WTB Moto TCS 29“er tires – Final Review: by Banks & c_g
It is almost ½ a year since we gave you an update on our experiences with the WTB Moto 29″er. Back then our tester Banks and I have ridden this Moto pretty much. Unfortunately Banks´ First Impressions (here) and Mid Term review (here) never made it to the US-site, so this article will combines all testing phases. They still can be read on the DE-sister site (simply run the text though any automated translation and you may get the jist of it). The Moto´s introductory article though made it on this site and can be seen here. I want to start out my verdict on the WTB Moto with a few statements by the Moto´s „father“–WILDERES TRAIL BIKES vice-president Mark Slate: …
„The WTB Moto tires are designed to work well in deep and loose terrain while still able to roll fast when the ground gets rocky or hard. The idea with Moto is to work everywhere with predictable traction.
The 29×1.95 Moto (47-622) is the most deep terrain oriented of all the WTB Moto line. The tall spiked tread is not much wider than the casing. Outer blocks are tall. This tire is made to clear mud while still being an all terrain choice. This 29” Moto will work extremely well on off camber trails or where there is no track. For hard or rocky ground high speed corners the outer blocks may flex more than you would like, but this outer block flex is precisely why the Moto 1.9 performs so well in loose and off camber conditions. Roll fast on hard ground is good and when it gets deep this light weight tire can dig in and drive.“
As our other WTB TCS test tires (e.g Bronson here) have shown, the tubeless ready design is made to comply to UST specifications and so not all rims will work with them ideally. On NOTUBES, FRM or (some) AMERICAN CLASSIC rims they may be really hard to mount, but all UST conforming rims (MAVIC, EASTON, DT-SWISS, …. and of course the WTB rims) are a perfect match.
In the early part of the test last spring and summer, the WTB Moto has been ridden on Bank´s OS Bikes Blackbuck II steel hard tail, both on the WTB Stryker (reviewed here) and later on the REYNOLDS MT29″er wheels (see review here), so here is Bank´s take on the WTB Motos:
„The WTB Moto 1.9 TCS 29“er is pretty narrow yet aggressive tire. In many ways it reminds me of the Maxxis Beaver, only that the Moto is tubeless ready. At first I thought „What a skinny looking tire.“ But soon my perception was one of absolutely loving it. The roll-ability wasn’t the best but the low weight kind of made up for it on pavement. On the trails, I rode a lot in loose leaves, dirt, and gravel and the tires were terrific. I was able to maintain traction cornering and stopping was never a problem. These tires are great for a bike that has limited tire clearance and for a rider that plans on taking on the trail no matter what condition it is in, and that is most definitely a good thing. The robust casing and construction make up for good low pressure riding (that is for such a skinny tire)
Cornering is one of the advertised strengths of this tire and I would agree that yes it does corner very well. The profile cross section is fairly flat for such a narrow tire. Braking and acceleration was exceptional in both muddy and loose environments. Hard pack was not insecure in the least either as the Moto is well predictable when the tire would want to start doing its own thing. Routes that are pretty much unrideable in sloppy and wet situations were routes that I was able to survive in a somewhat controlled matter with the Moto. Meaning it wasn’t necessarily pretty, but with the Moto I was able to get the job done. So bottom line is that the Moto is a tire that was built purposely for really sloppy, muddy and loose environments – for me a motivator to get on out there when it’s looking nasty.“
When later this year I took on the final stage of the test, I mounted these tires on the BMC Fourstroke FS01 (here) on the EASTON XC EA90 wheels. Just like Banks, I could find little real weakness in the Moto´s tread design and dual compound rubber – only the very narrow sizing held back what the Moto seemed to be able in terms of ride performance. For the soft and deep grounds this fall it was a perfect choice and it even did well on firm hard pack for such a skinny tire, but when the going got rough with roots and lots of edges the Moto did lack volume and damping. That said, the robust construction did a great job of protecting the rims, it never burped and I could ride it down to fairly low pressures (that is about 2.0 bar, which is remarkable considering the size), but still I felt there was more to the WTB Moto 29″er tires.
Then came the AMERICAN CLASSIC Race 29″er tubeless wheels for (here) with their extreme width (considering they are dedicated XC-/Race wheels) of 24 mm. By design this was to allow racers to run smaller (read: lighter) tires and still benefit from more volume and more traction. Sounds like the AC Race wheels and the WTB Moto were made for one another. Though contrasting AMERICAN CLASSIC´s own recommendation the TCS Motos mounted quite well and only the high pressures required to lift the bead onto the bead hock all around (in this case 4.2 bar) indicated the slight mismatch. Already by appearance the Moto seemed to have grown considerably – by measurement it was only 1.5 mm in width, but these made the already flattish tread even more flat … larger contact patch anyone?
Out on the trail I was positively surprised – maybe not all the way, but now the Moto showed even more trail tire performance than before. Even on the 140 mm susser Cube Stereo I had to push the tires really hard to find the limits. They still performed really well in muddy, deep sections, had great self cleaning properties, and even seemed to roll better. What is more, their already good predictability in off chamber situations and cornering control got even better!
All in all the match between wide AMERICAN CLASSIC Race wheels and the Moto was a match very much to my taste – really light and great riding!
Our VERDICT of the WTB Moto 1.9“ TCS 29“er tires:
It is a very capable and fun foul weather tire with great tubeless characteristics and riding performance that is only held back by its volume (or lack thereof). If it were not for the narrow size, it would bring all traits of a truly great trail tire to the table: Great traction, predictability under many conditions, wide limits and even a pretty decent roll-ability. As it is – it is a very good foul weather specialist. Our last testing phase with the AMERICAN CLASSIC Race wheels gave a little taste of what a wider version Moto may just be … which brings us to the conclusive request towards WTB: Please bring us a wider version of this great tire – we are thinking 2.2“ or even 2.3“ …. pleeeeease .
ps: Unfortunately recent snowfall and the consequent deterioration of our trail into veritable ice tracks ended this test a bit too early form my taste – now the only way to still have fun out on the trails is by assistance of the SCHWALBE Ice Spiker Pro – otherwise I may have ridden that combo a lot longer.