WTB Vigilante Tire Review

by Brian Mullin on September 8, 2013

Here was our first introduction to this tire:

April
1, 2013 – Legendary actor and action hero Charles Bronson proclaimed
his love for WTB’s new Vigilante enduro tire Monday after an impromptu
shred fest down Santa Barbara’s Tunnel Trail.  Bronson, best known for
classic action onslaughts Death Wish 1, 2, 3, and 4, AND 5, was on a
great escape from his wife and seven children residing in their mansion
in Los Angeles’ Bel Air neighborhood.

While not one
known for feelings, Bronson was smitten with the handling
characteristics of the new Vigilante tread pattern, “Cornering.  Can’t
get enough of it.  The Vigilante is the judge, the jury and the
executioner.”  When asked about the prospective market for the tire,
Charles couldn’t help but resort to his timeless film adage, “Audiences
like to see bad guys get their comeuppance.”

The WTB Vigilante
is a moderately fat 2.3″ tire, that is sticky, durable and pliable, and
it comes in all the current sizes. It has some impressive
characteristics, including great traction and braking qualities, amazing
adhesion on rock slabs, predictability in any condition or terrain, and
decent rolling and acceleration for a big tire. The combination of the
tough and durable sidewalls and open tread with a soft compound, makes
for an excellent tire for Enduro racing, loose conditions and rocky
infused terrain.

The WTB Vigilante is a 2.3″ Enduro tire, that
comes in 26″, 650b and 29″ sizes. The All Mountain beef Meister uses an
aggressive open block tread design, is TCS (Tubeless Compatible System),
and is available two different compounds, the Dual DNA (all sizes) with
a base of 60a and outer of 50a and the Team Issue Gravity DNA (26 and
650b only) with a base of 60a and softer outer of 45a. The tires have
three different sidewall protection systems; the normal TCS version (all
sizes) gets a tough and protective nylon casing, while the 29er gets an
optional AM version which is reinforced with their Inner Peace rubber
insert for additional abrasion and damage support, and the Team Issue
version (26 and 650b only) gets their ulta tough Enduro casing, which
uses the Inner Peace insert and the cut-resistant Silver Lining. The
tires retail in price from $64.95 to $76.95, depending the chosen model.
I tested the TCS version of the 650b and 29″.

Impressions

My
local testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with
many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an
occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to
enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering
are required and intricate follow-through, and full commitment is
required. This was an unusual year, and the typical dry conditions were
interspersed with lots of moisture, so the tires got lots of wet
condition testing, though no overtly deep mud. I used the tire on my
Ibis Ripley 29er and Mojo HD (650b mode), and although they worked well
on either bike, and I have especially liked them on the 29er. Personal
stats: 5’9″ and 160 lbs.

The Vigilantes are an aggressive All
Mountain design with an open tread pattern and large square lugs, and
the profile measured out to a knob width of 2.34″ and a 2.28″ carcass.
They weighed 870g and 867g for the 650b version, and 816g and 812g for
the 29er, though I am not sure why the 29″ size came in at a lower
weight? They have an alternating set of single and dual knobs down the
center, and one inner shoulder knob between two side ones, and all of
them are deeply sipped. I ran them tubeless, since that is always my
preference for any tire, as it offers a better feel, no pinch flats and
allows lower pressures to be run.

They weren’t difficult to set up
tubeless with my compressor, and though sidewalls were flexible, the
bead was tough to pry onto the rim. I added one mini bottle of sealant
to each tire after the initial inflation to aid with any leaks, and to
make sure it sealed any tire and rim interface issues. I never had any
leakage, loss of air and burping problems while running them tubeless. I
tested the tires with a huge variance of pressures, but found the lower
the better, and tended to keep them at 22 psi, as that’s where they
really started to purr and come to life.

Make no mistake, this is a
big tire that has a large footprint and volume, and along with their
tread design, it gives great traction, braking and cornering on just
about anything, including loose gravel and dirt, in wet or dry
conditions. When you toss the tires deeply over they hook up nicely, and
they love to fly through big berms like they’re on a rail. Even when
the front end would lightly wash out occasionally, it did so in a
predictable manner, and you never felt a loss of control. They roll and
accelerate decently for their size, and they never felt ponderous,
though they definitely aren’t cross-country race machines.

Even
though the tire doesn’t feel that soft, it’s very pliable and
conforming, and when motoring up and down through gnarly terrain,
including ledges, rock gardens, roots and slabs, it offers great
traction and composure and steering. One big highlight is that they
stuck like glue on rock slabs and slick rock, giving one impressive
braking and traction capabilities, even on extremely steep pitches. I
used them in wet sand, gravel and some mud, and they adhered to rocks
and roots without any undue slippage, and they worked especially well on
wet rocks.

I have tossed them into some ugly terrain, everything
from burly rock gardens to bike parks, and I have as yet suffered any
sidewall’s tears or damage. The tread has been very durable, and though
it has some normal wear and tear, no knob has torn off as yet.

Bottom Line

This
is one of my favorite tires of late, and I have used it in technical
rock gardens, long rides, bike parks and Enduro races, and it has always
shone no matter what terrain or condition it was tossed into. Although
the sidewalls seem on the thin side, I never had any issues with tears
or abrasions, and the knobs have been very durable for a meaty and
sticky tire. It rolls decently for such a big tire, though it’s not an
x-country racer. The open tread design and square knobs offer great
traction, braking and cornering, and the pliable, sticky and conformable
rubber compound provides composure, control and steering throughout any
sort of gnarly terrain. Some highlights are the tires amazing glue like
qualities on rock slabs and slick rock, and its predictability, meaning
even when it gets unnerved or washes out, you know what’s going to
happen and can easily regain control.
The WTB Vigilante 2.3″ tire
is sticky, durable and pliable, and its open tread design and square
knobs, along with it large footprint and volume, offer great traction,
braking and cornering.

Pros
  • Superb on slickrock and rock slab
  • Sticky, pliable and conformable tread and knobs
  • Great traction, braking and cornering
  • Durable tread
  • Predictable
  • Large footprint and volume
Cons
  • Just decent rolling resistance and acceleration
  • Front end can wash out on occasion
  • Sidewalls aren’t the stoutest in normal TCS version
Overall Rating

4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: