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It is better to live as a lion for a day, than a sheep for a year. When it comes to training, performance isn’t what we look for in a budget road clincher; we sheepishly opt for high tpi (threads per inch), costly, glitzy and glamorous winter tyres. However, on those long winter training rides, wet club runs and chilly commutes, we all like to give it a nudge every now and again. Bring in the Michelin Lithion 2 and we have the cost and endurance of a dedicated winter offering, with the feel of a summer tyre. Now we can live like lions for years.
During the summer months, I lavishly adorned my Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheels with Michelin’s Pro 4 Service Course tyres. These were brilliant for summer riding – though arguably a British Summer is little different to its winter – but I decided I wanted something similar, yet a little more hardy and longer-lasting once the days began to shorten. I opted for a 23mm set of the Michelin Lithion 2. I initially found the fitting a little on the tricky side, with quite a stiff folding bead. Once mounted, however, there were no problems and the bead sat within the rim perfectly.
Inflating the tyres to 100 psi, I rolled out onto the chilly Sunday morning tarmac and instantly felt comfortable on the bike. Rolling resistance was minimal and there was very little feedback through the tyre, even in 23mm, as opposed to the comfort oriented 25mm option, mounted on the stiff Mavic wheels. This resulted in a noticeably comfortable ride. The Lithion 2s responded well to accelerations and handled superbly on corners, similar to the Pro 4s, so confidence was both immediate and well-received. Once the skies opened they still performed remarkably and the introduction of a side tread dealt with the wet roads with ease. There was no wheel slip on descents or loss of traction on climbs: again, very confidence-inspiring for a winter road tyre.
The performance of these tyres had taken me by surprise, so I was happy with my choice, but even happier as the miles clicked on and on with no problems to speak of. I have had very few punctures on these tyres, and when I have been unfortunate to experience the deflating experience we all know and love, I doubted the offending particles could have been kept out by other tyres on the market with dedicated puncture protection. For a 60 tpi tyre, the puncture resistance is astonishing, similar to that I have experienced with Continental’s Gatorskin offerings.
I have since done roughly 2,500 miles on the initial set that I purchased. They have been through wind, rain, snow and ice, climbed the Pyrenean mountains, ascended Mont Ventoux and raced through a very wet junior tour of Mendips. On each and every occasion they have exceeded their expectations for a £15, 60 tpi folding road clincher. They are looking towards retirement now, being rather worn out with a fair few cuts and holes in the upper tread. Some would argue that they do not last as long as other tyres, and you could get more life out of something a slightly higher specification. However, at £30 a set, these are, in my opinion, the best all-round tyres money can buy. So do yourself a favour: throw some of these on, and have some fun – you’re a lion after all!