With its blocky, motorcycle-inspired tread, it’s safe to call WTB’s original Motoraptor tire a bit of a classic. As ubiquitous as it once was, riders’ tastes, abilities, and expectations change over time and the design was eventually mothballed. A few months back, WTB were in touch with an updated Moto. The revised tire uses stout, well-supported but widely spaced knobs to provide predictable handling on hardpack and rocks while shedding mud in wet conditions. Of course, no modern tire is complete without dual-compound rubber and tubeless compatibility- the tested Moto 2.1 TCSs boast both. After several months on New Mexico’s rocky, loose, loamy, and hard-packed terrain, is the Moto looking like a modern classic or a more of a throwback? Hit the jump to find out!
Mounting the 2.1in Motos to WTB’s Frequency i19 Team rims was a doodle- a couple of scoops of WTB TCS (AKA Stan’s Notubes) sealant and some moderately frantic pumping had the new tires seated. When first mounted, the tires measured at a worrisome 1.9in across- but have since relaxed to a 2in on the narrow-ish (19mm inside) rims. Not a huge volume for a tire designed for “predictable rock handling,” but appropriate for their XC designation. Besides, the Motos somehow feel bigger on the trail. Running pressures in the mid-high 20s–often on quite rocky terrain–I haven’t ever really felt the need for anything bigger.
Whenever reviewing a tire, it’s important to look at its intended use. As promised, the Moto has been impressive on rocky trails. The large-but-shallow knobs don’t squirm like some tires can and the spacing is such that it’s easy to find grip on square-edge steps. The Dual DNA rubber provides good cornering performance without the frightening wear of some brands’ dual compounds- though some undermining of the shoulder knobs suggest that these will be the first to go. When things get wet, the Motos are leagues better than most desert-appropriate tires. They may not be the fastest tires out there, but the WTBs work very well in loam as well.
Where the updated Motos come up short is on loose sand or fine gravel over hardpack. To be fair, few tires excel in these conditions, but a front-mounted Moto will break loose irrecoverably when braking into a loose-over-hard corner. As is often the case, the rear tends to hold on a bit longer and drifts predictably. For that reason, I have been doing most most of my spring riding with the Moto 2.1 on the rear and a WTB Mutano 2.2 on the front. Running a chunkier rear tire with a fine-treaded front is a reversal from how I usually roll- but in this case it works well.
All in all, despite being based on an old design, the Moto is a good all-around trail tire. On the rear, it’s done everything I’ve asked with no surprises. On the front, it works well where it’s meant to (but has given me a couple of scares when out of its element). At 669g (640g advertised), they are on the heavy side for a 2.0 (actual)- but both the knobs and casing have held up well. The $70 retail price is about mid-pack when it comes to tubeless-ready tires (610g tube and 710g wire bead versions are also available). If you’d like a bit more meat, the Moto is also available in a 26×2.3 with WTB’s bombproof TCS All Mountain casing. 29er riders get a 1.9in version, which could be a good non-squirmy choice for race courses with a combination of mud, rocks, and hardpack.