WTB Riddler tubeless gravel tire review

At home on gravel race or a mix of trails, dirt roads, and tarmac

Gravel Tires
WTB’s TCS Light and Fast casing works well for gravel and light mountain trail riding.

WTB’s TCS Light and Fast casing works well for gravel and light mountain trail riding.

Lowdown: WTB Riddler 700×37/45mm Tubeless Gravel Tires

Yet another great option from WTB with quick gravel riding in mind, this tire is at home at a gravel race or on a bike that sees a mixture of trails, dirt roads, and tarmac. With two sizes on offer, riders can pick the option that fits their bike and also play with adding a bit more rubber up front.

Stat Box
Weight: 448g (37mm), 535g (45mm) Price: $55
Options: 37 and 45mm widths Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Great blend of stability and straight-line speed.
  • Large size wont fit some bikes.

Review: WTB Riddler 700×37/45mm Tubeless Gravel Tires

This gravel thing is really catching on. The number of tubeless gravel tires on the market now exceeds 20 by my count — and I’m probably missing a few. Debuted earlier this year at the Sea Otter Classic, the Riddler gravel tires are yet another example of WTB successfully shrinking a mountain bike tire for the purposes of mixed surface riding. A great compliment to WTB’s Nano 40 tire, the Riddler is designed for higher speeds on more consistent surfaces.

WTB’s new Riddler is offered in the 37mm shown and a 45mm version.

WTB’s new Riddler is offered in the 37mm shown and a 45mm version.

Rows of small knobs in the middle are flanked by taller side knobs that dig in under hard cornering. While the mountain version is usually used as a rear tire only, for gravel the pattern makes sense for both front and rear. At first glance the Riddler looks like a semi-slick, but those small knobs in the centers section do a great job braking and transmitting traction. They also add a bit of extra rubber between the airtight casing and the road, improving puncture protection.

WTB offers the new Riddler in 37mm and 45mm widths. The 37mm plumped out at 37.2mm on a 19c rim, while the 45mm measured 44mm wide. The 37mm version should fit on many cyclocross bikes with ease, and all gravel bikes worth having.

The 45mm Riddler mounted on a 19c rim in the fork of my Black Mountain Cycles cross frame had room to spare. But be sure to check on your frame before pulling the trigger on the wider model (left). The 37mm Riddler makes a great front or rear tire (right).

The 45mm Riddler mounted on a 19c rim in the fork of my Black Mountain Cycles cyclocross frame had room to spare. But be sure to check on your frame before pulling the trigger on the wider model (left). The 37mm Riddler makes a great front or rear tire (right).

The 45mm width is another matter. While you should be able to squeeze it into many forks, chainstay and seatstay clearance will be tight on many bikes. The 45mm model may be best used by those with 29er mountain bikes looking to dabble in gravel. Bottom line, check before you buy.

Tubeless setup was easy and I accomplished it with a Bontrager Flash Charger pump. I did seat part of the bead using a tire lever as the tire was a bit loose on the WTB ChrisCross rims I’m using. Then they popped right into place without struggle.

From “Pavement to Loam” and intended for “Cyclocross and Gravel Exploration,” the Riddler is up to the rigors of modern mixed surface riding.

From “pavement to loam” and intended for “cyclocross and gravel exploration,” the Riddler is up to the rigors of modern mixed surface riding.

On hard surfaces the Riddler rolls nicely, while remaining stable in looser conditions. I experimented running a 45mm up front with a 37mm in the back. This is a nice combination and one that you might consider if you have ample fork clearance, but lack room in your rear triangle. The larger tire up front delivers a bit of suspension. The smaller tire in the back saves a bit of weight (nearly 90 grams) and will lose corner traction before the front, something all of us can appreciate. Just be cautious not to under inflate the rear in this scenario. I ran 30psi up front and 35 in the back tire and had no problems.

These are not the fastest rolling gravel tires on the market, but they are certainly more at home in loose corners than many tires built with absolute speed in mind. In the end, when picking a gravel tire I’m not looking for superlatives. The lightest will only lead to punctures. The cheapest is bound to ride like a garden hose (though at $55, the Riddler is one of the more affordable tubeless gravel tire options). The fastest may not be much fun in corners or when heading to singletrack connectors.

WTB’s Riddler is a great tire, at home at a gravel race or on a bike that sees a mixture of trails, dirt roads, and tarmac. With two sizes on offer, riders can pick the tire that fits their bike and also play with adding a bit more tire up front. As an all around gravel tire, WTB has hit a home run with the Riddler. It’s a new favorite of mine.

For more information 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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