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Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Admittedly, I knew I’d like this tire. I mean come on. Look at it. Beefy lugs. Nice and wide. Tubeless compatible. The thing just screams traction!!
Having logged some serious miles on Nobby Nic‘s chubby sibling, the Fat Albert, I was already a fan of Schwalbe tires. The trail conditions in my area around Tahoe are dry, loose and dusty. This requires traction to be a key element in tire selection. Semi-slicks and lightweight tire casings in these trail conditions mean overshooting corners and cut sidewalls resulting in a flat tire … and some cussing.
The model tested here is the Nobby Nic 29×2.35″ TL-ready (tubeless ready/requires sealant) with PaceStar tread compound. It also contains Schwalbe’s SnakeSkin sidewall protection. The Nobby Nic has a claimed weight of 725 grams. A quick check of my scales had mine weighing in at 747, which is still respectable for a tire of this width and blocky tread design.
I first installed one of these tires on the front of the Spot Rocker SS. The tire mounted up to the Sun Rim with a solid “snap” and sealed up easily. I did use a compressor for inflation but I’m not sure if it was necessary. Once inflated, it seated nice and even with little to no wobble in the casing or tread. I added two scoops of Stan’s sealant as per Schwalbe’s recommendations.
I ran the tire around on my local trails which have a little bit of everything with the exception of hardpack. I could feel the “beef” of the tire while climbing the paved road leaving my house, but once in the woods and on the trail the tire was right at home.
Grabbing a handful of front brake resulted in quick stops, regardless of how loose the trail conditions were. The tire also cornered well and felt predictable when rolling into turns. After a dozen or so rides I’d come to the conclusion that my preconceived notions were right that the tire excelled in loose trail conditions.
Test two moved the tire over to the front of another bike with Stan’s Crest rims. This time the tires got installed front and rear with the ultimate test — the Downieville Classic. Running the tires on a hardtail for such a fast and rocky course would be sure to put the SnakeSkin sidewalls to the test. Many a racers’ day has been ruined as a result of flatting a tire at Downieville.
I definitely noticed the rear tire’s width and blocky tread design while climbing the pavement at the start of the race. The tire makes a sound while puting power to the pedals that definitely lets you know that the tire might not be the fastest rolling tire out there but when the going gets loose you’re NOT going to loose traction at the back wheel. I ran the rear tire at 26 psi and the front at 21 psi both days (XC Saturday and DH Sunday) with no pinch flats.
Tahoe area trails consist of loose granite gravel, ultradry dirt and some sand here and there to keep you honest. I’ve kept the tire on the front of the bike for pretty much all of my day-to-day rides. I’ve even chosen to keep the Nobby Nic on the front for cross country races in my area. I like the tire as an option for the rear as well, but only use it on occasion, as the rolling resistance is a bit high and the price of the tire leaves me without the ability to buy myself lunch … and I like lunch.