WTB Trail Boss 2.2 TCS Tires: First Impressions — by Matt Gersib

When it comes to bike parts, tires and wheels have always been a specific interest of mine. Few other parts have the ability to enhance ride quality the way great tires and wheels do. Think about it: riding fast is all about control, and your tires are the connection between machine and earth through which all control is channeled. Unless you’re quite literally flying, your tires are the center of your control universe.

The Trail Boss is WTB's latest 29"er trail bike tire design.

The Trail Boss is WTB’s latest 29″er trail bike tire design.

So with that said, it was with great interest that I took delivery of a pair of WTB’s latest tire, the Trail Boss, for review. Guitar Ted covered most of the technical specifics in his excellent Out of the Box post, so I won’t waste your time rehashing those details. My reviews will focus on the day-to-day experience with the Trail Boss tires, so with that in-mind, let’s start at the beginning.

This was my first experience with WTB’s well-regarded TCS tubeless-ready system, and mounting on UST-spec Mavic CrossMax 29 wheels was very easy to do with either a pump or compressor. The beads snapped into place with a satisfying ‘POP’, which is a good indicator of reliability at low pressure, a necessity for me, as I often run my pressure in the 17-21 psi range.

Mounted to MG's 'Bike With No Name' for testing, the Trail Boss 2.2s hit the trail.

Mounted to MG’s ‘Bike With No Name’ for testing, the Trail Boss 2.2s hit the trail.

Aired up to 21 psi, the Trail Boss tires exhibit a mildly rounded profile. It isn’t a flat tread pattern (which is good for a number of reasons), but the prominent side knobs reduce the overall height difference of the center and outer knobs. This delivers a smooth, confident transition to the cornering knobs as the bike is leaned into a turn. Knobs vary in shape and size, and are siped to effectively double the number of working edges per knob. The dual-compound rubber places softer, slower rebounding rubber on the cornering knobs, with a harder, longer-wearing compound in the center of the tire.

With the tires mounted, I ventured out for my initial Trail Boss-equipped ride. As I rolled out my driveway, the tires impressed me immediately with their low rolling resistance. For such a knobby tread, the tires accelerated quickly and the bike felt light under pedal. 30 minutes of paved urban commute finally gave way to our local singletrack, and I was able to open it up and see what the Trail Boss tires could really do.

In corners, the sticky, reinforced side knobs deliver confident, consistent traction in a wide variety of conditions, from hard pack to loose-over-hard, and even some soft conditions, as the winter’s frost worked its way out of the ground. The Trail Boss 2.2s are not mud tires, as wet dirt can quickly pack into the tightly-spaced tread pattern, but that said, as long as the dirt is more soft than wet, the tires continue to provide a high level of grip.

The 2.2-inch width tire (54/57 claimed width) measures exactly 57mm from edge-to-edge at the widest point of the knobs. It’s always refreshing when a manufacturer’s claimed width holds up in the real world, as it does with the Trail Boss.

After six rides, the rear Trail Boss exhibits minimal wear. Interestingly, the softer rubber of the dual compound side knobs appears lighter than the harder center tread.

After six rides, the rear Trail Boss exhibits minimal wear. Interestingly, the softer rubber of the dual compound side knobs appears lighter than the harder center tread.

Prior to installation and riding, I wondered if the Trail Boss tires would be a bit of overkill for the Midwestern singletrack conditions I frequent, but I’ve found quite the opposite to be true. So far in my testing, they’ve proven to be a fast rolling, hard turning and surprisingly good wearing set of sneakers for my 29″er. I’ll report back in about a month with an update, and to let you know how they’re wearing as we roll into summer’s more abusive riding season.

To say I’ve been impressed with the performance of the Trail Boss tires thus far is an understatement, and my initial impressions lead me to believe they’d be a great choice for cyclists who place a high value on versatility and grip in a wide variety of conditions. Visit the WTB website or your local bicycle retailer to learn more or get some Trail Boss tires for your own rig.

Note: WTB sent over the Trail Boss 2.25 tires at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.