Considering its price, the Michelin Lithion 3 punches well above its weight, offering a decent level of grip, rolling resistance and durability for around half the cost of many top-end race tyres. The only downside is that they are limited to narrower sizes than many riders use these days.
I've used Michelin's Lithion tyres for years, especially when I was commuting 10k miles a year in all weathers; that was mostly down to price – they were cheap – and at just £26.99, the Lithion 3 hasn't changed that.
There's no point saving some cash if you are getting punctures left right and centre, or the tyres are wearing really quickly, but in my experience the Lithion 2 never had those issues, and that is backed up by Jez's review here.
Their only real downside was that the grip levels weren't amazing, especially in the wet, but for this Lithion 3 things have got a lot better thanks to a new rubber.
The Lithion 3 uses Grip Compound which was developed for Michelin's Power All Season tyre, and straight out of the box they feel tacky to the touch.
Out on the road the compound works well. Grip levels in the dry were absolutely fine for taking corners and roundabouts quickly, but it was in the wet where I really noticed the difference over the previous version.
There is just that little bit more adhesion, so you don't need to be quite so tentative when banking the bike over. They don't quite have the same confidence-inspiring levels as the previous tyre I was using on my wet weather bike, the Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather, but those are about 20 quid more expensive.
Against something like the Continental Ultra Sport II, which is found on a lot of new bikes and is around the same price, the Lithion 3 has the edge for wet weather grip.
Rolling resistance is okay. The Michelin isn't super-fast and the three layers of 60TPI (threads per inch) used in its casing construction and the Grip Compound rubber mean that it isn't the most supple tyre.
It never felt sluggish, though, thanks in part to a reasonable weight of just 264g per tyre – only 29g heavier than Michelin's claimed weight for the 25mm Power Road Tyre, which is part of Michelin's top-end race performance range.
Puncture protection has been good throughout testing, although that has probably been helped by the extremely long period of warm, dry weather we have had. That said, I have also managed to cover about 200 miles on wet, grit-strewn back roads without issue.
As you'd expect at this price, the Lithions aren't tubeless, and you only get two width options: 25mm as tested, or 23mm.
Initial fitment was quite tricky as there isn't a lot of give in the sidewalls, and it was a real struggle to get them over the edge of the wheel rim. My usual trick for this is to fit the tyres without a tube and leave them for 24 to 48 hours to stretch a little bit, which did the job: when I popped one edge off and slipped a tube in, everything seated on fine, with just a small amount of help from a tyre lever. Removal and refitting after that on a selection of rims was easy enough and I'd have no qualms about having to fix a puncture at the side of the road.
As for value, the majority of tyres that we get sent in for testing here are in the £45 to £65 bracket, so the Lithion 3 certainly stands out, coming in less than £30.
It's not alone though – competition comes from the likes of LifeLine, an in-house accessory brand of online retailer wiggle, with its pretty decent Prime Race available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm widths for just £16.49.
Continental has released an updated third version of the Ultra Sport which we haven't had chance to test yet, but going by previous iterations it should be quite a similar tyre to the Lithion. Prices online are around the £20 mark, and they are available in sizes up to 32mm.
Overall, the Lithion 3 tyres are competent all-rounders. They don't massively excel anywhere but they deliver decent performance across all of the attributes you'd want from this type of tyre and they achieve that without a massive price tag.
Quality all-round tyre for training purposes but it would be nice to see more width options
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Michelin Lithion 3 tyre
Size tested: 700x25
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?
Michelin distributor Silverfish says, "Featuring increased grip in wet and dry conditions, this lightweight road bike tyre comes with a new silica compound for enhanced durability - you'll get even more miles out of the Lithion 3 than you did with the impressive Lithion 2.
"With low rolling resistance, a 3x60 TPI carcass, lightweight skinwalls, and puncture protection, the Lithion 3 Road Bike Tyre packs everything you'll need in a training tyre."
It is a competent training tyre that overs decent grip, performance and durability.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Thanks to a rubber compound enabling you to ride longer.
Provided by its 3X60TPI casing.
Thanks to Grip Compound technology which provides excellent grip in the wet.
Sizes: 23mm or 25mm
A lot cheaper than the majority of tyres we test on road.cc with this kind of performance – though it is still undercut by a couple.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a competent road tyre for not a lot of money.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Improved wet weather grip.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No 28mm size.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There aren't many tyres in this price range, at least not with this kind of performance, but there is some top competition from the likes of LifeLine and Continental.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall it's a lot of tyre for the money, offering decent levels of grip, speed and durability. The only real downside is that there isn't a 28mm width available in the range, like many other brands offer.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!