WTB has a new, gravel-specific tyre, the Nano 40c, which boasts a plump 40mm casing, a rounded profile and a center-line tread pattern designed for riding and racing road bikes on gravel and dirt roads. WTB debuted the tire at Frostbike, the mini-tradeshow hosted by North American distributor Quality Bicycle Products.
“The inspiration for this tyre actually came directly from [Frostbike] one year ago,” WTB product manager Chris Feucht said. “We were blown away by the number of requests we received for a gravel tyre last year so we took a long, hard look at our tire line and decided to use the Nano tread pattern as a starting point. We wanted something that would appease racers due to its speed and light weight, yet also appeal to those wanting comfort over the long haul. By simplifying the pattern slightly, we’ve actually created a more durable tyre while maintaining speed and the unique Nano handling characteristics, making for a winner.”
WTB ultra endurance athlete Jay Petervary helped test early prototypes. He initially requested something in the 35c range, but Feucht said Petervary was impressed by how fast the 40c tyre rolled. Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, California, and Sean Walling of Soulcraft in Petaluma, California, also contributed to the design of the gravel tyre.
Gravel racing has been developing a following recently, with events like the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200mi race in Kansas. Equipment selection is always a hot topic for event participants. Some riders use cyclocross bikes; others use modified road or mountain bikes. The bike industry, meanwhile, is wondering whether there is enough interest to develop specialised product — or even specialised bikes.
WTB will be sponsoring the Trans Iowa Gravel Race in late April as well as Petervary’s own Fall Gravel Backyard Pursuit.
WTB Nano 40c tyres will be available in Race and Comp versions starting in April. The US$50 Nano 40c Race tyres with a folding Aramid bead have a claimed weight of 470g. The US$32 Nano 40c Comp tires with a wire bead have a claimed weight of 550g.
QBP's Frostbike goes on through the weekend. BikeRadar editor Josh Patterson is on site, and will be reporting throughout the weekend.