Design & Construction
While Vee Tire Co is still a relative newcomer to the mountain bike world, the company has been in operation since 1977. They starting with developing rubber compounds and then moved to making moto tires before entering the bicycle tire market in 2013.
Vee Tire partnered up with Propain Factory Racing during the 2018 World Cup Downhill season to develop a versatile tire specifically for gravity riding. The Snap WCE is what emerged and was the lead tire in the company's gravity offerings for quite a while.
It's been available in a 2.35" width for a little while now, but the recent addition is the wider 2.5" version to both the 29" and 27.5" diameters.
Snap WCE DetailsWheel Sizes:
27.5" & 29"Width:
2.35" (59.7mm) or 2.5" (63.5mm)Casings:
FoldingRecommended Rim Widths:
25 - 30mm (inner width)Weight:
1,250g to 1,360g (claimed) depending on sizePrice:
$74 - $76 USDMore info: Vee Tire Co
The Snap WCE, was initially being pushed as a full-on gravity tire, and came with their DH Core casing. But after testing Vee found that the lighter Gravity Core casing offered enough protection against punctures, and as such, the Snap WCE is only available in the Gravity Core casing option aftermarket. Some bikes, however, might come specced out of the box with the Synthesis casing option that drops the weight by up to 240g per tire, depending on size.
There's only one compound available aftermarket too. The Top40 is their softest compound available and is designed to deliver slow rebound properties in a bid to maintain grip over roots, rocks and in the wet. The softer compound extends through around 70% of the side knob tread depth where it is then bonded to a firmer 52a compound that provides a more solid foundation. Found on OEM versions of the Snap WCE, like that Synthesis casing, the Tackee Compound uses a mix of 49 and 52 shore rubber.
All Snap WCE models are tubeless ready and have recommended pressures between 22.5 and 50 psi. I'm not sure many gravity riders need 50psi but it's nice to see a manufacturer quoting recommendations closer to real world pressures, even if many riders would likely dip below 22.5psi.
When pumped up to 25psi on a 30mm inner width rim, we measured a tire width of 68mm, which is 4.5mm wider than what Vee quotes. For reference, a 2.35” Schwalbe Magic Mary measures in at 61mm and a 2.5” Maxxis Minion DHF measures up a couple of millimetres wider at 63mm. So the wider 2.5" Snap WCEs are quite a bit wider than two of the most common DH tires on the market.
The tread pattern uses a squarer outer block design, with alternating big rectangles to slightly smaller L-shaped blocks that edge slightly further into the first channel, both having a central vertical sipe along them. There's no chamfers on the outermost edges, like the Snap Trail version of the tire, instead it's a sharp edge around all the outer blocks.
The centre knobs follow the alternating theme but go from wider spaced, more angled rectangles to narrower spaced trapezoids. Again, there are sipes in the blocks but they now alternate between more vertical on the wider-spaced knobs, although for only half the block length, and a full horizontal sipe for the tighter positioned ones. There’s a leading-edge ramp on both types of centre knobs while the wider-spaced central knobs have an extra ramp built in as you move through the block. The thread pattern is quite widely spaced.
Tire fitting was a doddle and can be done by hand on most rims with a couple of tire levers. I had the tires fitted first to some Hunt carbon fibre rims, which did need a bit of a redder face to get them on over the rim. Later I swapped to some DT Swiss EX 1700 wheels and fitting was easier. Both wheelsets, though, only required a few gentle pushes on a high-volume track pump to get the tires seated. I ran the same tire front and back and had the tires set up tubeless at 22psi front and 25psi rear with no inserts.
The Snap WCEs weigh in at 1350g for the 29" x 2.5" and 1250g for the 27.5" x 2.5". Interestingly the claimed weights for the 2.35" wide versions are actually a bit heavier than the 2.5" wide versions, 10g - 50g. This is down to the narrower tires using a longer tread block and so having more material on the tire.Performance
Out of the bike park season in the Alps there is still a lot of riding on offer and the Snap WCEs were tested quite extensively in the steep forests of the Vaud region in Switzerland and the more shaped and hardpack trails around the city of Thun.
Lots of the autumn and winter riding spots require a bit of an effort to get to the start of the trails from the top of the lift up, many of these being a roll or pedal on a tarmac road to access the trailhead. While it's not a race to get to the start it's nice to just roll and enjoy the views, but with the Snap WCEs it took noticeably more effort to keep them rolling at the same speed as friends on other gravity tires from the likes of Schwalbe and Maxxis, even full-on mud tires in some cases. Changing bikes confirmed that the Snaps do roll quite slow. Swapping to a Schwalbe Magic Mary in Ultra Soft compound there is a bunch less rolling resistance and required a lot less pedalling to keep the tires rolling compared to the Snap WCE.
Once the terrain changes from tarmac to fire roads or trail traverses and climbs the added resistance is still noticeable, but so too now is the grip of the tires, which offsets some of the woes of the slow rolling. There's a nice bunch of bite in the soft ground and grip is there while climbing over rocks and roots both in smooth seated climbing portions of trail and more pulsing out of the saddle pitches.
On the downhill side of the trails, and on the rockier sections of trail where you want to stay off the brakes to maintain speed but have to let the bike dance underneath you, the control was really good and the tires definitely pinged less of every small rock and root that was trying to fire you off the trail. Adding the brakes to the equation didn't result in any sudden changes in character and allowed you to scrub bits of speed while still not being pinged around.
Really leaning the tires over and in flat corners leads to some impressive grip and feedback. At some point all tires will lose grip and once they do it's in that zone before you're on the floor that a tire's feedback is really important. Properly leaned over, which is what most 29er bikes need and can achieve, the Snap WCEs have a wonderful transition from grip to sliding that is nice and palpable and is the standout performance characteristic for these tires.
That zone feels pretty big and allows you to lean without worry and even play around with the available grip in that sliding zone. Entry speed and lean angle can be messed around with, safe in the knowledge that you'll know when the tires will go and that if it all goes pear shaped, you'll at least have some time to respond by deploying an anchor. Not once in all the riding did the tires give a sudden surprise in their character, be it firing off at a weird angle from heavy loading or a snap (ha) loss of grip. That can lead to some pretty interesting personal challenges with just how much you can lean or how late you can leave the braking.
This character also transitions into the wet, when the off-camber sections of trail require some aggression rather than passengering to get the most out of. For sure, there's less grip than in the dry and you can feel the tires sliding around in the slime or greasy roots and rocks, but there's still a good amount of feedback, control and composure that helps you lift your eyeline and try and imagine that it's dry.
Compared to the likes of a Schwalbe Magic Mary, which I had on a number of other bikes while I was testing the Snap WCEs, there is a touch more mechanical bite from the Schwalbes as the knobs seem to get more anchored into the soft dirt. On hardpack ground the Snap WCE is as grippy and predictable as the Magic Mary, both upright and leant over, but the Snap does have a touch less wander to it with its larger flatter tread design. And compared to the DH casing Schwalbes, the Snaps are only around 20g lighter. Although tire weight seems to vary quite a lot, in and out of the specified tolerances.
In the mud the Snap doesn't clog up to the point of making it a slick tire and sheds the dirt relatively easy and even at quite low speeds. Even in some really thick bits of mud that have clogged some other tires in the past, and then caused absolutely zero grip, the Snaps never really had that problem and kept the knobs out there ready to work.
Braking on the Snap WCE is a nice affair, with the feeling that the braking edges are working and digging into the ground when the bike is upright, and carries over when you also lean the bike. You can for sure get the tires skidding with hard braking, but once again there's a nice transitional window that's predictable and something you can easily feel and play with.
When temperatures drop then even the crazy soft Top40 compound stiffens up considerably. Riding at around -3°C there is definitely a change in the tire feel and that zone from grip to slide does become a little narrower. The tires also ping a little more off rocks and roots but there was still enough feel in the tires to push on and up the speeds with some confidence. But this is in some more extreme riding temperatures that would usually see the skis out of the shed had it not been for the lack of snow.DURABILITY
After the past few months of testing, the tires are definitely wearing out, but they still are in rideable condition. All the knobs are still firmly attached to the tire despite trying as I might to rip them off and the tire is wearing nice and even across its entirety. There's no sense that the tire might be ready for the rubbish while still looking like it has some mileage left in it. The sharp braking edges on both the centre and edge blocks have been taken off, and you can tell in the performance, but it’s not lead to a sudden change in the tires character.
Deterioration of grip with the tire wear has been nice and constant, with no sudden drop in grip as you wear through to a different compound in the knobs, likely due to that softer compound covering such a big percentage of the tread depth. It’s still possible to lean them over with confidence even if the edges of the blocks aren’t quite as sharp as they once were.
Predictable feel with traction, especially when sliding+
Good crossover performance from dry to wet conditions
Fair bit of rolling resistance-
Only one casing and compound on offer
PHOTOS: Kifcat / Shaperideshoot