WTB Sendero 650B X 47mm Tires: At The Finish- by Guitar Ted
The WTB Sendero tires, the latest in WTB’s line of Road Plus offerings, has been thoroughly tested and now it comes time to render a final verdict on this aggressively treaded tire. Our last update on this review included a look from our own Grannygear. He explored how the Sendero worked in SoCal conditions, so if you missed that, please click here. Now let’s get on with the review……
I rode the Sendero on several local single track trails and a few more times out on gravel roads, including a bit of hike-a-bike on a muddy dirt road. The tire continued to impress me with its grip and ability to tractor through many situations where lesser aggressive treads may give up. It is obvious that WTB had dirt travel in mind when they drew up this design.
I haven’t changed my mind about the Sendero being a “gravel bike range extender”, but as Grannygear says, “volume (off road) is king”. Many gravel bikes will accept a switch to 650B, so the Sendero is an obvious candidate for heading to the local single track with such a bike. However; it is not a tire that will “do it all” for you. No, this is, essentially, a “throw-back” tire, making a rigid gravel bike into what amounts to an early 90’s era hard tail mtb. In today’s vernacular, when it comes to mountain biking, that translates to having to be very judicious with your line choice, and for that matter, what trail is even appropriate for such a bike. (Skill levels aside here.)
I would be remiss here if I didn’t address briefly the larger issue of whether or not it even makes sense to push “gravel” bikes, or “all road” bikes, into mtb territory. Why not just buy a hard tail mountain bike? Actually, that’s a very valid question. The thing is, MTB geometry has abandoned its roots for a “low and slack” take which could be unappealing in terms of where gravel/all road bikes generally are going to be used. I could go on, but suffice it to say for now that, in some ways, the appearance of some MTB technologies and traits in the gravel/all road niche is something of a reaction to MTB’s current fascination with extremely down hill oriented handling. (Cue angry MTB’ers comments in the comments section)
That said, whatever the philosophical proclivities may be, the Sendero does handle quite nicely on loose, chunky gravel, dirt roads, and it will take you on a thready sliver of buff single track for the fun of it. I would stay away from the Sendero if you have a large percentage of pavement in your riding though, and that points out a bit of an issue I have with this offering. Is it really an “all road” tire? It seems that even WTB says it is best for dirt. But taken as a whole, the range of Road Plus is kind of a palette here where the rider chooses which “color” to use. That range of tires covers, (and will be even better now that the last tire has been released in the range), the gamut of “all road” riding. WTB never claimed this was a “do-it-all” tire. So, I suppose taken in that light it makes sense.
At The Finish: WTB staked its claim in Road Plus by using the 650B format. In many ways I think that was a brilliant choice, but I hesitate to agree with the Sendero. While it does make a gravel bike’s range extend into the dirt, given the Sendero’s bite and rolling performance over rougher stuff, I cannot help but start thinking that here a 700c tire begins to be a better choice. I speak in terms of the more mountain bike-ish territory where a 29″er has an advantage over smaller wheels. I was reminded of this after testing the recently reviewed Breezer RADAR Expert with a 29″ X 2.1″ tire on it. That rolled so much better than the Sendero. It was painfully obvious. Of course, that is a moot point if your bicycle cannot fit a 700c X 2 inch plus sized tire.
Other than that, the claims of the WTB Sendero’s abilities ring true with me. It is an odd tire. You’ve got to wonder how many folks are really stringing together gravel roads, dirt roads, and single track. It seems unlikely this is a tire a lot of us will need. Maybe it’s a “bike packing” tire? Possibly. However; if your rides sound a lot like what I described, the Sendero is here and can handle more dirt and single track than most other gravel tires ever could think of taking on. Just don’t call it a mountain bike tire.
NOTE : WTB sent over the Sendero tires for test and review to RidingGravel.com at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.