Product Test: WTB VIGILANTE TEAM ISSUE TIRES

A longtime contender in the mountain bike world, WTB was the company that helped Specialized design the very first Ground Control tire decades ago, a design that is largely credited with making the knobby-tire sport available to the masses. WTB is also credited with designing the first 29er-specific tire in 1999: the Nano Raptor. To say WTB has experience designing production mountain bike tires is a huge understatement. These guys basically invented them.

WTB’s Vigilante tire is a product of the enduro movement. To supply its racers with a tire that could handle the super aggressive and steep trails of European enduro races, both uphill and down, WTB had to come up with a tire that was designed to hit corners as aggressively as it hit the climbs.

Tech features:

The Vigilante is an aggressive tire with a square lug pattern designed for stability in a wide variety of terrain. The tire is available with a number of casing and rubber compound options in all three mountain bike wheel sizes.

WTB offers the Vigilante in three casings: the top-tier Tubeless Compatible System (TCS) carcass with either a Light or Tough build and the more budget-friendly Comp carcass that’s designed to be run with tubes. The tire is also available with three different rubber compounds all designed to optimize rolling resistance with traction. Our Vigilante Team Issue tires came with “super-track” rubber and an enduro casing. The tires retail for $69 each and tipped our scales at 830 grams (1.83 pounds) each.

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Field test results:

WTB classifies this tire as “cross-country/ trail/all-mountain,” but we see it as a svelte downhill tire with a casing and tread pattern that aren’t afraid to climb. Sure, there are faster tires out there, but the Vigilante shines when the terrain turns rough, especially when the trails mimic the off-camber nature of the most aggressive trails in Europe.

The Vigilante is not a fast-rolling tire, nor is it a slow-feeling spike tire that will leave the rider feeling a buzz of vibration that saps speed. The knob pattern offers excellent traction rather than decreased rolling resistance. Bottom line, these tires love to be pushed to the limit. The Vigilante really shines when cornering hard, because the aggressive side knobs deliver tons
of predictable traction that instantly instills confidence. We found ourselves pushing off camber corners harder and even riding high-consequence sections that required tons of traction with confidence.

WTB_replaceThe Team Issue rubber held up to our test reasonably well, showing wear we’d expect from our eight-week intense testing period. While these aren’t the longest-lasting tires out there, they certainly will outlast any “race day only” tires by a long shot.

The Vigilante shines when the trail gets rough, but it holds its own as an enduro tire that won’t hold you back like a boat anchor. The casing and wear pattern prove better than average, making it an excellent solution for riders looking for the traction of a super-soft, race-only tire without the durability penalty these tires typically incur. While it’s not the fastest-feeling tire in our arsenal, the fact that it grips like a pit bull on a poodle when it’s laid over makes it a welcome addition to any of our test bikes.

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