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www.vitalmtb.com

WTB Vigilante Tires

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We wrapped our 29-inch rims with some relatively new WTB rubber for this test. Up front we ran the WTB TCS Vigilante 2.5 Light / High Grip, and out back we slapped on the TCS Trail Boss 2.4 Tough / Fast Rolling tire. The Pivot Firebird 29 was our chassis of choice for this review, and the tires were subjected to over 400 aggressive miles in all weather conditions with terrain ranging from lift laps to long trail days. Find out how the tires held up to our long-term abuse.

  • Both the tires really bite in at aggressive lean angles
  • They handle a pretty wide variety of trail types and conditions
  • The TCS casings are sturdy. No need for hesitation charging that rocky section!
  • Fast-rolling, yet aggressive tread patterns
  • Well-positioned knobs clear debris and grip in softer conditions
  • Good braking
  • Very flat resistant

  • Easy tubeless setup with just a floor pump, yet still easy to mount
  • A bit porky for trail tires
  • Knobs would fold under really hard cornering
  • Undercutting on side knobs happened pretty quick on both compounds, reducing performance on rocky and hardpack terrain.
  • “Fast Rolling” means harder rubber, and our Trail Boss tended to lose some chunks in harsher terrain.
  • The Trail Boss allows a little wheel spin under power.
  • 60 TPI casings are not as compliant as higher TPI count tires.
  • Trail Boss 2.4 is a pretty narrow 2.4

Highlights

  • TCS tubeless ready
  • Available in one-ply (Light) and two-ply (Tough) casings
  • Available in many compound combinations to suit any rider in any terrain
  • Available in almost all sizes including 26, 27.5 and 29-inch (sorry 24-inch wheel Big Hit owners :)
  • Vigilante Weight: 1,192g (2.6 lbs, 2.5-inch Light / High Grip)
  • Trail Boss Weight: 1,195g (2.6 lbs, 2.4-inch Tough / Fast Rolling)
  • MSRP as tested: $83.95 (Vigilante) and $79.95 (Trail Boss) // Many additional pricing options based on construction.

Initial Impressions

Right out of the packaging these WTB tires look aggressive. We immediately started fantasizing about the carve marks they were going to put in the dirt. There is a noticeable heft to them, but that meant we did not feel the need to add a CushCore or Huck Norris tire insert just to finish a ride without a flat. A little bit of heft is worth something if we can avoid a flat tire. Similarly-priced Maxxis EXO casings and some other trail tires we’ve been riding and testing definitely need a little help from the inside to prevent pinch flats, so the stout impression was a highlight if it carried over on the trail.

WTB Trail Boss 2.4 x 29
WTB Vigilante 2.5 x 29

Mounting the tires up was easy and both tires seated on the first try to our DT Swiss M1700 30mm inner width rims. We set them up with 25psi in the Vigilante 2.5 up front and 27psi in the Trail Boss 2.4 on the rear. These are familiar pressures that have been giving us a good balance of compliance and stability in most situations with most tires.

On The Trail

Out on the trail, the WTB tires provided predictable grip and a lot of it. Over the course of three months of solid testing and many different trails and types of terrain, we were impressed with the grip and confidence the tires provide.

The tall and aggressive cornering knobs looked like they were going to squirm and fold under pressure, but they did not. That is until they started to wear. There was a noticeable degradation in the cornering support that came on pretty quickly once the knobs started to undercut. The worn tires were still predictable and good in softer conditions, but they were much less confidence inspiring on rock and packed surfaces.

WTB Trail Boss 2.4 x 29
WTB Vigilante 2.5 x 29

Throughout this test period, we only had one flat tire. The flat was well-deserved, and we would wager almost any "trail" tire would have flatted under the circumstances. It was a classic sharp-rock hit resulting in a center tread casing cut. We have to mention it, but again, this flat was not caused by a weakness in the Trail Boss. The tire even finished the ride.

The Tough / Fast Rolling two-ply casing and compound was provided for our Trail Boss tire that we dutifully mounted on the rear as WTB recommended. WTB is not at all wrong when they say “Fast Rolling.” This tire is fast. But with speed came a firmer compound in the tread. It’s great for tire wear, but not so great for climbing grip. We noticed an increase in wheel spin on technical climbs and high torque situations with this tire compared to our more recent experience with Maxxis, Vittoria, and others. The pro is that the rear tire still looks like it has life left in it after a lot of miles.

The Light / High Grip one-ply Vigilante was placed up front to keep us pointed in the right direction. This tire was still pretty fast rolling, even with the taller, blockier treads and the softer compound. The harder it was pushed, the better and more predictable the bite was. If it lacked anywhere, it is in the transition from the straights to the corners. That moment right as you dive into the corner, just before the aggressive side knobs really get into the action. There seems to be a little dead space in the grip right at that transition. But if you trust the tire, you will be rewarded with dirt in your shoe.

We keep going back to the tread marks in the dirt and shoes filled with roost, and can’t help but crack a little smile. These are great aggressive trail and enduro tires. If you don't mind replacing them a little more regularly to keep them sharp, they are excellent in just about any situation.

Things That Could Be Improved

The quick drop in performance when the tires begin to wear is the first thing that comes to mind. The tall, and somewhat narrow, cornering knobs lost a lot of their supportiveness once they started to undercut. On the Trail Boss, especially the “Fast Rolling” compound, a revisit to the center tread to help with climbing grip would be helpful. It was not a bad climber, but as we mentioned, some wheel spin occurred in steeper, looser situations.

Some may wish they were lighter weight, but there is never a perfect answer there. It comes down to a sliding scale between flat resistance and rotating mass. We can’t think of a tire that has found the perfect balance, and that may be because there isn’t really a perfect balance. If these WTB tires were lighter, we would likely want to use a tire insert of some variety for flat protection. While we might save a little weight, we would have added complication, expense, and likely have a less durable sidewall.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're hard on your tires and find yourself changing flats a bunch, if you like to ride and corner aggressively, and if you like the feel of dirt in your shoes, jersey, and shorts from all the roosting, the WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss combo is for you. Just be aware that once they start to breakdown the performance of the tall cornering knobs drops off steeply.

Visit www.wtb.com for more details.

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About The Reviewer

Matt Fisher - Age: 38 // Years Riding 24: // Height: 6’ (1.82m) // Weight: 190lbs (86.12kg)

Matt discovered mountain biking in 8th grade. It was a welcome escape from becoming an overweight, TV-addicted adolescent statistic. After a long, slow climb through the downhill racing ranks as fitness and skills improved, he landed in the Pro class and was able to make a go of it for 8+ years, winning some local and regional races and qualifying to race as pack-fill in the World Cup Series. In addition to a lifetime of riding and racing bikes, he has worked his entire career in the bike industry, starting as a shop rat sweeping floors at age 15. From there he has held jobs as a mechanic, salesperson, sales manager, global warranty manager, tech manual writer, demo team manager and more. Now he is a trail rider who doesn’t turn pedals against the clock very often, instead choosing to spend his time seeking out new trails and adventures wherever he happens to be. He'll never give up on going fast and playing in the margins.

Photos by Michelle Fisher