Mutano Raptor 44/44 700c tires had the same beautiful wolf head logo stamping on their side knobs as their bigger casing, smaller diameter, 26" siblings.
There are many things that WTB has created early, perhaps before the market was ready for the craze that would catch on later. We've already covered the rise and fall, and then rise and seemingly now fall, especially as I'm pretty sure it's currently fall, of press fit bottom brackets HERE. Another example of this, still triumphantly living, is the 1999 Nano Raptor 2.1 29" tire, the first 29" tire before anybody liked 29", now called the Nano and still awesome and available in several sizes. I digress.
For this post, we're talking gravel. Gravel in the form of big, monster cross like tires ahead of their time, available in 2002:
There may or may not have been the term monster cross, there certainly wasn't the acceptance and embrace of gravel like there is today. You can see that its description didn't necessarily do it an excessive amount of favors: 700c ATB / 29" was its prescribed category . The Mutano Raptor 44/44 700c, man, can't mess with it, it was amazing. It was a conglomeration of several WTB treads - Nano Raptors, Moto Raptors, and VelociRaptors were all claimed to have a hand in it, though I mostly see Nanos. I like Nanos. It was consistent, could dig, rode almost larger than its size, still wasn't all that slow but it certainly wasn't quick. By late 2007, it had been cut from 2008 catalog sadly. Those that got it back then really got it, unfortunately not all that many got it.
This one, above, is more worn but you can tell they owned many conditions when the tread was deeper. Plus, their hot patch was purple and neon green. Can life get better? Probably not.
They had true, 44mm casings and tread widths, beasts unbefitting all but a handful of rad cross-ish bikes at the time.
They featured our DNA Rubber, they were awesome and appeared in this catalog:
For those of you who have gotten to this point, well, thank you. Fear not, there's an amazing tire available TO-DAY to you, maybe not quite as gnar in block or girth but certainly rad and faster. Yes, correct, I speak of the Nano 40, go out and BUY ONE at your local shop, they are orderable, if not available in stock from every shop. Yep, every shop. Peep 'em: