Home
Verdict: 
Highly recommended budget tyres; do very little wrong and can be had for a silly price
Weight: 
236g

Michelin have a longer history of making bicycle tyres than just about any other current manufacturer, with their first pneumatic tyres appearing in the late 19th century. Today they have a particularly wide range of road tyres, starting at under ten pounds and running up to pro-level rubber. The Lithion 2 tyres can be had for little more than the cheapest tyres and yet offer a really convincing blend of decent performance and winter-proof toughness that belie their bargain pricing.

The Lithion 2s are folding road tyres with a flexible bead. Fitting them the first time to some Mavic Ksyrium wheels was a bit more fiddly than with some tyres; I found it was quite tough the stretch the bead over the rim. However, on subsequent occasions this was less of a problem. They are available in 23mm and 25mm sizes; we were testing the 23mm versions. You can have the 23s in all-black, or with yellow, red or blue sidewalls, whereas the 25mm are only available in black.

Constructed using a 60 tpi (threads per inch) casing, the Lithion 2s have a silica-based tread which is smooth on the centre of the tyre, for low rolling resistance, with a fine file texture on the shoulders of the tyre designed to enhance cornering grip. They are reasonably light at 236g for a 23mm tyre, and they roll well; surprisingly well for the price actually.

Cheap tyres can be one of the least worthwhile economies on a bike. A reduction in grip is an obvious safety concern, but tyres play a major role in how your bike rides too. The best tyres are those which manage to combine the key attributes of grip, speed, low weight and puncture resistance, while being supple enough to give a smooth ride. Oh, and ideally they should last as long as possible. Combining all these attributes is nearly impossible.

It is generally the case that a higher thread count makes for a lighter, faster tyre, not to mention a higher price tag. A count of 60 tpi is a relatively low-density casing; high-end tyres are now made using as much as 300 tpi. However, the reality is that the casing density is only one variable in a complex equation to determine how a tyre performs. The Lithion 2s feel nearly as fast as rather more expensive tyres - they're not on a par with the Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superlite that I tested recently, but the gap is not as significant as I'd have expected.

Grip levels are only average in a straight line. I found that I'd sometimes spin the rear wheel when riding up a steep gradient out of the saddle if the road was wet. They have more grip than Continental Gatorskins, though definitely less than the Vredesteins linked above, and also less than the likes of Conti's excellent GP4000S tyres. Cornering grip is good, though, with the textured shoulders seeming to help here. I never had any issues with the bike washing out of corners when I was leant right over.

I racked up the best part of 1000 miles on these tyres while testing them, generally running at around 100psi. In that time I didn't have any punctures, despite the increasing amount of detritus on the roads at this time of year. So based upon my experiences, the puncture-resistance is impressive.

However, a friend was running the same tyres and had a number of punctures over the same period, so your mileage may vary here. Speaking of mileage, the tyres have retained their round shape well over the test period. There are plenty of reports of people getting several thousand miles on them, and I would expect that to be eminently feasible.

In terms of comfort, again, the Lithion 2s punch above their weight. The Ksyriums used during the testing have relatively narrow rims (15mm internal width); road wheels are generally getting wider, with some as much as 30% wider than this. This can spread the tyre wider, making for a more comfortable ride, but even on my narrow rims I was impressed by the ride comfort on offer here. They are much better than some other budget offerings, which can feel wooden, and not all that far short of much more expensive tyres.

And that's really the recurring theme here. The Lithion 2s are really decent tyres for a pretty amazing price; you can find them online for as little as £11. They wouldn't be my first choice for racing, but they more than hold their own for fast club runs, commuting and training duties. They are a clear cut above most similarly-priced competition and I was hard pressed to find anything really wrong with them.

Verdict

Highly recommended budget tyres; do very little wrong and can be had for a silly price

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Michelin Lithion 2 tyre

Size tested: 700x23c

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The Michelin® Lithion®2 - It looks and performs like professional racing tyre, but at a fraction of the price!

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Performance: A lightweight tyre with high levels of rolling efficiency, grip, suppleness, puncture resistance.

Bead: Folding

TPI: 60 TPI

Two-tone Silica based tread with smooth center and chevron shoulder rubber.

Overlapped 60 tpi ESC extra supple casing reinforced with puncture resistant crown ply for a comfortable ride with puncture resistance.

HDC: High Density Casing – Special overlapping ply designed carcass with a cord density of 66 TPI (240 threads/dm2), which helps achieve the ideal balance between efficiency, a comfortable ride, puncture resistance and off-road casing durability

HPRS: High Protect Rim System – Protective strip that protects the bead area against wear from the rim. The HPRS is used on all flexible-bead Michelin® tires.

SW: Lightweight skinwalls, with casing plies surrounded by a thin coat of rubber.

10 grams lighter, with 25% more grip than previous MICHELIN Lithion tyre model.

Herringbone tread pattern, silica compound

Weight: 230g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Roll well, grip well in corners. Not the most grippy in a straight line but still better than Gatorskins in this regard.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Have kept their shape well during test mileage; should last a good while.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10

Decent weight, especially at this price point.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
10/10

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Much better all-round performance than I was expecting. Bargain pricing online.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not a great deal.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

14 comments

Avatar
thejonesy [29 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Been using these for a number of years now as winter tyres, utterly reliable and predictable and hard wearing in all conditions. You can normally pick them up for about £12-13 shopping around, absolute bargain!

Avatar
Matt eaton [741 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I've got a set of these and love them on my fixed roadie. Really great value-for-money especially with the kevlar bead.

Avatar
dazwan [324 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

How do these stack up against the Pro4 Service Course? I've got Pro4's on at the moment and so far have been good, although I did get my 1st puncture on them tonight (it was a panel pin/small nail). Is 400 miles until 1st puncture in recent weather good going?

I'm after another pair but might just consider these instead. Plus with sidewalls to match whats already on I won't have any problems with mismatched colours if I just replace one tyre at a time.

Avatar
ollyp79 [1 post] 3 years ago
0 likes

Great all round tyres, used then on my courier bike for 2000 plus miles with only one punture and there's still life in em yet. I sell them in the shop I work in and the trade price is about the same as what you can pick them up online at! How are we going to sell any?

Avatar
Vejnemojnen [289 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Got mine from PBK, 25GBP for a pair with free tubes. It'll be nice to compare these to DIamantes and Rubino Pros.

I hope they'll last at least 8-8k kms.

Avatar
Jez Ash [243 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I've not used Pro4s or Diamantes but I have run Rubino Pros a few years ago. Too long ago to be able to make a real comparison in terms of speed, but in terms of wear rates, the Michelins are definitely better.

It's near impossible to make real comparisons in terms of punctures as there are so many variables. For reference, I'm about 80kg and I normally have 23mm tyres at around 100psi. Still yet to have a puncture with these Michelins and the roads are rank at the moment.

Avatar
bikeylikey [241 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
dazwan wrote:

How do these stack up against the Pro4 Service Course? I've got Pro4's on at the moment and so far have been good, although I did get my 1st puncture on them tonight (it was a panel pin/small nail). Is 400 miles until 1st puncture in recent weather good going?

I'm after another pair but might just consider these instead. Plus with sidewalls to match whats already on I won't have any problems with mismatched colours if I just replace one tyre at a time.

I've used both. In my personal opinion you'll be disappointed if you're expecting anything like the same performance. In comparison, the Lithions feel dull and heavy to me.

I'm a bit surprised by all the praise here, I've found them pretty unexciting compared to similarly priced tyres, like the Rubino Pro folding which I've also used in both 25mm and 28mm. Rubinos feel like they have a much higher thread count, more supple and responsive than the Lithions.

The trouble with reviews like this is that they are pretty much all subjective personal impressions, and therefore of limited value. It would be great if objective tests could be used for tyre rolling resistance, suppleness and puncture proofing, as it is for weight. With some actual figures and measurements, and comparing different tyres measured with the same equipment.

Measurements of tyres when mounted would also be interesting, as they vary a lot. I've measured Conti 4 seasons 28mm as actually 26.5mm, 4 seasons 25mm at 25.3mm, Vredestein Fortezza Senso 25mm at 27mm (on one of the new Fulcrum R5 21.5 wide rims). So a lot of variation and difference from manufacturers claims. It would be good to know the actual measurements, weights etc, as opposed to just what the makers tell you.

Avatar
Jez Ash [243 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Let's be realistic here - the Pro4 has an RRP of £40 per tyre so something would be very wrong if it wasn't noticeably better than these tyres.

The Vredesteins I mentioned in the review felt more supple and definitely had better grip. As best as I could tell, they seemed a little faster but I would suggest that this is almost impossible to determine through simple subjective analysis.

As an engineer I'd have to agree with bikeylikey that it would be great to have a vast (preferably underground) laboratory where road.cc could make real objective comparisons between tyres (and all of the other things that we test) but we don't. Accordingly, as (s)he notes, our reviews are necessarily primarily focused on subjective impressions of products.

Measuring tyres sizes would theoretically be possible, and the weights shown on reviews are those that road.cc makes (NOT just manufacturer claims), but different rims will result in different tyre sizes, so this would only really be useful for those who happened to have rims the same size as whatever control rim we used for that, so I'm not convinced.

Avatar
southseabythesea [149 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Great tyres you can pick up for around £12, found them good all seasons.

Avatar
andymatthews [17 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

If so good why only four stars?

Avatar
dazwan [324 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Maybe its because Michelins are a pig to fit! Last night it took 5 minutes to fix my puncture and about 40 minutes wasted trying to prize the tyre off the rim and back on again.

Avatar
mylesrants [429 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

agreed, michelin and campagnolo wheels don't go. I raced the these tyres at the end of last year, (when i was fed up with the pro4 splitting) and all good!

Avatar
Mombee [84 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I've just put these on my son's road bike, where they replaced Vittoria Rubinos and I wanted winter grip over longevity. Initial impressions are that it's a good 'tacky' tyre, so should tick the 'grip' box... and reassuring to hear that others are putting good mileages on these without any real issues.

Avatar
Batchy [403 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I have found the Lithion 2 to be excellent value for money. They roll well, grip tight even in wet conditions, have good puncture resistance and I get a minimum of 3000 miles use out of mine. I also use Conti Gatorskins that are marginally better but cost twice the price !