The challenge with developing a gravel tire is a reflection of what the category entails. Try selecting a tire for all conditions and all roads. There always seems to be some compromises in tire selection, a balance between traction on dirt and minimal resistance on road. Additional variables like mud, sand and rock can further complicate things.
WTB looked to answer this challenge with their all-new Venture tire, tested in 650b x 47c. The first set of “Road Plus” WTB tires I tried were the Byway in the same size. The Byway is a great tire for most gravel conditions, but not all. Similar to the Gravelking we reviewed, a smooth centerline can prevent traction on slick or loose-over-hard conditions. Similarities between the Byway and the Venture end at the distinct outer knobs. The Venture introduces a second row of smaller knobs for added traction when cornering. Intermediate sloping ridges approach the tire’s center, where a directional tread is found.
Performance and Versatility
I set up my Venture 47s tubeless on ENVE G27 650B wheels with an internal width of 27mm. The first true test of these tires would come in early February with the Rock Cobbler gravel race. Set in Bakersfield, CA, the 90 mile course offered just about every condition imaginable. Road, bike path, smooth singletrack, loose fireroad and mud. I quickly realized the impressive versatility of these tires as they not only rolled surprisingly well on pavement, but maintained traction on everything else. While others struggled through one particularly slimy section of an orchard, the traction of the Ventures combined with the clearance of the 3T Exploro provided me a near effortless experience.
The Sweet Spot
WTB describes the Venture 47 as their most versatile “Road Plus” tire, “delivering optimal performance across the widest range of conditions. The supportive centerline tread provides traction on hardpack terrain while the countless working edges of the intermediate ridges grab hold on gravel or dirt. Two rows of outer knobs provide additional cornering confidence and sidewall protection in loose or rocky conditions. Venture 47 is the tire of choice when the destination is unknown but you’re sure to encounter a variety of terrain along along the way.”
I found these claims to hold true through extensive riding on just about every terrain encountered. The Venture 47 offers a fun 650b experience while promising durability, performance and versatility that is difficult to achieve in one gravel tire. Perhaps most impressive is how they roll on pavement, not feeling too sluggish on long stretches of road.
If you are searching for an all-round gravel tire in the 650b size you should definitely give the Venture 47 a try, a solid choice for just about anywhere that drop bar bike will take you.