Last year, WTB introduced a "new" tire system dubbed Road Plus that offers dependable high volume traction on road and gravel bikes. By now, most of us are familiar with the concept, but in case you missed it, check out a review of the WTB Horizon tire.
The latest iteration of Road Plus comes in the form of a dirt specific tire named the Byway. Where the Horizon is more at home on pavement with occasional ventures off road, the Byway takes the opposite approach, shining in gravel and dirt yet rolling fast enough to endure the paved road that leads to these more adventurous substrates.
Similar to the Horizon, a smooth center line flanked by angular hatching that maintains smooth rollability on paved surfaces. Where the Byways differ however, is the diamond shaped peaks and substantial side knobs encircling the outer part of the tire. These features are what give the tire real bite in dirt while protecting the sidewall from off-road hazards.
- Size: 650 x 47
- Material: WTB Lightweight Casing, Dual DNA Rubber Compound
- Tubeless Compatible System (TCS)
- Weight: 535g (reported)
- Price: $67.95
Once again, WTB's Tubeless Compatible System (TCS) proved easy to mount, seat and seal up. I was able to get the bead seated and sealed using my floor pump and a scant amount of tubeless sealant poured out of the Horizon tires taken off earlier. I love the way WTB's tires and rims play nicely together and never leave me cussing.
My first week on the tires consisted of "break-up" season commuting through Anchorage, AK. This equates to sections of snow, ice, mud, wet leaves, gravel-topped roads and occasionally, dry pavement. A commute of 13 miles with the gamut of conditions makes it hard to choose a single tire. The Byway did a great job managing all these situations. While nothing but studs inspire confidence on ice, I found the Byways had ample volume and traction to tackle short sections of packed snow. Better yet, the slick center line and cross hatching maintained smooth, fast rolling on the mostly paved trail to work. 45 PSI achieved great rollability and comfort.
Where the Byways really shine though is off paved surfaces. While most of these are still under snow and mud here in Alaska, the 6 miles up Arctic Valley was mostly dry dirt and gravel. I started by lowering the air pressure to about 30 PSI. The reduction made a noticeably softer ride and engaged more of the side peaks and knobs. The Byways performed well on the climb, providing enough traction the keep the wheels from spinning out, even when standing on the pedals. Where I really noticed their advantages over the Horizons though, was on the downhill. Even at speeds pushing 30mph, the Byways held their course and never felt out of control on the loose gravel. I especially appreciated the extra control when making last minute, minor adjustments to steer around a rock or washboard. Better yet, they stuck like glue to the few short sections of packed dirt and left me wanting to find some single track to really have some fun.
If you are looking for a high volume tire that excels in dirt and gravel yet rolls fast enough on pavement not to be a buzz kill, this is it.