We have been riding the new WTB Trailblazer tires both here in the U.S.A. and in Europe on several different bikes and on vastly different trails. We have already said much about this “B+” format, and what it may mean for 29″er riders, but now it is time to give you our final take on these fat, puffy interlopers on the mountain bike scene. The previous impressions from c_g can be seen here and Guitar Ted’s can be seen here. Now, let’s get to the final conclusions!
WTB Trailblazer 27.5 X 2.8? Tires: Exclusive B+ Review: Final Verdict- by c_g
It is well over 1 1/2 months of riding that I have on the WTB Trailblazer tires, the first of their kind of the new genre of B+ tires.
GT and I have talked quite a bit about their fit on frames and forks with different rim widths and we already covered quite a bit on how the particular tires behave out the trail. My first impressions were with the somewhat narrow WTB Team I25 Frequency rim on the rear and the super wide WTB Scraper wheel in the front, for which I felt both were at the limit of what I would like to ride with these tires. In the last period of this review I have tinkered with wheels/rim dimensions and see what would work out best.
Immediately following my last ride impressions, I have gone i25 front and back. While most of the positive effects of B+ remained in terms of the format being very comfortable and easy going, I also found my suspicion confirmed that this rim width actually made the tire ride mostly on the central ridge. I felt this strongly limiting forward drive and braking traction.
Then I was fortunate enough to borrow a set of IBIS 741 carbon wheels, which at 35 mm inner width gave me what I believed would be an even better set up with these tires. At 1650g for the wheels I also lost quite a bit of weight over the WTB wheels. This combo felt like it really brought out the very best of the format. These rims gave the tire exactly the right curvature on the tread to create smooth rolling and abundant traction while still providing just the right amount of support to enable me to ride the WTB Trailblazers down to 1.0bar (14.5psi) without feeling any unwanted flex. AWSOME!!
I had so much fun on the bike and rode some gnarly or rooty trails like they were smooth tarmac. Full speed attacks felt so much more clam and controlled and plain fun. The benefit in confidence this combo creates is really great for all who get easily intimidated by the trail and helps the more daring ones to go even harder.
Another thing- We have a flood overflow chute with large sized stones and boulders and I occasionally ride it. While generally it is a matter of staying on the bike, with the WTB Trailblazers riding this section was far more easy than ever before … except for the few I times I rode it with a fat bike.
The only two negative things I could detect was that the tread design is clearly made for dry to moderately humid conditions. Then it shines, both in hard pack, loose over hard pack, gravel, and roots. But in wet and deep conditions the limits are reached very easily and lose most of their traction both in forward momentum, but especially when braking.
The other thing that was revealed to me was when I was looking at the riding image you see to the right here. Without me even noticing, I had compressed the rear tires almost to the rim when landing the medium jump, which tells me doing the same in rocky terrain would have been a real challenge for the rims’ strength. Obviously even at that volume, the attainable pressures provide less pinch flat resistance than needed to ride really aggressively. So, even though nothing happened, I would recommend going a bit higher in pressure at my weight (86kg/190lbs) and ride near 1.25 bar (18psi) when the terrain grows more challenging.
Near the very end of the review I received a set of AMERICAN CLASSIC Wide Lightning 27.5” wheels. While this provided for slightly less inner width (29mm), somehow I couldn’t detect any difference in how the tires behaved, so the actual ride performance between a 29 and a 35 mm rim to me is pretty much the same. Additionally I lost about 150 g over the already light IBIS wheels, which was a clear advantage for the lighter AC wheels. The only downside of this combo was the minimum pressure I could use. Before getting squirmy here it was at about 1.2 bar. On the other hand, this is exactly what I would have concluded already to be the best balance between pinch flat resistance and comfort anyway. So after about 2 full weeks of riding this combination, I feel like this could be the perfect combination of them all, when it comes down to performance, weight, and value.
Summary: WTB’s B+ Trailblazer tires are much more than meets the eye. Initially I was taken aback by the smaller than anticipated tire width – 2.8” is reached only on the 45 mm width rims – but very soon the ride quality provided by the volume had me completely loving them on the trail.
It was very interesting to see how the different rim widths (25 to 45mm) made the tire act one way or the other. After riding different widths I feel like anything in the 30 to 35 mm range is where the sweet spot for this specific tire is. Combining both very good rolling characteristics with surprising traction. The only thing the WTB Trailblazers don’t like is wet and deep grounds – something the tread design is much more responsible for than the B+ format (… but if Mr. Poor’s comment on the recent post is right, the next tire design is already in the making).
While in reality B+ is nothing but 650b wheels with particularly voluminous tires, it actually looks to me like it could bring out the best of both worlds for many 29”er riders seeking more comfort, traction and confidence for their existing 29”er bike. To me B+ has tremendous potential and I am already looking forward to more tires and a growing selection of wide rims coming out in the (hopefully near) future.
Ps: I already have a sample of the only other tire that could be counted B+ – the VEETIRE CO. Trax Fatty 27.5×3.25 (introduced here during my Eurobike coverage) which is already in use on a bike. The review for this coming your way soon.