WTB Bronson 2.2″ TCS Tires: Mid-Term- by Guitar Ted

The WTB tubeless ready tires are getting ridden more during the Spring and now it is time for a Mid-Term Report on the Bronson TCS 2.2″er. For a look at some tubeless characteristics and first impressions on ride performance, see here.

The Bronson tires seem to be a peculiar tire from the standpoint of its narrow range of workability on trails and even from the standpoint of the bicycle type they are mounted on. My experiences with the tire have been something of a mixed bag due to this. For instance- I just could not reconcile the issues I had with the Bronson tire on the rear of the Breezer hard tail, (tested here), and eventually I felt compelled to take it off since it was negatively affecting my view of that bike’s handling. Once I got another tire on the bike, the issues I was having with a vague, twitchy rear end in corners disappeared. However; I never felt the same sensations on the Titus Rockstar full suspension bike, and furthermore, the front tire on the Breezer, a Bronson, performed spectacularly throughout my testing of that bike.

What could it be that makes the Bronson work on one end of a bike, not the other, and still work great on a completely different bike? Good question. I may have an answer on that, which has to do with tubeless versus non-tubeless Bronson tires. My theory now is that non-tubeless Bronson tires are more apt to show the flexiness of the side knobs as a vague feeling in corners, where the tubeless versions don’t do this as readily. I will do some further testing on that to confirm this one way or the other. (Note- the Breezer Lightning Pro was spec’ed with the folding bead version of the Bronson. Not the TCS version, which also may account for the disparity in ride performance here.)

However that might turn out, the range of trail conditions that any version of the Bronson is good for is constant. If the dirt can be pierced by knobs, or if the rocks are bigger than gravel, the Bronson does very well. With hard, smoother trails, or loose, granular rock, sand, and loose, fine dirt, the Bronson doesn’t play well. In this the Bronson is quite reminiscent of the old Continental Mountain King tires,(the ones with the triangular knobs). Both have flexible knobs that grab like fingers, but if trail conditions get too hard, the situation becomes one where vagueness and squirmy knobs bring poor handling to a 29″er. The Bronson’s major difference here being that it rolls really nicely due to the lower tread height down the center of the tire’s carcass.

Grannygear confirmed my thoughts of the Bronson on loose over hard pack by saying it was very sketchy on such trail conditions. Those flexible side knobs were bending over, not really giving any sense of control, as they pushed through the loose top down to harder trail. This was manifested by a loud “zipper” sound as the outer knobs were flexed to the point of skidding slightly in corners.

That all goes away on loamy, tacky trails where the knobs give a nice, connected feel. On climbs in these sort of conditions, the Bronson claws and digs in very well. Roots and embedded rocks that trip up other tires become more places for those flexy Bronson “fingers” to claw onto. This is particularly true with the TCS Bronson.

Stay tuned as I get a few more test rides in and I will be back with a Final Review soon.

WTB sent the Bronson TCS tires at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review. We were not paid or bribed for this review. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.