The WTB Exposure 30 is a versatile, hard-wearing and very comfortable road tubeless tyre that is available in the rare but very useful 30mm-wide size.
The tyre’s combination of a supple and fast road-going ride quality, paired with off-road capability, has won it a place in my heart, and I expect it will be my go-to tyre for semi-off road nonsense for years to come.
The Exposure marque previously covered a series of tyres in 30, 32 and 34mm widths. Each of these tyres gained a more aggressive tread as size increased.
WTB rejigged its naming conventions last year and the Exposure name now covers just two 700c tyres: 30 and 36mm slick road tubeless tyres.
The 32mm version of the tyre is now known as the Expanse and the 34mm tyre is the Byway. The latter is also available in 40 and 44mm-wide sizes.
I have tested the 30mm Exposure extensively and have put around 200 miles on the more recently released 36mm-wide version. I have no doubt my findings will apply equally to both tyres.
The 30mm version of the Exposure inhabits a surprisingly sparse space. There are very few tubeless road tyres on the market in this size. The Schwalbe G-One Speed and the new tubeless version of the Challenge Strada Bianca are the two other main options that spring to my mind.
This is surprising because 30mm is a very useful size for a road tyre. First, 30mm is the maximum official tyre clearance for many modern road bikes, such as the Rose X-Lite or Specialized Tarmac Disc.
Second, for bikes that will take mudguards, a 30mm tyre also offers a touch more comfort and control than a 28mm tyre without running the risk of seriously reducing clearances.
The tyre is available with a standard black sidewall or a handsome brown-ish sidewall. We all know that tan walls are the coolest, so go for them.
The 30mm tyres weighed 305g apiece on our scales. For comparison, a 32mm Continental GP5000 weighs 278g.
All WTB gravel and road tyres retail at £45.99 / €52.95 (official AUD and USD pricing TBC), regardless of size or diameter. This is about average for mid-range road tubeless tyres.
I mounted the tyres to a set of Halo Devaura wheels. Both tyres went on relatively easily and without tyre levers.
On these particular wheels, I was initially unable to seat the tyres using a track pump. However, a swift blast from a tubeless chamber saw the tyres pop right into place. Seating them following the initial setup only required a track pump.
The tyres ship from WTB rolled in a tight coil rather than folded. This left a few more small kinks in the bead of the tyre than normal. These kinks flattened out once the tyres had been fitted but may have contributed to the initial difficulty in seating the tyres.
The sidewalls of the tyres are quite thin. This contributes to their delightfully supple ride quality, but there was a tiny little bit of seepage when first inflated. This stopped after only a few seconds and didn’t cause any long-term problems. I used Stans Race sealant in the tyres.
Despite being quite thin, I had no issues with the longevity of the sidewalls. Even riding in wildly inappropriate terrain that a road bike shouldn’t really venture into, the tyres have suffered from no cuts or gashes.
A small note that will please the rim brake aficionados among us – I also found that, unlike some tan wall tyres, brake pad gunk didn’t stain the sidewalls of the Exposure’s.
They have a shiny and non-porous finish, and a skoosh of Muc-Off or similar lifted any grubbiness easily.
Absolutely abuse-proof tyres
The overall ride quality of the tyres is sublime. The thin (and shiny!) sidewalls contribute to the smooth, fast-rolling ride and the extra volume eats up road vibrations. Despite their volume, they also feel remarkably spritely.
I tended to run the tyres in the 60 to 80psi range, but dared to go as low as 50psi on a few occasions. This gave absolutely bucket loads of grip but, unsurprisingly, stability on off-camber sections suffered.
There is a very light file tread on the tyre but this doesn’t contribute significantly to off-road grip. However, in dry conditions, the tyres are chunky enough to allow for light gravel dalliances.
On-road, there is more than enough grip to take on challenging corners with confidence.
I estimate that I used the tyres for around 2,300km of riding (abuse is probably a better word) before I retired them. With the exception of one mistake, I had zero punctures in all of this time and the tyres are showing little wear beyond a few small cuts and the usual squaring off of the tread.
I’m really not exaggerating when I say I abused these tyres. I rode them through all manner of hideous conditions and they shrugged off all that I threw at them.
I also pinch flatted the far-too-soft rear tyre on a curb (no excuses, this was entirely my fault). This damaged the bead, and the tyre would no longer seal after this.
I continued to use the tyre with a latex inner tube for the last 1,000-ish kilometres of its life. Again, my riding was entirely puncture-free in this period. That’s pretty damn good for a supple road tyre that has been put through absolute hell.
(Just to be clear, I retired the tyres as it was time to get onto testing a new set, rather than them wearing out prematurely. For the sake of transparency, it’s also worth mentioning that I managed to wear the rear tyre down to the casing. However, this was because I left a small buckle on the rear wheel unchecked, creating a pseudo-skid patch.)
WTB Exposure 30 tubeless road tyre overall
The Exposure 30 strikes a difficult balance few other tyres manage to achieve. They seat easily, they ride exceptionally well on the road, they’re hardy enough to handle cheeky off-road excursions and they wear very well.
That they come in a tan wall finish and fill a niche that few others have is the icing on the cake.
All of this won the tyres a place in my Gear of the Year for 2019 and earns them a well-deserved (and rare) full score.