WTB brought two new aggressive tread patterns into the MTB world recently – the front specific Verdict and the rear specific Judge. Lately I spent some time riding the standard Verdict 2.5″ (there is also a Verdict Wet, with taller knobs) on the front of my Evil Offering long term test bike. The knob layout is widely spaced and minimalist, thus making it a very, very aggressive tire. The rubber compound is quite soft, so with those factors in mind, it is unsurprisingly aimed more toward loose and/or wet conditions.
- Usage: Enduro / Gravity
- Conditions: Dry / Wet / Loose / Rocky / Mud
- Weight: 1193 grams claimed – 1184 grams on our scale – “Light” casing, 29″
- Price: $72.95 USD
The Verdict measured at just over 2.6″ wide on a rim with an inner diameter in the recommended range, which is ~30mm. Its volume is substantial, but not over the top.
The Verdict is available with one multi durometer offering, dubbed “TriTec”. Consisting of 3 compounds TriTec has a firm, supportive base layer which extends halfway up the knobs. Then you’ll find intermediate rubber at the center knobs to keep things rolling faster and improve durability, while the side knobs feature the softest of the 3 rubber compounds.
As far as casings go, there are two offerings: Tough, and Light, the former being what I tested. The Tough casing is a thicker dual ply and comes with a penalty of just under 100 grams per tire. With that in mind, the Light casing has “Slash Guard”, which is a nylon protective layer that covers the entirety of the sidewall.
WTB sent the Verdict out with both the Judge and the Trail Boss, which isn’t new, but it’s one of their staple tires that I’ve always wanted to test. It’s fast rolling and perfect for dry summer conditions, so that’s what I mated the Verdict to – truly an excellent all arounder and a great choice out back.
On the trail
Due to a surprisingly wet Spring in the Santa Cruz area, I got to test the Verdict in a very broad array of conditions in a surprisingly short amount of time. Most good rides start with a climb, so that’s a great place to discuss rolling resistance…As you might imagine from looking at the blocky, broadly spaced the Verdict is designed with pedal efficiency taking a back seat to all out traction. But with that in mind, the ramped edges and corners on the center knobs actually kept things rolling right along better than I expected after my hasty initial judgements. If you’re reading this review, what you’re likely most interested in is how the tire performed once pointed downhill…
The Verdict is quite stout and has just the right amount of volume for a front tire aimed at rowdy conditions. On trails that were truly loose and broken up, regardless of if it was wet or dry, the Verdict is outstandingly good. Whether on duffy loam or deep dusty pockets of chewed up junky summer trail, they really bit and found traction and control where many other tires floundered and felt vague. Braking was quite good, but nothing mind blowing like you’d see with a mud spike, rather it is better balanced all around. As far as the casing is concerned, I didn’t flat once during the test period, although I rarely do. Even in the “Light” duty offering, it seems quite stout and up to the task.
When it came to the corners, mixed terrain left me with mixed feelings. As you can see in the picture above, there is no “intermediate” knob. That would be a knob that either presses up against alternating corner knobs, or sits in its own row in between the center row and side row. An intermediate knob is something you’ll see on a tire that’s aimed more at hardpack and firm, tacky conditions and it helps provide cornering support. With that in mind, its absence is what opens up space to help the Verdict cut through and bite in the loose stuff. Summer conditions in Santa Cruz had me going between blown, rubbly sections and firm hardpack, where I had to be a little cautious in the corners as the soft, but not all that slow rebound knobs would fold when I really pushed hard. With all of that in mind, WTB does not market the Verdict as being aimed toward hardpack – rather, they’d likely recommend the Vigilante, which unsurprisingly has a row of intermediate knobs.
The Verdict is an excellent front tire which, as indicated, nods heavily toward loose conditions. In steep, duffy loam carpet, it’s among the best I’ve ever used. It’s almost equally amazing in marbly chunder and on degraded trails that could really use some love. With that in mind, for perfectly manicured trails, I’d look for a less aggro, more all around tire. Last but not least, as far as durability goes – it’s about what you’d expect from a tire that has tall, soft knobs aimed at rugged riding. The knobs wore and degraded in the proper amount and pace that you’d anticipate over a few months, but certainly they didn’t tear or show any premature wear. For riding on the more aggressive side, I found that the volume and casing strength were both fitting. All in all, a great tire provided they’re used in the intended terrain.