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.
15 thoughts on “WTB Sendero 650B X 47mm Tires: At The Finish”
“You’ve got to wonder how many folks are really stringing together gravel roads, dirt roads, and single track.” Me for one, since I bought my gravel bike. It’s not about getting into technical MTB territory – I just want to explore every interesting trail I see and not be stopped by lack of traction. I don’t need to go fast, I do want more traction on loose and rocky fire trails and forestry roads. I started with Horizons, then Byways. Was considering moving across to the WTB Resolute – this looks like a good alternative.
@David- I expected that some folks would be all about the Sendero, that’s why I wrote, “You’ve got to wonder how many folks…..”, meaning that I grant there are some of you out there. Also….
“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.”
So, I’m not saying there isn’t anyone that needs this tire. I am saying I wonder (am curious) how many of these tires they will sell. I’m thinking not as many as other Road Plus tires, but I would be glad to be proven wrong.
Well… you also refer to 90’s MTB’s. Well, I rode my HT M800 Beast of the East (Cannondale) on 26″ wheels with Ritchey Z-max 1.65, Schwalbe Rocket Ron 1.85,… in Houffalize and Bouillon. I never wanted those 2.10 and even 2.25’s (now standard on MTB’s). My 2013 Specialized Carve had those, and I didged them. Now I have a GT Grade Carbon Pro gravelbike with 42mm WTB’s (that’s 1.65″) and they feel like MTB tyres, not gravel ones. So… for real gravel I use 33-35mm. In november I’m on a bike trip to Uganda. Now… that’s where I will put 650B wheels and 47mm puncture protected rubber on my (gravel)bike. Maybe that falls under “Travel bike”…I don’t know. But there is use for these tyres (for example for S and M MTB frames some brands deliver with 27,5” wheels). And I really wander what changed in MTB roads or riding between the 90’s and today? Houffalize and Bouillon are more suited, adapted and equipped for receiving bikes in the woods than they were back in the days, that’s for sure. 🙂 Not to mention the uprise of the first heavyweight bumpy fullies I saw struggling uphill late 90’s into the 00’s. Even today hardtails rule in competition, and a gravelbike these days beats most MTB’s except on real technical MTB tracks. What changed in MTB riding is the focus on DH as stated. My Cannondale was 9kg, my Specialized with Stans 10kg, both alu. Nowadays… those figures need carbon frames. Where did that go wrong?
I would define a Gravelbike as every thing between a full-rigid Roadbike and a short-travel full-suspension XC Mountainbike. And here’s how I would define a Gravel tire. A Gravel tire is 30-56mm(1.2-2.2in) wide and rolls fast on pavement but still hooks up well on dirt. While a Mountain tire hooks up well on dirt and a Road tire rolls fast on pavement, a Gravel tire needs to do both. And mostly, it’s this dual quality of the Gravel tire that defines a Gravelbike.
The Sendero appears that it would hook up well on dirt but doesn’t appear that it would roll fast on pavement. It seems more like a narrow Mountain tire and might be OK if you rode mostly dirt but little pavement. Just being a Gravel-ish width doesn’t make a Gravel tire. I wouldn’t consider 47mm wide slick a Gravel tire either. I think the two middle tires of the WTB Road Plus line, the Byway and the Venture, will be the most useful tires for Gravel riders.
@Bike Nerd- There are a load of fat bike riders that might take issue with your definition. I see a lot of them at the events I go to that seem to do quite nicely.
That said, I get it. I just don’t think that, coming from the perspective I have, that a strict definition of “gravel bike”, or “gravel tires”, is necessary. Are some things better for the job than others? Yes. The definition of “better” is what is at stake. Not everyone agrees on that part…….
I see bikes on a spectrum from Roadbike to Gravelbike to Mountainbike to Fatbike—from skinny slicks to very wide heavily treaded tires. Sure, you could ride a Fatbike on pavement or a Roadbike in deep snow but they’re not really the best tool for the job. I ride my Gravelbike on pavement, gravel roads, and easy singletrack (frequently all on the same ride) and I’m guessing most of your readers do the same. So what’s the best tool for that job? We call that tool a Gravelbike. I think my definition pretty well nails Gravelbikes and Gravel tires. Let’s not be coy! There is a definition for Gravelbikes. I don’t see Riding Gravel reviewing Fatbikes, Mountainbikes, or Roadbikes.
Gravelbikes have thier own spectrum from those that perform best on pavement and smooth, flat, firm gravel to those that perform best on rough, steep, loose gravel and singletrack. And also for those that would be better for racing to those that would be better for comfort or bikepacking. So what’s the best Gravelbike? Well, that depends on what type of Gravelbike you want.
Maybe I’m weird but I don’t need to hook up onto little pebbles that weigh 1/10,000th of my weight. No matter what I’ll just push them.
@Guitar Ted thanks for pointing out the geometry of modern mountain bikes. I don’t see it quite as much yet on hard tails but it’s coming. I do like using a gravel bike for less technical single track, basically anywhere that I would typically ride a hardtail. I prefer a light weight XC full suspension bike when the terrain demands it. My gravel bike is my favorite bike.
Just put the Sendero on ny wife’s Pinnacle Lithium Ion. Around here the extra grip of the Sendero let’s us keep riding the same tracks and trails through the winter mud as we do in summer.
I think this is an odd tire, but does round out WTB’s Road Plus portfolio. With many new gravel bikes with 650b x 2.0-2.2″ clearances, it would seem to make more sense just to mount a pair of XC MTB tires. There are many in 500-550g range, with varying knob profiles.
It would seem this tire would be more at home with 700c to 650b conversion or frame that’s more limited in clearance.
Hi Guitar Ted and thanks for the reviews. The Sendero looks to my eyes like a wider version of the Resolute, but although you praise the Resolute highly you seem to have a lukewarm opinion of the Sendero. I wonder what one has going for it that the other doesn’t?
@Andy – Looks can be deceiving. The Sendero is much more toward the MTB side of the spectrum, and it shows in overall tractability and in terms of its higher rolling resistance. Not to mention that it is a smaller diameter tire. It’s very difficult to draw any close comparisons when one is 650B, wider, and on a completely different casing than the 700c, narrower, faster treaded tire.
I recently used these tires on my Jamis Renegade with a Shimano GRX wheelset for the 2021 Gravel Grovel in Hoosier Nat’l Forest. They kept me at the front of the pack on the asphalt, worked well on the 2100′ of climbing, and truly shone when we hit the singletrack. Smaller 700c tires had to be pushed up wet, muddy hills while I was able to stay on the bike and climb like a goat. I even passed some MTB’s with 29ers, though that may have been more to rider skill than tires, (though I did see many gravel-style tires on MTB’s). My daughter’s endurance fade and a broken chain on a muddy climb, (once again showing how well these tires grip), did not get me the finish I wanted, but I did finish, “scootering” the bike the last 11 miles. I absolutely love these tires. For pure gravel I have a set of WTB Raddler’s, and for more CX type rides, I have Kenda Booster’s, although I am planning on trying the Sendero out at my next CX race. The minimal amount of asphalt sections will not affect my overall speed, and the tread will help with climbs, grass and singletrack sections, and possibly sand pits.