At a glance
The WTB Judge and Vigilante tires are WTB’s most aggressive tread pattern tires in their MTB range. They are available in 27.5 and 29’’ (tested) and aimed at the Enduro / Gravity rider. Both tires are equipped with Tritec Compound and TCS Casing. Price: Vigilante 79,95 USD / Judge 87,95 USDBuy Tyres on
About the brand
WTB stands for Wilderness Trail Bikes, and is one of the oldest brands in MTB history. Founded in 1982 when Mark Potts, Charlie Cunningham and Mark Slate combined their powers to create better products for riding bikes off road. The team started off designing products that then were licenced to various other brands.
Examples of technology developed by WTB that were produced under license include designs for tires made by Specialized Bicycle Components, the Blackburn B-52 water bottle cage, geometry for the 1987 Trek Bicycle Corporation mountain bike line and the use of Greaseguard in the top-end Suntour XC Pro component group.They were the first to launch a 29’’ MTB tire back in 1999, so they know their thing when it comes to designing rubber.
In 2002 Cunningham and Potts left the company, leaving Mark Slate as the only founding member active in the company. Around that time, they started to become a big OEM supplier to many big brands like Marin, Gary Fisher etc. Currently they have a big range of saddles, tires, rims, wheels, tubeless fluid and grips for the road, off road and gravel market.
Although their website doesn’t mention a specific sustainability practice or goals, they are heavily involved with trail advocacy, supporting several organizations. More info on that here on their website: https://www.wtb.com/pages/advocacy
The WTB tires have a lot of tech in them and they offer the option of a high grip softer compound, or a fast rolling harder compound and two different sidewall strengths TCS Tough or TCS Light. All of their tires are tubeless ready, and use a triple density rubber compound for optimal grip, rolling resistance and durability.
Lets kick off with the Vigilante, their front tire and a long time WTB classic. Available in a big range of different sizes (2.5 , 2.6 and 2.8) in both 27,5 and 29’’ diameters. We gave the TCS Light 2.5 version a try, which put 1099 grams on our scale.
On the rear we mounted the Judge, a big knobbed tire with horizontal blocks aimed at tons of traction. Although presented as a rear tire, I suspect it would work really well as a front tire too, especially when things get steep and you’re looking for ways to slow down. Contrary to the Vigilante, the Judge is only available in 27,5 or 29’’ versions, with the High Grip / Tough TCS compound. Our 29’’ High Grip version weighed in at 1290 grams.
Out on the trail
Mounting the tires was a bit of a wrestling match, even on the WTB wheelset (which we’ll review in the next issue of IMB). Once on however, sealing them was a breeze and even with a minimal amount of sealant they kept pressure for several weeks.
Trail conditions were unexpectedly mostly dry, something you wouldn’t expect in winter. We did have the chance to try them in the muck. Now with big bulky knobs like this, the rolling resistance is noticeable on asphalt and hardpack terrain especially since we opted for the high grip versions. That said, it’s not as bad as you would expect. The rear tire has a nice rounded edge on the center knobs, minimizing drag when going straight. You won’t be hitting any KOM’s on the uphill but once things start pointing down however…
Here the WTB tires are really in their element, offering a ridiculous amount of grip. Slippery off camber grass were not a problem at all and the flatter tire profile means you need to lean less to reach the side knobs. This also means you don’t have that scary feeling when leaning the bike over that some tires might give you, when you really have to lean hard to reach those side knobs.
When the trails dried out, they remained as some of my favorite tread designs with their predictable character. These tires really shine when things get steep, offering a lot of speed control on all types of terrain. While aimed at the loamier soil conditions, the knobs did not ‘roll’ on hardpack and rocky conditions, keeping with their predictable character.
The tough casing on the rear provided a lot of support, allowing tire pressures of around 22 PSI without a problem. The wide profile WTB CZR rims gave the tires a wide and flat profile, preventing tire roll when you started to push hard in the corners.
WTB struck gold once again with a very predictable and reliable tire. If you like tons of grip and ride steep stuff, this setup will really put a smile on your face.Buy Tyres on
This review was in Issue 69 of IMB.For more information visit WTB
By Jarno HooglandJarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.