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WTB’s Vigilante Tires Love It In The Loose

WTB's Vigilante tires were built to crush in the loose, dustry, dry California conditions around the brand's HQ. Ryan Dunfee photo.

WTB’s Vigilante tire is the company’s most aggressive all-mountain tread, with big, square blocks of alternating ones and twos down the middle with transitional and cornering knobs. These cornering blocks are built out of softer, grippier rubber, set in more of a flying-V formation, which is unique as most tires you see out there are likely to have blocks set in a straighter, squarer pattern. 

The Vigilante is aimed at those of you who want loads of traction on your sweet trail or enduro bikes as you mob down the hill trying to beat the Strava KOM time. Your neighbor Doug The Human Lung is still way out in front, so it's time to get off those brakes in the corners!

We tested a set of the 29” Vigilantes, front and back, in the TCS Tough Enduro casing–the burliest option–which still sits in a nice middle ground between XC thin and DH thick, and had the tire coming in at a stout 1,150 grams each. They retail for about $80 a pop.

WTB only offers the Vigilante in a 2.3” width across all wheel sizes, although they offer a thinner, lighter TCS Light option at 900 grams and $70,  and a considerably cheaper Comp construction that comes in at 984 grams and costs just $40.

Setting the Vigilantes up tubeless was easy on our Easton Heist rims, and maintained a rather round profile despite rim's wide 30 mm internal width (wide!). They sealed nicely except for the several times I messed up the setup fiddling with the Presta valve.

The only caveat to our review here is that we didn't get any time on these tires in wet conditions, since you can't really ride when it's wet here in Jackson Hole. But we hear they hold their own when it's liquid out.

The Vigilantes On The Trail

The Vigilante's secret sauce consists of alternating sets of center logs and aggressive cornering knobs set in a V pattern, offering more traction at less extreme lean angles. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The Vigilante is tailored towards performing in loose, dry, dusty conditions, and it shows. Climbing traction is superb, and on the rip down, the braking traction is some of the best you’ll find out there. Even if the trail is loose as a sandbox and loaded with chunky roots and rocks, you hit the brakes, and you can feel the bike’s momentum coming to an abrupt halt as the Vigilante’s large, square lugs dig in. If you ride steep, technical trails in dry summer conditions, the Vigilantes are a boon, as they maintain control incredibly well even under hard braking.

RELATED: The 7 steps to picking your next mountain bike tire

The Vigilante's cornering performance will attract or deter potential buyers based on what your desired feel in a tire is. Ther are a driftier tire than other, more obviously channeled tires I’ve tried, like the Maxxis High Roller II and Schwalbe Magic Mary. Whereas the two aforementioned treads prefer and encourage you to lean the bike over, lock in the separated set of cornering knobs, and rail the bike around the corner on a clean line, the Vigilantes felt more comfortable with the bike stood more upright, and preferred to give lightly and predictably–very predictably, in fact–until you found the line out of the corner. They maintain the same feel on wider, more open corners as they did on ones you really had to lean into. More distinctly channeled tires tend to prefer you stand straight up or lean way the hell over.

The TCS Tough Enduro casing requires a careful consideration of tire pressure to stay stout and keep from bending, but survived a month of testing with no durability issues. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Now, one of the greater recreational satisfactions of my adult life comes from attempting to lean a bike as horizontally as possible without falling over in a corner, so my personal bias is towards tires that play to this style, but that’s just me and my own experience.

Otherwise, both the weight and knob size of the Vigilante are fairly middle-of-the-pack. I was fairly happy with the tires’ rolling speed, and didn’t find that they felt like a chore on flatter cross-country trails where a knobbier tire would be putzing around and waiting for something steeper to dig into.

The Bottom Line

If you ride loose, dry conditions and don't care so much for leaning your bike over slideways until your bars scrape the ground, the Vigilantes are a great option for your trail or enduro bike. Ryan Dunfee photo.

WTB’s Vigilante is a good middle-of-the-road option if you’re looking to slap some knobbier tires on your trail or enduro bikes. They are tires with more aggressive side knobs that’ll dig in harder and rail better in tight corners, but if that’s not what you prioritize in your tire selection, and enjoy the feel of a driftier tire that feels consistent no matter how much or little you're leaning the bike over, the Vigilante is also excellent under braking and gives great traction in loose dirt.

Costing between $70 to $80 depending on your preferred casing, they’re fairly average price-wise for a good tire, and while we didn’t get a chance to ride these long, durability has been noted as respectable in other reviews. 

From The Column: Teton Tested

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