WTB Convict Tire
Stated Width: 27.5” x 2.5”
Measured Dimensions (on a 28mm internal width rim)
Knob width: 63 mm (2.48”)
Casing width: 59 mm (2.32”)
Casing: TCS Tough
Rubber Compound: Gravity DNA / Fast Rolling rear
Dual DNA / High Grip front
Blister’s Measured Weight: 1235 g
Mounted to: DT Swiss FR 570 rims on a Devinci Wilson
Recommended For: Gravity / Enduro
MSRP: $67.95 – $76.95 (tested)
Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs
Locations: Montana & British Columbia
Days Tested: ~1.5 months
WTB dropped the news of the Convict earlier this summer, and it had me and quite a few others interested. It’s a big, blocky tire that looks to be a legitimate contender in the DH market, going up against old favorites like the Maxxis DHF and DHRII, and slightly newer favorites like the Bontrager G5 and the Specialized Butcher.
I’ve been riding the Convict on my DH bike for most of the summer, and I’ve had a chance to get it on a fairly wide variety of trails — everything from smooth and fast flow trails, to steep, deep loam. Here’s how the Convict stacked up…
Sizes and Options
The Convict is currently only offered for 27.5” wheels in a 2.5” width. WTB has two casing options: “Light,” which is more or less a single-ply tire, and “Tough,” which is a two-ply casing similar to lots of other DH tires on the market, but it still has a folding bead that saves a little weight.
The Convict with the Light casing only comes with WTB’s softer rubber compound, called “Gravity DNA.” The Tough casing gets two rubber options — the stickier Gravity DNA, and the slightly harder, faster-rolling Dual DNA compound.
I rode the Tough casing with softer, grippier Gravity DNA rubber in the front and the harder, faster-rolling Dual DNA in the rear.
All versions of the Convict use WTB’s TCS (tubeless compatible system) design. That means two things:
First, and somewhat obviously, the tire is designed to work well when set up tubeless with sealant.
Second, and slightly less obvious, is that the bead shape on the tire is UST compliant, and it will mate very tightly with UST compliant rims. In the real world, this just means that if you’re running a UST rim, you’ll get a nice tight seal and the tire will be much less prone to burping.
The DT Swiss 570 rims that I was using aren’t UST compliant, but the Convicts still worked nicely on them, and I never had any issues with burping. Interestingly, I did find that the Convicts tended to seep sealant out of the sidewall, and I had to use a bit more sealant than normal to get them to seal up nicely. This wasn’t really problematic, but it was a bit surprising, since other WTB tires I’ve used have been some of the easiest tires to set up tubeless that I’ve ever used.
The Convict isn’t breaking into new territory when it comes to tread design, but I tend to be of the opinion that simple tread designs usually work better. Tires with all kinds of weird knob shapes pointing every which way might look cool, but oftentimes, I find that they don’t work as well as something that’s much more straightforward.
The Convict goes the simple route, with alternating sets of big, rectangular blocks down the middle. Half of the knobs have sipes running across the tire to help with braking traction, and half the knobs have sipes running circumferentially to help with cornering and drifting.
Unlike most of WTB’s other tires, including the relatively meaty Vigilante, there’s a clearly defined channel between the center knobs and the side knobs. This means that there aren’t any transitional knobs that dig in as the bike is leaned a little bit into a turn.
The downside of a lack of transitional knobs is that there is a defined point where the center knobs lose traction, and there’s a bit of a gap before the side knobs hook up and traction is regained. For a lot of people, that momentary loss of traction can be disconcerting, and it requires a more aggressive commitment to the corner to get past that driftiness and engage the side knobs.
But side knobs are at their most effective when they getting shoved into the ground really really hard; that keeps them from breaking loose. When the bike is leaned way over and all of your weight is driving those side knobs into some loam, the bike is locked in and you can leave a trench in your wake. But transitional knobs placed just inboard of the side knobs effectively take weight off of the side knobs, which means the side knobs can’t dig in quite as hard, which means you can’t corner quite as hard. And depending on how exactly the transitional knobs are placed, this can also lead to somewhat unpredictable cornering; it can be a lot harder to know exactly how hard you can push the tire in a corner.
So, long story short, the Convict doesn’t have any transitional knobs. This sets the Convict apart from most of the other tires offered by WTB, and it puts it more in line with some of the best DH tires on the market (e.g. the DHF, the Butcher, and the G5). At the edge of the Convict’s casing are a stout set of side knobs ready to catch you once you get them engaged, and they have some sipes to help the grip even harder.
However, there are two design features that make the Convict a bit different from some of the other great DH tires on the market. First, the center knobs are in line with the side knobs. This can make it a bit harder for the side knobs to achieve max grip in the same way that transitional knobs take pressure off of the side knobs. Most of the best DH tires have “offset” knobs, where the side knobs and center knobs don’t line up – the Maxxis DHF, DHR II and Highroller II, the Schwalbe Magic Mary and Muddy Mary, and the Bontrager G5 all have center knobs and side knobs that are out of phase.
Here’s a picture comparing the Convict’s (left) knob placement compared to a Maxxis DHF (right).
Second, the Convict has a slightly rounder shape to it. On the 28 mm rim I was using, the Convict was noticeably rounder than a Maxxis DHF or DHRII. I did, however, throw a Convict onto a 35 mm rim, which squared it off enough so that it was roughly equivalent to the Maxxis tires on the narrower rim.
NEXT: The Ride, Durability, Etc.