The green Michelin Mud clincher tire has been a cyclocross legend for nearly three decades now. The famed green tires have a special place in American cyclocross lore after Matt Kelly rode a front green Michelin Mud clincher to a win at the 1999 Junior Worlds in Poprad, Slovakia.
Even though the tires were discontinued 15 years ago, they have still been making an impact on the World Championships. Wout van Aert rode the tread in Tabor in 2015. Last year, he used a set of custom-made, double-casing, puncture-resistant Dugast tubulars built with Michelin Mud clincher treads to escape the Bieles Worlds flat-fest with only one puncture.
New FMB Grippo S Mud Tubular
French tubular tire maker FMB has acknowledged Michelin’s success by adopting a silica-enhanced green rubber—similar to what Michelin used—for its treads several years ago. One interesting aspect of the choice of the green color is that silica tires can also be black. It seems to be a (wise?) marketing decision made by FMB to pay homage to the famed Michelin Mud clinchers and continue the association between silica rubber and the color green.
Now, FMB has given a further nod to the famed green Michelin Mud by also developing a tread inspired by the legendary clincher in the form of the new Grippo S mud tubular. The Grippo S has a strong lineage, with its predecessor the Super Mud receiving Cyclocross Magazine’s top mud tire of 2015 award thanks to its supple cotton casing and mud-shedding design.
We got our hands on a pair of prototype FMB Grippo S tubulars for review. While we wait for the glue to dry, we’re taking a look at the new tubular that a select few racers will be riding before it’s available to the general public in December. Might we see FMB-tubular racers Jeremy Powers or Ellen Noble testing a set when Mother Nature treats us with her tears?
The new Grippo S is decidedly mud-specific. Francois Marie, the eponymous owner of FMB, told Cyclocross Magazine the tread is optimized for mud shedding. “The [knobs] are only on top of the tire,” Marie explained. “There are no [knobs] on the outer sides to avoid the mud that [accumulates] on the side of the tire.”
The sharp-edge knobs are widely spaced, and the second-from-outer row of knobs are especially tapered and very flexible—suggesting a squirmy ride on pavement and hardpack but minimal mud collection in sloppy conditions.
We couldn’t help but remark on the resemblance to the original Michelin Mud, and Marie agreed. “I cannot hide that the idea is drawn with this profile, renowned for its effectiveness, in mind.”
FMB tubulars, while handmade in France, are often coveted for their ride quality but are not built to impress weight weenies. Our two samples weigh 457 and 475 grams each.
The tire measures out true to list width, at 33mm at 20 psi. At higher pressures might a strict UCI official take issue with the volume? We won’t know in our testing, but UCI racers will find out.
The FMB Grippo S is expected to be available in December and will retail for around 85 Euro.
Stay tuned as we put the pair to the test.
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