The one or the other will have seen it already, we have again new products in the shop. Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB) has been a household name for mountain bikers for some time now, with a range of products including saddles, grips, rims and clothing. Also already for some time there are WTB tires. The different profiles and rubber compounds are mainly gravel and mountain bike oriented. The manufacturer itself also refers to this as Adventure Road or Road Plus. Why this applies so well to the tyres will hopefully become clear in the following test.
No matter whether you are on Facebook or in forums on the road or look around at the Gravelevent times to the left and right, on WTB tires you come almost not past and after I was for years on Schwalbe and Continental on the road (pretty mainstream) I wanted to try on my gravel bike just something new. After a short consideration I decided to take Byway 47. Voluminous and comfortable, but still fast and sporty.
Enthusiastic from the start, we quickly ordered a few more models to test. So we have taken the following tires under the magnifying glass.
- WTB Byway 47 650b
- WTB Byway 40 & 44 700c
- WTB Raddler 40 700c
- WTB Vigilante 2.3 29″
- WTB TrailBoss 2.25 29″
The Byway 47
The Byway 47 is not only the first WTB tire I was allowed to test, but also the one I don’t want to miss anymore. The tread pattern of the gravel tyre is strictly semi-slick. The center of the tread has only slight herringbone, the combination with a fairly hard rubber compound creates an excellent rolling performance here. Towards the outside, the tread becomes coarse, first with fine, then quite large lugs. So the byway has good grip even off paved trails. Gravel and forest floors can be ridden without any problems, and without fear of breakdowns. I am the tire now a good 1500km in various terrain driven and had not a flat tire. Thus the label RoadPlus is more than deserved. Because that’s what you get. A tire that is not only or also fun on the road, but ready for anything beyond that.
The great thing is that the tire simply puts down a great performance on any surface. On asphalt and fine grit you can race at 30, 35 or 40km/h without any problems and conjure up a fast cut on the speedometer (provided you bring a touch of fitness). But due to the high volume, 47mm width at 650B, the tire is also comfortable. Potholes and rough gravel roads are so much fun. The outer lugs offer enough grip to take fast turns on loose ground or to master more technical areas.
With a body weight of 70 kg I ride the WTB Byway with tubes and 2.1-2.2 bar pressure. If you are mainly on asphalt and only light gravel or forest highways on the road, I would increase the pressure a little. If you are riding on rather rough gravel terrain, it is recommended to ride the tire in tubeless setup. Puncture resistance at low pressure and besides more comfort and grip.
The Byway 40 & 44
Like every other tire on the market, the WTB Byway is available in different dimensions. Since Christoph was still riding without 650B wheels during our Dirty Kanzelled round at the end of May, an alternative was needed. Quickly the choice was the Byway 40 (the 44 unfortunately does not fit in the Open Upper frame).
Compared to the 650B variant, this WTB tire does not deliver quite as much comfort, the volume is also lower. But the rolling behaviour is still a bit better. This tire is definitely for racers and all who like to ride on fast tracks and do not need the extra comfort. Who is not a friend of sealing milk and Co. should aim at this tire a little more pressure than mentioned above to not go flat.
The Byway in 700x40C is a compromise between the already presented tires. It offers relatively high volume and still the better rolling characteristics of a larger tire, the only drawback is compatibility. From our experience we know that there are sometimes problems, as well as with wide road bike tires in 28 or 30mm, which simply do not fit into some frames. Especially in combination with rims with a large jaw width, most tires build wider than specified. If in doubt, you can simply use a caliper gauge to help you.
The next tire is the further development of the WTB Riddler. This has a similar profile, but all the studs are slightly finer and smaller. In extreme weather conditions, this could occasionally lead to a loss of control. The better it is that WTB has reacted here and presented with the Raddler a tire for all Gravel Explorer.
The Raddler is a WTB tire with a little more tread. Available in 700x40C and 700x44C, this is an off-road-heavy bike. Small studs on the tread provide the necessary propulsion. This is especially noticeable when you want to get out of the saddle on a somewhat unpaved path. On the outside are larger studs, it should provide enough grip in corners even on wet surfaces. We were surprised that it is still fun to drive this tire over asphalt passages.
The WTB mountain bike tires
In addition to the already presented models for Gravel and Adventure use, we have also tested two mountain bike tires from WTB. Located in the enduro range, we expected especially a strong performance downhill, regardless of the ground conditions, and we were not disappointed.
Vigilante and Trailboss – be the boss on every trail
Although WTB also offers these tires much wider, we chose the 2.3″ Vigilante (on the front wheel) and the 2.25″ TrailBoss for the rear in our test. This allowed us to compare the performance well with tires of similar width that we had already ridden (otherwise there could be a big difference in grip due to volume, for example).
The Vigilante provides a lot of support at the front and thus safety. Dropping curves and loose ground are more fun than usual, because we can really let it rip here now. The TrailBoss surprises. With outstanding directional stability, you almost forget about the rear tyre. This leaves more attention to focus on the track and line choice. Especially from a ‘so narrow’ tire we would not have expected that.
What the two tires don’t give you is some form of sportiness. Who would like to ride with this rather a loose trail / enduro tour, because on the rolling resistance you have to make definite sacrifices here. This is not to say that you can’t go on day trips with it, you just won’t be as fast on the road.
Conclusion WTB tires
After my first encounters with WTB’s various models, I don’t think I can deny my enthusiasm. Especially on the gravel bike the Byway convinces on full width and delivers a more than solid overall performance. Due to the different tire widths and wheel sizes, there is something for everyone and the bike can be adapted exactly to the intended use. On the Enduro, the Vigilante and TrailBoss provide outstanding grip, making you feel very secure and mastering key sections. I’ll definitely be looking over my (MainStream) horizon here more often in the future.
All WTB tires are now available in our shop. If you have any questions about the intended use, the exact choice of your next tire or have already made experiences with WTB yourself, feel free to write us in the comments.