Not long after we posted our findings from Sea Otter, a box of tires showed up at the office. It would seem that WTB’s newest gravel tire was a lot closer to launching than we expected. That prototype tire we spotted in Monterey was indeed the new Vulpine tire as speculated by readers in the comments. And now, we’ve had a chance to ride it.
Designed with a closely packed tread pattern, the Vulpine is clearly all about speed. But all those working edges of the many tread blocks are also there to offer plenty of cornering and braking grip when you need it. The tightly spaced tread blocks are also said to help prevent punctures while improving the durability of the tread. This durability should be heightened by the use of WTB’s Dual DNA rubber with a harder rubber compound in the center of the tread to help with rolling efficiency and durability, while a softer compound at the shoulders helps improve grip and cornering confidence.
The name stems from the old Vulpine semi-slick MTB tire which was beloved by riders who prioritized speed and rolling resistance over all else.
However, I can honestly say that the new Vulpine provides far more grip than you’d expect. After mounting them on an Otso Warakin Ti that usually has 700c x 45mm tires on it, I set off to test the narrower 700c x 36mm Vulpine tires.
My first ride took me to a mountain bike trail that might better be described as a permanent cyclocross course. There’s nothing too technical, but there are plenty of sections with loose rocks, roots, big stretches of sand, and this time—many many leaves. And yet, I set my personal best on one of the loops riding these narrow tires in sketchy conditions. They’re definitely fast, but they grip surprisingly well. Then, when I was done with the off-road sections of the ride, the Vulpines maintained that speed on the pavement.
Given that I was riding the SG2 version with bead-to-bead puncture protection, I wasn’t worried about running the tire pressures fairly low for a 36mm tire. Even at 35psi, the tires still felt super fast while helping to soak up all the surprise hits from rocks and roots hidden underneath the leaves.
TCS Tubeless Sealant & Set-Up
After just receiving the new WTB TCS Tubeless Tire Sealant, this presented a perfect opportunity to test it out. Installation of the Vulpine tires on Easont EC90ax rims was fairly easy, and done without the help of tire levers or tools. After dumping in 2oz of the WTB sealant, the tires quickly popped into place and sealed instantly.
Note that this was with the SG2 version of the Vuplined which should be less permeable, but still, the lack of any bubbles of tire sealant initially seeping from the sidewall was a welcome sight. And since that initial inflation, I haven’t had to add air to the tires for a few days now. Overall, the performance of the TCS tires with the TCS sealant has exceeded expectations. Now we just need to find out how it handles punctures.
When mounted to the 24mm internal width Easton rims, the 36mm Vulpines measure slightly larger at 37mm on the dot.
Weighing in at 423g, the 700c x 36mm WTB Vulpine TCS Light/Fast Rolling SG2 model actually comes in under the claimed weight of 434g.
WTB Vulpine Sizing & Casing Options
If you prize light weight over puncture protection, you’ll want to check out the TCS Light/Fast Rolling version at 381g claimed (or the tan version of the same tire at 391g claimed). That isn’t a lot of weight to add for bomb-proof durability though, so for those races where flatting is not an option, the SG2 tire is very appealing.
Due to the construction, the SG2 model has a 120 TPI casing, while the other two versions are 60tpi. The standard casing tires will be offered for $69.95 each, while the SG2 model is slightly more at $76.95. All three tires are available now at WTB.com and will be found in American bike shops in the coming weeks. European availability is slated for February 2022.