What’s the perfect gravel tire? Well, like most types of riding, that depends on a number of factors. Frame clearance, terrain type, weather conditions, riding style, etc. There already plenty of tires out there for those looking for smooth rolling tires that are super light for the average gravel rider. But what if you want to get rad?
What does that mean? We take it to mean riding gravel bikes on more aggressive trails where cornering and braking grip are just as important as rolling resistance and tire weight. If that sounds like you, you may want to check out the new Raddler tire from WTB.
Riddler vs. Raddler
Not to be confused with the half beer, half lemon soda drink from Germany, the Raddler is well, a radder Riddler. As a refresher, the Riddler is an awesome WTB tire with a tightly packed short knob centerline and bigger side lugs for cornering grip. As good as the Riddler is, there were those who felt it wore out too quickly, and/or didn’t offer enough grip in wet conditions. Enter the Raddler.
Compared to the Riddler, the Raddler uses centerline knobs that are the same shape, but more widely spaced. They’re also slightly bigger, and taller. This should make them last a lot longer, but also causes them to punch through layers of mud to maintain grip.
The side knobs are also substantially larger and the tire has a more squared profile which should make it easier to get these side knobs to bite.
Choose your (tubeless) sidewall
Offered in two sizes, you can have the Raddler in 700c x 40 or 44mm. Both of these come in black or tan sidewalls, will all of them featuring WTB’s TCS Light tubeless construction, single ply 60 tpi casing, and Dual DNA rubber. All models sell for $59.99.
When it comes to their actual size, I mounted the 44mm Raddlers to an Atomik Berd Ultimate wheelset with a 26mm internal width, and they measured 43.25mm wide. I also have a set of 45mm Riddlers mounted to Easton EC90 AX rims with a 24mm internal width, and they measure just under 45mm at 44.9mm – but they’ve also been on there for a while and have definitely stretched.
Actual Weights (bigger is lighter??)
On the scale shots above, the tan wall tires are the 44mm and the black walls are the 40mm. Since the tan wall material is lighter, the 44mm tires actually come in less than their black counterparts at 512/513g. This would also mean that the black 44mm tires would be heavier than the tan walls 44mm. Judging by the fact that the black 40mm tires above are more than the claimed weight for the black 44mm tires, we might expect the 700c x 44mm black tires to be a good big heavier than claimed as well.
Real World Performance
Since I’m already a big fan of the Riddler, I couldn’t wait to get the Raddlers mounted up for a ride. This time of year causes me to leave the Riddlers in the garage and reach for a tire with more bite. But some of those tires have also proven to be painfully slow on pavement. My first thought was that the Raddler feels very fast on the road for what it is. It feels a lot like the Riddler with excellent straight line speed and rolling resistance – but lean it over and you’ll start to feel those knobs.
It didn’t take long to find some treacherous mud to test out the tire’s grip. Immediately, the Raddler was an improvement over the Riddler while braking on a steep, loose trail. After controlling my descent to the trail below, the Raddlers also proved to happily hold your line even with quick changes in direction on the slickest mud. I was impressed by the precision offered by the Raddler when making hard turns on leaf over wet trails. Definitely rad.
There’s no doubt that these tires perform better in wet conditions than the Riddler. They also seem to shed mud fairly well, even when it’s that crazy sticky peanut butter mud that seems to cling to everything. More importantly, for the mud that doesn’t get shed, the tread blocks still poke out past it which makes it seem like there’s always grip to be found.
The tires are obviously a bit smaller than the Riddlers in the 44mm size, but this means that if your bike has clearance for 45mm tires, you’ll have extra mud clearance. Which is probably important if you’re considering a tire like the Raddler.
Like the Riddler in dry conditions, the Raddler seems like a great compromise in wet conditions. There is plenty of grip when you need it, but the tire still rolls well enough on pavement that you won’t feel like you’re pushing Super Swampers on the way to the good stuff.