WTB Raddler Tires: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
With WTB’s introduction of the Raddler 700 X 44mm and 700 X 40mm tires, WTB claimed that the Raddler is a tire ‘with the soul of a mountain bike tire’, more agressive than the Riddler, which it draws its name from. I’ve spent several hours and miles on the new tires and I have a final verdict to share. You can catch up on the two previous posts I’ve already made on these tires HERE and HERE. Those posts contain all the technical data, marketing claims, and my first impressions about these tires. Now with that out of the way, let’s see how the Raddlers measure up.
Most of the questions about the Raddler I have fielded, or that I have seen, are in regard to the speed of the tire. Sure, we have a lot of grip here, an aggressive tread that will work well in many situations requiring that trait, but when you don’t need that, do you pay a price? In my opinion, yes– you do to a certain extent. To clear up one question a lot of you had- yes, the Riddler rolls freer. But as in many cases we see regarding tires, I have to add- it depends on a few things. I switched from the Raddler 44mm tires on the wide internal dimension Irwin Cycling Aon GX 35 wheels in their 700c form, to the 40mm Raddlers mounted on Shimano GRX wheels. Those GRX wheels are just shy of 22mm internal width, so over 2mm narrower there, and of course, 4mm narrower on the tires. Curiously, the 40mm tires also weigh slightly more than their 44mm siblings we have, and furthermore, the 40’s felt stiffer as far as casing feel while riding goes. Different set up- different tire volumes and sizes = different performance. Like I said, “it depends“.
This resulted in the 40’s feeling squirmy, as if the casing was rolling, or more precisely, flexing sideways, with the narrower rim of the GRX wheel being the pivot point and the stiffer casing of the 40mm version not giving as much flex as the more supple 44mm Raddler. Is this a function of the 44mm having a skin wall versus the 40mm black wall? Hmm….. Could be. I don’t have a 40mm skin wall version, so I cannot say. However; I can conclusively say that the Raddler, especially the 40mm tires we tested, are slower rolling tires than many I have been running of late here, including Vittoria Terreno Dry 40’s and slower than even the massive Donnelly MSO 700 X 50mm tires.
The tread sometimes gives you that feeling that the little tread blocks are flexing, similar to what we have reported finding on the Venture tires from WTB, on the hardest surfaces. That feeling seems to go away on loose rock, dirt, or sandier roads. I felt it especially when powering up a paved climb. So, you get that aggressive traction, but at a certain price, and it may depend upon your choice of black wall versus skin wall and your wheel’s inner rim width. But either way, the Riddler will be a speedier tire, albeit with less of a confidence inspiring amount of traction. Pick yer poison…..
And speaking of choosing- In this particular case, where I have a 44mm skin wall Raddler and the black wall 40mm Raddler, I’m going to give the nod to the bigger, more voluminous, smoother, and slightly faster 44mm skin wall Raddler. Would mounting the 40mm black wall Raddler on a wider internal width rim help? Probably a little in terms of lateral feel, but all those other traits I described are probably going to carry over, and the 44mm skin wall tire just rides better, in my opinion.
At The Finish: I like a tire like the Raddler, or the Venture, for that matter, when I need that extra security on surfaces that are loose, slippery, or on dirt where those little tread features can get a bite on the terrain I am riding. Otherwise I am probably going to lean toward riding a supple, faster, (read: less treaded, or no-tread) tire that doesn’t hinder my roll, but is stable on loose gravel. So, I can see having a Raddler around for certain situations. A tire I would describe as a “specialist” tire, but for some folks this could be your every day tire, depending on where you live.
Again, I have said the Raddler had a “fast roll”, and it does in the skin wall, 44mm version. Not “Riddler-fast”, but decent. The black wall 40mm, however, was a bit disappointing in my experience. I did not have a 40mm skin wall to see if that makes up for that deficit or not, but since I noted that both the 40mm and 44mm versions seem to have the exact same tread size, spacing, and overall widths, I would opt for the skin wall 44mm anyway. More volume to play with there, and it was actually a bit lighter weight than the 40mm samples we got to try.
Overall, the Raddler is a great choice for those who like a bit of a mountain bike characteristic to their gravel travel. The typical WTB quality means no hassle tubeless set up and performance, in my experience. This is a good addition to the WTB range.
Note: WTB sent over the Raddler tires to RidingGravel.com to test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.