Here’s a width comparison of the 35c Continentals and 30c Michelins.
Mounted up on my Velocity A23s, they measure in at about 33mm.
In comparison, the Continentals measure in at about 34mm.
In installing the Michelins, you will note that they have this arrow on the side, that points:
If you look at that marking, there are two interpretations. One way of reading it is to think that the tire should be mounted so that the arrows point the proper direction when the tires are installed (rear arrow points back, front arrow points forward). The other way of reading it is to think that the tires are directional, so when the tire is mounted on the rear, the ‘rear’ arrow should point forward, and vice-versa. As it turns out, that directional mounting is correct. The tires are designed to roll in opposite directions. On an aesthetic note, the tires only have a white label on one side…so when you mount them directionally, the front label is on one side, and the rear label is on the other.
Ride quality? They’re nice and light, and supple. Mine weighted in at 341 grams. In mud, they’re great. (Obviously no flotation, but good traction). Also good on grass, wet grass, and traction-challenged conditions. They’re good on loose gravel, as well. Very versatile tire…definitionally more traction that the Cyclocross speeds.
Downsides? A significant increase in rolling resistance compared to the Cyclocross Speeds, but that’s to be expected. The other downside? On any kind of hard surface (hardpack, concrete/asphalt, etc.), they are really unpredictable. Really. With big knobs, you’d expect handling to be limited. That much I can understand. What I don’t like is that there is absolutely no warning when they’re going to break loose. The tread blocks aren’t very tall, so there isn’t a ton of tread block squirm…they’ll hold a line and seem fine, and then suddenly just break loose and low-side you onto your hip. There is no progressive slide, no slip, no warning.
What this means in real life is that you push hard on soft surfaces, with confidence. Then you hit a corner on asphalt, and you rein the speed way in, because you’re not sure where to draw the line. The Vaya is about as predictable in its handling as a bike could be. The Mud 2s are just squirrelly on hard surfaces.
I’m running them in anticipation of some upcoming cross practice and cross races, where they’re a bit grippier on varied surfaces than my multi-thousand mile, wornout Cyclocross Speeds are. But after cross, the Speeds will be going back on. It’s not often that I give a negative review, but I’m not terribly thrilled with the Mud 2s. Again, their off-road performance is great, and it isn’t that I expect them to stick like slicks (or the Speeds) on hard surfaces (or even hard gravel). The problematic part is how unpredictable they are on those surfaces. I’ve had knobby mountain bike tires that were more predictable. For that reason, exercise caution with these bad boys.