|My Vulpines are still rolling, but are showing their age!|
I received the set I am still riding on as test tires for Twenty Nine Inches back probably almost ten years ago. I had several tires from WTB to test back then. The Stout, some other all around trail tire I cannot recall the name of, and these XC racing treads. None of the three are still in production, but this tire, The Vulpine, deserves to be.
Oh, I've told WTB. Believe me, they know all about how I feel about this tire. I have said something to them every year for years. But you might wonder, "why", and I am here to tell you! So, let's get into why these tires are so good for gravel riding and why WTB should be making this tire again.
|A very "Terrene Elwood" looking affair, but there is more to this tire than meets the eye.|
The casing is kind of flattish in the middle and then falls away sharply where the bigger tread blocks take over. This made the Vulpine corner oddly on dirt, but on gravel, where high lean angles are rare, it does a great job of keeping the fast part of the tread floating up and over the loose stuff and that contact patch is narrower. More like a 40mm tire.
The shallow tread in the middle is just enough for finer, gritty gravel or fine dirt. But it never slows you down. The casing wasn't fantastic, but it was decent enough. The Vulpine damped vibrations in an average way. Nothing spectacular there. The weight was in the ball park, but I don't have a current figure to share on that. One nit- It it was never offered in a tubeless ready version.
|The Pofahl has had these tires on it pretty much since day one.|
If I Could Change Anything: If the Vulpine were to come back again, I'd obviously want it to be offered in WTB's excellent TCS tubeless ready version with a 120TPI casing in their "TCS Light Casing" technology. Then I would probably tweak those side knobs a bit to optimize them further for gravel. Finally, I'd offer three sizes: 700 X 40, 29" X 2.1", and in WTB's "Road Plus" 650B X 47mm width.
Some might say this tire and the Riddler are almost the same deal, and while that is a fair point, the Vulpine has that unique side treads and the way that the casing is shaped is cool for speedy travel. That may not translate to a 40mm tire though. Too narrow a casing, perhaps.
That's my take on the Vulpine. A great tire for something it was never thought to be designed for in the beginning. I'll have my Vulpines till they are in tatters, which won't be long now! Hopefully I'll find something to work on the Pofahl before long.