First Lap: New WTB Judge Tire, Updated Trail Boss & Vigilantes

WTB released a chunky new mountain bike tire, the Judge, and updated the Trail Boss & Vigilante tires. Updated KOM Light and KOM Tough rims are on tap too.
Testing the new tires on the Silver Mountain Bike Park trails. Photo by Abner Kingman.

WTB has revised two of their most popular tires, the Trail Boss and the Vigilante, and introduced a new tire to the lineup, the Judge. The company has also updated their rim offerings and simplified the lineup to help make selection easier.

In late June, WTB brought Singletracks and other journalists to Kellogg, Idaho to try out the new products on the berms, jumps, and steep downhill lines at Silver Mountain Bike Park.

My initial thoughts on the new products are positive, but first, let’s talk about what’s new and why WTB updated everything.

What’s new

Possibly the biggest update to the lineup is the introduction of a new triple tire compound called TriTec. Previously WTB utilized a dual compound for their tires, in everything from XC to gravity offerings.

The new triple compound construction will feature a hard compound in the base of the knobs, with a softer compound on top of the center knobs and an extra soft layer on top of the side knobs. The updated tires will come in either a Tough or a Light casing.

The new Tough casing will feature a two-ply construction for durability and will be offered in two different compound constructions — fast rolling and high grip. The high grip version sports a hard base knob compound from bead to bead, a softer center knob compound on top of the base, and an extra soft compound on the corner knobs.

The Light casing option has the same compound options, but utilizes a single ply casing for weight savings. All of the Light tires will come with a nylon insert in the sidewalls which WTB calls Slash Guard.

The Vigilante

The revised WTB Vigilante. Photo by Abner Kingman.

The Vigilante, an aggressive, knobby tire was previously offered in a 2.3-inch size only. It’ll now come in 2.5 and 2.6-inch widths. The tread pattern remains similar, but the knobs gained some spacing between them for mud shedding, while the intermediate knobs are pushed closer to the side knobs for better cornering.

“You just point it and dig in,” says WTB-sponsored EWS racer, Marco Osborne. Osborne and long-time WTB athlete and mountain bike legend Mark Weir joined media for the tire launch.

Osborne ran the new Vigilante front and rear for both the very dry Enduro World Series round in Chile and the very wet round in Colombia, and he says they were great options for both venues.

The Vigilante is available in either the Light or Tough casing, and with the high grip or fast rolling compound construction. The tire will retail for $67 to $80 depending on the casing and compound selection.

The Trail Boss

The Trail Boss. Photo by Abner Kingman.

The new Trail Boss, like all of the other new tires was optimized for a 29mm internal rim width. WTB added a millimeter of height to all of the knobs on the tire. Previously available in a 2.25 and 2.4-inch widths, the updated Trail Boss is now offered in 2.4 and 2.6-inch widths.

WTB keeps tire recommendations simple when customers ask what they should run for most trail conditions: A Trail Boss, with tighter knobs and less rolling resistance in the rear, and a Vigilante up front for directional control.

The Trail Boss will come in Light and Tough casings, but only in the fast rolling compound. It’ll retail for $68 to $80 depending on the casing and wheel size.

The Judge

The all-new WTB Judge. Photo by Abner Kingman.

The Judge is brand new to the WTB tire line. It’s a “rear-focused,” tire, says WTB. It will only come in a 2.4-inch width and is available in fast rolling and high grip compounds. The Judge is also made for today’s wide rims for a flatter profile and is available in the tough casing only, 27.5 or 29-inch diameters, and fast rolling or high grip compounds.

The Judge was made to handle anything from dry to muddy conditions, but with its chunky knobs, it’s going to excel in muddy, wet, loose-over-hard, or just plain loose conditions.

The 27.5-inch tire will sell for $77 and the 29er version will sell for $80.

Updated WTB rims

The new WTB KOM Tough rim with the Vigilante. Photo by Abner Kingman.

Along with new tires comes revised rims. In an attempt to make choices more clear than they previously were, there will be two rim models, KOM Light and KOM Tough, and both will come in various widths.

WTB has updated their proprietary TCS (tubeless compatible system) with a more recessed channel in the rims, a new rim strip they say is indestructible, flex tape over the rim strip, and a better sealing bead lock.

WTB’s new Solid Strip. It’s flexible, appears to be tough and goes on and off the rim easily. Photo: WTB.

KOM Light rims range from a 21mm internal width all the way up to 45mm for three-inch tires, and they will be sold in 26, 27.5, and 29-inch diameters. They’re marketed for road touring, gravel, cyclocross, cross-country, and trail use. The Lights have an open cavity design with no I-beams in order to save weight. They’ll retail from $105 to $110.

The KOM Toughs target the trail, enduro, gravity, and bikepacking market and start at a 25mm internal width and go up to 45mm in increments of 5mm, except for the i29 rim. WTB made the rims with two I-beams on the inside for a strength increase while saving weight over a single, thick I-beam.

The rims will retail for between $105 and $110.

At the park

Silver Mountain graciously opened their doors to us a few days ahead of their official opening date to test the new WTB gear. The town received intermittent rain during our stay, and aside from a few puddles here and there, the dirt was soft, impressionable, and close to perfect.

Dropping into one of Silver Mountain’s steeper trails with the Vigilante and the Judge. Photo by Abner Kingman.

My bike was set up with a Judge 2.4 in the rear and a Vigilante 2.5 for the front tire, both 27.5-inch. I thought about switching for the Trail Boss in the rear, but wanted the knob profile of the Judge for bike park riding. I ended up running 23.5psi in the front tire and 26psi in the rear.

What I noticed most about both tires in the bike park is their cornering abilities. Both tires made it easy to transition from the center knobs onto the side knobs thanks to the knob spacing and flatter profile.

We hopped on a fresh-cut trail that wasn’t officially open to really test the side knobs. The trail is cut straight across a sloping angle and was the longest section of off-camber trail that I’d ever ridden. The side knobs clawed into loam and kept me upright. The only thing I had to figure out was body positioning.

Getting used to Silver Mountain’s off-camber trail. The beefy side knobs on the Judge and Vigilante came in handy. Photo by Abner Kingman.

Yes, the dirt was insanely good, as evidenced by the photos, and a lot of tires would excel in these conditions. But conditions aside, the WTB tires dug into the dirt, never packed up with wet soil, and gave me both directional and braking control when finding my line through steep, downhill trails.

Mark Weir leading the charge through the rooty Idaho trails. Photo by Abner Kingman.

Matched with WTB’s new rims, I didn’t experience any tire roll through berms or turns. One rider did flat a tire and put a small dent in his rim, but rode on a very aggressive end of the spectrum. It’s also worth noting we were riding pre-production 120 TPI tires, which are thinner than the 60 TPI tires WTB will use on their production models. With only one tire issue out of the ten or so riders and two days of bike park riding, my guess is that the post-production tires will hold up well.

At home

I brought all three pre-production tires back with me to see how they do on my home soil. For the long-term test, Singletracks will run the 60 TPI tires with WTB’s new rims.

I mounted the pre-production tires onto the Stan’s Flow Mk III rims I have on my personal bike. The Vigilante went on easily and aired up with just a floor pump. The Trail Boss was a bit more stingy, but I filled up a MilkIt booster to 80 psi and that got the bead to seat.

Even on the slick-ish rocks at Dakota Ridge, the soft compound hugged its way up climbs and gave me brake bite down slabs.

And boy, oh boy, the cornering is some of the best I’ve yet experienced in a mountain bike tire.

The tires felt great through the corners and the tall side knobs of the Judge are silhouetted in the light. An excellent shot by Abner Kingman.

There’s no doubt about it that these are made for hard riding. The narrowest width is a 2.4, and even with tighter-spaced knobs on the Trail Boss, the tire is made to chop through loose rocks and chunky trail.

Keep an eye out for a long-term review on WTB’s new tire and rim line and find out how they hold up over summer.