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Attempt at plus-sized tire swings and misses


By Reid Wright



It takes courage and ingenuity to ventureĀ 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.


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:


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.


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.