Recent weather and scheduling has left me very little free time to do any actual riding, but I did manage to sneak in a couple of quick rides to try and get a better first impression of what the new WTB Wolverine is all about.
On Halloween, we had a few hours of perfect riding weather, where I did ride, but on another bike completely. Then it all went downhill very quickly. Here is the scene during Trick or Treat, some sort of a squall rolled through and sent everyone running. Don’t worry, we still got lots of candy.
My first ride on trail was during the Cycle des Spectres, and while it wasn’t really a full on ride, I did get a glimpse at the capabilities of this tire while conditions were less than ideal. First off, we have a thick carpet of leaves on the trails, masking things like roots and rocks that can potentially knock you off your game. Then it was raining, making things that much more unpredictable. Add the fact that it was also night, and that my HID headlamp completely washes away any definition in the trail, and there we have the first ride.
The casing is big, much bigger than other claimed 2.2s I’ve run in the past. It isn’t exactly “light”. The ones on my bike are around 800g, which that puts them in the same weight range as the Nevegal that is perennially featured on most of my bikes. But, these are trail tires, and not necessarily something I’d use to race on. The sidewalls feel sturdy, and look as if they’d take a serious beating. They Stan’sed up nicely too, holding air immediately.
Going over wet off-camber roots was a little scary, there were times where I had forgotten which part of the trail I was on, but I was actually impressed at the grip, they stuck in places I was sure they’d slide out. These are fast tires too, much faster than the Nevegal.
I also managed a quick ride out on my proving grounds, the Stowe Town Loops. The trail conditions were pretty dry, punctuated by a few mud puddles. The terrain here is varied enough to get a good idea on how well a tire is going to work. You have all sort of roots, loose rock outcroppings, bridges, and a mix of pine forest and hardwoods, practically every type of object and trail surface is available here.
These tires did not disappoint. In fact, the only negative thing I have to say about them, is that I didn’t have them 6 months ago. They were very predictable, and I think that I have yet to truly understand what they are actually capable of. I tried as hard as I could to lean the tires as far over as I dared, but self preservation prevailed. There was an obscenely thick layer of fallen leaves, and I didn’t want to find myself in a situation where I might be on the ground suddenly. This is not to say I was riding timidly however, there were sections in the pines where there were no leaves, and you could lean and dig right in. I’m merely pointing out, that it felt like I could lean them a little bit harder if I needed to.
Climbing traction is good, as is breaking traction, and despite my best attempts to pick silly lines over rock and root infested side hills, the tires stuck like glue. I only slid out once, and that was due to me not really paying attention to what I was doing. Actually, I was riding quite poorly, and I am feeling the effects of my diminishing fitness. Offtober is a cruel month…
I still have to do some fine tuning to get the right tire pressure. I run my Nevegals around 32 psi, and that seems to be the magic number for my weight and riding style on my RIP or WFO. I started at 30 with the Wolverines, went down to 28, and I still think I could loose a bit more air.
The verdict? While I am looking forward to as many rides as I can get in before the snow flies with these tires, I think that they could easily be my new favorite. These tires are the sort that you can put on your bike, forget about, and count on them to deliver a high amount of performance in any given situation. They are fast, grippy, high volume, and they have a cool sounding name. What more could you want?