get mushy. As you get past the braking and into initiating the corner, the lean angle traction and feel is even more impressive. The tires had us second guessing everything we were doing as we kept trying to hit stiff harder and harder and rely on the side knob traction. It took a while to really trust how much we could push these tires, which were as good if not better than most other tires we’ve run. When we needed to make a quick pivot, a little input into the front would lead the way. On faster sweepers and looser berms, the tire would just go and not get too vague but also not hook and knife. In some of the deeper ruts at times, mainly when we felt we got lazy or weren’t using the best of form/technique, the front would start to grab and climb out of the ruts, so that’s something we will keep an eye on moving forward.
Out back, rear tires aren’t always as critical, but like the front tire, the StarCross 6 Medium/Soft worked well everywhere. Again, under braking, it tracks straight and predictable. Under acceleration, it hooked up when it was soft and when the hard-packed base came out at the end of the day.
Since we were riding our YZ250FX, an off-road bike, the suspension was on the softer side and it could mask a stiffer carcass tire so we’ll have to put some more time in on more familiar terrain to get a better feel for that. Still, we did feel it is on the stiffer side as we didn’t feel much tire roll when cornering or under acceleration like we do on some other tires when running this air pressure. The track wasn’t all that rough either, so bump absorption will be better felt on a different day.
Like we said before, we always liked the performance of the Michelin’s when new, so the biggest test will be how they perform in the long run. We put around 1.5 hours on the tires today and at the end of the day, they still worked very well as they should. Stay tuned for a longer term test on the new Michelin StarCross 6 Medium/Soft and Medium/Hard tires.