Enter any trail centre car park and you’re likely to find the Vigilante, in a variety of guises and sizes, to be one of the more common mountain bike tire options. We’ve always considered it as a brilliant choice for season round all-mountain/trail riding, so we’re excited to see if the latest updates improve this highly regarded performance.
The latest era of Vigilante is available in 2.5-, 2.6- and 2.8-inch widths across both 27.5- and 29-inch wheel diameters. The 2.5in and 2.6in are said to be optimized for rims with internal widths of around 29mm, whereas 2.8in is said to work best with those closer to 35mm. Across all of the variations is a variety of rubber compound cocktails and sidewall toughness’ so there’s plenty of options to best suit your riding demands. For the purpose of this test, we selected the 2.5in wide tire mounted to the front as we felt this was the most relevant and best overall width for the majority of riders.
The whole Vigilante line-up features WTB’s ‘TriTec’ compound technology. ‘TriTech’ uses three different levels of rubber hardness throughout the tread which is tuned to achieve WTB’s desired feel and handling characteristics. The Vigilante’s tread design sees the firmest of the three durometers across the base of the tire before gradually turning softer halfway up each and every knob. The side knobs see the softest and slowest rebounding rubber compound to maximise cornering grip, whereas the centre tread sees a harder blend with the aim of reducing rolling resistance and extending longevity.
All Vigilantes get two ‘TriTec’ compound options and the names are fairly self-explanatory – ‘Fast Rolling’ and ‘High Grip’. ‘Fast Rolling’ uses a firmer overall compound to deliver quicker rolling speeds and the ‘High Grip’ compound uses softer rubber to keep grip the priority.
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Casing wise sees the option for either ‘Tough’ or ‘Light’ sidewalls. The ‘Tough’ casing is a dual-ply sidewall aimed at gravity focused riding where protection is a necessity, especially when racing. The ‘Light’ casing is a single-ply sidewall but for the latest Vigilante WTB has introduced a ‘Slash Guard’ which is a nylon insert that covers the entire sidewall - WTB state this is to provide extra protection without the weight penalty the dual-ply casing, ideal for the enthusiastic trail riders. Neither are featherweights though and our ‘Tough/High Grip’ 29 x 2.5in tire touched in at a healthy 1,295g whereas the equivalent size ‘Light’ casing option sees a claimed weight of 1,137g, which is on the heavier side when compared to equivalent options from other brands.
The overall tread pattern remains the same as older Vigilantes but it does look a little chunkier due to the new increased width.
Like most other WTB tires of late, we also see TCS tubeless technology featured here. Similarly to other WTB tires we’ve had on test recently the Vigilante also required a little extra effort to pop onto the rim. These are the first tires in quite some time we’ve needed the assistance of our air compressor during installation. It’s not a showstopper, but certainly worth considering if you’re a frequent car park tire changer.
Once installed the signature Vigilante profile appears familiar as it sits tall on the rim, and the new additional width offers a more aggressive and reassuring appearance when looking down at the front wheel. In the wild this tall construction does a beautiful job of preventing any annoying trail chatter from reaching your hands and results in a really smooth ride, however, the ‘Tough’ casing we tested still didn’t feel quite as damped or controlled as some other stout rubber options we’ve been riding recently. The flip side of this is that due to the high protection levels on offer from this casing you can actually drop normal pressures to really increase traction without raising the risk of punctures.
The overall feel of the tread pattern remains reliable and grippy across a broad variety of terrain and there is definitely more of a distinct cut feel from the new wider profile when banking over in turns. Occasionally during flatter corners there can be a slight skip before the side knobs really lock in and we put this down to the way every third side knob is more inboard, and if the load begins at this point it can translate to a split second of vagueness before properly engaging with the ground. This characteristic doesn’t seem to affect performance too much, but it certainly isn’t something we feel when riding our current favourite rubber from other brands. After plenty of riding the tread does seem to wear better than many other soft compound tires though.
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Despite the weight, with the tread pattern being slightly more compact than some of its competition the Vigilante does a good job of holding speed and picks up pace well when you let the bike run, even in the ‘High Grip’ compound we tested. Due to less deformation of the knobs, this slightly lower profile tread pattern excels when you’re riding trails typically found at a trail centre too, yet it still manages to hold its own in wet and muddy situations. On a whole, it makes for a great fit and forget tire that’ll have you covered and remain reliable no matter what your day on the bike entails.
The Vigilante has always been a strong contender and the new series of improvements make it even easier to recommend. If you’re not bothered about weight and want a tire that’s predictably grippy through a broad range of conditions, then you won’t go far wrong here. The fact it comes in at a competitive price and lasts really well is a big bonus, too.
Tech Specs: WTB Vigilante
- Price: $72.95 / £55
- Sizes: 27.5 x 2.5/2.6/2.8in and 29 x 2.5/2.6/2.8in
- Weight: 1295g (Tough High Grip 29x2.5)