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Along with the Valcon Carbon saddle reviewed here, WTB sent out some race rubber in the form of Nano TCS tires and WeirWolf grips to complete my Tomac Supermatic race bike. Out of the WTB line, the WeirWolf grip (which shares its knobby pattern with the Mark Weir signature tire of the same name) looked set to provide good control and grip to tired hands. The tubeless compatible (with sealant) Nano TCS tire looked like a fast tire with enough of a casing to avoid late-night cactus-induced flats. Were they up to the task? You know where our secrets go…
The WeirWolf grips were easy to set up on my bars with no real effort. As with any of your contact points on the bike, it is important to spend some time finding the correct part that fit your needs. A miss-fitting grip makes the rider lose feeling in the hand and thus feeling for what the bike is doing. The dual compound WeirWolfs’ knobs are made of a soft rubber, surrounding a stiffer casing. The soft knobs have kept my hands from slipping, without the knobs pressing uncomfortably into my hands. A plus of the grips is that the ends of the grips are closed to protect the end of bars from trees that walk too close to the edge of the trail. No need to worry about the bar end cap popping out.
Now after 24 hrs 12 hrs of racing and a bunch of other rides the grips are still giving me the traction that I need. The softer knobs are starting to wear and the end covers are doing the job of protecting my bars from those wandering trees. I have yet to experience the grips slipping on the bars or any twisting- but do live and ride in the desert. To sum it up, the 90g, $10 WTB WeirWolf Grip is a solid simple purchase in a world of limitless grip options. A little narrow of a grip for my personal liking, but as with many gear choices the longer you use something the more you get used to it.
For my race bike, I was looking for a fast tire that had a decent sidewall thickness to avoid the midnight cactus puncture. My racing experience in the Southwest and Rockies have taught me that tire selection cannot win a race, but it certainly can lose one fast. Continually washing out or suffering a sliced side wall ruins a day pretty quickly. The WTB TCS Nano checks off all of the right boxes for a solid endurance race tire; sub-600g weight, roundish profile, small knobs centered around a raised center line, lots of different angled knobs and no gaps in the tread between the center line and the cornering knobs. The two TCS Nano 2.1 tires that showed up weighed in at 600g and 592g, which is right around the 595g claimed weight. I have always found WTB tires a little heavier than other tires on the market, but that almost always translates into better durability.
Mounting up the Nanos on my Stan Archs rims(24mm bead hook to bead hook), I tested one of the bragging points of the TCS tires by being able to mount the tires with only a hand pump. My Joe Blow Max pump was finally able to seat the bead of each of the tires after a bit of coaxing, what has to be the most pumps in a row I have ever done and 2 cups of stans sealant (which is also sold as WTB TCS sealant). When mounted up the tires measured right around 2.0in wide- but somehow look narrower. Suggested retail for the Nano TCS is an appropriate $70, with a non-tubeless Race version at $60 and 500g. Not the cheapest but also not the most expensive race orientated tires out there.
So far the WTB TCS Nano has held the dirt well in a variety of dry conditions only faltering when the mud got thick and sticky. When really pushing the front end into corners it gets a little dicey as the tires begin to slip. I think that this is largely due to the sharp drop off from the side cornering knobs. The slippage is something that I have not quite gotten used to in the front. Running low pressure has helped but I still have to think about not leaning the bike too far over in corners. However, the Nano set up in the back has performed admirably. The Nano only slips under heavy pedaling and soft soil, pretty amazing considering the tire’s lack of width. The braking control the Nano offers is just as strong as the power transfer. The Nano rarely breaks completely free of traction due to the large amounts of long flat edges. The nearly solid center line of the Nano has kept the tires rolling fast when the dirt is packed or getting to the trail on the pavement.
The cornering knobs are starting to show some under mining after 250 miles- but not to the extent where I can feel any difference when riding. The part that has really been great riding the Nanos is that there is almost no sign of the side walls falling apart or cuts from rocks. Unlike with some race tires, I am not worried about my tires blowing out. While not your ultra light race tire, the WTB Nano TCS is a tire that is light enough to race on but one you don’t have to be overly concerned about ripping a hole in when you are far away from the trailhead or have dropped $50 on an entry fee.