Silver Mountain Resort, tucked away in North Idaho (or as we non-locals call it, the Idaho Panhandle), is WTB’s choice of dirt to unveil the company’s new aggressive trail tires. North Idaho doesn’t sound quite as odd once you figure in that Clayton Wangbichler, public relations and content editor for WTB calls the area home and Silver Mountain Resort just so happened to be the next stop for the Northwest Cup downhill series.
The bike park offers 39 trails, most of which are in the mid-tier skill level, with plenty of go-arounds and a 3,400 vertical foot descent. Oh, and you can pick yourself some wild huckleberries near the top.
The primary upgrade to the company’s new line of aggressive trail tires is the redesign from a 23mm internal rim to a more modern 29mm internal rim width. Additionally, WTB has added more voluminous sizes for the Vigilante and Trail Boss as well as creating a brand new all-conditions rear gravity tire called the Judge.
With the exception of the WTB Judge, the WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss are available in two casing options, TCS Tough and TCS Light. Respectively, the TCS Tough utilizes a double layer of the casing for added protection all around the tire while the TCS light now offers increased sidewall protection with a nylon insert along the sidewall called Slash Guard (SG). Since the WTB Judge was designed as a rear gravity tire it is only available in the TCS Tough casing.
All three tires feature the company’s new TriTec compound. The triple compound will now be offered on all new mountain tires and allow WTB to improve the characteristics of the High Grip and Fast Rolling tire constructions for optimized durability, support, and traction based on the construction.
The WTB Vigilante is designed as an aggressive front tire but works just as well in the back if traction were to supersede rolling resistance. After using the Vigilante front/rear on some of the World Enduro Series courses, WTB athlete Marco Osborne stated: “It’s a badass all-around tire.”
After a full day’s worth of descending with the Vigilante steering my ship, I agree it’s one heck of a tire. WTB added a little height to the side knobs from the prior generation, which provides a really nice profile as well as moves the intermediate knobs further out for improved cornering. The Vigilante side knobs didn’t require quite the commitment that other tires do but if you are comfortable railing the bike deep through corners, it is more than happy to oblige.
As previously mentioned, this is a rear-designed tire available in High Grip or Fast Rolling compounds but only in the TCS Tough casing. The alternating long/wide center tread kept the rear rolling fast while the side knobs dug when the bike was leaned on its edge.
Running this tire throughout the course of the day, it was almost unnoticed, until I would hear a few riders running the Trail Boss talking about a slick spot here or there early on from the prior days’ rain. A slick spot, where? As the day went on, a few of the lower trails on the mountain started to dry up under the hot sun. What was once a solid corner of hero-dirt now transformed into a sketchy loose-over-hard surface where again, I heard some rumblings but I remained confident with the WTB Judge keeping me planted.
Due to my limited flight options from Spokane to Pittsburgh, I was only able to have a single day worth of riding and I fully admit to not wanting to swap out the Judge. Thus, I have not had a chance to ride the WTB Trail Boss yet.
The Trail Boss is the company’s bread and butter trail tire, typically preferred as a rear but could serve as an ideal front tire for that xc/trail bike. WTB mentioned that the knobs are spaced out similar to the Vigilante. They increased the center of knob height by 0.5mm and the side knobs by 1.5mm to help provide a flatter profile.
After some spotty rain here and there the day before, we were left with near perfect dirt conditions. The rain was expected to roll in around lunch-time but we ended up with sunny skies and full day’s worth of incredible dirt, which also makes for difficulties in tire testing. A long-term review of the tires back here in the East is currently underway and we’ve certainly had our fair share of wet weather so it won’t be long before we see how well the tires shed mud.
In addition to some new tires, WTB has also made some updates to the company’s wheel offerings as well. The Tubeless Compatible System (TCS) was developed roughly 8 years ago to help maximize tire and rim sealing. For the last year and a half, WTB has been working to improve on that technology to make it even better in TCS 2.0.
TCS 2.0 Changes
A Solid Strip was created to improve a better seal by adding a recessed channel at the center of the rim for the strip to sit in. The Sold Strip is an 11mm nylon strip that resembles that of the old rim strips that were used back when tubes were king.
Once the Solid Strip is in place, the new super thin and stretchy Flex Tape (tubeless tape) is applied over the strip for a smooth seal. Using the Solid Strip is said to aid in preventing the tape from being punctured by a spoke/nipple as well as providing a consistent surface for the tape to adhere to.
Lastly, all 40-45mm width KOM Light and Tough rims offer a small lip for the inside edge of the tire bead called the Drop Zone. This feature makes it easier to mount and dismount plus sized tires on wide rims.Check out our slideshow of images thanks to Abner Kingman.