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REVIEW

Wet Weather & The 29x2.8" WTB Vigilante Plus Tire

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Oct 21, 2019

I'm soaked right through with water pooling in my weatherproof socks and uncomfortably sloshy skivvies as I stare down a steep armoured rock-roll. It's a long way back to my car and while this is the best all-weather trail to get me there, the combination of wet rock, roots, and woodwork has placed me out of my solo-comfort zone on a greasy North Shore day.

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I measure the Vigilante as true-to-size at 70.5mm / 2.78" at the knobs on an i40 ARC rim.

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Going down?! This is a winch and descend tire - slow-ish rolling with oodles of traction.

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Steep greasy rocks, roots, and woodwork. WTB's 'High Grip' compound is up to it.

I look down at the only front tire I've known for months, wet & dry. After first experiencing it in the 27+ format on the Rocky Mountain Growler, I'm running the 29+ version on both my suspension bike and my rigid single-speed; The WTB Vigilante 29x2.8. I roll off down the trail confidently as I load my front tire into the first tight turn and the rear slides around to join it.

Vigilante!

I get into trouble; it gets me out of trouble. Sometimes, on a slick log ride or rolling a steep jank, I feel like it breaks the laws of physics. I've ridden the Vigilante (which some of my friends call the 'Vigi-Mary' because of its resemblance to the Schwalbe Magic Mary) in a few sizes including 27x2.8, 29x2.5, and 29x2.6 with positive results, but nothing has been as remarkable as the 29x2.8 in the High Grip compound.

On an i40* rim like my Race Face ARC, I'm never been more confident in a front end setup on trails wet or dry. In fact I've been riding a few of my favourite trails in the wet like it's dry which is an entirely bizarre experience compared to my normally hyper-conscious upright winter riding.

*Or an i39 rim in the case of the Velocity Dually

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The High Grip side knobs crazy-soft but the tire wears really well and...

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...the performance of my well-used Vigilante has held up beautifully compared to a freshie.

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I'm running the High Grip compound with WTB's dual-ply Tough sidewall.

The 29x2.8" Vigilante is available in a few different configurations. First, choose a compound. The High Grip option seems the most obvious choice but I can imagine using the Fast Rolling option for strictly dry conditions or possibly as a rear tire if I cared about matching front and rear tire wear. Locally, I think the best choice is to go High Grip at both ends and cycle front tires to the back as they wear out.

Next, choose a sidewall option. I hate flats, like low-ish pressures, and I weigh a buck eighty-five or a buck ninety so I'm sold on the extra support and durability of the dual-ply Tough casing. This manages to not be as dead feeling as Schwalbe's Super Gravity or e13's LG1r DH casings but still offers excellent support. Too much support? Maybe. On the front with CushCore installed I could potentially get away with the reinforced-single-ply Light casing if I cared about a couple hundred grams or was a lighter rider looking for nicer ride quality.

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I'm only riding the 29+ Vigilante up front, but I've had a great result riding the 27+ version front and rear.

Awesomize Your Budget Ride NSMB AndrewM (22).JPG

My next personal hardtail will have plenty of space out back to run the 29+ Vigilante on an i40 rim.

With the new CushCore Plus installed many riders may prefer the more supple ride of the light casing for their front tire. I'm not trying to win any climbs, I hate punctures, and I like the support of 29+ Vigilante combined with the CushCore insert, so I don't see myself giving up on the dual-ply tire. On the front of my Marin with the 160mm Mezzer, I've been running 17-18psi depending on conditions. That's with no insert. On the front of my single-speed, with CushCore, I've been running 12.5-13.5psi.

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1354g. The dual-ply Tough Casing version of the 2.8" Vigilante is not weight-weenie rubber.

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Plus 334g. With CushCore Plus it adds up to a personal calculation of ride, durability, and rolling weight.

Straight-line braking traction and control are excellent even with big, sensitive, four-piston brakes mated to large rotors and at the same time, the Vigilante changes direction easily compared to some other high traction rubber. It digs in harder than most of the Plus tires I've ridden, with less of a floating feeling. This may be due to the weight and the damped ride of the overbuilt sidewalls.

There are of course trade-offs to the best front tire I've ridden. At my speed, support is excellent when leaned over but epic-level berm smashers or ultra-precise racers may prefer how narrower, but similarly aggressive, tires like the excellent 2.4" e13 LG1r or Magic Mary SG cut into terrain. There's also, of course, the need for an i40 rim and a fork with adequate* tire clearance.

*'Adequate' could be a manufacturer's listed max tire size, or it could be your own measurements.

Awesomize Your Budget Ride NSMB AndrewM (25).JPG

The 27+ Vigilante in High Grip | Tough Casing was the key upgrade on my 2019 Growler 40 review.

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For the 2020 Growler, Rocky Mountain specs the 40 & 50 with 29x2.6" Vigilantes in High Grip | Light Casing.

29+ Adoption Challenges

This is a heavy tire. There isn't a similarly aggressive dual-ply 2.8" tire on the market, but plenty of riders find that 1354g number a bit shocking. Although, for comparison sake, a 29x2.35" Magic Mary Super Gravity tire is ~1170g and a 29x2.6" Magic Mary Super Gravity tire is ~1370g so I think WTB is in the ballpark.

Secondly, it's a matter of compatibility. Fork compatibility, rim compatibility, frame compatibility, the fact is most current fork lowers fit 29x2.6", frames that could already clear 29x2.4" needed little modification to jump up to 29+/-, and the 30mm ID rims companies spec can handle the 2.6" rubber even if it's generally better on a 35mm ID.

There's also the argument of diminishing returns. I'm enamoured with the 2.8" Vigilante up front on my Marin but a 2.6" Vigilante in the same compound and casing would also be a great choice. On my rigid Walt, I'll take the 2.8" every day, with a CushCore insert thank you, but then that's not an application many folks will care about. With the 2.6", 29+/-, market growing I hope that there's enough demand for bigger meat that good aggressive rubber in the 29+ format will continue to be released. I know that my next hardtail will absolutely clear a 29x2.8" Vigilante in the rear.

Manitou Mezzer NSMB AndrewM (25).JPG

For WTB's 2.8" rubber I recommend an i40 rim over an i35.

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With plenty of solid days climbing with the big rubber I've stopped caring what they weigh.

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Fork clearance and rim size are the two large barriers to rubbing big rubber.

I've ridden a lot of great rubber in the regular 2.35-2.5" sizes. I've had good 29x2.6" experiences to date. But, allowing for fork-tire clearance and proper rim dimensions, I'm happiest descending winter grease or summer loam on bigger rubber and the 2.8" Vigilante is the best of the 29+ breed I've tried. It's available in a High Grip | Light Casing for 73 USD and the High Grip | Tough Casing I'm testing for 84 USD, with more information from WTB right here.

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Comments

dlopez0811
+1 Agleck7
David Lopez  - Oct. 21, 2019, 3:54 a.m.

Love all your articles specifically "tear down" articles.  Kudos on the no BS reviews but I hope to one day read an article on your test sled.  Marin plus mezzer and ccdb.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 8:35 a.m.

Thanks David,

As a general rule we don’t review our own bikes though I’m happy to talk about the AT anytime.

I’ll be talking about my various experiences with CCDB Coil shocks (including setup) in an upcoming piece.

I’ve been riding the Mezzer a lot since my first look but have hours to get on the fork yet before penning the review.

Thanks for reading and engaging! I really appreciate it.

Reply

WheelNut
0
WheelNut  - Oct. 21, 2019, 9:42 a.m.

What tire pressure ranges were you using on this tire Andrew? I'm the same weight as you, so I'm curious.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 12:26 p.m.

With no insert and a 160mm fork I’m running 17-18psi.

With the Plus CushCore I’m running ~12.5 on the rigid and ~13.5 on the FS.

Reply

WheelNut
+1 Andrew Major
WheelNut  - Oct. 22, 2019, 9:51 a.m.

Wow, that's low. Thanks for the reply. I'll have to do some lower pressure experimentation this winter.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 31, 2019, 7:37 a.m.

Plus tires! 

For reference, on the back of my FS bike I have a 2.35 LG1r and I’m running 24-25psi.

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Oct. 21, 2019, 9:51 a.m.

Does the reverse arch reduce the bottom out clearance on the front fork compared to traditional forks?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Dan
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 12:33 p.m.

You mean fork arch / downtube clearance?

I’d like to see one on a Trek Slash, with the downtube shape that requires a headset limiter to keep fork knobs from smashing it, before answering definitively but I think the tire VS bottom of steerer tube is the restricted clearance point as with other forks.

The Mezzer is right in the axle-to-crown height range of the Fox 36 and RS Lyrik where past Manitou folks could be quite tall. 

Give me a couple days to sort it out and I’ll get you a side profile photo of the fork bottomed relative to my Marin.

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dan
0
Dan  - Oct. 23, 2019, 8:33 p.m.

Slash owner here. Keen to hear what you discover.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 31, 2019, 7:37 a.m.

Haven’t forgotten you Morgan. Apologies I haven’t gotten you this photo yet. Today!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 31, 2019, 9:16 p.m.

Hi Morgan,

Here are those photos at bottom out (this is with all air chambers empty):

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JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - Oct. 21, 2019, 10:48 a.m.

these light casings, high grip WTB offerings sound great. speaking with a couple of LBS managers, unfortunately they will be hard to find at least here due to low sales. one shop basically told me they are giving up on all tire brands besides Maxxis as that's all people ask for and the rest of the inventory just gets stale.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 12:47 p.m.

Having worked in shops a decently long time I can see two sides to it.

On the hand, it’s easy to sell a Maxxis* tire for a higher net profit with less work. Often zero effort. 

On the other hand, if staff is passionate about riding a product and going to be chatting to customers about it anyways (especially this time of year when it’s all about chatting) then why not commit a few dollars to stocking products that are different from what everyone else in town carries?!

You can’t not carry the top rubber from Maxxis but I’d commit a couple if hooks to different sidewalls of WTB Vigis for sure. Especially since I’d be talking 27+/29+ and there aren’t better options. 

*Continental if we’re talking road. Schwalbe for mountain & road in some markets.

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scoleman
0
SColeman  - Oct. 22, 2019, 12:15 p.m.

> On the other hand, if staff is passionate about riding a product and going to be chatting to customers about it anyways (especially this time of year when it’s all about chatting) then why not commit a few dollars to stocking products that are different from what everyone else in town carries?!

I can echo this sentiment as well from a shop perspective.  In my shoprat years, I made an effort to try new and/or unusual products so that I could make good recommendations - both to the shop owner on what worked well and was worth stocking and to the customer on what he (or she) should consider buying.

It's something that a lot of shops are missing these days, in my opinion.

Reply

Shinook
0
Shinook  - Oct. 21, 2019, 7:19 p.m.

I'm in the same boat, I like the WTB tires a lot, but they are difficult to find in shops. Most shops around here either carry OEM brands like Bontrager or Specialized, and Maxxis. The one shop that carried WTB quit stocking them because they sold so slowly. It's a shame, because they are great tires, but everyone seems to stick with what they know and not really branch out.

I end up buying them online, as a result, which is sometimes inconvenient when I get anxiety about the wear on my tire and want to replace it right away, but I've gotten a little better about planning for that.

I do wish they had a more intermediate tire between the fast rolling, fast wearing Trail Boss 2.4 and the porky Judge options. When the weather turns, I find myself heading back to a DHRII in the rear mainly for the weight savings.

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JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - Oct. 21, 2019, 10:48 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

Cabana76
0
Adrian White  - Oct. 21, 2019, 1:59 p.m.

Thank you for this great article! I really like the look and feel of the vigilante 2.6 29er on the front, even if it barely cleared my non boost Pike. I loved the tire until I had to take it off my 2016 era NOBL Tr36. It was sooooo difficult to remove, compared to a maxxis or schawlbe, that I had to resort to standing on the tire and pulling on the spokes to break the bead! Toughest tire to remove by far and not something I want to repeat on the trailside again.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 6:34 p.m.

Was the tire glued to the rim tape or that just how tight the bead/rim wall interface was?

No problem removing/installing these by hand on RaceFace or Velocity rim (i49/i39) as long as there’s no insert. Except when one time the tire glued itself to my Gorilla Tape - total PIA. I used all the swear words I know so many times that I got bored and invented new ones. Not the tire’s fault though.

Reply

Cabana76
0
Adrian White  - Oct. 21, 2019, 7:05 p.m.

No, don't think it glued itself, just a really tight fit in the bead socket.  Same challenge with a WTB Trail Boss on the back wheel.

I connected NOBL on their thoughts and they also said no problem, but acknowledged Maxxis as the most consistent and easiest to seat.

Maybe just my bad luck, but I remember seeing another post on here about difficulties with NOBL and WTB

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 21, 2019, 7:16 p.m.

Interesting. I've only removed/mounted tires on a set of NOBL rims once (or maybe twice) and it was a while back so it's not something I've had enough experience on to comment currently. Cheers!

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Hollytron
0
Hollytron  - Oct. 26, 2019, 8:44 a.m.

I remember WTB used to discourage the use of their tires with stans rims for this exact issue.

Reply

Timer
+1 Andrew Major
Timer  - Oct. 23, 2019, 1:50 a.m.

I'm pretty sure the "VigiMary" moinker stems from the fact that the 26" Vigilante looked almost identical to the Muddy Mary.

Reply

heathen
+1 Andrew Major
Heathen  - Oct. 23, 2019, 1:18 p.m.

Great write up Andrew.

Any thoughts on the 27.5x2.6 High Grip.

I am looking at them for my Chromag Wideangle. I have read that they are a bit wider 69mm at the knobs and 63 at the casing. That really appeals to me as I find the Minion 2.5 a little harsh with the lack of volume.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Heathen
Andrew Major  - Oct. 23, 2019, 2:39 p.m.

Thank you!

I’d run the 2.6” in scenarios where my rims were undersized for larger rubber or it didn’t clear my frame. For example, I’d run it without hesitation on my Marin or my current Walt that can’t clear bigger.

That said, doesn’t the Wideangle clear a 27x2.8? If your rim is a i35 or i40 I’d upsize all the way.

Reply

heathen
0
Heathen  - Oct. 23, 2019, 3:57 p.m.

I test fit DHR ll 27.5x2.8 on i40 rims and it did not provide adequate clearance imo. I am running Sun Duroc rims with i36 and Eliminator Black Diamond 2.6. Grip is ok but I am not a fan or how the casing sticks out past the knobs.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 23, 2019, 4:52 p.m.

Same story with my Walt. My next tire for that bike would be a 2.6” Vigi Tough Casing / Fast Rolling but I suspect the SE5 will last long enough for its replacement to arrive and that’s specifically meant to clear a mean 2.8”.

Reply

gregster77
0
gregster77  - Oct. 30, 2019, 10:55 p.m.

Would you expect better traction out of a 2.6 Vigi vs 2.5 assegai?  Currently run an assegai up front and quite happy with it, but when it's time to swap out and there's an ever stickier option...

i assume i could go to 2.6 no problem on the raceface30 rim that currently runs the 2.5 assegai

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 31, 2019, 7:41 a.m.

2.6 on an i30 is fine.

To answer your other question, I think comparing SRP pricing the High Grip Vigilante 2.6/2.8 have the most traction per dollar on the market.

In absolute terms I think there’s an element of preference that prevents me from saying one tire is better/worse/equal compared to another. I really like the Assegai up front.

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