WTB Ranger 27.5×3.0” TCS Light/Fast tire review

Rolls well on a multitude or surfaces — and won’t break the bank

27.5 Cross Country Tires
WTB’s new Ranger plus tire has a great all-around tread for mixed conditions.

WTB’s new Ranger plus tire has a great all-around tread for mixed surface conditions.

Lowdown: WTB Ranger 27.5×3.0” TCS Light/Fast Tire

One of the best all-round, XC/trail, plus size mountain bike tires we’ve tried with options for more aggressive riding.

Stat Box
Weight: 820g actual (835g claimed) Price: $68
Options: 26×2.8 and 3.0, 27.5×2.8 and 3.0, 29×3.0, TCS Light/Fast, TCS Tough/Fast, TCS Light/High Grip Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 out of 5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Fantastic all around tire for mixed conditions
  • Faster rolling options exist for hard pack
  • Massive casing delivers great traction
  • 3” model may not fit on all bikes

Review: WTB Ranger 27.5×3.0” TCS Light/Fast Tire

The Holy Grail of mountain bike tires is a casing that is tough enough for your local trails with a tread pattern that will work in every condition you encounter. That’s quite a tall order. But that is exactly what WTB is claiming with its new Ranger tire.

The Ranger’s casing is quite tall, even compared to other plus size tires.

The Ranger’s casing is quite tall, even compared to other plus size tires.

To test the tire, I installed a pair on a rigid bikepacking bike, as 27.5+ is a great tire size for both rigid bikes and for bikepacking. It provides great traction and an increased level of comfort. WTB mentions in its description of the Ranger that it is “bikepacking approved.” I set out to test that claim.

Cutting to the chase, I think that WTB has a great tire on its hands. The Ranger worked well on loose over hard, in short swampy sections, on edgy, rocky trails, and on a mixture of dirt, pine needles, and pebbles. The tread pattern isn’t overly complicated, using a center section of closely packed knobs, a bit of space for mud clearing, and then a series of side knobs for excellent cornering traction.

The 3.0-inch version measured a massive 73.5 millimeters wide on a slightly narrow Velocity Blunt 35 rim.

The 3.0” version measured 2.9” wide on a slightly narrow Velocity Blunt 35mm rim.

The Ranger has a very rounded profile, especially on the rims that I’m using, Velocity Blunt 35 and Derby AM rims, which are both a bit narrow by plus size standards. By comparison, the Trailblazer, WTB’s first 27.5+ tire, has a far more squared off cross section. I’m glad that WTB went with this rounded profile on the new tire. With its gradual transition from center to side, the Ranger has very predictable manners. It also provides excellent mid-corner braking traction. It was easy to feel the limit of traction in loose conditions and while braking hard. This reliable performance is always appreciated.

Where the Ranger gives up a little performance is in fast rolling sections. Competitors such as the Maxxis Chronicle or Ikon+ may have the upper hand in that department. But when it comes to riding on quasi trails or rarely ridden tracks, the Ranger’s tenacity is appreciated.

I ran the Ranger in the mid-teens on most rides. It was interesting to play with a bit more pressure. The Ranger feels entirely different at 20 psi. Finding the sweet spot is worth a bit of experimentation. On my rigid bike, I found the 14/16psi front/rear combo to be optimal as I ride “light,” rarely suffering punctures. As with many tires, going higher certainly helped the Ranger roll better on dirt roads, but traction on more technical sections suffered.

Widely spaced side knobs pair nicely with more compact center knobs to provide excellent traction on a wide variety of surfaces (right). The rounded profile of the Ranger helps it transition predictably from straightline to cornering traction (left).

Widely spaced side knobs pair nicely with more compact center knobs to provide excellent traction on a wide variety of surfaces (right). The rounded profile of the Ranger helps it transition predictably from straight line to cornering traction (left).

If the Ranger has a limiting factor it’s that it won’t fit in all bikes. I tested the 3.0” version of the Ranger and the tire is huge. It’s a big and tall three-inches. It measured 69mm wide at the casing, 73.5mm at the knob, at 20psi on a Velocity Blunt 35rim (30.2c). On a Scraper or similar rim with an internal of 45c, the Ranger is sure to surpass 3 inches. I mention all these details because the Ranger is also offered in 2.8”, a version that will fit in more frames.

Taking into consideration the Ranger’s tread pattern and weight (820g), it belongs somewhere closer to cross-country on the spectrum than it does as an aggressive enduro tire. WTB’s own Trail Boss is a heavier, meatier tire. In this segment, the Ranger is not alone. Other XC-oriented trail, plus-size tires are on the market include Maxxis’ Ikon EXO/TR and Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron Snakeskin. The Ranger is in the ballpark for weight with both of these. Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron 3.0” Snakeskin model is within 10 grams. The Ikon is a 50 or so grams lighter, but also a tad narrower, offered only in a 2.8” width.

While not cheap, the Ranger is a bargain at $68 compared to the above-mentioned models from Maxxis and Schwalbe. You’ll pay a bit more though if you want to put yourself on WTB’s TCS Tough/Fast casing, with a tire selling for $77. This is still cheaper than Maxxis’ Ikon at $90 or the Rocket Ron at $89.

For more info please visit www.wtb.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview.


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