WTB Trail Boss 2.4 & 2.6 Review
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WTB Trail Boss 2.4 & 2.6
|Price||$56.46 at Amazon|
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|$51.00 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Well-rounded, aggressive side knobs, reasonable rolling resistance||EXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front or rear, dual compound increases longevity||Great cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widths||Versatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rolling||Reasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tire|
|Cons||Tight fit on our test rim, can pack with sticky mud||Not the best for hardpack, high rolling resistance, requires good technique||Moderate weight, not the fastest rolling||Not the best braking traction||Moderate braking traction, firmer rubber compound|
|Bottom Line||A well-rounded trail riding tire that performs best on the back of the bike||One of the most popular tires ever, and for good reason||Specialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great value||A versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of riding||A versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bike|
|Rating Categories||WTB Trail Boss 2.4...||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Pedaling Traction (20%)|
|Braking Traction (20%)|
|Rolling Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||WTB Trail Boss 2.4...||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Size tested||29" x 2.4"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.6"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.3"|
|Weight as tested||996g||954g||1123g||950g||945g|
|Front, Rear, or Both||Rear||Front, Both||Front, Both||Rear||Rear|
|Casing Tested||TCS Light SG2||EXO||GRID Trail||EXO||GRID Trail|
|Compound Tested||TriTec Fast Rolling||3C Maxx Terra||Gripton T9||Dual||Gripton T7|
|Tread Count (TPI)||60||60||60||60||60|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trail Boss has been a mainstay in WTB's lineup for many years. We've tested this tire in the past in the Tough casing, and while we enjoyed its performance, we were turned off a little by its heavier weight. This time around, we bought the TCS Light SG2 casing which brings its weight down to a competitive level without sacrificing much in the way of durability while still providing the excellent cornering traction and well-rounded performance that it's known for. We feel it is best suited to duties on the rear wheel paired with something a little beefier, like a Vigilante in the front for aggressive trail riding in mixed conditions.
While the Trail Boss can certainly be used on either the front or rear of the bike, we found it works best as a rear tire with something more aggressive on the front. We tested it along with a Vigilante and feel that is an excellent combo. As a rear tire, it provides awesome grip in the corners while still being reasonably fast rolling. The tread design is the primary factor at play here, but the Fast Rolling rubber feels plenty grippy and the Light SG2 casing offers a nice blend of support and suppleness.
Mounted to our 30mm wide test rim, the Trail Boss has a relatively square side-to-side profile with a very pronounced row of slightly staggered cornering knobs. It doesn't take much to get these knobs to engage, virtually the moment you start tipping this tire on edge they start to do their work. These knobs are fairly stout, and they provide predictable and confidence-inspiring grip and a stable cornering feel. There's no real vagueness when you lean the bike over, as the tread design features lugs in the intermediate zone to assist while the side knobs lock-in and take over.
The Fast Rolling rubber compound is the firmer of the two options offered by WTB, and a sensible option for use on the rear of the bike. While it is noticeably firmer than their High Grip rubber, we never found it to feel so stiff that it impacted our traction. It hooks up well in loose conditions, mostly due to the size of the cornering knobs, and we found it grips well even when side-hilling across large granite slabs. The TCS Light SG2 casing also works well and doesn't feel quite as stiff as the heavier Tough casing. We found it provides ample support to prevent tire roll and squirming while remaining supple enough to increase the contact patch and let the tread go to work in the corners.
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 decomposing granite. This material is essentially tiny pieces of broken-down rock that make a somewhat sandy, gritty trail surface. 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 virtually all situations.
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, we found that it was able to recover and regain traction quite effectively. The center tread is fairly tall with moderate spacing, and it feels like every lug gets its chance to bite into the tail surface. The Fast Rolling rubber compound is firm, but still grips effectively on all the surfaces we encountered, including granite slabs, roots, and loose, chunky conditions.
We were relatively impressed by the braking performance of the Trail Boss, especially considering its reasonable level of rolling resistance. While we wouldn't call them the best braking tire in the world, they certainly hold their own, and when it is time to shut down the speed, this tire reacts in a comfortable and controlled manner.
While somewhat tightly packed, the lugs on the center tread are tall enough with squared-off braking edges to get a nice grab into the trail surface. There's enough space between the knobs for each of them get a little bite on their own, and their height allows them to penetrate into loose conditions quite effectively. The lugs also have horizontal sipes cut into them, which allows them to spread a little and increases traction on hardpack and slabby rock and even the dreaded loose-over-hard conditions. There are tires that do a better job in super loose, moondust conditions, but the Trail Boss still manages pretty well. Sticky mud is one condition that the Trail Boss struggles with a little as the center tread is more prone to packing with mud than tires that have a bit more open spacing.
Rolling resistance is quite reasonable on the Trail Boss. The tread appears to be designed with rolling efficiency in mind, and while it isn't the fastest roller in the world, we feel it does quite well given its impressive performance in other metrics. The Light SG2 casing we tested this time around also brings the weight down significantly when compared to the Tough casing we've tested in the past.
WTB thoughtfully designed the rolling tread of the Trail Boss to provide good traction while still rolling relatively efficiently. The center and intermediate tread knobs are moderately spaced and feature slightly ramped leading edges. The tighter spacing of the knobs provides for a smooth roll on a wide range of surfaces, and the ramps help ease the knobs into the trail. It doesn't roll nearly as fast as some of the more XC-oriented tires we've tested, but it more than holds its own against similar tires. It is comparable in feel to something like the Maxxis Aggressor or the Specialized Eliminator.
With a measured weight of 996-grams in the 29 x 2.4-inch size we tested, the Light SG2 version of this tire is a pretty reasonable weight for how tough it feels and well it performs. Unlike the Tough version, this tire doesn't feel heavy on the bike or feel like it's tiring you out on the climbs. This weight puts it slightly above some comparable tires, but we don't think that's a deal-breaker by any means.
While we've had WTB tires in the past that didn't necessarily impress us in the durability department, we have nothing but good things to report about the Trail Boss so far. It is only offered in the firmer Fast-Rolling rubber compound, and we think that is pretty ideal for use as a rear tire. We found it to provide adequate grip, and it doesn't wear nearly as quickly as the High Grip rubber. Despite being used as a rear tire in primarily super gritty decomposing granite soils, the tread is holding up impressively well with only faint erosion of the inside of the cornering knobs after a couple weeks of heavy use. We expect the tread to have an above-average lifespan.
The TCS Light SG2 casing is significantly lighter weight than the Tough casing, yet it still feels quite robust and ready to withstand some serious abuse. It has a single-ply casing to reduce weight with an additional lightweight nylon layer that they call Slash Guard (SG2) that extends from bead to bead. WTB claims that it has the added benefit of improving sidewall stability, and up to 80% more sidewall protection compared to single-ply tires without SG2 (according to third-party testing). We can confirm that the sidewalls offer ample support for our needs, and these tires do feel tough. We definitely rimmed out multiple times while testing and have no punctures or pinch flats to report. If you're super hard on tires, you might be wise to look at the beefier 2-ply Tough casing, though it definitely comes with a weight penalty.
Installing the Trail Boss was a bit of a mixed bag. This tire had an oddly tight fit that definitely required the use of a tire lever to get onto the rim. Once on the rim, it was so snug that when inflating it the bead of the tire actually pulled our tubeless rim tape out of position, requiring us to have to retape the rim. It was probably time for new tape anyway, but it ended up taking quite a bit of extra time to get out on the trail. One nice thing about the tight fit on the rim, however, is that we easily inflated this tire and set the bead using just a standard floor pump. We doubt most people will experience the issue we had installing this tire.
The Trail Boss falls right around average for a new mountain bike tire. While there are more affordable and more expensive options out there, we think the price is a comfortable middle ground for a well-rounded and high-performing tire.
The WTB Trail Boss is a rock-solid rear tire. Its key positive attributes are its solid cornering abilities, toughness, predictable braking traction, and good rolling speed. Match it with a Vigilante in the front and you've got an excellent combo for aggressive trail riding in mixed conditions.
WTB makes the Trail Boss in two casing constructions, the TCS Light SG2 we tested, and the heavier TCS Tough casing which weighs approximately 250-grams more. The Trail Boss only comes in the Fast Rolling rubber compound.In addition to the 29 x 2.4-inch size we tested, it also comes in a 2.6-inch width and in 27.5-inch diameters.
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