Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" Tires: Getting Rolling

The WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" tire on the back of my On One Inbred
Note- I don't do 29"er reviews on Riding Gravel, so this is where this is going. Back in the day, this would have been a "Twenty Nine Inches" post. 

All righty then- With that out of the way, I will remind you that a few weeks ago I received a set of WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" tires. The 2.4 inchers are a new width for this model. They existed in narrower 29"er sizes and in "plus" sizes before.

What It Is: The Ranger now sports a new "TriTech" rubber compound which, to simplify things, is essentially a triple compound rubber made with the softer durometer on the edges, the medium softness rubber on top with the harder, stiffer durometer rubber underneath as a supporting mechanism to help prevent knob flex. This helps produce better traction and less drag. The harder rubber actually goes half way into the knobs to really give them support.

The new Ranger also sports "Slash Guard". This is "a protective nylon insert spanning the entire sidewall to provide extra protection without the weight of a dual ply casing." (Quoted from the WTB website there) So, essentially you have a tire for all conditions and general purposes. That's pretty much what WTB says about this Ranger too. It is an "all arounder".

Weights, Widths, And Tubeless Set Up: The Ranger at 2.4" is not an unprecedented width and volume tire. Back in the old 29"er website days, I handled quite a few tires in this size. So, I can say with confidence that the Ranger at 2.4" is a heavy tire. My samples weighed 1030 grams each. In all my time at TNI, (Twenty Nine Inches), I don't think I reviewed but a couple of tires anywhere near that weight. They happened to be WTB dual ply 29"er tires too. Beefy, "All Mountain" types. So, for an "all arounder", this seems a bit much, in my opinion. But......if they are bomber, tough sons a guns, well then.......Maybe that'll be okay with some folks. Me? I think it's a bit too heavy.

The Inbred- Full Monty
Okay, so on to the tubeless set up. The wheels I used here are a unique set up. The front rim is the old Velocity P-35 (35mm outer) and the rear rim is a Velocity Blunt which is a 28mm external width rim. The Blunt, (original, Australian manufactured ones), can be set up tubeless easily with a Bontrager TLR rim strip, which is what I used. The P-35 was set up with standard tubeless tape. Both set up in the expected way with the Rangers. I had a bit of a leak down issue with the front but it eventually resolved. Nothing to do at all with the tire though. Otherwise, these hold air like a champ.

The measurements, as you might expect, are different, but not remarkably so, and not in the way you might think. . The rear measured out at 60.6 mm casing, 61.5mm at the widest point of the knobs. The front measured out at 59.5mm casing and 61.4mm at the widest point of the knobs. Yes, the casing on the narrower rim measured just a tic over 1mm wider. I think this is in part due to how the narrower rim makes the tire more of a "light bulb" shape, in profile than the P-35 does. But whatever the reason, those are the measurements I got. For you metrically challenged folks, that turns out to be about 2.4", or just what WTB claims.

Ride Impressions: With all this high tech, multi-durometer rubber and side shield protection, I wasn't sure what to expect when I rolled out the first time. I didn't feel anything remarkably odd, but I did note that the tire felt well damped and that it rolled smoothly. Actually, for all its tech, width, and knobs, the tire actually rolls better than I would have guessed. Early rides were relegated to my commuting route due to local flooding. I did eventually get out to some dirt though. Throughout this part of the test I used pressures in to 30's from high to low trying different settings. I once rolled these down into the 20's, but I didn't like the feel of the tires at that low a pressure on harder surfaces.

Okay, so WTB says this is an "all arounder", and so far, I have to agree with that. These don't roll too badly on pavement, hard dirt, grass, gravel, or single track. I actually got into mud a few times and the Ranger didn't fail me there either. I wouldn't call it the best mudder, but then again, when we are talking about an "all arounder", we are saying "Jack of all trades, Master of none", aren't we? Yes, we are. 

The bummer about these tires is the weight. You can feel it whenever things start tilting upward. Off road or on, that is something you just have to accept here. A lighter wheel set wouldn't hurt, but you cannot carve out any weight on these tires. They are what they are.

So Far....... Rangers are tough, specially trained military personnel who can handle a variety of roles. The WTB Ranger seems tough, specially built, and can handle a lot of different roles. Okay, so the name makes sense. I could see it as a bike packing tire, a rear tire on a trail rig, or a fat tire for single speed hooliganisms. I will be getting this out on some varied single track before you hear about them again here, so stay tuned.......

Note: WTB sent over the Ranger 2.4"ers at no charge for test/review. I was not bribed nor paid for this review and I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

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