WTB has a wide range of tires to suit all the different definitions of the best gravel bike tire and the Sendero is specifically designed for drop bar riders who never leave the dirt.
A hard compound means it’s surprisingly fast and durable for a soft/loose conditions specialist, but it’s sketchy if things get damp. Even though it only comes in 650b it’s very heavy too.
Design and build
The Sendero definitely has a distinctive tread pattern using small, tall split top, ramped front D-shaped ‘party knobs’. These are closely spaced in a repeating 1/1/2 arrangement down the center spine. They’re much wider spaced (one every three center knobs) on the intermediate shoulder with edge knobs of the same design paired off along the edge. All tires use the same Dual DNA and they only come in one 650b x 47mm size option although you do get three different carcass styles.
Retro/fashionable ‘tan wall’ is the lightest but most fragile. The 60tpi (threads per inch) Dual DNA compound is the cheapest ($65.95) while the SG2 I tested uses a 120tpi casing with a wrap of reinforcing material from edge to edge. Despite the ‘Light’ labeling, my sample tires were 618g and 620g on the scales which is 40g lighter than WTB claim but heavy for a gravel tire.
I ran the test tires on WTB’s new WTB Proterra Light i25 650B wheels but they were still a tight fit that needed levers to get the last bit of bead into place. They also needed over-pressuring beyond the 45psi upper rating of the tire to snap into place. Sizing is accurate though with our tires clocking 46mm wide on the 25mm internal wheels.
While the smaller diameter wheel makes it slightly easier to accelerate than it would be in 700c it still takes some effort to pin it up quickly. The ‘Fast Rolling’ Dual DNA rubber recipe does exactly what it says though. Add the centreline knobs and it’s not much slower than a 700c Nanoraptor on a road roll-down. There’s no obvious noise, buzz, or stiction on road/hardpack either so it doesn’t feel like a mud tire at all from a speed point of view. The SG2 carcass is still smooth and bouncy in feel too as long as you keep pressures low (I ended up running 22psi front and 25psi rear after starting at 30psi both ends and dropping as low as 18psi). While we’ve had leaking and excessive puncture issues with other WTB tires - particularly tan walls - these Sendero’s have stayed up fine since being fitted.
The wider-spaced intermediate and shoulder ‘party knobs’ dig into softer surfaces and clear really well too. That gives the Sendero an obvious advantage in really sloppy mud, grass tracks or sand/loam/loose gravel when turning or driving/braking. The sipes (slots in the knob tops) also give them a predictable feel on hard, dry surfaces. The rounded carcass sets up a smooth roll into turns and if you’re used to 700c tires being close to the ground adds stability as well.
You’ll need all the stability you can get if things get damp. Despite its looks the hard rubber tread is very slippery on wet roots, rocks, and roads. The sipes extend the loss of grip from a sudden snap to a prolonged slide in corners. Braking and driving slips aren't so forgiving so you’ll soon learn to be wary rather than lairy if it’s been raining.
WTB’s Sendero isn’t the tire it might seem. It sticks it to muddy, loamy grassy, or loose conditions as you’d expect but also rolls surprisingly fast on the road. As long as you only need a 650b x 47mm size it's a smooth ride as well. That fast-rolling compound means wet rocks, roots or even damp roads need care though and it’s very heavy in the more durable, reinforced SG2 format.
Tech specs: WTB Sendero TCS Light/Fast Rolling Dual DNA SG2 gravel tire
- Price: $76.95 / £54.99 / €62.95
- Sizes: 650 x 47mm only
- Options: TCS Light/Fast Rolling Dual DNA SG2 (tested), TCS Light/Fast Rolling Dual DNA, TCS Light/Fast Rolling Dual DNA Skinwall
- Weight: 619g (average of two Dual DNA SG2 TCS Light/Fast Rolling tires)