WTB 29” Vigilante with AM Casing
Earlier this spring, I tested the standard version of the Vigilante, built with WTB’s “lightweight 60 tpi” casing. Since then, I’ve put about 30 rides on the other 29” version of the tire, made with their “all mountain 60 tpi” casing. The difference between the two? The AM casing has WTB’s “Inner Peace,” which is an extra layer of rubber in the sidewall of the tire. In all other respects, the AM version is identical to the regular version that I reviewed previously. It still sports a dual compound tread (60a in the middle, 50a on the sides), and the dimensions are identical.
The extra layer of rubber in the AM casing adds a bit of stiffness to the Vigilante and makes it more resistant to tears and abrasion, which is especially important if you’re running the tires tubeless (which I was). The only downside: the AM casing adds a little over 100g of weight to the tire. But does it ride any differently?
All in all, I can’t say I notice a significant difference between the AM and regular versions of the Vigilante tire. The AM casing is definitely a bit heavier, which is noticeable in the same way as any extra rotating weight; steering is a little slower, and the tires are slightly more reluctant to get up to speed.
Though I might be imagining this, I feel like I noticed the AM’s slightly stiffer sidewall from time to time. On funky off-camber landings where the regular casing might have buckled a bit, the AM casing seemed to fare a tiny bit better. But again, I may have been tricking myself into thinking this, and regardless, the AM casing certainly doesn’t have the stoutness of a DH tire, so don’t expect it to hold up like a true 2 ply tire in rigorous terrain.
On one ride, due to my own inattentiveness and neglect, the tire was a bit under inflated – around 23 psi. The ride also happened to involve some hard cornering and sideways landings. And on a few of those particularly hard corners, the tire made that very distinct ripping sound like it was about to burp and/or tear off the rim. I’ve had other tubeless setups blow off in a misty cloud of sealant in this exact situation, breaking free from their butyl shackles. However, the AM version of the Vigilante held its grip on the rim without a whimper (or a burp).
Now, I should note that I’ve been running the AM version of the Vigilante on the WTB Frequency Team i25 rim, which incorporates WTB’s TCS system. I previously ran the “normal” version of these tires on Stan’s Flow EX rims, and I’m confident that they would have, at the very least, burped some air in this same situation. The AM version of the tire, I think, held up so well mostly because I was running it with with a TCS compatible rim from WTB. As I mention above, you can run a TCS tire like the Vigilante on any UST rim, but doing so with a TCS rim from WTB seems to make for an especially nice, tight fit that keeps the tire locked on the rim really well.
I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the middle of rides dealing with tubeless setups that have blown off or burped a significant amount of air. The fact that the WTB TCS tire / rim combo seems to hold up to rigorous riding is great. I don’t think the TCS labeling that WTB puts on its tires is just more marketing copy; it seems to actually make a significant difference when used with a TCS rim.
Bottom Line (Update): WTB Vigilante with AM Casing
Having spent a decent amount of time on the Vigilante in two different iterations, I’ve now ridden it in even more conditions, and I’m still comfortable with my conclusions from the first part of the review. However, I will now say that prefer the way the tire handles in softer, loamier dirt. The Vigilante doesn’t fare quite as well in soil with more gravel, where other tires do a better job of cutting through gravel and hooking up. As it does elsewhere, the tire still feels very predictable here, but sometimes breaks away more quickly and more easily than I would like in “ball bearing on hardpack” soil. Granted, these are tough conditions for any tire, and I still think the Vigilante, with either casing, is a good all-around tire (which, necessarily, isn’t going to be perfect in any one area).
Especially in mostly softer dirt with plenty of pine needles and some hardpack, the Vigilante is super predictable, it climbs well, brakes really well, and is no slouch in corners either. If you’re looking for a versatile 29” tire to run tubeless and don’t mind a little added weight, especially if you’re using a TCS rim, definitely check out the AM version of the Vigilante. And if you’re not going tubeless and like the weight of the standard Vigilante, then it’s still a great option.