Last month, we were fortunate enough to partner with the guys over at Chasing Epic MTB Adventures who have an awesome program. Just pick the spot you want to ride, sign up for a trip, and they take care of the rest. Everything from a bike to ride, lodging, and meals are covered. If you are looking for a MTB trip unlike any other, book your trip today! Being that Steve and the guys over at Chasing Epic MTB Adventures ride a ton of different terrain, we thought it would be great for them to put some WTB Trailblazer tires to the test to see how they perform.
(Written by Steve Mokan at Chasing Epic Mountain Bike Adventures)
I recently had the opportunity to try out some plus-sized WTB Trailblazer tires of the 2.8″ variety, thanks to my partners at Worldwide Cyclery. I’ve been reading about plus sized tires for months, and since I recently got a new rig with Boost spacing, I had no more excuses. Time to check them out and report back.
Despite being labeled as 2.8″ tires, these aren’t as wide as I thought. I typically run a Maxxis DHF 2.5″ WT tire up front, and I’d compare them similarly. That said, they’re about 1/2″ taller than the DHF, which makes them roll much more like a 29er. I immediately felt the bike sat higher due to the increased height, and it raised my BB slightly.
It took me a while to figure out the sweet spot in terms of air pressure for the Trailblazers. It’s tough allowing yourself to run lower pressures while the tire feels soft, but for these tires to perform better, that’s what I ended up doing. With too much air in the tires, you get the bouncy feeling and the tires are entirely too harsh. Once aired down to ~18-20 psi, the tires were more on point.
Riding plus size tires takes a little getting used to - more than I expected. Part of it was the profile of the WTB tire, part of it was the extra cushion underneath me. Overall, it mostly felt like I was expecting - the tires took the bite out of the trail, and they made the ride feel more “floaty.” I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but it was interesting. For the rockier sections, I felt myself paying more attention…on the smooth, flowy sections, I was having tons of fun.
The one thing I have to mention is the tire profile on wider rims - I had these mounted on carbon wheels with a 34mm internal width and Stan’s Flow MK3 wheels (29mm internal). The “wider” rims really squared off the tire to the point where there is a distinct transition point from tread to sidewall. The sidewall actually sticks out further than the tread, which was interesting. I prefer a more aggressive tread up front with thick side knobs, so it was a different experience for me. That said, I rode these tires hard through fairly rocky terrain and didn’t experience any sidewall damage (or any other issues, for that matter).
Plus sized tires are here to stay, and I can see why. With a similar weight, you get a tire that gives you more traction and a more “cushy” feel. That being said, I think there are different strokes for different folks, and I personally prefer a tire in the 2.5″ range - something with a more aggressive tread that allows me to feel connected to the trail.
The WTB will make a great rear tire for anyone looking to make the transition to plus-size tires; I think if you pair it with something like a Maxxis Rekon or Schwalbe Nobby Nic up front, you have a winning combination.