WTB Nano 40 TCS Tires: At The Finish

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Grinding gravel with the Nano 40 TCS tires

Tubeless tires for gravel road pursuits are few and far between at the time of this writing. That will likely change as we go forward in 2016 and beyond, but for now, the Nano 40 TCS from WTB is really one of the only games in town. That gives it an edge for sure, but is it a good gravel road tire? I would answer that by saying, “Yes, it is, and not just because it is tubeless.“. By the way, for all the techy back ground and more, please click HERE to see my previous posts on this tire. I have been running these tires almost all season long this year, so now it is time to wrap things up.

Actually, I have even more experience with this tread pattern going back to the introduction of the Nano 40 in 2014, and there are a lot of similarities between the folding bead version and the TCS tubeless ready one. They are heavy-ish for their size, not really very fast feeling on harder surfaces and pavement, they come alive when things get rough, and they do well in hard pack dirt.

However; the Nano 40 TCS brings the ability to lose the tubes, and that does do something nice for ride feel and performance over their tubed siblings. First of all, you get a more damped, smoother ride feel. Obviously, you get the potential for less, (maybe no), flat tires. Otherwise, the similarities outweigh the differences here. Which should you choose? Even though the Nano 40 TCS comes in a bit heavier, I would choose it every time over the tubed version. Mated to any of WTB’s suitable TCS rims, you have the first, and thus far only, “system” for tubeless tires specifically aimed at gravel road riding. What is more, these tires do work on HED Belgium+ rims and Ardennes+ wheels, and likely other tubeless rated rims for road and mountain use. Beware of mating these with Stan’s rims though, as this is not a good fit. So, the tubeless thing trumps using tubes, and these tires and WTB’s rims are a safe bet to use without issues. Oh……did you say you still use cantilever brakes? WTB has a TCS (tubeless ready) rim brake rim as well. No worries.

The biggest problem with these tires is that they are too knobby looking and don’t “look or feel fast”. They are plenty speedy, but their “mountain-bikish” tread and overall middle of the road feel- not too fast, but not slow either- may be working against this tread. It really is probably the quintessential “all road” tire, in the same vein that the Bruce Gordon Rock & Road is, but only better. Too bad if folks turn their eyes toward “faster looking” treads, because the Nano 40 TCS is really a workhorse tire that can do a lot of terrain very well.

At The Finish: Great tubeless performance, but a tad heavy for this size tire. They hold air really well and the Nano 40 TCS seems to roll very smoothly, despite their mountain bike looks. They work on non-WTB rims from HED, and likely on others as well, but may not fit very good on Stan’s rims. The ride performance has been very acceptable with a noticeably damped feel compared to tubed tires. Highly recommended with WTB rims as a perfectly good tubeless set up for gravel, back road, or heavy duty commuting demands. Really a great all-around tire for “all-road” bikes.

NOTE: WTB sent over these Nano 40 TCS tires at no cost to RidingGravel.com for test/review. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Discuss and share your questions or thoughts about gravel bikes, gear, events and anything else on the Riding Gravel Forum.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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18 thoughts on “WTB Nano 40 TCS Tires: At The Finish

  1. Agree 100% with the review. These tires have transformed my riding for the better. My last tires were Bontrager CX0. Even though those tires were super light, they just could not handle the tough stuff. I do quite a bit of riding in the foothills of North Carolina. You are either going up or down most of the time at 7% grade on average. These tires give a great bite when you have to get out of the saddle to climb, and they produce minimal wheel spin. Going down, they follow the line you pick. The front doesn’t washout and the rear doesn’t kick around when you get heavy on the brakes. I typically run them around 40-35 on hard pack, and 35-30 when I really need the bite or cushion. Thanks for the review Guitar Ted.

    1. Thanks Mark. I am glad you found that my review validated your experiences. I’ve been hearing similar commentary from other riders as well. WTB made a really good tire for the gravel/back road set. Hopefully we’ll see more in 2016.

  2. Recently switched to the Kenda Kozmic Lite 2 (SCT), and so far they have been a viable gravel tubeless option. I was on the fence between this and the WTB. The Kenda has sturdy sidewalls and center tread with hopes of no more cuts. Roll suprisingly well, center tread is only noticeable on grind out climbs on pavement and stick like glue with out of the saddle attempts. Until the file tread with side knobs returns tubless for 29ers, this IS another possibly.

  3. FWIW, I’ve been running the standard (non TCS) Nanos tubeless on Stan’s Alpha 340 rims for several months now with complete reliability and very easy setup. The weight is much more competitive and I am very happy with the performance.

  4. I spoke with the guys at Sea Otter this year and WTB recommends these with UST rims for best fit. You could potentially make them work with others, but they designed them to go with UST. I’ve used the 2.1 on my XC bike and had decent performance, but the WTB guys like the performance in the 700×40 size better.

    1. Chris, that is what WTB has always told me as well. This is why WTB TCS tires do not fit well on Stan’s rims, as Stan’s rims are meant to fit NON TUBELESS TIRES and convert them to tubeless use. (This is why many have been confused with this review, thinking that the Nano 40 does fit Stan’s rims, which is true if you are using the NON TUBELESS Nano 40’s.)

      The UST dimensions and bead shape that WTB uses for the Nano 40 TCS makes it fit differently so it is not the same as the folding bead version of this tire. This is also true for any TCS bead tire, and other tires sold as tubeless ready which have UST dimensions for their bead design. (Michelin, Hutchinson, Mavic, GEAX/Vittoria, and a few others)

      As MG states above, Stan’s rims interface with the folding bead type Nano 40, (and most other folding bead tires that are NOT TUBELESS), as that is what Stan’s main purpose in design is for.

      Also, as you mention, these Nano TCS tires may interface with some other rims meant for tubeless usage. Velocity and HED rims are known to work well with the Nano TCS. Others may as well, and it would be helpful for all if anyone has experiences with this to post their thoughts on our Gravel Forums: https://ridinggravel.com/forum/

      I don’t mean to “pick on you”, Chris, but your reply reminded me that many confuse the folder and TCS versions, or are just simply ignorant, thinking that all Nano 40’s will work well with Stan’s rims. That simply is not the case.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Just picked up a set of WTB Cross Wolf TCS LIghts to mount on my Frequency i19s for weekend trail riding. Anyone else have experience with them?

  6. Ted – tubeless aside, what did you think about the ride, feel, speed, etc. of the Nano 40 TCS on pavement, gravel vs the Challenge gravel grinder race? Especially interested in speed on pavement and hard pack with the Nano tread vs. the file tread of a tire like the Gravel Grinder Race or even the Specialized Trigger Pro. I am running the Gravel Grinder for tubed mixed (heavier paved) riding and the Trigger Pro tubeless on my dedicated gravel race wheels. The Nano looks interesting as an alternative to the Trigger Pro but don’t want to give up much speed. The trigger Pro have worked well, roll fast and been very tough for everything I have raced including last years DK200.

    1. @Steve: I’ll just cut to the chase- The Nano 40TCS probably isn’t your tire, based upon what I am reading from you. I was a bit conflicted on its hardpack/paved performance, but I ended up feeling that- as a tubeless system with its TCS rim- you could safely run lower pressures with little rolling resistance penalties. Still, as you rightly allude to in your question, a file tread tire is just going to be faster on pavement.

      The Challenge Gravel Grinder, Specialized Trigger Pro, and the bigger Panaracer Gravel King all have speedy treads with good casings. The last two being the only real tubeless options.

      The playing field seems to be filling up with better and better tire options, but few true “system tires” that have a rim to go with them. That said, you’re going to see that change soon as well.

  7. I gotta say I absolutely love this tire…just mounted my third set.

    Absolutely right that it is best if you’re looking at 50%+ dirt…the beauty of it is that I’ll happily hit singletrack and sketchy rut fest dirt roads with steep chutes with more confidence than other “gravel” tires, and it still doesn’t suck on paved stuff.

    I’vs also found that on wideish xc mtb rims (20-22 internal) i can run low (25-30) psi no problem.

    Done 100+ miles rides sometimes with over 50%road and they roll well.

    There are absolutely faster road tires, but if you want a huge upgrade in off-road grip and fun with a small pavement trade off, this is it.

    Most recent comparison: maxxis rambler, spins a teeny bit faster, supple but hard to find pressure sweet spot, waay less grip off road than nanos.

    Just put nanos back on for lost&found

    Get nano 40z. Shred dirt with drop barz.

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