The Venture is the latest Road Plus tyre to roll out of WTBs Californian design studio. Claimed to be their most versatile 650b tyre to date, it shares the same 47c profile as the Horizon, the Byway and the more rugged Sendero.
A different kind of tread
Where the Venture stands out from other tyres is in its unusual tread design. At first sight it looks like a lightly treaded, fast rolling, tyre similar to the Teravail Cannonball. It is in fact, unlike any gravel tyre I have seen before, featuring numerous small, deep and closely packed ‘rib like’ wedges. WTB describe them as ‘countless working edges’. Call them what you like, these wedges are very flexible and provide significantly more grip than than you might expect.
WTB claim the tyres weigh 555g. Ours came in at 560g and 558g. Close enough in our opinion and not worth quibbling over. The Venture uses an Aramid bead and employs the WTB ‘Tubeless Compatible System’ (TCS). A dual compound tread with a softer compound on the shoulders gives you extra grip through the corners.
I installed the tyres on a well used pair of Light Bicycle carbon rims. As with all the WTB tyres we have tested, they inflated at the first time of trying.
The centre line of the Venture has a pretty standard ‘v-channel’ profile and rolls well enough on hardpack dirt and fireroad. I pushed the tyres quite hard when cornering and can report minimal slip – in dry conditions. I found 30-35psi to be my preferred pressure.
On the road I noticed much more drag than anticipated. Even inflating them to over 40psi failed to deliver much improvement. It did make the bike bounce off road imperfections like a pogo-stick though. Meanwhile, those multiple tread edges constantly flutter away against the asphalt surface. When leaning into a turn, you can hear the ‘wedges’ squirming. The sound of lost speed. Ironically, jumping back onto the more aggressively treaded 700×42 WTB Resolute, it felt like I was being held back far less.
Needless to say, the WTB Venture feels best at home on hardpack surfaces where it rolls efficiently, and the extra volume of 650b makes the most sense for all-day comfort and trundling along at ‘expedition speed’.
Sliding in the singletrack
Once you make the transition from crushed limestone fireroads to dusty singletrack, the Venture’s design limitations become quite obvious. Shall we say, this is not the tyre for high speed heroics on sinewy trails between the trees. I think the the larger knobs are too far outboard. Once you crank the bike over, the tyre lets go with rider and bike gracefully (but inevitably) sliding sideways off the trail and into the nettles.
In all other conditions, such as the manicured trails at your local forest trail centre, loose grit or even slick rock, the WTB Venture will grip, limpet like, to the surface and keep you rolling.
It is worth noting how the tread collects small stones and grit between the tight tread on a ride. Usually, once you hit a section of downhill descent on the road, these little stones are catapulted at you from the front wheel, or at riders behind you!
Mud? We don’t have mud in Cali
The Venture is not designed for mud. Once things get wet, it starts to slip and slide before transforming into a fat, mud encrusted, slick.
On fire roads and tarmac, the deep rib pattern tread actually offers a lot of grip in wet conditions and works well even when cornering on slippery road surfaces.
Who is it for?
The WTB Venture does not excel at anything in particular, rather it manages to perform adequately in a variety of conditions. Is this a weakness or a strength? I suppose that depends on your perspective.
The WTB Sendero would be better if you fancy yourself as the latest incarnation of Johnny Tomac. For the multi-surface on and off road mashup rides that make up most of my gravel riding, there are better suited tyres. Keeping in the WTB family, I would not hesitate to choose the 700c Resolute.
Venture slips into WTB’s Road Plus Family as another tool to flick out of their Swiss Army Knife range of 650b rubber. Look at it as the Expedition Tyre, it is not fast, is not aggressive, but it will do the job.
While the Venture is more aggressive than the semi-slick Byway, and less draggy on-road than the Sendero, it’s by no means the all-purpose tyre I hoped would complete the Road Plus line-up.
Last modified: 8th June 2019