WTB Trailblazer 27.5 X 2.8″ Tires: Exclusive B+ Review Intro: Part 2- by Guitar Ted
Last week we introduced our WTB Trailblazer 27.5 X 2.8″ tire review. You can see what c_g had to share HERE. Now as mentioned in that linked post, I am going to give you my end of the test intro here.
While c_g has utilized the new WTB Scraper rim and a WTB Frequency i25 rim as his foundations for the Trailblazer tire, we saw that you, the readers, were commenting on how the Trailblazer might work on a “mid-width” rim between those two extremes. Velocity USA was able to provide us with two 27.5″ Blunt 35 rims to lace up and try the Trailblazers on. I also will be trying these tires on the Frequency i25 rims as soon as I have the wheels built up on another set of hubs I am purchasing for this project. Until then, I will simply introduce this wheel set and let you readers see how a rim width between the two that c_g has affects the measurements and fitting possibilities for the Trailblazer 2.8″er.
Out Of The Box: The first thing I noted was that the Trailblazer 2.8″ has a similar tread area, in terms of width on the carcass, as many other 29″er tires. Where the difference in this new tire was in comparison to any other 29″er tire was that the casing beyond the tread area was wider by far. So, a potential for a lot of volume here. The tires I weighed were closer to 1000 grams than c_g’s were at 980 grams and 990 grams for my samples. Casings felt beefy. The tread blocks reminded me very much of my first 29″er tires, the Motoraptors, which I used back in ’03 and ’04. There is a nicely shaped center line of blocks which I could see would make for a fast rolling tire, potentially.
c_g has already written about how the WTB rims have an excellent tubeless set characteristics with the TCS Trailblazer. I can also add that the Trailblazer has stellar results on a Velocity Blunt 35 as well. This was probably the tightest initial fitting tire to rim combinations I have used in a few years. (The Gato 2.3 on the Salsa Gordo rims was probably similar, as I recall.) The tire’s bead set up with a few pops and pings with a simple floor pump, never weeped sealant anywhere, and have held air brilliantly since being set up tubeless. Top marks here so far.
I initially set up these tires at 20psi. They are a “mid-fat”, “Plus-sized” tire, and as such, I expect these to never be used at much above 20psi. I fully expect a trail performance pressure to be in the teens, and there should be no burping at all, judging from the fit to the Blunt 35 rims. We’ll see if these expectations prove out.
After mounting the tires to the rims, and installing them on my 2008 Salsa Cycles Fargo, I scrutinized the fit and the look of the tires first. I must say that my initial impressions of the looks is good. Those fatter tires just look really great on this bike, in my opinion. Lots of volume and definitely a wider tire than the Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ tires I had on the Fargo before.
The way the Trailblazer 2.8″ers set up on the Blunt 35 is very balanced looking, in my opinion. The crown of the tread is a gentle, shallow “C” shape, the tread blocks are well supported, the casing doesn’t stick too far out from those tread blocks on this tire, and bead set perfectly on the rims. Good fit and a resulting tire shape and profile that looks neither cartoonish nor too muffin topped. Again, we’ll see how that plays out on the trails.
The theory here with the Trailblazer 2.8″er is that it won’t be quite the diameter of a 29″er tire, since that pulls back the widest part of the tire a bit to a point in most frames where there is extra room. Then the wide footprint of the Trailblazer and its big volume of air can give the rider an experience much like that of a 29+ tire/wheel, without having to opt for the frame to fit those 29+ tires. So, the measurements then……….
c_g gave you some measurements on the SCRAPER rims with a 45mm internal width which does get you the 2.8″ width with a Trailblazer, but then it didn’t fit into c_g’s Cube Stereo’s rear end. The Frequency i25 allowed it to fit, but you get a narrower tire profile and not an ideal amount of tire support. On the Blunt 35′s the tires came out to be 65.4mm wide/2.57″ wide at 20psi after 24 hours. They may stretch some, but on my Fargo, I only have 5mm-8mm clearance at the stays, so if mud room is important, I wouldn’t want this to spread out too much!
Wheel diameter with this tire and rim combination seems good. The WTB Nineline 2.25 on a WTB Frequency i25 rim comes out to be 28 15/16ths” in diameter. The Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ on a Sun Ringle’ Black Flag rim comes out to be 28 13/16ths” in diameter. The WTB Trailblazer on the Blunt 35 comes out to be 28 9/16ths” in diameter. Smaller diameter by design to get the wider casing to fit, so I see this as an okay compromise. It does lower the bottom bracket slightly, so buyer beware, but bikes with tall-ish bottom brackets to start out with should be unaffected by a switch to a Trailblazer on a Blunt 35, at least.
More soon after we get some trail time on these tires.
Note: WTB and Velocity USA sent over products for this review/test of wheels and tires at no charge. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.