WTB Venture 650B X 47mm Tires: Checkpoint SoCal- by Grannygear
Editor’s Note- In our “Getting Rolling” post on these tires, Guitar Ted had hoped that Winter was not going to show up, but he was quite in error in hoping for that! So Grannygear is filling in here with the “Checkpoint” post. You will see that he is having his own struggles with Winter.
WTB has grafted yet another branch to the Road Plus family tree with the Venture, another version of the popular 47mm width by 650b tire for all-road and gravel use.
To me, at least, the Road Plus idea was revolutionary when it first debuted. I had never seen anything like it before and I wondered to myself just who would want this and what it would fit! But I was not paying attention to the fast growing genre of multi-surface adventure bikes that were just over the horizon (no pun intended). When I did get a set of the 47mm WTB Horizon Road Plus slicks mounted to the Lynskey, it all became clear to me. I have spent some happy hours on a set of Horizons on long, multi-surface rides, enjoying the amazing comfort on the road, the extra flotation in the dirt, and a surprising all-round speed. It’s a compelling combo.
I also noted the smaller wheel feel on rougher dirt roads, but the Horizon was not really a dirt tire, what with that smooth profile and zero knobs.
Soon to come in Road Plus was the Byway, which combined a smooth rolling center ridge with some minimal side tread. That tire seemed to steer a bit oddly to me, although I seem to be alone in my feelings about that. Next in the 47x650b line was the Sendero, an aggressively treaded tire that was sure to inspire some boonie-bashing. That tire was a bit too niche for me to love, as I am seldom in the dirt for 100% of my rides.
I figured that Road Plus was pretty much filled up, what with a road slick all the way up to a full knobby but no, there was room for at least one more and that is the Venture. When I first saw this one I thought it might be the best of the Road Plus lot. It had the casing profile of the Horizon with no odd transition from smooth to knobby and a file tread that sure seemed like it would be a ‘just right’ balance of speed vs. traction on lots of surfaces.
I mounted up a set and took off for the hills, expecting to get a lot of riding in on the Ventures…meaningful riding. Fun riding.
It will not stop raining for more than about two days at a time. We have a lot of clay soil here, so that means no off road riding when things are wet and gloopy unless you like making bricks with your bike wheels.
That also means I have either had hero dirt (where the soil is perfectly tacky and fast) or un-usable trails. In these conditions, the Venture has had tenacious grip on hero dirt, steering with confidence on single track and fast fire roads. I would love to see what they do on dry, hardpack dirt as I suspect they would be very good there.
Steering on and off center feels very solid and crossing ruts at angles showed good hook up with no slippage. Braking and climbing traction was good, not as good as the Sendero of course, but better than the Horizon or Byway.
On the road, they roll well enough to not be a burden, but I could not shake the impression that they felt a bit draggy on pavement where the Horizons just fly along. Maybe it was me as I cannot see why they would be pokey in that regard. I did have some pedal strikes off road with them, something that the combo of 75mms of bottom bracket drop and a smaller diameter wheel/tire combo allows for. Still, 47mms is a enough of a bump in tire casing size over a 42×700 set up that rocks and bad road features never get close to the rim. Even so, I do miss the bigger rolling presence of a 700c wheel whenever I ride a 650b wheel with a 47mm tire in the dirt.
But then I covered my general feelings about 650bx47mm when I reviewed the XPlor MSO 650bx50mm tires so I will not rehash that here.
My fav of the WTB Road Plus bunch is still the Horizon, but the Venture is next in line. It inspires confidence in places where the Horizon begins to sketch out and feel nervous and uncertain. It would be interesting to pair a Horizon on the rear with a Venture in the front…might be the best of both worlds.
But that world has to stop raining first.
Stay tuned for our combined “At The Finish” post from Grannygear and Guitar Ted in the near, Spring-like, future. It will be Spring soon, right?
NOTE: WTB sent over the Venture 650B X 47mm tires to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not bribed nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.