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WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 Review

An aggressive tire for aggressive riders that performs well in loose conditions
WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6
Credit: WTB
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $77 List | $68.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Excellent cornering abilities, great cornering and braking traction, excels in loose conditions
Cons:  Moderately heavy, not the fastest rolling
Manufacturer:   WTB
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 19, 2022
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 25
  • Cornering - 25% 9.0
  • Pedaling Traction - 20% 8.0
  • Braking Traction - 20% 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance - 15% 6.0
  • Longevity - 15% 8.0
  • Installation - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

We previously tested the WTB Vigilante in the heavier Tough casing. This time, we got our hands on the TCS Light SG2 version with the High Grip rubber. We were particularly impressed by its predictable and confidence-inspiring cornering and braking traction and performance in loose conditions thanks to its aggressive, open tread design. This is a relatively burly tire that makes the most sense for aggressive trail, all-mountain, and enduro riders. While the Light casing weighs significantly less than the Tough version, it's still a moderately heavy tire, and it's not the fastest roller, but we doubt the target audience for the Vigilante will care too much.

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Pros Excellent cornering abilities, great cornering and braking traction, excels in loose conditionsEXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front or rear, dual compound increases longevityGreat cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widthsVersatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rollingReasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tire
Cons Moderately heavy, not the fastest rollingNot the best for hardpack, high rolling resistance, requires good techniqueModerate weight, not the fastest rollingNot the best braking tractionModerate braking traction, firmer rubber compound
Bottom Line An aggressive tire for aggressive riders that performs well in loose conditionsOne of the most popular tires ever, and for good reasonSpecialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great valueA versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of ridingA versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bike
Rating Categories WTB Vigilante 2.5 &... Maxxis Minion DHF 3... Specialized Butcher... Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Specialized Elimina...
Cornering (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Pedaling Traction (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Braking Traction (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Rolling Resistance (15%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Longevity (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Installation (5%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Specs WTB Vigilante 2.5 &... Maxxis Minion DHF 3... Specialized Butcher... Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Specialized Elimina...
Size tested 29" x 2.5" 29" x 2.5" WT 29" x 2.6" 29" x 2.5" WT 29" x 2.3"
Weight as tested 1152g, 1107g (claimed) 954g 1123g 950g 945g
Front, Rear, or Both Both Front, Both Front, Both Rear Rear
Casing Tested TCS Light SG2 EXO GRID Trail EXO GRID Trail
Compound Tested TriTec High Grip 3C Maxx Terra Gripton T9 Dual Gripton T7
Bead Folding Folding Folding Folding Folding
Tread Count (TPI) 60 60 60 60 60

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vigilante racked up some serious points in a couple of important categories. Cornering, braking traction, and longevity were its strongest suits. It's a tad heavy, and the chunky tread design puts up some noticeable rolling resistance. Still, this tire posted enough points to be a strong finisher in our overall review and an excellent choice for aggressive riders seeking a confidence-inspiring tire for taming loose conditions and rough trails.

Performance Comparison


WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - the vigilante is an excellent tire for aggressive trail riding. the...
The Vigilante is an excellent tire for aggressive trail riding. The cornering traction is truly impressive.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Cornering


The Vigilante offers stellar performance when cornering that can compete with just about any tire in our test. It's probably overkill for riding mellower firm, smooth trails, but it truly impressed us in loose conditions, whether dry or wet. The High Grip rubber, tread design, and casing all come together nicely to provide trustworthy traction in the corners.


Mounted on our 30mm test wheels, the Vigilante has a relatively squared-off profile with very pronounced, slightly staggered, and tightly compacted shoulder knobs. These cornering knobs are in sets of two with a small gap between them where an offset knob creeps into the intermediate zone. It has an even more square appearance compared to the Editor's Choice Maxxis Minion DHF. The result is a very defined feel when you are cornering. It is quite easy to tell when you are on the corner knobs. Other, more rounded tires can have a somewhat vague feeling. This tire tips easily onto its edge, and the ample spacing of the knobs in the intermediate and center tread allows all of the knobs to work independently and dig into loose soils or loamy conditions. The result is a very positive feeling of grip and control when you're leaning into a corner.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - substantial shoulder knobs and open spacing allow the vigilante to...
Substantial shoulder knobs and open spacing allow the Vigilante to really dig in to loose surfaces.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The High Grip rubber compound is fairly soft and it grabs and holds well on every surface we tested it on. Whether in loose dry soils, perfect loam, or even slabby rock, we found this rubber to grip well in all situations. The side and intermediate tread knobs also have longitudinal sipes which help them spread slightly to better conform to the surface. The TCS Light SG2 casing feels plenty supportive. We felt it squirm a bit at around 18 psi when really laying into a hardpacked berm, but otherwise, we didn't really notice any sidewall rolling or squirming, and the lower pressures allowed for a bigger contact patch that only contributed to the already impressive cornering grip.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - it puts up some rolling resistance, but it hooks up quite well when...
It puts up some rolling resistance, but it hooks up quite well when pedaling.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Pedal Traction


We think most people will likely run the Vigilante as a front tire paired with something a little faster in the rear, like the Trail Boss, for example. Of course, you could also run it front and rear, or as a rear tire paired with something even more aggressive up front. As a rear tire, it puts up a fair amount of rolling resistance, but it provides heaps of pedaling traction in loose and mixed conditions.


The relatively tall and squared-off kobs combined with ample spacing works really well in loose conditions. The spacing allows each knob to settle into the surface while the knob height and squared-off edges claw very effectively into soft soils, loam, dust, etc. In chunky dirt, technical rock gardens, or tangles of roots, the spacing and size of the knobs also do a great job of grabbing a hold of edges as you tractor your way up the mountain.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - the vigilante does very well on the brakes. it grips firm surfaces...
The Vigilante does very well on the brakes. It grips firm surfaces like slabby rock and does really well in loose conditions.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Braking Traction


Braking traction is not in short supply with the Vigilante. Again, the aggressive knobs and open tread design work very effectively when it comes time to slow down and stop. This is particularly notable in loose conditions and aggressive terrain where the tire communicates a feeling of confidence and control when you really need it.


The open spacing of the tread design pairs with the relatively tall knobs with squared-off braking edges to allow each knob to dig in independently and grab hold of the trail surface. The tread height means they penetrate well into loose soils and loam, and braking with the Vigilante is a predictable and confidence-inspiring affair. This tire is much less likely to unexpectedly break into a skid than many of the other tires we've tested, particularly those with more tightly packed tread designs and lower profile knobs.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - the same things that make this tire perform well in the corners and...
The same things that make this tire perform well in the corners and while braking also contribute to higher rolling resistance.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Rolling Resistance


Rolling resistance is not a strong suit of the Vigilante. If you want a fast-rolling tire, there are far better options on the market. This enduro or aggressive-trail tire is meant to shred hard and provide killer traction; rolling resistance does not appear to be one of the highest priorities in the design process.


There are a couple of elements at play here. First, the tread pattern's tall square knobs and open spacing do not roll very efficiently. There is simply a lot of drag produced by all of those chunky rubber lugs. This is noticeable when you are just rolling down the street. While coasting along, you can just feel the drag as this tire slows down instead of carrying speed. The other element is weight. Our 29 x 2.5-inch test tire with the Light SG2 casing weighs 1152-grams (slightly heavier than the 1107-gram claimed weight). While this is not absurdly heavy for a beefy tire like this, keep in mind that this is the "Light" casing and the fact that it is heavier than most of the other aggressive trail tires we've tested. This presents itself as rotational weight which generally makes a bike feel a little more sluggish and slower to accelerate than lighter weight tires. Again this tire is intended for confidence while riding aggressive terrain and loose conditions, not winning an XC race. The aggressive trail and enduro riding crowd will probably find the weight and rolling characteristics of this tire perfectly acceptable for the performance it provides.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - it's not exactly lightweight, but the light sg2 casing is much...
It's not exactly lightweight, but the Light SG2 casing is much lighter than the Tough casing.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Longevity


In the past, we've found WTB tires to be a bit of mixed bag in terms of their durability. In recent years, however, our impressions have changed and it seems like they have improved their rubber compounds and casings significantly. We've put quite a few miles on our Vigilante in the TCS Light SG2 casing with High Grip rubber by now. We used it primarily as a front tire paired with a 2.4-inch Trail Boss in the rear. Our testing took place in the spring in the mountains with conditions ranging from dusty and blown out to perfect hero dirt on trails varying between smooth and flowy to slabby and chunky, with more than our fair share of decomposing granitic soils.


Overall, we're quite impressed by the longevity of the Vigilante. The High Grip rubber is fairly soft and tacky, but over the course of the 200 or so miles we've put on it so far, it appears to be wearing evenly with no signs of damage or premature breakdown. The little fuzzy hairs found on new tires have worn off, but the lugs and tread pattern still look fantastic. The TCS Light SG2 casing is the lightest construction this tire comes in, but it feels quite robust and ready to handle some serious abuse. The sidewalls offer ample support, and we've been toying with some absurdly low tire pressures. At around 18 psi we managed to rim out a few times coming a little too hot into rock gardens, but the Light casing with Slash Guard (SG2) inserts in the sidewalls has taken it like a champ without a puncture or pinch-flat to speak of. This is in stark contrast to previous versions of the Vigilante that we've ridden where the Light casing was quite easy to puncture or tear and the side knobs wore out much more quickly than we would have liked.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - this tire has spent weeks on the front of our test bike and it's...
This tire has spent weeks on the front of our test bike and it's still looking great.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Installation


The Vigilante was fairly easy to install. The tire was easy enough to get on the rim, but we did need to use a tire lever to get the last bit of the bead over the edge of the rim. We seated the bead quickly and easily with just a standard floor pump. It's worth noting that we are using Reserve's new Fillmore high-volume tubeless valves, so your experience may be different using other valves. Our test tire has been holding air well, only losing a couple psi over the course of about a week.


In the past, we have noticed some WTB sidewalls seeping sealant without any apparent damage. While not detrimental to the performance of the tire, it doesn't look great or provide a ton of confidence in the casing construction. Interestingly, this is not something we've noticed with our most recent test tire so far.

Value


At its retail price, the Vigilante TCS Light SG2 High Grip is a relatively average value. There are less and more expensive tires out there, and we feel WTB strikes a happy middle ground in price while offering a high-end performance that will satisfy plenty of aggressive trail and all-mountain riders.

WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tires - the wtb vigilante is a great tire that lets you ride with confidence...
The WTB Vigilante is a great tire that lets you ride with confidence in aggressive terrain.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Conclusion


The WTB Vigilante is an aggressive tire that shines in challenging terrain and loose conditions ranging from dust to loam. It provides predictable and dependable cornering, braking, and pedaling traction that will serve aggressive trail, all-mountain, and enduro riders well. It's not the lightest or the fastest rolling, a trade-off for its otherwise stellar performance.

Other Versions


WTB offers the Vigilante in two casing constructions and two rubber compounds. We tested the TCS Light SG2 casing which is the lighter and less robust of the two options. TCS Tough has an even thicker and more supportive feel but weighs a fair bit more. If running this tire in the rear we would probably suggest the Tough casing if you are riding super chunky and aggressive terrain.

We tested the High Grip rubber which is softer than the Fast Rolling compound. We feel that High Grip makes the most sense when used on the front of the bike, while the Fast Rolling will provide a little more longevity for use as a rear tire.

The Viglante comes in both 27.5-inch and 29-inch diameters in 2.5-inch, 2.6-inch, and 2.8-inch widths.

Pat Donahue
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