Review: WTB’s Traction Enforcing Vigilante Tire

WTB Vigilante 650B Tire Tread (2)
No matter how nice the build kit, a bike’s performance can be undermined by tire selection. Too little tread and you’ll push in corners, too much and you’ll push uphill, so finding that happy medium is essential.

We’ve learned this lesson time and time again unboxing review bikes. Consumers want light, so many manufacturers skimp on grip, in order to claim a weight on their website.

In order to get accurate impressions of these bikes, I frequently swap out at least the front tire for something more aggressive, and recently the tire I’ve been reaching for has been the WTB Vigilante. Find out why after the break.

WTB Vigilante Weight

The Vigilante is available in 26″, 27.5″, and 29″ versions. It’s  an All Mountain tire, so it is only sold in a 2.3″ wide version.

WTB does offer two versions. The TCS (tubeless compatible system) has a dual DNA compound, with a 60a top, and 50a base. The race oriented team edition utilizes their Gravity casing which has a 45a top and 60a base, paired with a tougher sidewall that features their cut-resistant Silver Lining. Prices start at $64.95 for the TCS model and tops out at $79.95 for the Team Issue.

The weight is not light when compared to the faster wearing options from Schwalbe, but are competitive with similar offerings from Maxxis. Our 27.5″ TCS tire came in at 835 g on the scale, which is 45 g over the claimed 790 g weight. The Team Issue should tip the scale at 985 g, but in my experience WTBs claimed tire weights are not always very accurate.

WTB Vigilante 650B Tire Tread (1)

The tread pattern is wide with siped square lugged knobs that shed mud well, and really dig in on loose terrain.

WTB Vigilante Sidewall

The casing on the TCS model tested is not as rugged as that found on the Team Edition, but we had no issues with torn sidewalls, and the tires didn’t squirm or burb under hard cornering.

WTB Vigilante Tire Tread Pattern

As a front tire, traction is on par with perennial favorites like the Maxxis High Roller 2, but they’re a bit faster rolling than more downhill specific tires. The well spaced knobs also offered predicable traction when cornering and could be leaned over aggressively without breaking loose.

Hitting the brakes hard on steep chutes, the tires offered solid breaking performance, and didn’t cause the front end to slide. Running a set of these tires front and rear did feel like overkill on everything but the burliest of trail bikes, particularly going up hill, but offered nothing but smiles when squaring up berms.

We have had several of these tires on rotation throughout the past year and wear life for the harder TCS compound appears to be good. While some of the knobs have begun to show wear from hard cornering and breaking, none have ripped off.

Due to superb traction, stiff sidewalls, and mid pack rolling resistance, the WTB Vigilante tire has found itself a treasured home in our tire farm. On bikes with 5″+ of travel, it offers a great balance between performance and wear life. Heavier riders in rocky terrain who are looking for the utmost in reliability might want to consider the burlier sidewalls and sticker compound of the Team Edition tire, but everyone else should find something to love about the base level TCS version.

WTB 

Comments

liljoe - 08/07/14 - 2:28pm

BEST TIRES EVER. Running the team issue front and rear and it will be hard for me to go with any other tire out there right now.

Superstantial - 08/07/14 - 2:36pm

This is a really useful review. Thanks. Was thinking about giving these a shot and now will go for the Team version.

Von Kruiser - 08/07/14 - 3:23pm

Is the front tire on backwards? It’s hard to tell these days with all the different designs. .. thanks.

MikeeP - 08/07/14 - 4:04pm

Ran one of these on the rear at an enduro at the weekend. Great for straight line traction in mud. I was climbing some tricky climbs no problem.

However, any sign of braking whilst off-camber or trail braking in corners would cause the tire to brake away quite violently. Pressures were good at around 25. Changed to DHR II on race day. Much more predictable.

Andy G - 08/08/14 - 4:32am

Been running these most of the summer up front, in a 29er TCS standard version (i.e. not the AM), having moved from High Roller II. I’ve been very impressed with them in most conditions, and they do roll significantly quicker than the HR2 that was on before.

But – I have found that they aren’t the most confidence inspiring in dry and loose conditions – definitely experienced what MikeeP had. That said – dry, loose trails can be like riding on ball bearings on any tyre!

However, in tackier & loamy conditions, they are pretty amazing. The relatively rounded profile gave nice constant grip in corners, but didn’t get the sketchiness that I normally experience on round profile tyres. I’m normally into more squared shoulder type tyres – i.e. Minion and high roller 2, but these are a real nice balance between the two.

They set up tubeless amazingly easily too.

@Von Kruisre – yep, tyre is the correct way around in the photo – but you definitely won’t be the first person to question it – many of my riding pals have!

John - 08/08/14 - 5:24am

Any thoughts on how they compare to the similar looking hans dampf?

Jon Palmer - 08/08/14 - 7:10pm

@John
Faster rolling, a little less grip, longer lasting.

PR - 08/08/14 - 9:20pm

@Mikeep
That would be because WTB put the side knobs on crooked for some reason, unlike Maxxis.

adam - 08/11/14 - 12:09pm

So, is this just a rebranded Nevegal but 10 years later and a bit updated?

Adam Smith - 08/20/14 - 5:43pm

Tires all start to look alike. Lots of brands have a 2-3 lug pattern in the center and lugs at the sides alternating between that center pattern. Hutchinson Squale, Schwalbe Magic Mary, WTB Vigilante.

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