WTB Nineline Tires: First Impressions & Mid-Term- by Guitar Ted
About a month has gone by and the WTB Nineline tires have been out on several trail rides with me. For the introduction with weights and mounted width, see here. Now it is time to move along to my initial impressions and how the Nineline has been doing over the past month.
Tubeless Performance: The Nineline is based upon the UST dimensions for the bead shape and diameter which fits the UST profile of the recently reviewed Deore XT wheels to a “T”. (See XT wheel review here.) However; the air retention of the Ninelines I have are a mixed bag. The rear tire leaks down a bit faster than the front does and this just may be an anomaly, since I cannot find any obvious leakage from the set up. That said, the system of the WTB tire on a UST wheel is really secure and stable.
Ride Performance: The Nineline is a tire with seemingly two personalities. One is the XC racing tire. The Nineline is of a decent weight, and it has that narrow profile which lends to the XC looks. It does roll pretty fast on hard pack, and while it isn’t the all-out speed demon tire like some I have tested, (the Bontrager XR-1 of old comes to mind here), it is no slouch in the speed department. There are definitely faster tires, but the WTB Nineline has another side to it which, in my opinion, more than makes up for any deficiency in speed it may have in comparison to other all-out race tires.
That would be its “Trail Personality”. It seems that WTB has decided to infuse this tire with “trail DNA” and that is no wonder- What with folks like Mark Weir at WTB, who ride aggressively and have major input on tire design at WTB, the Nineline shows a “trail tire” trait and surprises with the amount of grip available. I was consistently making moves that made me think I was on a bigger, grippier tire than what the Nineline appears to be. Only when the Nineline’s skinny profile belied its character was I reminded that I was on something less capable. The tire would ping off some rocks and roots, and would lose its grip at times if it was not hitting a trail obstacle square on. A wider tire with a bigger footprint would be better then, but in all other cases, the Nineline impressed with its overachieving traits.
Mid-Term Conclusions: The Nineline isn’t a Trail/AM tire, but it has traits of a bigger tire squeezed into a smaller volume casing with speed that makes it competitive for XC racing applications. Perhaps this makes the WTB Nineline an excellent “all around XC” type choice for any conditions one might face. This is the way I am thinking about this tire so far. I want to hit up some more rides with this tire and make a final judgment before I commit to that thought, but for now, I am impressed with the Nineline enough to say that I like the Nineline quite a bit. WTB has certainly created an interesting lower volume, skinnier tire that has the heart of a trail tire in XC clothing.
WTB sent these tires to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for testing and review. We were not bribed nor paid for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.