The WTB Ranger is a mountain bike tyre aimed towards cross-country riding. This mode is available in several widths, including the 2.25” tested here. It works well on softer, loamy trails and in dry conditions with predictable levels of grip. It might not be especially light or best suited to racing applications, but it is a durable tyre with good levels of protection.
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The size tested is 29 x 2.25” with 120tpi casing and SG2 puncture protection. The Ranger is also available in a 2.4” width, plus a cheaper 60tpi carcass version. WTB call the Ranger an all-conditions tyre, with the open but small profile tread designed not to collect mud.
Fitting mountain bike tubeless tyres have, in general, become a much easier task in recent years. Still, the WTB Ranger was a little more tricky than others tested recently. A few old tricks were needed to install one tyre as the seal wasn't quite tight enough to inflate with just a track pump. I did manage to inflate one eventually whilst holding the bead in place with some manic track pump action, and the other using a Lezyne Overdrive tubeless pump. Once installed, the tyres held the seal well throughout testing, with no air loss or sealant leakage.
While riding on damp rocky trail centre tracks, the level of grip was not too confidence-inspiring, with a tendency to drift when pushing through faster corners, even in berms. While I did start to anticipate it and get used to it, the level of grip was still a little disappointing and less than I had hoped for. Climbing traction was also less than I would have liked, slipping out on steeper trail centre singletrack climbs.
Changing surfaces and moving to softer, loamy terrain, things improved. The tyre was predictable and generally felt quick even with the limited tread depth. When the sun shone, and the trail centre tracks dried out, grip and confidence improved here too.
They are not the lightest for a cross-country tyre, with our pair weighing 823g and 818g, which is a few hundred grams more than tyres designed for pure racing. The Wolfpack Speed pair, for example, were sub-600g. One likely reason will be the SG2 puncture resistance casing. Throughout testing, both the Ranger and all other WTB tyres that I have tested with the same casing have proven very effective at preventing punctures.
The downside is despite the higher 120tpi casing, the tyre can feel less supple, but for many, the likely reduction in punctures will make it worthwhile. This compromise will be common across most, if not all brands, choosing between lightweight and speed or increased puncture resistance.
While the tyres didn't feel too slow on firmer tracks and surfaced roads, they are a little away from the best in class for the relatively minimal tread. Early indication is that they should be durable, with no wear detectable across either centre tread or the edges, which can often show early signs of wear.
Value & verdict
At £55 each, the WTB Ranger is similar to other premium cross-country tyres and cheaper than several, including 3C Maxxis tyres with the Shorty Gen 2 and Dissector at £75. The Pirelli Scorpion XC is also £55, which is more suited to dry conditions and also struggled in damp conditions.
The Ranger might not be the grippiest or fastest tyre, but it does offer good dry-weather performance. Puncture resistance appears very good and has proven to be durable so far. For riders looking for a tyre to fit and forget, it will appeal.
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