Michelin Starcross 5 Soft Reviewed
By:
Kris Keefer

Before the Michelin StarCross line was released I had a hand in helping test these tires with Randy Richardson (Michelin’s Two-Wheeled Marketing Manager).

 To the contrary however I am not on the payroll over at Michelin and I am free to talk about them as I feel. To be completely honest with you all I wasn’t a big fan of the previous Michelin MH3 line as the tires never really felt planted underneath me. I was constantly searching for front-end bite on lean angle and forward bite from the rear tire when the ground got a little slick. When I started testing the new StarCross 5 Soft tires I was pleasantly surprised on how much they improved over the MH3’s.The new StarCross line consists of four different patterns to suit any terrain you might be riding.

There is the StarCross 5 Hard, Medium, Soft, and Sand. Some of the new features of the Michelin StarCross 5 include; a designed a wider scope of usage for each pattern, self cleaning tread technology with horizontal tread lines in each knob to aid in releasing soil, updated tread blocks that feature aggressive variable heights, Mud-Phobic Bars between each middle knob to prevent mud and dirt from building up (featured only on the StarCross 5), Comfort Casing Technology (CCT) that helps absorb square edge and braking bumps and finally the StarCross 5 is 15% lighter than the current StarCross 3&4 models (that means 15% of unsprung weight on your bike). 

First off, I have mounted several StarCross 5 Soft tires over the course of a couple years and can tell you from experience it goes on pretty damn easy. I am no ISDE pro when it comes to mounting tires so I can appreciate the soft carcass of the tire as it rolls on the rim. With the new StarCross 5 Soft set installed, I immediately noticed that rear end traction accelerating out of corners and on straight line was great through soft to intermediate terrain with 13 psi. On lean angle the rear tire would feel like the knobs were actually digging into the soil and getting the power to the ground. Wheel spin was minimal coming out of intermediate to hard pack corners, but when the track turns super hard pack and blue groove I did experiment a little more wheel spin. When people ask me which tire they should choose for their local track, I always tell them unless your track that you ride is hardback always stick with the Soft compound Michelin. With the soft rear tire I get more bite and feeling from my rear end (on soft to intermediate terrain) than I do with the Medium compound. I have experienced some chunking of side knobs on the Michelin StarCross 5 Soft tires, but some of this was from improper tire pressure. These tires are sensitive to tire pressure so make sure to run AT LEAST 13 psi, sometimes even up to 13.5-14 psi.

Since the Michelin StarCross 5’s carcass are so soft this helps the tire from rolling too much on extreme lean angle and keeps the knobs from chunking. If you’re riding hard pack you can expect your “Soft” side knobs to possibly chunk as this tire is made for soft to intermediate terrain. If you like to rear end steer or slide the rear wheel  backing the rear end in) it is a little more difficult to do with the StarCross 5 Soft, as it wanted to bite into the ground more than slide coming into flat corners. I really liked this sensation however as it is good for me because I am a big front end steering rider. 

Lean angle traction from the Star Cross 5 front Soft is one of my features from this tire. I could feel when the front tire would want to break loose and I could really get into a deeper lean. When riding with the Michelin StarCross 5 Soft front tire against a Dunlop MX3S I noticed that the lean angle traction was better on the Michelin. There was no surprise or vague feeling from the front end and this gave me confidence coming into hard pack corners as well. If I wanted to make a sudden change in a corner (cutting down from a blown out area of a rut) the StarCross 5 Soft front tire would bite and provide you with enough traction to make sudden line changes very easy. As you start to lean with the Star Cross 5 Soft front you can feel the carcass roll more than a Dunlop MX3S so make sure (just like the rear tire) you pay attention to the tire pressure. 13.5 psi is the sweet spot for the front tire as this helps it from rolling when hitting flat corners.

Braking traction was also a standout quality and would give a predictable feeling anytime you chop the throttle hard. Comfort was the one thing that I noticeably took into account when the tracks I rode got chopped up. Slap down landings, square edge and braking bumps felt very cushioned with the StarCross 5’s softer carcass (front and rear). I felt like there is more comfort when the track gets rougher than with a Bridgestone BattleCross or Dunlop MX3S. You can feel the tires almost squish (like suspension) underneath you, but not so much where you feel like you’re losing traction.

I do notice that once the Michelin StarCross 5 Soft tires get to a decently worn stage that predictability is not as good as a used Dunlop MX3S. However, I will say that the Michelin does last a little longer on varied terrain than a set of Dunlop MX3S tires. Like I have said on the PulpMX Show there are basically only two tires that I run on my test bikes. The Michelin StarCross 5 Soft tires are one of those two. A good MX tire is like a good woman, they are hard to come by these days, but Michelin did a great job of bringing a tire that I can trust when I start to push it out on the track.