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Ridden & Reviewed: Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tires

February 28, 2012

Kelly, our parts and accessories buyer took pity on me. I was bugging him mercilessly about swag from Frostbike and he relented, loaning me a bran new pair of Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires to ride and review—but not to keep. Needing every ounce of help I could get for this past weekend’s races, I decided “no time like the present” and quickly mounted the new tires.

Michelin’s Pro 4 is actually not a single tire model, rather an umbrella name for a family of tires. The Pro4 Endurance replaces what was know as the Krylion and is designed for longevity and puncture resistance—a true training tire. The Pro4 Service Course that I’m riding is most directly comparable to the Pro3, which it replaces. Billed as somewhat of an “all arounder,” the Pro4 Service Course improves on its predecessor by relying on Michelin’s Moto GP experience and technology. A new profile increases the size of the sidewalls for improved cornering grip, and a new “pointed” tread pattern improves wear and decreases rolling resistance. The rest of the Pro4 line-up, the Pro4 Service Course Comp and the Pro4 Service Course Comp Limited, decrease the weight and puncture resistance in favor of faster rolling rubber. Given the roads around Central Texas, I’m happy to try to the Pro4 Service Course. Bicycle tires, like life, are about balance.

Out of the box I noticed three things. First, the box itself and the accompanying packaging was quite small and was comprised of simply cardboard and paper. Nice and easy to recycle. I’m not sure Michelin was thinking of eco-friendliness in their product packaging design, but it was still nice to see.

The Pro4 fresh out of the box and sitting on Tim's bench.

Second, I noticed the Pro4’s weight. It’s not “silly” light, but at a claimed 200 grams, it’s certainly light enough to notice. Compared to the tires I’ve been riding—which I love—this was a light tire. And that gave me pause three days before a weekend of racing; were these tires going to give me grief in the form of punctures? I read about the flat prevention layers, but still asked Tim at the Lamar store service department his thoughts: “No worries.  They’re going to feel fast and grippy.”

And mounting the Pro4 was the third thing I noticed. The Pro4 is tight, making it tough to mount. It was odd because I thought the sidewalls felt pretty supple and I thought that would make it easier to roll on to the rim using just thumb strength. Not that I have the world’s strongest thumbs, but I had to reach for a tire lever—thanks again, Tim! I also followed Michelin’s advice and used their ultralight butyl A1 Aircomp tube, a pairing designed to get the best performance in terms of decreased rolling resistance.

I did some short end of the week training rides and didn’t notice one thing or another about the tires, aside from their nice all-black looks. New tires, like new bar tape or new grips on a mountain bike, always look good.  Maybe I was just thinking about the weekend’s events, but I never gave the tires much thought. Then it was Saturday.

Saturday at 11:30 am was the two loop, 48 mile the Walburg Classic masters 35+ cat 4/5 race that I had entered some weeks ago. Being a novice and really just liking the excitement and camaraderie of racing, I was looking to ride safe and see how long I could hang on. But that morning, for whatever reason, all I could think about were these new tires. I knew exactly what air pressure I needed for my old tires for the country roads North of Georgetown (i.e. chip seal and surface changes as county an town limits are crossed).  But for the Pro4, what was the “right” number? I skulked about the Bicycle Sport Shop service tent and fiddled with a pump deciding on approximately 95 psi.  Thank you Al and John for the psi recommendation, the pump, and the water bottle!

While my race didn’t quite go according to plan, the tires were worry free and very confidence inspiring. Twice during the race I had to put avoidance tactics to use (to miss felled riders and road debris) and the tires never once gave the sensation of letting loose or being unpredictable. And, after coming unhitched from the group late in the day I had a chance to focus some on the ride quality over the rougher roads and thought, Tim was right, these tires feel fast.

Sunday’s race was different in two regards. First, I rode much better. Second, there was more turning. The Pace Bend Road Race consisted of a shorter 24 mile race, but on a much shorter 6 mile loop. The road surface was much better as well and seemed almost like it was laid fresh for the 8:00 am “baby masters” group I was again in. The Pro4 tires held there own very well. On a solo break off the front for a couple of miles I was cutting the apex of each bend trying to get far enough out of sight that the group might forget about me. While I was caught, it was no fault of the tires. They performed perfectly to Tim’s second prediction–nice an grippy–especially around the final 90 degree bend heading for the finish—a turn some racers had worried publicly about the safety of. No worries on the Pro4s though.

The Pro4 on course at the 2012 Pace Bend Road Race. Picture courtesy of Robert via

Overall with a little over 150 miles n these tires I’d recommend them to anyone who is sticking to paved roads—I’ll run different rubber for Reveille Roubaix for example, but mostly because I’ll likely want a wider tire than the available 25 mm I could get the Pro4 in. The Pro4 seems to have captured the magic of the original green Michelin Pro Race tires I rode years ago. I really doubt that Kelly is getting these back.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2012 1:49 pm

    Nice review! Informative and well written. Thanks Daniel.

    • djcurtin permalink
      February 28, 2012 6:59 pm

      Thanks for reading, Don! See ya on the road!

  2. February 28, 2012 8:57 pm

    I feel faster just reading this review. Thanks Daniel. Admittedly I don’t know crap about tires, but I was wondering if they tires would perform as well if it wasn’t your spritely frame, and instead my diesel truck frame.

    • February 29, 2012 2:51 am

      should read “wondering if those tire….”

    • djcurtin permalink
      March 1, 2012 4:56 am

      Thanks for reading, Minor! I agree with the old adage that nothing changes a bike’s ride characteristics quite like wheel and tire choices. While I love the thought of incredibly light bikes, my bike isn’t built with that goal in mind. Rather, I’m in search of what for me is “perfect” ride quality. And I’m amazed at how different my bike rides when I change tires or wheels. Give it a try sometime! We’ve got lots of demo wheels in our rental fleet at the Lamar store!

  3. March 15, 2012 12:10 pm

    I would be interested in the bead-to-bead tyre widths measurement? My last years Krylion in 700×23 has a bead-to-bead widh of only 60mm (by comparison earlier Krylions had 65mm and a Krylion in 700×25 had 72mm). It makes a hell lot of a difference how big the tyre are then once mounted on the rim. I like Michelin Krylions because they give me a much more supple ride than any other tyre (the worst and most uncofortable thing that I have ever bought was a very pair of expensive green Vittoria Open Pave Evo tyres with a supposed 320tpi). Thanks

    • DennisH permalink
      September 3, 2012 4:49 am

      Agree…Krylion are skinny. The 23c is much (0.9″ vs 0.98″) less wide (and tall) than my 23c Lithion 2. I’m taking the Krylion off and selling it.

      Hoping the 25C ProRace4 endurance aren’t skinny too. May go with 25c.

  4. djcurtin permalink
    March 21, 2012 3:16 am

    SG: Thanks for reading! I’m not sure the bead-to-bead width as the demo tires are still mounted on my bike. (Don’t tell Kelly!) I will say this though, if I were buying them–and I might–I’d get the 25 mm width for what I suspect you are referring to–a more compliant, comfortable ride. The 23 mm feel good on smooth roads and the local weekly crit course, but on the other chip seal roads around here they feel a little rough in my opinion. Of course, many things go into a tire’s “feel” including tube choice, air pressure, wheel choice, and road surface. On the whole though, I like the feel of 25s on the road–and there’s good evidence out there that the wider tire is actually faster due to less rolling resistance. Thanks again for reading!


  5. cjm permalink
    April 6, 2012 2:37 pm

    I’ve been waiting for Michelin to begin selling the Pro4s retail and looks like they’re finally here. I’ll admit I was going purchase another brand because Michelin didn’t answer my email several months ago of when they would begin selling them. In any case, your review is quite informative. My dilemma was whether to get the service course or the comp service course. Since I’m not looking to decrease my resistance to potential flats, your review is causing me to lean towards purchasing the service course. I want to get them before BikeNewYork 2012 and after I do a little more review, I’ll make a purchase in the next few days. Thanks for a great article.

  6. djcurtin permalink
    April 7, 2012 2:12 am

    CJM: Thank you for reading and glad you liked the review! The tires have been performing great–no issues whatsoever and I’ve raced them a few more times, both crits and road races. They still, even with many more miles, feel fast and still have great turning traction. I think the service course is a great choice. The comp service course I’m sure is wonderful too, and likely holds true to the claim of being faster, but the trade off for a bit better flat protection isn’t worth it for me and the riding I’ll do. And, I’ll share this with you, I used to live in NYC and I rode the original Pro Race tires when I lived there. Many, many laps in Central Park and Prospect Park! If I were still in the City I’d roll the service course for sure! Thanks again for reading! Daniel

  7. Charles permalink
    April 19, 2012 5:32 pm

    Great review Daniel, bought the Pro Race 3 SC 2 years ago but got only 4 months before cuts and punctures became unbearable.

    Before that the grip in dry and wet was awesome. Been on Gatorskins till few months ago and then bought Conti GP4000S and like the Gatorskins grip in wet not great.

    Looking at this as ribblecycles in UK doing Pro Race 4 for £25 will be buying those and putting on new wheels

    • djcurtin permalink
      April 20, 2012 3:59 pm

      Thanks so much, Charles!

      I actually just switched out tires–I sadly catastrophically cut one of the Pro Race 4s (no tire would have survived)–back to some GP4000S tires I had been riding. I find that they hold up well, but are not as confidence inspiring in the wet as the ProRaces. Still, I like the overall feel and quality of the Contis, so they often end up on my bike. Next pair will likely be back to the ProRace 4 though!

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Timothy permalink
    November 2, 2012 9:54 am

    Thanks for this great review. I actually bought these tires after reading your review. I love them.

    • djcurtin permalink
      November 5, 2012 8:38 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Timothy! Happy riding!

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