Finally tire companies are starting to get it. We’ve been shouting for years that 99% of clincher and tubeless racers don’t race UCI races, don’t care about maximum tire widths, and are better served by higher-volume tires that allow lower pressures and lower rolling resistance to compete against tubular-equipped racers. For a few racers, the one race where tire widths come into play is Nationals, where non-UCI categories have a 35c limit (which did not appear to be enforced in Boulder).
And so it baffles us that so many new clinchers and tubeless tires are coming in 32c or 33c tire widths. Some companies, like Specialized, are even going backwards, cancelling CXM’s Editors’ Award-winning Captain 2Bliss 35c tire and moving towards narrower 33c versions of the Tracer, Trigger and Terra. Sure, the Kenda/NoTubes team races tubeless, and we predict one day more UCI racers going tubeless, but we’re not there yet.
Thankfully companies like Ritchey, with its high-volume Shield WCS tire, and now WTB, with its just-announced Cross Boss 35c tubeless tire, having been paying attention and are serving the racers not racing tubulars and not racing UCI races (i.e. paying customers).
We’ve reviewed WTB’s Cross Wolf tire positively, appreciating its aggressive but relatively-smooth rolling tread, but have always wished for more volume, as it measured out at just 29mm on a “standard” road rim. When the tubeless Cross Wolf TCS was announced last fall, we applauded the move, but also commented:
“The downside of the Cross Wolf is that it remains a bit narrow, and although the true width of 32mm on the ChrisCross rim will make it UCI compliant, we maintain that the target market shouldn’t be the small numbers of UCI racers but the everyday racer who is trying to find a reliable, affordable way to run lower pressure. WTB has followed a common path though, as Kenda, Vittoria and IRC all went UCI-compliant in their tubeless widths, and only Specialized and NoTubes offer higher-volume tubeless tires.”
WTB has now addressed this complaint, with the new 35c Cross Boss TCS tire. The $54.95 tire will only come in a TCS Light version, with its tubeless-ready bead, meaning the company is going all-in on tubeless (you can still use an inner tube in this tire, but WTB won’t make a lighter, non-tubeless version).
The tire features a rounded profile, high volume casing with a tightly spaced center tread pattern, and more open side knobs that WTB says are “designed for speed over hard pack with the ability to still shed in intermediate conditions.” WTB admits the tire will be too wide for those racing in UCI Elite events, but expects the 35c tubeless tire to still should hold plenty of appeal for amateur racers who have shifted to tubeless. Amen.
“We have been asked for a higher volume ’cross tire for quite some time,” stated WTB’s Product Manager, Chris Feucht. “Many riders are unwilling to sacrifice comfort, traction, and fun to appease the UCI’s stringent 33c size requirement. Add Dual DNA rubber with a sticky side knob compound and enough volume to really get the benefit of tubeless usage and it’s pretty hard to not have fun on this [Cross Boss] tire.”
Cross Boss 700 x 35c TCS Light tires will use WTB’s TCS bead for sealant retention and repeatable tubeless usage. The TCS Light version will feature WTB’s Dual DNA rubber, combining sticky cornering tread with a faster rolling center compound.
The Cross Boss tires are projected to weigh 398g, will retail for $54.95 USD, and have a projected availability of September 2014.
WTB now offers plenty of non-UCI compliant 700c off-road tires in addition to the Cross Boss. At Frost Bike 2014 we also got an in-person look at some of these other tires that may appeal to the cyclocross, gravel and mixed-terrain crowd, including the previously announced Nano 40c gravel tire, seen in all its high-volume glory below:
The Nano will come in two versions, the 470g, $49.95 Race and the 550g, $31.95 Comp.
The company also said its 27tpi Allterainasaurus, which comes in 32c and 37c widths, remains a popular, affordable option at $31.95 among the gravel crowd.
Don’t care about weight or suppleness and just want something that’s bomb proof? WTB’s sister company, Freedom Tire, was showing its Ryder 38c tire. The tire features a tightly-packed tread, a puncture-resistant “Urban Barrier” and is just $28.99. It’s not light at 665g, but aimed at touring and “Professional Commuters.” Hopefully the UCI won’t impose width restrictions in this new professional category.