WTB '08 29"er Tires:Prowler SL 29"er Update

Editors Note: Here is an update on the WTB Prowler SL 29″er tire we have for testing/review. Keep in mind that these are pre-production samples. We were told that the target weight of these tires is to be 726 grams. Our two test samples actually weighed in at less than 700 grams each at 685 and 695 grams respectively. Please keep in mind that this may not reflect actual Prowler SL weights once they come online in late January. However; we felt that the weight may be an influence in our impressions and that we should disclose this. Read on for Captain Bob’s further experiences with the Prowler SL 29″er.

It’s been a while since I was handed the Prowlers and I think an update is way overdue. (I may even get fired for taking so long to report back!) So, I have logged in around 150 miles now on these tires. The Prowler is a bit different tire than I have ridden on a 29er. I am used to running larger volume tires with shorter knobs. The Prowlers at first appear to be a slow rolling tire but they are somewhat deceiving. More on that in a minute. I need to tell you that my “first impression” post was with the tires mounted on my Salsa Mamasita. After the post I rode them one more time on the Mamasita before putting them on my Raleigh XXIX. I have to say I like these tires much better on the single speed XXIX versus the geared Mamasita. I don’t think it has anything to do with the bikes, but more so with my riding style on the bikes. It’s completely different. I am up out of the saddle more when single speeding, using more of my body to get me up a climb. These tires really shine when riding more aggressively.

There were four rides on the Prowlers since mounting them on the single speed. I rode at The Camp on the sweet singletrack where I rode them on the Mamasita. I am still running them right around the 26psi range. Running more than that makes them too rough (for rigid) and running less that that makes them bottom out on roots and rocks. The rocks and roots is where I wish for a larger volume tire. However, I think they would feel slower if they were bigger with all of those wicked knobs. I experienced the best traction out of any 29er tire I have ridden with these Prowlers. I was able to tackle out of the saddle, rocky climbs like never before. I have had two different kinds of tires on the XXIX and am always forced to move my body way back over the saddle for traction while riding a particular hill. With the Prowlers you just mash on the pedals and pull on the bars as hard as you can. You never have to think about the loss of traction. It was pretty sweet. Loose trails seem to be where these tires really shine in my opinion. You can really rail the corners, fast or slow, without worrying about slipping out. Of course many of you reading this will probably be riding much faster than me, so you may experience different results. With all of this traction I was thinking that they would be slow on the hardpack. They were a bit slower than some tires, but the grip you get with these far outweighs the rolling ressitance, which is very good in my book. They were a little slower on pavement, but that is to be expected with this aggressive of a tire.

My next ride was on a fresh “first” snow. It was an awesome day for riding regardless. Same trails as above but only this time I had to ride on snow covered leaves. It was very slippery as if riding on fresh autumn leaves aren’t slippery enough. My cousin and I both rode the XXIX and the Prowlers that day. We were both extremely impressed with the traction. I rode another bike with different tires before riding the XXIX/Prowler and I must say, what a difference the tire makes. There was some sliding but nothing unpredictable or scary. I would say that I was the fastest of the two of us and I know it was the traction I was able to get. Great cornering, high speed and slow. Climbing was still great. Braking was normally just fine but with these leaves nothing was good. Nothing but praises that day.

Well, you may heard that we had a little ol’ ice storm in these parts. Then we received about three inches of sloppy snow a couple days later. That’s when I went for my next ride. The Prowlers performed as I had hoped in those conditions. Pretty good. The snow and ice was still soft enough for the knobs to bite into. Rolling resitance was still okay considering it was snow and ice. I didn’t ride any other tire that day so I have nothing to compare it to.

I think I have finally found a “slight” fault in the Prowlers. My gravels roads have a pretty good degree of slope towards the ditches so they are almost off camber and the Prowlers did not grip the ice as well as other tires I have ridden recently. But they still work better than any tire I had on my 26″er bikes. Just the larger footprint itself helps. Still, no crashes. Maybe I just shouldn’t be riding on ice anyway. (Sure I should.) I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Just maybe need to go a little slower.

In my “first impression” I had noted that mounting was a little bit of a hassle. I was using a 26″er tube and maybe had too much air in it. So, I switched to a 29″er tube and it mounted much easier. The sidewall strength still pleases me. If it were weaker I would have to run higher pressure which might start a trickle down effect that could possibly change all of the things I like about this tire. The weight was a little higher than I was hoping for but after logging some aggressive miles on them I am more than happy with the weight. If I was any slower on the flats due to a heavier tire I more than made up for it cornering and climbing. I really don’t think they feel that heavy when riding.

Here is my caliper reading when mounted to the Alex TD17 rims. 51mm casing. 53 tread.

So folks, if you are on the “Prowl” for a new tire and understand any of what I just rambled on about then I think you know that I am highly recommending this be a tire you look closely at. I bet if I had a front shock, or even a full suspension bike, I would like the Prowlers even more. I would maybe put a little more air pressure in them since I wouldn’t need the cush. Maybe we can get them mounted up on another test rig and report back. It won’t be until spring time before the dirt is ready though.

Captain Bob is right- It will be awhile before we can really dig into these tire reviews again with winter setting in here in the Mid-West. However; as soon as we can find clear trails again, we’ll report back with more on all the WTB ’08 29″er tires.


No Responses to “WTB '08 29"er Tires:Prowler SL 29"er Update”

  1. Desert9r Says:

    Great read thanks for the info, sounds like another good tire, I just wish I didn’t live/ride in such unique conditions that need really sticky rubber

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