WTB Riddler 37mm Tires: Checkpoint
The WTB Riddler tires are the second dedicated design for gravel road riding from the company that has brought the Nano 40. WTB has also pioneered tires in the 29″er area, “plus” tire niche, and in the self-described “Road Plus” category with the Horizon 47. That is a tire which we are also testing here. You can find our last installment on the Riddler 37mm tires HERE. Now let’s see how these tires are doing in our mid-term report.
With several rides now on the gravel roads the Riddler tires have proven to be one of the nicer treads I’ve tested so far. In looking at why this is, I think it comes down to certain attributes. These are things that tend to work well when tires are in the 36mm-42mm range and are ridden on roads ranging from smooth dirt to looser, deep gravel and everything in between. One of these characteristics that I have found to be a winner is when a tire has a fast, easy to spin up tread deign. Some tires have a design which, for all intents and purposes, is merely a shrunken down version of a mountain bike design. The Nano 40 is such a tire, and that sort of tread design can be tricky to get right. Most of the time, this sort of design tends to work best on looser soil, loose rocks, and not so good on harder surfaces, like packed limestone or dirt. Of course, the Riddler is also a downsized version of a mountain bike tire, but fortunately the tire the Riddler 37 is derived from was meant to roll fast. It is an unusual mtb tread design that suits gravel roads very well.
The next trait I find that works well on gravel roads is if a tire has a, what I am going to call, shallow “C” shaped profile. You might say a “flatter crown” and that might be a better way to say this. When a tire has this characteristic, it promotes a rolling over deeper, loose gravel characteristic instead of how a highly crowned tire might tend to plow through deeper loose gravel like a ship’s bow. There is also less of a tendency for the tire to move laterally which is nice during higher speed descents on gravel.
The Riddler has these traits and does ride well because of them. The finer details matter as well, no doubt. The casing, for instance, is supple which promotes that roll over and absorbs vibrations. The tubeless nature of the tire also promotes these things. All together, it adds up to a good tire on gravel. It isn’t the lightest tire that you could use, (460-470 grams for these), but it is a very fast rolling tire that does handle well. But what about those side knobs? Do they assist in cornering, like their bigger mtb siblings?
Well, we don’t toss our gravel rigs into hard leans in turns, typically, but on dirt, yes, these tires exhibit a better grip in the corners than other tires in its class. Otherwise, I think their main benefit is the aforementioned way they flatten out the tire profile. By the way, the knobs are not the widest part of the tire. The casings are the widest part, but not by much. The Riddler does work out to be a true 37mm tire on the A-23’s, so that is another plus for this offering.
The ride feel is supple, and the Riddler seems willing to damp out vibrations well. I can say that low rolling resistance is going to be an attribute of this tire, as it was easy to spin up and held speed well on my roll down test. The TCS system and tire design is well proven, and the Riddler carries on the tradition of WTB tires fitting on Velocity rims well. Gravel roads are tamed quite nicely by the Riddler’s tread design and flatter profile to the casing. Stay tuned for “At The Finish” where I will give my final verdict on the Riddler’s in a few weeks’
NOTE: WTB sent over the Riddler 37mm tires at no charge to RidingGravel.com for test and review. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.