Dirt Rag Magazine

WTB/Team Semper Fi Limited Edition Saddle


A few months ago, WTB teamed up with the Semper Fi Fund to bring a group of service members out to a private ranch in Novato, California, for a weekend of railing berms, drifting corners and heckling with Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler. [Don’t miss our interview with two of the Marines who attended.] WTB’s partnership with the Semper Fi Fund didn’t end there.

The Semper Fi saddle is a limited-edition version of the WTB Volt Team saddle, which features titanium rails, DNA Padding, Flex-Tuned Shell and Microfiber Cover.  With a 142mm width, it’s in the middle of the range of available widths for the Volt saddle and therefore fits a broad range of potential riders at a weight of only 204 grams.

Selling for $130, WTB will contribute $15 to the Semper Fi Fund for each one sold, which will then be used to provide numerous levels of support to the service members the Semper Fi Fund works with. Only 200 were made and they’re available now.

Semper Fi Mountain Bike Camp from WTB on Vimeo.


Project 27plus Part 3 — Hayduke lives!

It’s taken most of the summer but we’ve finished gathering parts for our 27plus project bike. We started this process earlier this year when rumors of a fat 27.5 production bike were just a whisper and no one was really sure what to make of Trek and SRAM’s “Boost” hub spacing.

Then came Sea Otter and we were inundated with bikes with 27plus wheels and tires ready to roll. Before we even had a chance to try one there were dozens of brands with production bikes ready to go. There are also quite a few aftermarket products out there already, and in the spirit of DIY we kept moving ahead with Project 27plus, initially by measuring up some new tires.


Now that all the parts are here it’s time for an update. The foundation of this project is the Advocate Cycles Hayduke frame. Made in Asia from Reynolds 725 chromoly steel it features replaceable dropouts that can be swapped to fit either a 142×12 or 148×12 Boost axles, or even a swinger dropout for singlespeed use.

project-27plus-complete-3 project-27plus-complete-1

Key geometry numbers include a 68.5 degree head tube angle, 430 mm chainstays and 60 mm of bottom bracket drop. It can also fit standard 29-inch tires without a problem. One reason we started with this frame is that you can bolt current 29er parts to it if you’re not sure you want to go 27plus in the future or if you’re saving for a new 27plus wheelset and fork.


The real attention-getter here is of course the wheels. The hubs are Industry Nine‘s Torch Classic model, one of the first aftermarket options for Boost spacing and some of the finest on the market. The aluminum bodies are CNC machined and anodized in Asheville, North Carolina, with angled flanges for lower stresses on the traditional, J-bend spokes.


The freehub body is switchable between standard and XD drivers and the end caps are interchangeable, though in the case of Boost there’s no QR frames to use them with (that I know of). The freehub mechanism features six pawls that engage at three degrees for nearly instant propulsion.


Laced to the hubs are WTB’s Scraper rims with a 45 mm internal width and a pair of the new WTB Bridger 3.0 tires. Unlike the, um, “trailblazing” Trailblazer 2.8 tires, these make no attempt to be anything other than a full-blown 27plus tire, with a far more aggressive tread.


They are mounted up tubeless thanks to the TCS tubeless system, which is essentially the same standard as UST. Going tubeless is highly recommended on these Plus bikes because of the low air pressures the tires run at. Something in the neighborhood of 10-12 psi is no problem.

project-27plus-complete-15 project-27plus-complete-14

Mounted up on the front of the Hayduke is the new 27.5 Manitou Magnum Pro fork, purpose built for Plus bikes with 110 mm hub spacing and room for up to a 3.4-inch tire. With the Dorado air spring it has tons of adjustment including high and low speed compression, rebound damping, even air volume. Tying the two 35 mm legs together is the Hex Lock QR15 axle, which takes some practice to use quickly but stays super secure.


Manitou’s sister brands contributed the finishing kit. The brakes are the new Hayes Radar model that uses mineral oil instead of DOT fluid and can be flipped upside down for easy changes between regular and moto braking. (Demo truck drivers must LOVE these.)

project-27plus-complete-8 project-27plus-complete-7

Answer Components supplied the Carbon SL bars, AME stem, grips and Rove R2 pedals.


Finally, propelling things is the Hope crankset. Like most Hope products it’s CNC’d from aluminum in the UK then given the anodized treatment, in this case the “gunsmoke” finish. The direct mount chainring features the now ubiquitous narrow/wide tooth profile, and it can be removed and replaced with an optional spider for a bolt-on, double chainring option. It fits the BB92 bottom bracket with a 30 mm spindle that has an expanding spline that won’t wear down after repeatedly installing and removing the crankarm, ensuring a tight fit every time.


We’re going to be evaluating each of these products for a long-term review as well as using the bike as a test bed of sorts for future Plus products. What kinds of things would you like to see evaluated?Have questions about the build? Let us know in the comments.



WTB introduces new grip/handlebar fitting

Standards. The word has little meaning in the bicycle world anymore as companies continue to reinvent the proverbial wheel in search of better performance. The new line of PadLoc grips from WTB mount to a special handlebar (or modified handlebar) and eliminate rotating or slipping thanks to the integrated subframe.


Basically the system works by lopping off an angled portion of the handlebar where the stresses are minimal and using the flat surface to prevent rotation. The extra depth of the grip material adds to comfort too, WTB says. The brand says it was prompted to design the interface after its professional team riders were experiencing grips slipping during the most crucial moments of their races.

There are two ways to run the new PadLoc grips: Park Tool has introduced the SGI-7, a fitting for the existing adjustable saw guide that allows shop mechanics to modify existing handlebars. SRAM has also introduced PadLoc compatible versions of the 750 mm Jerome Clementz signature carbon fiber handlebar and a 780 mm aluminum Boobar. Both models ship with the grips already installed.


WTB will offer six different versions of the PadLoc grips, each in different colors and each selling for $34.95 when they go on sale in September. There is a 28 mm Thinline version, a 30 mm standard version, a 33 mm clydesdale version, plus a winged version called Wingnut and an ergonomic version called Ace. Finally, the standard version will also be available for SRAM GripShift users.

What’s your take? A problem solver or a solution in search of a problem? Do your grips slip? Let us known in the comments.


Project 27plus Part 2 – WTB Trailblazer 2.8 tires

By this point you’ve likely heard plenty of watercooler chatter (both excitement and complaining) about the latest crop of bikes with 27.5 wheels and tires ranging from 2.8 to 3.5 inches wide. If you’re looking for some backstory, check out Part 1 of this occasional series.

Here at Dirt Rag we’ve only had some short demo rides on these bikes at all, so we’re not prepared to pass judgement on any of them in particular—or the trend as a whole—but we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.


In installment I’m going to look at the WTB Trailblazer 2.8 tire that kicked things off in the public eye last year when it debuted on the Rocky Mountain Sherpa prototype. We mounted up a pair to some of WTB’s own Scraper rims that have an internal width of 45 mm and seal with the excellent TCS tubeless system.


It’s so good, in fact, that in order to measure these tires I taped over the rim’s valve holes, mounted the tire and stuck a tubeless valve in. When I inflated it with a floor pump the beads snapped into place and the tire stayed inflated without any sealant in it for at least 36 hours. I wouldn’t recommend running these tires without sealant, but it was really impressive to see how well the TCS bead interface works.


Just like in Part 1 I wanted to see just how big these tires are in the real world. I grabbed the Feedback Sports calipers to find out. Mounted on the Scraper rim the Trailblazer measured 70.6 mm at the casing and 59.6 mm at the tread. The tread has a square profile, with the casing actually measuring out a bit wider than the tread. The sidewalls are much taller than a standard tire too. Flattened out and measured from bead to bead they are 170 mm, compared to 160 mm for a WTB Riddler 2.4 tire I measured.


Just as with the Panaracer tires I measure in Part 1, the rim makes a huge difference in the width of the tire. Mounted on a standard 21 mm rim the Trailblazers measured just 2.2 inches wide at the tread. They easily fit in a standard 27.5 frame and fork, but because the sidewall is so much taller I can’t guarantee they will ride very well.


The Trailblazer, left, next to a 2.3 Trail Boss 29er tire. You can see how much taller the sidewalls are.

One of the key arguments for the 27plus “movement” is that the wheel and tire’s diameter is very close to that of a 29er. In reality, these tires are a bit smaller. The 29×2.3 WTB Trail Boss pictured here measured 74.17 cm in diameter, while the Trailbazer is at 72.7 cm. It may not seem like a lot, but it is enough to drop your bottom bracket almost a centimeter if mounted in a 29er frame. Trust me, that’s a lot.

The 29er tire is still a bit taller than the 27plus Trailblazer.

The 29er tire is still a bit taller than the 27plus Trailblazer.

Speaking of, there’s really no guarantee that these tires are going to fit in existing 29er frames as many have championed. Neither tire is even close to fitting in my Santa Cruz Highball, though they both fit in an On One Parkwood frame I tried. Just as a lot of folks were shoving 27.5 wheels in bikes designed for 26-inch a few years back, I think there will be some experimentation and trial-and-error involved here, plus lists of “compatible” frames popping up in forums online.


Some tires lined up for comparison, from left: A 26×3.8 Surly Nate on an 80mm rim, the 27.5×2.8 Trailblazer on a 45mm rim, the 27.5×3.5 Panaracer Fat-B-Nimble on a 45mm rim and a 29×2.3 WTB Trail Boss on a 21mm rim.

Which brings us to the Boost system. The new, wider hubs and forks now coming to market are designed to accommodate these larger tires, as are many new frames.

Will the 27plus trend stick around in the long run? We’ll have to wait and see.



2015 Sea Otter tech roundup – Part 3



Subaru is one of the key sponsors of Sea Otter and it had a collection of vintage cars and bikes in its booth. It’s amazing how dated the mountain bikes look but the car from the same era seems commonplace.





The new GA1 grip from Ergon has been hugely popular, both with enduro racers and casual mountain bikers. Now it’s shape has trickled down into a less expensive version called the GA2. Plus it comes in a ton of colors.





Founded as a motorsports helmet company, Lazer put its know-how into the revised Phoenix+ full face. Weighing less than 1,000 grams it retails for just $99.





Hailing from Andorra, Max Commencal’s brand is making a big push into the U.S. with its consumer-direct sales model.  The Meta HT AM hardtail is an aggressive trail bike with a big 150 mm fork and 27.5 wheels. With the dropper post and Pike fork it retails for $2,229.


As bike parks grow in popularity, providing a safe place for kids to push their skills, pint-sized gravity bikes are improving to keep up with them. The Supreme 20 is no toy, and it’s reflected by its $1,799 price tag.





Another consumer-direct brand, Mongoose is moving up-market, with nicer and nicer bikes. The Argus expert bumps up to 4.5 tires on 100 mm rims and adds a RockShox Bluto suspension fork. It’s price competitively at $1,799.


The Ruddy Expert is a new 27plus bike with the new Manitou Magnum fork and 27.5 x 2.8 WTB Trailblazer tires. It’s right in the heard of the “plus” market at $1,999.


The Selous is an all-purpose adventure/gravel/cyclocross bike with Shimano’s awesome hydraulic brakes. The carbon fork has the new 12 mm thru-axle that we’re likely to see adopted for road and cyclocross, so it’s ahead of the curve on compatibility. It retails for $1,899.





One of the few eyewear companies that is independently owned, Tifosi has introduced a creative Interchance system that allows the same arms to attached to different lenses and frames for a switchable look. For example, you can use the frameless shield lens for riding then switch the arms over to the full frame lenses for casual use. It’s available in all sorts of frame, arm and lens combinations too with prices from $99 to $149.





Known for its high performance race shoes, the newest Italian kicks sport a much more relaxed attitude. The MTB Epic has the same fit and feel as Sidi’s other shoes but pairs it with a lace-up upper and a softer, rubber outsole.


This looks like a great option for touring, bikepacking, or any ride where you might have to scramble off the bike.





We just got our hand on our first set of WTB’s 2.8 Trailblazer tires, which were on many of the “plus” bikes at the show, and in the WTB booth we spied this prototype of a second model, the Bridger. While the Trailblazer was designed for the 29er/27plus conversion, this looks like an all-out mid-fat specific tire with much more volume. Watch for more when it becomes available.


Keep reading

Move on to Part 4 of our coverage from Sea Otter 2015.



Inside Line: WTB adds more 27.5+ tires and rims, plus new lightweight saddle

WTB was one of the first out of the gate with products in the new 27.5+ category, specifically rims and tires for a 27.5×3.0 (or so) wheel and tire combo.

The new Bridger 3.0 27.5+ is aimed squarely at the aggressive trail and enduro market, and should pair up nicely with the Fox 34 released last week. But what bike will it fit on? We expect there to be some options soon.


The tread pattern looks like a mix of some old and new WTB designs, with big aggressive blocks across the entire tread. There will be at least two versions of this tire, TCS Light and TCS Tough. The $68 Light version rolls quickly and weighs in at a claimed 1,235 grams, the $77 Tough tire is a high traction compound and weighs 1,510 grams. With some of the current 27.5+ tires weighing in at under 1,000 grams, it is good to see WTB stepping up with a Plus size tire that should be able to stand up to aggressive riding on difficult terrain.

The bad news about these tires? The are expect to show up in dealers in August, 2015. Bummer.

Also new are three new rims; the carbon fiber Ci24, the Asym i29 and Asym i35. Just like WTB’s other rims, these are named after their internal (inside the rim, bead to bead) measurement, a simple solution that makes a lot of sense.


THe Ci24 has been under development for years, going through five iterations before coming to market. Standout features are WTB’s TCS tubeless profile and 4D spoke hole drilling. TCS (Tubeless Compatible System) is WTB’s own version of the ETRTO (The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) tubeless system. It combines specific shapes for the bead hook, the tire bead and rim profile to allow inflation with a floor pump, easy installation and removal, and extremely secure tire to rim interface. The 4d drilling is a combination of angled drilling and internal chamfers at the spoke holes to keep the spokes aligned, preventing binding. This in turn creates a wheel with more even tension and less trouble down the road with broken nipples and spokes.

Available in 29 and 27.5 sizes, the Ci24 should be ready to go in June. Weights are targeted at 414 grams for 27.5 and 420 grams for 29, both sizes are $550, per rim.

The two new aluminum rims, the Asym i35 and Asym i29, will compliment the current Scraper i45 rim. These new rims will allow consumers (or product managers) to fine tune Plus size tire width to fit within the constraints of current frame designs—that is, fit a 25.7+ wheel and tire in an existing or modified 29er frame.


The Asym i29 and i35 will probably see use on plenty of non-Plus size bikes as well, as the wider rims become more en vogue for standard tire sizes as well. The asymmetric rim profile evens out the unequal tension caused by uneven hub flange spacing. More even spoke tension means a stronger wheel can be built with a lighter rim. There are slimmer versions of this rim already showing up on 2015 bikes from companies such as Santa Cruz.

These rims use the same TCS and 4d drilling technologies as the Ci24 rims, but are made from WTB’s strongest aluminum alloy, WT69, and are marketed for all mountain and enduro use. Both rims are available in 29 or 27.5, at $90 and $85, respectively.


Finally, the new SL8 saddle might be just the ticket for riders looking for the lightest of the lightweight saddles, but still desire all day comfort. With a shape reminiscent of both the widely-loved Volt and Silverado saddles, the SL8 weighs as little as 146 grams for the $250 carbon model. Less expensive version start at $120. Look for the SL8 in dealers starting in June.


Introduction to Project 27Plus – WTB Scraper rims and Panaracer Fat B Nimble tires

If the past decade is any indication, there may soon be as many tire sizes as there are gears in a cassette (though that is also growing year after year). 26 is too small. 29 is too big. 3.7 isn’t fat enough. 4.8 is too fat. Where will it end?

Perhaps it never will, but Dirt Rag has a long history of experimenting with new wheel and tire sizes, from 26/24 combos, through early 29ers, and onto one of the first 27.5 bikes.

Rocky Mountain Sherpa

Our first introduction to 27Plus came in the form of the Rocky Mountain Sherpa displayed at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic. Based on a Rocky Mountain Element full suspension 29er, it was outfitted with a set of super wide 27.5 wheels with big 2.8-inch tires from WTB. The wider and taller tires have roughly the same diameter as a 29-inch wheel, so it was able to fit in the Element’s frame and fork.

Fast forward a year and a the WTB Scraper rims and Trailblazer tires are headed to a bike shop near you soon, and a few other brands have followed suit with tires that fall somewhere between a “normal” size and a full fat bike.

We got our hands on a set of the WTB Scraper rims with an internal width of 45 mm—that’s twice as wide as a traditional rim. Built with the same double wall construction as WTB’s other popular TCS rims, it promises to be a simple tubeless setup when the tires become available.

Panaracer's Fat B Nimble tires will be available in 26x4, 29x3 and 27.5x3.5.

Panaracer’s Fat B Nimble tires will be available in 26×4, 29×3 and 27.5×3.5.

In the meantime, we also received a set of Panaracer’s new Fat B Nimble tires in 27.5×3.5. Eager to get this project started, I mounted them to the Scraper rims before the wheels have even been built. One of the key steps in this project is seeing how they will work with existing components, so we haven’t yet decided on which hubs to build them with. Out of the box the pair weighed in at 693 grams and 673 grams, so their weight is significantly lighter than fat bike tires and competitive with many cross-country tires.

First we mounted them up on the Scraper rims and grabbed the Feedback Sports calipers: Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5×3.5 on WTB Scraper rim (45 mm internal width) measured 71 mm wide and 73.3 cm in diameter.

UPDATE: Since I first posted this story the Fat-B-Nimbles have stretched out a noticeable amount. They now measure 74.3 mm wide.

Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5x3.5

If that seems small, it’s because it is—71 mm is about 2.8 inches, well short of the 3.5 inches marked on the sidewall:


Up against a normal 27.5 wheel and tire, however, they are quite a bit larger. A Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5×2.35 on a Easton Haven rim measured 57.5 mm wide and 71.4 cm in diameter.


27.5 Schwalbe Hans Dampf left, Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5×3.5 right.

So how does it compare to the other “mid-fat” size? I grabbed a 29×3 Surly Knard mounted on a Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX rim (25.5 mm internal width). It measures 73 mm wide and 77.4 cm in diameter:

Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5x3.5 vs. Surly Knard 29x3.

Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5×3.5 vs. Surly Knard 29×3.

For the sake of comparison, we also installed the Hans Dampf on the Scraper rim and the Fat B Nimble on an Easton Haven rim (21 mm internal width):

  • Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5×3.5 on Easton Haven rim: 65 mm wide, 72.5 cm in diameter
  • Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5×2.35 on WTB Scraper rim: 67 mm wide, 71.6 cm in diameter

As you can see from the numbers, the rim makes a bigger difference in the tire’s ultimate width, though it also dramatically changes the shape of the Hans Dampf, creating a flatter, more square profile than it was likely designed for. The Fat B Nimble is also much taller.

The Fat B Nimble is also far from optimal on the smaller rim, with its profile rounding off so far that the side knobs become essentially useless. However it did fit easily in a 27.5 Fox 34 fork when mounted on the smaller rim, and I have no doubt it will fit on the larger rim as well.

Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5x3.5 tire, Easton Haven rim, and 27.5 Fox 34 fork.

Panaracer Fat B Nimble 27.5×3.5 tire, Easton Haven rim, and 27.5 Fox 34 fork.

So what’s next? Step two is getting the Scraper rims laced up and see which bikes the wheels will fit in. A 29er with good tire clearance should be no problem. Will he bigger tires on a smaller rim perform well on the trail? That’s what we hope to find out. Stay tuned.



WTB releases new Nano 40c gravel adventure tires


WTB released a new, gravel-specific tire named the Nano 40c today at Quality Bicycle Products’ Frostbike product expo. The tire employs a high volume 40mm casing, rounded profile, and centerline tread pattern designed for speed, consistency, and ample cushioning aimed at the rapidly emerging gravel market.

WTB says they were inundated with requests for a gravel racing tire at the 2013 Frostbike show and decided to use the classic Nano tread as a starting point.

Ultra endurance athlete, Jay Petervary spent time on early prototype tires and was impressed with the speed and comfort the tires provided, having initially requested something in the 35c range. To further the Nano’s racing credibility, WTB will be sponsoring the Trans Iowa gravel race in late April as well as Jay Petervary’s own Fall Gravel Backyard Pursuit with Nano 40c Race tires.

WTB Nano 40c tires will be available in Race and Comp versions starting April of 2014. Nano 40c Race tires will feature a folding Aramid bead, Lightweight Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh in at 470g, and retail for $49.95. Nano 40c Comp tires will feature a wire bead, Durable Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh 550g, and retail for $31.95.

WTB also wanted to give a shout-out to Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, California as well as Sean Walling of Soulcraft in Petaluma, California for their invaluable input and insight into the design and creation of the WTB Nano 40c tire.

Back to Top