By Tyeler McDonald
Tires are one of the most expensive and important items you need for a good day at the track or trail. For me, a tire needs to offer excellent traction, durability and mounting without bending my tire tools. The Michelin Starcross 5 Medium comes highly recommended, but l like to make my own judgments. Here is a breakdown of my experience with the highly-rated Michelin tire.
(In the desert just outside Las Vegas at Western Raceway)
I mounted the tire by hand with spoons; it was one of the smoothest tires I have ever installed. I did find that the carcass of the tire is soft, making it easy to push the tire into the drop zone and stay there. After I mounted the tire, I noticed that the bead on this tire is shallow, which allowed it to bead easily. I ran the tire at 16psi, typically I run between 12-14 psi, but with the flexible carcass, I didn't want to risk a pinch flat. Track conditions were ideal; it was well-watered desert sand mixed with some clay. I was surprised to find that the mud wasn't packing into the tire, Michelin's design incorporates Mud-Phobic bars throughout the tire, keeping the dirt from clumping together.
(Mounting it was realitivly easy)
The tire performed best on the edges of the track where it was still loamy. The tire was good in the main line but was far better in the soft mix of dirt. The tire is classified as a medium compound, but easily could be classified as medium/soft. Near the end of the day, I found a corner with a well-developed rut throughout the corner and found the tire gave me the most confidence mid to the exit of the corner. Once the rear of the motorcycle settled and I started to roll on the throttle, and the tire had tremendous grip, from there, it was hang on and try keeping the front end down. If you ride anywhere with soft, loose topsoil, the Michelin Starcross 5 medium is a top pick.
(Loamy dirt in the Pacific Northwest)
After riding on the tire for 12 hrs, I am extremely impressed with how the tire is wearing. I am still far off of half-life of the tire for your weekend warrior. If you're only riding with the Starcross 5 Medium tire at a track with sandy/loamy dirt, this tire will easily get you through a whole riding season here in Nevada. If you are in a part of the country with a winter break, this tire should get you a couple of seasons, depending on the terrain you are in. I found the most wear came to the tire while I was in Oregon doing some off-road riding on hardpack dirt with a few rock features. I would avoid these scenarios with this tire and aim more towards the Michelin Enduro because it is made to perform in hard enduro situations.
(That's a mean looking tire)
The Michelin Starcross 5 Medium is a solid pick if you're looking to save money on tires without giving up traction. I have come to enjoy riding on this tire; it has built a lot of confidence at the track where other tires would struggle to withstand the power a 450 can produce. The Starcross 5 has a top spot for me because of how it was to install, the price, durability, and traction in soft/loamy dirt. I look forward to running this tire as one of my typical setups.