As a colder than average but rather dry (for once) summer come to an end in Stockholm, I got thinking about changing the rubber on the rear wheel of my coaching bike.
The very fast rolling (but useless in mud) summer rear tyre currently on it (schwalbe rock razor) was starting to show it's limitations. Especially when on muddy trails or the rock slabs and carpets roots that makes for most of the Stockholm Archipelago Trails.
Not so much an issue when gravity was keeping me moving forward but the climbs were getting a painful mix of rear spinning, followed by the embarrassing stalling and more often than not by the push uphill until gripper soil is found and forward momentum can be restored .
I have been a fairy faithful Maxxis man for years when if comes to my 'enduro' tyres ride full on tyres (i.e.: Bike parks and Enduro races) .
But my current set of Maxxis DHF & DHR where looking a little tatty and new rubber needed acquiering (again!...)
So I decided to look around and explore new options for the fall and Spring seasons (winter is very likely going to be a variable mix of Maxxis Shorty and Schawlbe Ice Piker Pro when not riding the fat bike)
After some research I selected the WTB Vigilante.
The 27.5" model comes if 3 versions. Light, Tough and Comp
At 2.3" they are wide enough to provide good grip but not so wide that they start floating on mud and fail to dig in and get traction by gripping the hard
The later being the cheap, none tubless, hard compound version. I dismissed it out of hand
Would I still lived in the south of UK where rock garden are few and roots as rare as a honest politician; I would have chosen the light version. But this is Sweden and rocks and roots are the norm and not the exception. So Tough version it is
Further more, when riding in sub zero temp most of the time from November to April/May, the last thing I want is fixing puncture by the side of the trails while my sweaty clothes start to freeze...
With a high grip and fast rolling sub version. I chose the former for the front and later for the rear.
Now I know that a lot depend on combination between rim and tyre when it comes to ease of tubeless setting but this was if not the hardest, one of the hardest set up I ever had to performed.
First. Those tyre are real hard to put on the rim. It took a lot pure strength to get the tyre on the rim to start with and a fair amount of soapy water on the side walls and a rather high volume compressor to get them seated and air tight!
Good, I think I will be able run them at stupidly low pressure without the risk of them burping air or getting of the rim on a high G bern.
And they would need a lot of really bad luck to get a puncture (usually not prone to them with only 2 punctures in the last 5 or 6 years.
So far I only had one ride in rather moist and less than ideal conditions as far as grip goes and I absolutely love them.
They are by no mean the best mud tyres I have ever used but they are not supposed to be. And in the Stockholm area where mud is only a cm or so deep and roots are rock are more of the issue that thick deep mud, they are perfect.
The front high grip version as so far been impeccable and although the rear do eventually let go and loose grip in high speed muddy flat corners, it does so in a predictable and consistent manner.
The next few days have dry weather on the forecast but Sweden being Sweden, October and especially November are likely to be wet, cold and grey miserable months.
What else would someone need to test tyres that their maker define as:
"Born out of a need for unwavering traction in every corner of the world, the Vigilante is our premier aggressive trail and enduro tire. The square-lugged, open-tread pattern offers stability through wet or dry, while the prominent outer knobs grip at lean angles like nobody’s business. Ample spacing ensures it flings mud, while also allowing the knobs to bite into loose, chunky terrain. The TCS Tough/High Grip model is the tire of choice for our entire team of ripping enduro athletes who require a steadfast tire that won't let them down while chasing podiums."