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.
13 thoughts on “WTB Riddler 37mm Tires: Checkpoint”
Thanks for the update! Any chance we could see a Riddler rear/Nano front combo tested as part of the review? It seems like a Riddler might be able to fit into some frames that won’t fit a Nano in the back. It would be a nice combo of speed in back and grip up front.
@patrick- That’s a definite possibility.
Thanks for the reply GT! I’m just a little NE of you and have fallen in love with the driftless area and its unpaved routes. The problem is that my Raleigh RXC can handle about 37/38mm in the rear before I have to worry about stuff getting caught and eating (more of) my chainstays. I really wish Raleigh had gone for the full BB386EVO specs instead of the narrower BB30 so they could have given the RXC the rear clearance it deserves. The fork has clearance for days. I’m guessing the 2017 with the threaded bb shell and 5mm shorter chainstays isn’t increasing rear tire clearance either…
Maybe I can scrape together someday for one of the ‘all road’ bikes that Raleigh must have had somebody knowledgeable give input to.
An another interesting combo would be Riddler 45c front, 37c rear. Cush up front, zip on the rear.
How do these roll on pavement? My gravel rides are usually a 75/25 mix of gravel/dirt/etc. and paved roads, but I don’t want something that’s going to old me back once we hit the hardpack. Very interested in these otherwise, though.
@Cam- I’m going to cover this in the final review, but for now I would say that I think you’d be pleased.
Nice! Thanks for the feedback. I’m running tubeless Nano’s right now, but it’s a little bit more tire than I want (they measure out larger than 40 on my H Plus Son Archetypes), so I think these are going to be perfect!
Cam, I’ve got these 37 Riddlers on a set of HED Belgium Black C2’s set up tubeless. I’ve got a couple hundred miles of gravel under them and about the same on pavement. I did a couple days of RAGBRAI and I’ve been commuting on them for the past month and I’d say they’re wearing quite well compared to my Nano’s. They’re certainly much faster. I was impressed with the Nano’s and thought I would buy them again, but I had to try these when they came out and I think I’ve found my forever tires! They’re going to be perfect when the fall air dries out every dusty place.
Question for me how both Riddler 37 and 45C compare to Panaracer Gravel King SK 700*40.
It’s big for it’s size, it’s under 500 grams it really damps out vibrations better than any tire i have used.
I has better traction and grip, but there is this but! It’s not the fastest!
I really wonder if Riddler can beat GK SK 40mm?
@wheels: Well, “faster” is subjective to a degree for sure. That said, the pebbly little knobs that populate the center of the GK are a bit of a drag compared to the WTB Riddler’s, but we’re slicing hairs here. They both are fast. I wouldn’t fret over it.
What I think the Riddler does better than other tires is the lateral stability. It makes rough gravel a lot calmer. The GK isn’t quite as good in that regard, but in no way is it “bad”. Don’t read that into my statement. I happen to really like the Gk, it is just that I think the 45mm Riddler is just a better tire at some things than the GK and of course, vice-versa- The GK is what you say it is, which makes it better than a lot of other tires.
Really liked these, especially compared to the Nanos. However, today I got a cut in sidewall that Orange Seal was able to close up finally, but it has me worried about using for bikepacking. Moderate load, first time riding chunky gravel loaded and it sliced a gash in sidewall. Never had to worry about that riding Nanos – hundreds of miles with no flats at all (albeit rougher and slower than Riddler). What’s folks experience with these with a load on rough roads?