WTB is heading even further off the asphalt with their latest addition to the Road Plus segment that they have essentially cemented with their excellent Horizon tire. When they introduced the Road Plus concept last year, even as a lover of wide tires on the road and ‘all-the-gravel, all-the-time’ I didn’t really take it seriously. I guess I was thinking that few cyclists would appreciate the extra flotation and ability to run really low tire pressures that the fat 650b format provided. But after a bunch of time on the Horizon I’m sold. And now WTB are coming back with the same casing and more grip in a new 47mm wide, tubeless compatible Byway tire for those of us more prone to taking our road adventures further afield…
WTB calls the Byway a ‘dirt-centric’ road tire. While the Horizon was about letting rides feel comfortable to stray from the asphalt every once in a while, the Byway is about getting off the pavement as quickly as you can. As WTB puts it, the Byway was developed “for riders who prioritize dirt and gravel, yet find themselves on paved roads to get there”.
The new high-volume Byway doesn’t stray completely from the road – it is Road Plus after all – and gets three distinct tread transitions to suit all types of road surface.
A smooth center provides fast rolling, especially at higher (think 50+psi) pressures, with small angled sipes to deform to irregular road surfaces. Then four rows of pyramids form a transition file tread zone to maintain traction and control when the road surface starts to break up and get loose. Then lastly a set of openly spaced shoulder knobs finish it off for grip when cornering in loose terrain at lower pressures (think <30psi), and are long enough to offer a lot of support even when cornering on hard surfaces.
The key to those three (or maybe four) tread zones is that in profile the transition from one to the next is smooth, but they open up as you move away from the center. That should mean that it will feel predictable when you lean the tire in turns whether on hard or soft surfaces (a characteristic not all mixed tread designs share).
The Byway shares the same supple Lightweight folding casing as the Horizon before it, and gets the same TCS tubeless ready construction for what should be a familiar ride feel. It does benefit from a bit of added protection by way of those long extended should knobs which WTB claims should deflect sharp rocks before they make contact with the sidewall.
Like the Horizon, the 650b Byway goes for a 47mm width so that it ends up the same outer diameter as a 28-30mm tire on a regular 700c wheel. That was intended to ensure compatibility with a wide range of road, gravel, and cross bikes out there already (much like 27.5+ was with 29ers), but it seems that more bike companies have started to catch on building bikes for the Road Plus concept. WTB maintains a helpful list of frames currently ready for Road Plus tires.
The WTB Byway is a one-size only tire at 650 x 47c, with preproduction tires weighing in at 535g a piece. Just like its Road Plus sibling, the Byway will sell for $68. The tires are available as of today, shipping out of WTB’s California warehouse.
As a finishing note for those heading to Trans Iowa April 30, WTB will be gifting all finishers with a set of the new Byway tires, apparently as well as 37 & 45mm Riddlers.