What are the best tyres? Should I go tubeless? How do you install tubeless with a track pump? These are questions I have asked myself. For the past 15 years of riding numerous bikes, spending a lot of time changing parts, testing out what works and what doesn’t I undoubtedly have my favourite kit and components.
I only test products that I am personally interested in and as I have mentioned in previous posts if I do not like something or it performs badly then I will not review it, it gets sent back to the company with a polite email. This isn’t one of those cycling sites that just reviews anything, I just don’t have the time to review 10 similar products and give them ratings from 1-10. So my solution is to skip to the good bit and only report on products that I would recommend.
This brings me on to Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB), they have been in the industry since 1982, and they are constantly coming up with new designs and innovations to enable their customers to have more fun on two wheels. They recently graced us with some sneaky images of their new Ci24 carbon rims at the NAHBS, these are seriously drool worthy! WTB is a brand that has definitely earn’t my loyalty, since switching to their tyres I have never looked back. When the time comes for a tyre change I don’t spend hours looking through the multitude of manufacturers but I do spend hours on the WTB site choosing my next set of rubber.
WTB are constantly increasing their tyre range, they stock everything from CX to tough all mountain, catering for all wheel sizes, widths and compounds 4 of my bikes are kitted out with WTB tyres. This post will focus on my my 29er, it has WTB Frequency Team i23 rims and 2.3 Vigilante TCS Tyres and it was also was my first experience of tubeless riding.
I read a lot on the internet about how you need a compressor to fit tubeless tyres and after more reading it seemed like a bit of a pfaff, though eventually I stumbled across a post from WTB about installing their TCS tyres only using a floor pump, and by golly it actually worked!
Installing TCS with a floor pump
So for everyone that thinks you need an air compressor to install tubeless tyres; well, you don’t. It’s simple, fit the rim tape, make a slice and insert the valve, and now for the trick; get a sponge and soapy water and just wipe down the beading of the tyre, after you have one side of the tyre on the rim start with the other side, once it is about 2/3 on pour in some sealant and finish putting the bead in place.
Then all you need to do is attach a floor pump (mine is old and crappy and still works for this) and give it a fast pump, it simply pops onto the rim, I’d recommend pumping the tyre up to just under the max the first time as it helps the type bead pop into place, you can then back off to your desired pressure.
Vigilante 2.3 29er
The Vigilante’s are available in different compounds; Gravity DNA, Dual DNA and DNA in 26″ and 650b and Dual DNA and DNA in 29″ and with different sidewall thickness. I’m not going to get all techy and go into all the different compounds and weights etc…I want a tough tyre that will grip in the wettest conditions, I am not concerned about weight I just want durability so I went for TCS Tough (fast rolling), 1151g, Dual DNA, Enduro sidewalls, TCS in 29″.
These are my favourite tyres at the moment, the aggressive square lugged open tread pattern have been designed for riding enduro in Europe. This means they are perfect for the harsh wet British winters, on my rigid 29er and I run these at 20psi and they have taken me down trails that many wouldn’t ride a 29er down. They grip really well in wet slippery mud, and when I say wet I mean that horrible sloppy crap that clogs up your whole bike.
The aggressive tread pattern and angled side knobs allow you to really lean into corners with confidence, what really surprised me was how grippy they were over wet rocks. The ultimate test for any tyre and rider is a off camber wet root section, basically no tyre will grip but some do seem to tackle this better than others I have used. My technique for these sections…well I don’t know if I can call it a technique; I normally try to hit them as fast as possible so I am over them quicker which always results in a few ‘oh shit’ moments. To date the Vigilantes have not let me down on a root section.
The Vigilante’s are the perfect 29er tyre for my style of riding, tough, grippy and easy to install. If you want to ride rugged terrain and in extreme conditions then they are the tyre for you. They are wide at 2.3 and are heavy so I wouldn’t really say they are for light XC use. But if you want a tyre that can handle anything then these are definitely worth a look, I like them so much they are also on my all mountain bike in 650b, stay tuned for more on that at a later date. To summarise; if you ride aggressive terrain and want a tough 29er tyre that grips in even the wettest conditions, holds well on corners, over rocks and roots then you should definitely check out the Vigilantes.