WTB has resurrected the Vulpine, a 36mm-wide, race-focused low profile gravel tyre. The new WTB Vulpine is available with black or tan sidewalls and two different casing options.
The relatively narrow centreline measures approximately 7mm across and sits ever so slightly proud of the rest of the tyre when inflated. This, combined with the harder rubber compound WTB has used in this area, should result in a fast-rolling tyre on hard-packed gravel and paved surfaces.
The outer edge of the tyre comprises three rows of staggered knobs increasing in size. WTB says “the overall knob profile [of the tyre] mimics a high-volume road tyre”, with a more round overall shape compared to a typically squared-off gravel tyre. The brand claims this gives it more predictable cornering performance on a variety of surfaces.
Mounted onto a 23mm-wide (internal) rim, the tyres do have a distinctly round profile, with no distinct transition between each row of knobs. Freshly mounted to this wheel, the tyres measured 37mm.
The tyre is only available in a 36mm nominal width. This is fairly narrow by gravel bike standards, where 40mm tyres have become something of a de facto standard.
It does, however, open up the possibility of fitting the tyre to one of the more progressive ‘gravel-adjacent’ road bikes with generous tyre clearances that have hit the market in recent years.
The tyre is dual-compound (no durometer rating for each compound was supplied by WTB).
This means WTB has used a harder-wearing and firmer compound on the narrow centre tread, paired with a softer compound on the outer edges to improve grip when cornering.
Those who have been in the cycling game for long enough may recall the WTB Vulpine was originally a semi-slick mountain bike tyre that found favour with XC riders racing on hardback surfaces.
The Vulpine is available with a 60tpi carcass in either black or tan sidewalls. These are claimed to weigh 391g per tyre (£45 / €57.50 / $65.95).
A 120tpi version of the Vulpine that features the brand’s SG2 puncture protection layer is also available, but only comes with black sidewalls (£55 / €65.95 / $76.95). We have a sample of this tyre and weighed it at 406g.
The SG2 layer is a thin nylon insert that runs from bead to bead and is claimed to improve sidewall protection by 33 per cent, and tread protection by 17 per cent.
The tyres are available now via WTB and will be with local distributors worldwide by February.