WTB – Rubber and Rims
Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Abner Kingman
In all honesty, WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes) hasn’t been the first brand I think about when my tires are worn and ready for replacement for many years. After spending some quality time on their new rubber, that is no longer the case. Did they need to fly me to Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg, Idaho to change my mind? Probably not, but hot damn, I’m sure glad they did!
WTB flew out several media outlets as well as athletes Mark Weir and American EWS shredder, Marco Osborne to partake in a few days of all things sacred and loamy – a closed bike park with freshly cut trails that only we had ridden! WTB was excited to show off their impressive new line of rubber and rims and couldn’t have picked a better way to do so.
Two of the three tires in attendance have been around almost as long as Mark Weir. Don’t let the legacy names rob your attention though. About the only familiar thing in the hotel conference room was Mark Weir’s moustache.
The new Vigilante and Trail Boss treads have seen major revisions in just about every way imaginable. Modified knob layouts make both tires completely unique from their predecessors. Modified knob heights and new rubber compounds further separate the new from the old. The Judge now joins the Trail Boss and Vigilante as WTB’s aggressive all-mountain ready tires.
The Trail Boss G2 has considerably taller (and thicker) side knobs. The supported knobs offer better penetration without the squirm that sometimes comes with tall knobs. Overall the Trail Boss knob spacing was increased to make for a more open tread pattern. The tires have great bite and clear mud quite well. We experienced some slop on Day 2 and were quite impressed at the overall performance.
Available in 2.4” or 2.6” in either 27.5 or 29.
The Vigilante sees volume, size and height increases. Mostly notably in the massive side knobs. The center bears resemblance to the original Vigilante 2.3, but with larger spacing and updated patterning to further improve mud-shedding abilities.
Available in 2.5” or 2.6” in either 27.5 or 29.
The Judge made its debut to the public at Silver Mountain and certainly flexed its power over the jury. If you’re looking for a serious, big biting rear, the Judge may be worth checking out. It’s available in a 2.4-in width for both 27.5- and 29-in diameters. The aggressive knobs are designed to for demanding terrain, wet conditions and those looking for the ultimate in traction and braking control.
Casings and Compounds
As most riders know, big knobs are only as good as the rubber and casings that support them. Along with the redesigned tires, WTB has been hard at work developing a triple compound rubber they’re calling Tritec. Like many other triple compound tires, WTB now has the ability to offer the ultimate combination of durability and grip by layering each of their three different rubber durometers.
WTB has gone anti-bike industry jargon and will be offering just two lines of wheels and tires– “Light” or “Tough.” They made it so easy we probably don’t need to explain what each product is or who it’s designed for. Thank you WTB!
The TCS Tough tires will all be 60tpi, 2-ply carcasses while the TCS Light tires will all feature Slash Guard nylon insert technology. The protective nylon insert spans the entire sidewall and helps increase protection without the weight penalty of a dual ply tire.