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Attempt at plus-sized tire swings and misses

 

By Reid Wright

 

 

It takes courage and ingenuity to venture into the new frontier of plus-sized mountain bike tires. A plus-sized tire is expected to have the lightweight zippyness of a regular mountain bike tire with the Velcro traction of a fat bike tire. Thus far, manufacturers have mainly gone with thin casings, and low-profile knobs for fast acceleration and low rolling resistance.

Options are especially limited for the 29-plus wheel size. I first went with the jack-of-all-trades Bontrager Chupacabra, which proved to be a solid overall performer. It is not invincible on the sharp rocks however, and I managed to put a half-inch puncture between treads as well as an inch-long tear in the sidewall. The Chupacabra is also a little pricey: retailing for around $120.

Enter the Wilderness Trail Bikes Ranger 29X3.0. This tire is significantly more affordable, retailing for about $70 each. It also has TCS casing and a promising grid tread pattern that performs well on most terrains. The ramped and center-concentrated knobs make it fast-rolling and the outer knobs hook up relatively well on corners.

However, this tire has one fatal flaw: it doesn’t hold air.

wtf

I bought this tire direct from WTB without reading the fine print on their website. Like many, I assume all modern mountain bike tires are tubeless ready. Because tubes suck right?

I set the tire up tubeless using Stan’s sealant – mounting it on my rear wheel. From the beginning, I had trouble getting it to hold air. I dismissed it as a leaky valve stem as I was so excited about having a tire that performed nearly as well as the Chupacabra for almost half the price.

After having to re-inflate the tire for every ride, I decided it was time to change the sealant, which had all but dissipated from inside the tire. I washed the tire and put in 3 ounces of sealant (my standard for 29-plus). After inflation, this is what I saw:

sweat-beads

Sealant and air were bubbling out the abrasions in the sidewall. I went to the WTB website seeking a replacement only to find in the warranty microprint:

“WTB tires are designed to be used with tubes, unless specified as UST compatible. Use of sealant/tubeless conversion kits will void all warranty.”

 

Well poop. Since then, I’ve been through tubes like toilet paper and flatting weekly in the sticker-infested Southwest. WTB advertises the Ranger as a bike-packing tire. But I wouldn’t take it far into the wilderness knowing that I’m a sticker and a pinch-flat away from being stranded.

Moral of the story: Don’t buy this tire unless you want to put a tube in it.

In addition, the treads on this tire wore down a bit faster than the Chupacabra, which I continue to run up front.

grid

With some thicker casing and a tubeless-specific design in future models, this tire could be great. But I will not be buying another one any time soon.

I will continue my quest to find an ideal tire for the 29X3.0 wheel size and keep you posted.

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4 Comments

  1. Hello. Which version of a tire did you get? My friend took 27,5+ wtb TRAILBLAZER all is well.

    • It was the WTB Ranger 29X3.0 TCS light/fast – which is now Swiss cheese. Went back to the Chupacabra until they come out with something better.

  2. Doesn’t TCS mean that the tires are UST compatible? http://www.wtb.com/pages/tcs “TCS tires combine WTB’s lightweight race casing with a sealant tubeless, UST compliant bead. Those seeking extra durability can go with our TCS Tough tires for thicker casings.”

    • I don’t know Jeremy. WTB may have resolved this issue since the time this post was published and may have updated their website as well. I’d welcome any information or updates you’re able to find.


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