WTB Nano 40c first ride

Been looking for some tires for my commuter bike, to replace the Clement X’Plor USH tires I’ve been running. The Clements are fine on dry pavement and perform well on gravel, but have terrible wet cornering on hard surfaces and I never felt confident with even a bit of snow on the pavement. I wanted to get tires that would perform better in foul weather before winter comes in earnest.

After doing a fair amount of reading and research, I settled on WTB Nanos in the 700x40c size. I went for the mid-range tire with an aramid bead, not the “tubeless ready” higher-end tires. These tires are available for a variety of wheel sizes, including 29x2.1 and 27.5x2.1. My Wolverine can accommodate the 29x2.1’s, but not with fenders installed, so I went for the smaller size.

I won’t say too much now, since I’ve logged a couple thousand miles on the Clements but only about 7 miles so far on the WTBs, but there are a few things I noticed right away:

  • The WTBs don’t run significantly wider than the 700x32 Clements, but they are quite a bit taller. My bottom bracket is noticeably higher after fitting these tires, and I felt the need to do some fender adjustment.
  • They seem to love cornering. As it happens, we got a bit of rain last night so there was a lot of water on the streets for my morning ride. No problems that I could feel cornering on wet tarmac, and I think the rounded profile of the tires make them corner more gracefully in general than the Clements. With the Clements there’s a bit of a shock as you get off the smooth center strip and transition to the shoulder lugs.
  • They seem to roll pretty fast. I guess I’ll want to look at at least a couple weeks’ ride data before I judge, but I don’t seem to be paying a speed penalty for the larger, knobbier tires. Right now I have them at 55psi. The stated pressure range for the tires is 35–65psi, and I’m sure I’ll run them lower if I know I’ll be on gravel or snow.
  • At 55psi they were reasonably comfortable, though maybe not quite as supple-feeling as the Clements at a similar pressure. Probably too early to judge on this though, as I imagine that the sidewalls of new tires probably soften up a bit after a break-in period.

After one ride, I feel like I made a good choice. I’ll post again with longer-term impressions, and after spending some time on soft surfaces. But, if they really do roll just as fast as the Clements on dry pavement and can resist puncturing, then they may end up being my four-season tires.