To the uninitiated, wide gravel tires tend to look a lot like XC mountain bike tires. However, the really good ones ride like gravel tires, and the WTB Venture falls squarely in that camp. I recently put a few hundred miles on a set of 650×47 Ventures and here’s what I found.
WTB Venture tire specs and construction
WTB describes the Venture as a tire that’s designed to excel on a wide variety of surfaces. It seems to be one of the brand’s more popular models, offered in nine different flavors and sizes including 700×40, 700×50, and 650×47 (tested). All are tubeless-rated and feature a single-ply casing.
The model I tested features a tan sidewall which not only adds a bit of design flair, but also saves weight (555g) over the all-black tires which use a heavier compound. At 60tpi the sidewalls are designed to provide good protection against punctures and tears, though there is also a 120tpi version available for those who want a more supple ride and aren’t as concerned about flats.
On my 21mm-wide (internal) rims these measure exactly 47mm wide at about 25psi.
Hitting the road and the trail
I tested the WTB Venture gravel tires on as many surfaces as I could find, everything from pavement to singletrack to of course, gravel. Seeing as this is a gravel tire, let’s start there.
Calling a road “gravel” is like saying a shirt is blue. Is it baby blue, Duke blue, or navy? Personally, whenever I think about gravel roads I imagine the angular and medium chunky, gray granite stuff, which the WTB Venture tires handle with ease. The decently thick casing bounces rocks out of the way and isn’t skittish one bit. With tallish cornering knobs and a compact pattern of tightly spaced micro knobs at the center, the Venture almost reminds me of a semi-slick mountain bike tire.
The Venture does a great job floating across sandy washes, providing a surprising amount of control without wallowing around. Where I really found the Venture to excel over pretty much every other mountain bike tire I’ve ridden is on washboard gravel roads. The 650×47 size, combined with the tire construction, does a crazy good job damping vibration and makes handling a breeze.
On singletrack trails the cornering knobs provide plenty of bite through the turns, though obviously few of us will rail our gravel bikes with nearly the same amount of speed and force as on our mountain bikes. I found the WTB Venture tires aren’t great for climbing steep dirt surfaces, lacking true climbing knobs, particularly when used as a rear tire. With the clay soils here in Georgia the tight center knobs on the Ventures also pack up a bit if there’s any moisture on the ground which make steep climbs that much more difficult. For that reason I would choose to run the Venture up front and something a little grabbier like the WTB Raddler in the rear for extended singletrack or steeper climbs.
I rode with the WTB Ventures on some pretty rocky and rooty trails, and also traipsed across some thorny fields without getting a single flat from either pinch or puncture. For most of my testing I kept the tire pressure at about 25-30psi, which is at the low end of the WTB recommendations, without any issue.
On pavement the Venture tires are shockingly quiet and seem to roll quite fast, even at low pressure. Clearly the center and transition knobs are designed to provide a just enough traction without getting in the way when it’s time to hammer.
Pros and cons of the WTB Venture gravel tire
- Good vibration damping for gravel riding
- Rolls fast and in control
- Real cornering knobs
- Rear traction finds its limit on steep trails
- Fine center tread packs with clay
While the WTB Venture isn’t going to make the short list for most gravel racers, it should be an excellent choice for riders who want a do-all gravel tire that feels comfortable and rides in control across a variety of surfaces.