Hutchinson Wyrm Racing Lab tire review – French downcountry toughness

Is this new French downcountry tire the ideal balance between speed, control, and toughness?

Hutchinson Wyrm tyre
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

BikePerfect Verdict

Great grip/speed balance for fast trail/aggro XC riding underpinned with a tough, high control but slightly dull-feeling carcass.

Pros

  • +

    Tough, durable carcass

  • +

    Damped impact control

  • +

    Predictably middling all-round grip

  • +

    Faster and lighter than a trail tire

  • +

    Works well with existing Hutchinson tires

Cons

  • -

    Damped rather than lively/responsive feel

  • -

    Not swamp tested yet

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The new Hutchinson Wyrm downcountry tire officially launched a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been running them for a couple of months. The results have been great so far if you want something lighter and faster than a full-blown enduro/trail tire like Hutchinson’s excellent Griffus but you don’t want to have to tiptoe through every rock section or back off too much in turns. 

The weirdly dry hot weather we’ve had in the UK recently means I’ve only ridden it in bone dry or wet after dry summer shower conditions though, so I’ll update this to a full review once normal miserable summer meteorology has occurred.

Hutchinson Wyrm sidewall

The Wyrm actually measures up at 59mm (2.32in) on a 30mm internal rim but that's a lot wider than tires like the Maxxis Forekaster at 56mm (2.2in) (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Construction and design

You can see from its close, interconnected chevrons and low height that the Wyrm center tread is designed for speed rather than outright grip. The shoulder knobs are relatively small too, but they’re staggered to give predictable lean and consistent grip levels as you tip the rounded carcass in. They’re also siped so they splay under load for a more forgiving release. Hutchinson’s XC Race Ripost triple-compound adds more stick (50a duro) on the shoulders with a harder (60a duro) roll in the center and stiffer (65a duro) base.

The top-line Racing Lab tires I’ve been testing are based on a mid-weight 66 TPI carcass wrapped with their well-proven Hardskin bead-to-bead reinforcement. They’re available in Tanwall or Black editions for £69.95/€75,99 and my samples both weighed 40g less than Hutchinson claimed at 910g. The fact that both tires weighed exactly the same says a lot about the quality control of the French manufacturer as there’s often a surprising difference between two of the ‘same’ tires from other brands on the scales. There’s also a standard Blackwall version for £42.95/€45,99 with a claimed weight of 1000g.

Hutchinson Wyrm tread detail

The Wyrm tread is built from triple compound 'Race Riposte XC' rubber (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

The Hardskin carcass feels noticeably stiffer and stouter when rolled between the fingers and it holds its shape more stubbornly than most tires in this category. That can mean a bit more chasing around the rim to get it onto the wheel. Once on, its desire to hold shape means it pops up really easily, even with casual pumping. I’ve not had any issues with sealant weep or burping, even when I’ve dropped the tire down to 16psi in search of a more supple feel.

That’s something of a giveaway to the fact that the default character of the Wyrm (and other Hutchinson trail tires) is controlled and damped rather than buoyant and bouncy like a Maxxis ForeKaster or a Schwalbe Wicked Will. The win there is that it only took me a few blasts through boulders and janky root traps to stop worrying about pinch flats as I would on most sub-kilo tires. Despite the fact it blew up under size at 59mm (2.32in) it slam landed really well when I ran out of travel and skill and Hutchinson says it's e-MTB compatible too. 

Once the slippery release coating from the tire manufacturing process has worn off the tread works well physically. The low knobs roll with minimal grumble on hard stuff and they’re faster than a trail tire across mixed dirt. There’s enough spacing and angles for them to drive and brake noticeably more aggressively than a pure XC tire. Sipes and softer compounds on the stepped edge knobs give them a progressive drift rather than a hard railing feel. The rounded carcass also makes tipping it into corners easy. While I’ve not had the chance to get swampy with them yet, there’s plenty of space between the knobs and the compound is relatively soft so there’s nothing to suggest they won’t be OK when things get wetter. I’ll obviously update the review when that happens though.

The carcass definitely sucks a bit of the spring and zest out of the tire (it feels like you’re running an extra click or two of rebound), so what you gain in control and toughness you do lose in liveliness and ‘sense of speed’ if that’s your vibe. It’s worth noting that the carcass feels significantly slower at lower pressures and the soft side knobs are more likely to drag then too. I don’t know how well the tread will last, although with no punctures or cuts on either Wyrm I’ve been using, and from past Hutchinson Hardskin experience, I’m expecting the tires themselves to be impressively durable.

Hutchinson Wyrm and Kraken together

The Wyrm works great teamed as a front tire to the faster Hutchinson Kraken rear (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

The whole XC-trail/downcountry tire category is by definition all about compromise because speed, toughness, float, and control are at different corners of the performance compass. The Wyrm is definitely one of the better options in the category though, with impressive toughness and rough terrain carcass control as its strongest characteristic. The tread is really well judged for its purpose, with a predictable ‘better than XC/faster roll than trail’ performance whether you’re braking, driving, or turning. The downside is a less springy feel than other options in the category, so it can feel dead – particularly at lower pressures – and slower/less responsive than it actually is as a result.

As a rapid, rough terrain trail tire, it's great in its own right or as a partner to the new larger-sized Kraken tire on the rear or the excellent Griffus enduro tire on the front. Given the likely durability, pricing is acceptable if not a giveaway too.

Tech specs: Hutchinson Wyrm Racing Lab

  • Price: £69.95 / €75.99
  • Sizes: 29 x 2.4in only 
  • Options: Racing Lab Tan or Blackwall, standard Blackwall
  • Weight: 910g
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg