The WTB Expanse 32 has proven to be a reliable partner for long touring, winter riding and light off-road use. Durability has been excellent and weight and rolling resistance is also very good. Just be aware of the issue the tan wall version can have when setting up tubeless.
Sidewalls leak air
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When it came to choosing kit for a solo attempt at Land's End to John O'Groats, reliable tyres were at the forefront of the planning. They needed to be high volume, durable, grippy but above all fast rolling. I had previously used WTB tyres on several gravel bikes and been impressed with reliability, so I plumped for a pair of WTB Expanse 32 tyres.
The Expanse 32 isn't actually a new tyre, having been part of WTB's range for a couple of years in the guise of the Exposure 32. In order to clear some model confusion however, WTB has renamed and re-released the tyre as the Expanse 32 for 2020.
The Expanse is more of a road specific tyre than many of WTB's typical offerings (it's a company more known for it's off-road tyres and components), but still with a nod to riders who might occasionally explore off the beaten track.
The tread pattern is fairly typical of a tyre designed around mixed terrain riding. A completely slick centre line covers the middle third of the tread, breaking away to a file/hatched tread running along the shoulders of the tyre. This gives the Expanse a really smooth ride feel on tarmac, whilst the extra rubber at the shoulders helps maintain stability and tyre integrity off-road as well as providing a little extra grip.
Both the black and tan wall versions are tubeless and, like all other WTB tyres, popped on the rim, seated and inflated with very little bother. It was here that I encountered my only issue. Curiously when pumped up over 60psi the little rubber moulding whiskers started popping at the base and leaking air. No sooner would one seal and the air topped up, another would go. This was to the extent that I needed to put in almost twice the amount of sealant as is normally required. I spoke to WTB regarding this issue and it is something it is aware of in a few cases due to the thinner tan side wall. WTB has reassured me that it has amended the issue.
After more than 1000 miles of use the Expanse 32 has proved to be a completely dependable touring partner. I've experienced zero punctures and both tyres show very little wear and an almost complete lack of cuts or nicks. This was despite spending a lot of time riding on rough dual carriageway hard shoulders in very wet weather. Rolling resistance is very good, obviously not race tyre fast, but more than enough zip for most riding. Cornering performance is confident even when fully laden and in the wet. The larger 32c volume also made them pretty comfortable even when ridden at 75 psi.
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James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.
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