The WTB Trail Boss is a ripping rear tire that has a nice blend of traction, braking bite, and protection. While the Trail Boss might be a touch heavier than some of the traditionally popular rear tires, we feel the ride quality and durability are top-notch. This isn't the fastest rolling tire by any stretch, but it does deliver a good bit of confidence when the trails get fast and loose. Light-mid duty trail riders may want to look elsewhere as this tire could be overkill, but for the gravity-focused crowd, this is a contender. The Trail Boss is on the pricey side, but it falls in line with many other popular tires in terms of price.
WTB Trail Boss 2.4 & 2.6 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Aggressive tread, tough casing, solid braking bite
Cons: Heavy, not the fastest rolling rear tire
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trail Boss was a solid performer in most categories. As with other WTB tires we have tested, its weight is really the only major downside. The Trail Boss performed well in the cornering, pedal traction, braking traction, and longevity categories. It's quite heavy, yet it still rolls reasonably quickly thanks to its center tread design. This is a viable option for a lot of riders, especially those looking for a beefy rear tire.
The Trail Boss delivers stellar cornering feel. It is quite easy to find the edge of control on this tire. While some of the more rounded tires have a vague feel, the pronounced shoulder knobs on this WTB tire are reassuring. It is quite easy and user-friendly to roll this tire onto its shoulder knobs. When you are on the edge, it is very clear and easy to feel. It is also quite clear when you lean the tires just a little bit too far.
When cornering under braking loads, the Trail Boss is even more impressive. This tire has big enough lugs to still hold up when you apply the brake. To be clear, braking hard will certainly force the tire to slide out, but careful braking through a sharp corner is confident and impressive. The Trail Boss is significantly better in this category compared to other rear specific tires.
We don't recommend this tire on the front wheel. That said, we could see it working on the front tire in super loamy areas. The center tread isn't quite robust enough to feel confident on the front wheel in loose, or loose-over-hard settings.
The Trail Boss offers excellent pedaling traction. Whether you are standing up and punching up a steep, sandy, pitch or picking your way up a ledgy, rooty, climb, it hooks up well. In addition, the tightly packed center tread also works well on hard-packed climbs.
Our test environment includes a whole lot of decomposed granite. This material is essentially tiny pieces of broken-down rock. This soil provides an excellent opportunity to test pedaling grip. The Trail Boss was really a standout performer. Seated or standing, this tire had a bit of a set-it-and-forget-it feel. Yes, you had to pay attention to weight distribution when punching uphill, but it didn't require you to focus on it like some other tires in this review. We ran approximately 24-PSI in this tire and enjoyed splendid climbing traction.
In the event the tire spun on us, we found it recovered quickly. Other tires spin out and the climb is essentially over and you're walking. On the occasion the Trail Boss started to spin out, it was able to correct itself and keep moving forward.
Another particularly impressive attribute of the Trail Boss was its excellent braking traction. When it is time to shut down the speed, this tire reacts quickly and gets it done.
The lugs on the center tread are tall enough to get a nice grab into the trail surface. While this pronounced center tread may be detrimental to rolling speed, it works very well to shut your speed down. The lugs have horizontal sipes in them to assist in braking duties.
We found this tire to brake most effectively over hardpack or on rock. Loose and loose-over-hard conditions are especially challenging when ditching speed. The Trail Boss performs about as well as possible in this scenario.
We messed around with air pressure with this tire. We found that slightly lower pressure, say 23-24 PSI offers better braking power than 26-27 PSI. We recommend being careful in this area as 23 PSI is getting on the low side for a 2.4-inch tire. If you're riding loads of rock, this is an easy way to damage your rim. This is a dangerous game.
Rolling resistance is respectable on the Trail Boss. There are a few things going on that complicate the matter, and it seemed like a constant battle between a decently fast-rolling tread pattern and a very heavy tire.
On one hand, the tread pattern provides a nice rolling feel. If you look at the center of the tread, you find relatively tightly compacted knobs. These compact knobs roll faster than ones that are more spread out. Why? When the knobs are closer together there is no hitch in between the tread blocks. When the tread is more spread out, the tire slows down just a bit more with every revolution. Back to the tire at hand, The Trail Boss rolls quickly without being a semi-slick tire. In other words, it has a nice balance of traction and rolling speed, similar in feel to the Maxxis Aggressor.
The other big element is weight. This tire is heavy. Our TCS Tough/Fast Rolling 27.5 x 2.4-inch tire weighs 1156-grams. This is extremely heavy. While we don't identify as weight-weenies here at OutdoorGearLab, this is a lot of weight. This is rotational weight in arguably the most important area of the bike and it is quite noticeable when slogging up a long climb. The enduro or aggressive trail crowd may not care. Still, this tire rolls respectably.
Throughout testing, we observed no serious amounts of wear on the tire. In fact, we were quite impressed with how good the tires looked after approximately ten rides. It should be noted that we rode primarily on decomposed granite, a material known to wear tires quite quickly. In addition, when testing tires, we are inspired to corner hard really test the limits. This can also take a toll on the tread of a tire. All of that said, the Trail Boss is still in exceptional condition. Aside from the worn tire whiskers, it looks new.
The sidewall of our TCS Tough tire is still immaculate. The carcass feels quite stiff and we believe these will withstand quite the beatdown. Is this tire heavy? Yes. Does it feel bombproof? Yes.
We were able to install this tire easily. We set it up tubeless with both a compressor and a tubeless booster pump. They snapped on easily and didn't lose any air after they had been ridden.
It should be noted that we observed some seepage of sealant through the sidewall. This really doesn't have any tangible negative impact on performance, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. You can see some moisture working through the sidewalls that look perpetually wet. We have had experience with other manufacturers where this was a warranty issue. We have ridden other WTB tires and have never found this to be an issue in the past.
Our Trail Boss Tough/Fast Rolling tire is far from the least expensive model in the test. It falls around the average for a high-end tire from a major manufacturer. We think the performance is top-notch, although there are significantly lighter options at this price. Still, we think this tire is a solid value for a rider looking for a long-lasting, aggressive rear tire that can stand up to a serious beating.
The WTB Trail Boss is a rock-solid rear tire. Its key positive attributes are its solid cornering abilities, toughness, and great braking traction. The on-trail feel is excellent when you're pointed downhill. Unfortunately for WTB, a lot of people will get hung up on the high weight and substantial price point citing equally awesome tires that weigh a half-pound less. Still, it is refreshing to see such a ripping tire from WTB.
We tested the Trail Boss TCS Tough/Fast Rolling tire.
It is also available in a TCS Light w/ Slash Guard. This version is lighter and less expensive but also has less sidewall protection. This could be a good option for riders on buff trails absent of serious rock gardens.
The Trail Boss is also available in TCS Tough/High Grip which uses a softer rubber compound softer and offers a bit more traction. The weight is comparable, though we expect the tread to wear faster.
All versions are available in 2.4-inch or 2.6-inch widths.
— Pat Donahue