WTB Sendero 650B X 47mm Tires: Getting Rolling- by Guitar Ted
The WTB Road Plus concept is something we’re quite familiar with here at Riding Gravel. We’ve had a look at the Horizon and the Byway before. Now WTB has filled out the range with the Sendero, a full-on knobby compliment to the previous Road Plus offerings. Let’s take a closer look at what we’ve got here.
What It Is: The Sendero is the tire in the Road Plus range which sits directly opposite of the Horizon 650B X 47mm tire. The in between tire being the Byway. So, the Sendero is the logical addition to the range here being suited to those riders who will mostly see dirt and more severe rocky road conditions. Another “tweener” tire in the range, the Venture, is yet to come out, so we will have to wait on that additional Road Plus offering. In the meantime, you can get a look at that tire and what it might be good for in our post here. It is interesting to note that all the Road Plus tires are built upon the same casing, so one can expect some consistency in the terms of fit, ride feel, and tubeless set up.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we will again post here what WTB says about the Sendero. It is a tire which will enhance the Road Plus range “by carrying drop bar riding even further into the dirt, where conditions are increasingly unpredictable and diverse.” That means more aggressive and more pronounced knobs for the Sendero versus the other Road Plus tires. In fact, the Sendero looks so different that it seems to be a tire that should be listed in WTB’s mountain biking range of 27.5″ tires. WTB says on its packaging for the Sendero, “Wish your road bike had mountain tires? The Sendero is for you.” While it does share a more “mtb” like look and feel, it is only a 47mm tire. It doesn’t really have the features that you’d expect from WTB’s mountain bike tire line either. That Road Plus casing is the common denominator, and it makes the Sendero a bit of an odd tire in the gravel riding niche.
First Impressions: WTB lists the Sendero as a tire suited for “Hardpack, Dirt, Gravel“, but it is hard to deny that when I looked at the Sendero my first thoughts were that it wasn’t going to be a great gravel road tire. The knobs are substantive, and there is really no center strip or smoother area which would lead one to believe that these knobs wouldn’t slow you down. Otherwise it had the look and feel of the Byway and Horizon casings which was to be expected.
Installation, Measurements, and Tubeless Performance: I chose to mount these tires up on the Irwin Cycles Aon GX 35 carbon wheels. But first, I weighed them up and my samples came in under the claimed weight for these tires which is 568 grams. The samples I received weighed 547 and 554 grams. This compares to the Byways which weighed 531, 543gm, and the Horizons which weighed in at 510 grams each. So, while the Sendero was expected to be the heaviest Road Plus tire, it isn’t crazy heavy by any stretch.
The tires mounted as I like to see- with some difficulty by hand and with the help of a well placed tire lever. I got one to mount up with no sealant using a poor performing 20 year old Blackburn floor pump. The other needed just a short blast from my small air compressor. Par for the course and what I like to see there. Air retention has been excellent with normal air loss over a period of days.
The initial measurements were just a hair over 47mm and after riding them for a couple of days I measured the Senderos at 48.5mm at 35psi. Knob width and casing width are about even on the Irwin rims. Note- Your rims may affect tire width, fit, and ride performance due to their inner width. The inner rim width of the Irwin Aon GX 35’s is 24mm.
Ride Performance: The Sendero tires did not look as though they would provide a very fast feel on harder surfaces, but I was somewhat surprised by how they actually rolled. I had decided upon going with a 38psi rear, 36psi front set up. This resulted in a perceptible and audible buzz, but the tires did not feel like they were a chore to get going on. The Sendero certainly did not roll as freely as the Byway or the Horizon, but I did not expect the Sendero to be that way. I would judge the Sendero’s pavement feel as one that won’t hold you back from wanting to ride a few miles of pavement, if you have to, to get to “the good stuff”.
I rode the Sendero on gravel first, and in that role it did just fine. The deeper, looser stuff, which is prevalent here now due to it being harvest season, was dispatched by the Sendero with no problem. The Sendero is far more stable and comfortable than the Horizon on rough gravel and definitely better than the Byway. The clearer, hard packed gravel wasn’t an issue. I cannot help but think that a less knobby tire would roll better, but I also didn’t feel that I was being slowed down much, if at all, by those knobs on the Sendero. In this respect it reminded me of the WTB Resolute. The small knobs on the Resolute have an uncanny way of rolling fast yet having the traction when you need it. Perhaps the Sendero is made in a similar vein.
I haven’t had the opportunity to roll the Sendero on true single track as yet, but I did find a muddy dirt road which showed me that, as with almost every tire I’ve ever tested here, the mud sticks to the Sendero like glue. So, no surprises there. The dirt I found which wasn’t mud showed me that the Sendero has great traction for cornering. In fact, I was able to test this on clear gravel and in corners where there wasn’t a lot of rubble. The Sendero has a much more confidence inspiring grip than many gravel tires I’ve tried in these situations. Not to be wondered at there with these knobs!
So Far……… The Sendero is aggressively knobbed and far different than WTB’s other Road Plus offerings to date. It seems to roll okay on hard pack, it does well on loose gravel, and we suspect that later on when we get it on single track it will excel in that role. Tubeless set up and performance is at WTB’s usual high level here. While the Sendero is meant for more “severe conditions”, it comes with the very same casing as the Horizon smoothy. That seems a bit at odds, but we’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned for the “Checkpoint” post coming in a few weeks.
Note: WTB sent over the Sendero tires for test and review to RidingGravel.com at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.