Lightweight, high-volume, and fast-rolling, Schwalbe's Nobby Nic tire has been a long-running fixture on mid-travel trailbikes. Bike makers loved them because spec'ing Nics as original equipment could drop the weight of their trailbikes by a pound. Fans swore by their Nics because of their big, round, flexible casings, supple ride, and for the grip that they managed to find with such small and widely spaced tread. Haters complained that the Nic's tread blocks - if they didn't shear off the first time a rider skidded down a rocky chute - would wear more quickly than pink pencil erasers in a kindergarten class. And, there was the problem that many large-volume tires have with slashes on their exposed sidewalls. Schwalbe recently released an all-new Nobby Nic that should make everybody happy. Meet the 2015 Nobby Nic
Riders who either wished that their Hans Dampf tires were a bit lighter and faster rolling, or those who wanted a grippier, more aggressive Nobby Nic, will be glad to discover the revised 2015 Nobby Nic is all of the above.
Schwalbe completely redesigned the tread pattern of the Nobby Nic for 2015 - to the point where it appears more like a lightweight version of the German tire maker's Hans Dampf. Retained, is the lightweight, 67-thread-per-inch, high-volume casing which gave the original Nic its fast and supple rolling qualities, but it has been reinforced with a tougher version of Schwalbe's "Snakeskin" anti-abrasion layer, made with a mono-filament polyamide cloth and a different rubber coating to address complaints about its predecessor's wimpy sidewalls.
The new Nic's tread blocks are about a half a millimeter
taller and spaced slightly farther apart, fore and aft. The
edging rows are wider and more reinforced than those
of its predecessor.
|The new tire has far more substantial edging tread and Schwalbe added a staggered row of transition blocks to ensure that there are no more surprises when entering or exiting corners.|
Gone are the flexible and heavily siped "H-blocks, replaced by sturdier, wider tread features which are siped in a more conventional manner with thin slices instead of deep hollows. Previous Nic's had an empty space between the center-blocks and the side tread, which caused the tires to hunt for cornering grip on hard surfaces. The new tire has far more substantial edging tread and Schwalbe added a staggered row of transition blocks to ensure that there are no more surprises when entering or exiting corners.
From 2015 onwards, all Schwalbe MTB tires will be "Tubeless Easy" - which means they need some sort of sealant, but are designed to be easily mounted and run tubeless. Schwalbe claims in its literature that our test tires, the top-end Evo TLE TrailStar version of the Nobby Nic, in the 27.5-inch by 2.35-inch size, weigh only 685 grams each. Our tires averaged at 760 grams. Schwalbe sells the new Nobby Nic in a number of configurations
and the good news is that all three wheel-sizes are supported. North American pricing has not been set, but we expect that the new Nics will come in very close to its predecessors - around $80 USD for the high-end EVO TLE TrailStar versions.
TrailStar designs use a soft compound for edging blocks,
medium-soft for the center tread, and a resilient under-layer
to reduce rolling resistance.
Nobby Nic 27.5 Evo TLE TrailStar Details:
• Complete redesign for 2015
• Intended for trail and all-mountain use
• Size tested: 27.5" x 2.35"
• Sizes supported: 26", 27.5", 29"
• Actual measurements on 23mm ID rim: 27.75" x 2.3"
• TrailStar three-compound tread construction formulated for freeride and enduro.
• Mono-filament polyamide mesh anti-abrasion sidewalls
• 67 TPI casing
• "Tubeless Easy" tubeless compatible bead and carcass construction
• Weight: 685g-claimed (760g actual)
• MSRP: USD TBD
We mounted the new Nics using Stan's sealant to Reynolds Carbon AM rims with an industry standard width of 23-millimeters, and a set of Enve AM rims with similar dimensions. Working tire pressures ranged from 28psi front and 32 rear, to 35psi front and 37 rear. Unlike every Schwalbe tubeless-ready tire I had aired up to that point, the 2015 Nobby Nic tires did not seal well enough to mount up to the Reynolds rims without the aid of a compressor. I tried mounting the Nics to an American Classic AM rim and had slightly better luck, although the compressor was still required. "Tubeless Easy" were not words I would use to describe the process. The second tester said that his Enve rims accepted the new Nic with no problems - go figure. Once mounted, the tires sealed up with almost no weeping and held pressure. Measuring the width and height of the new Nics at 32psi revealed that the casing and tread were almost exactly the same width, at 2.3 inches (58.4mm)
and that the true diameter of the tire was 27.75 inches (705mm)
. The tread may appear to be omnidirectional, but arrows on the sidewalls and angling in both the tread pattern and siping grooves indicate otherwise,Pedaling and acceleration:
The new tire is quick rolling, especially when compared to a High Roller II or a Minion. Keep it in the family and compare Nic to Nic - and the extra weight of the newer design can be felt while accelerating. The more robust tread pattern also feels a bit more draggy on paved surfaces. Like its cousin, the Hans Dampf, the Nubile Nic seems to pick up the pace when it hits the dirt, where it tends to ignore shallow patches of sand or sloppy soil. Where there is adequate traction, I noticed that the new tire lacks some of the punch of the old Nics when I made quick accelerations. When traction becomes iffy, though, the more aggressively shod 2015 Nic spanks its brothers hard. Not having to soft-pedal over shifting gravel or slippery boulders was a welcome energy saver that soon eclipsed any reservations we had about giving up a little rolling resistance. Braking grip:
Straight-line braking traction is not quite as impressive as Schwalbe's Hans Dampf, but it is darn close. Oddly, where there is a lot of grip, such as when braking hard down slick-rock, the rear tire occasionally will chatter. The phenomena is most likely to occur on a fresh tire, and I've had the same thing happen with the Hans Dampf. Unlike the previous Nics, the new tire can handle late braking without pushing the front tire or losing the tail end of the bike when entering a corner at pace. The old Nics did not forgive riders who were sloppy around the turns.Turning grip:
The fun begins in the twisty stuff. Schwalbe's designers must have been working furiously on DH tread patterns before they returned to do justice to the Nobby Nic, because the new design sticks like glue to a wide variety of surfaces. I had a chance to compare the Nic with the more aggressive looking Hans Dampf and it was better at any speed at holding a tight line. You could choose to drift, but it took a good hard push to break the rear end loose. Take the pressure off and the bike will come right back and start gripping again. When the tires do break traction, they don't let go like the older tread did. Instead, the break is softer and it comes with a good margin of control.Technical points:
Perhaps the number one question from those who have experience with the earlier Nobby Nic is: "Will the new Nic last longer than a cheap fireworks show?" And the second question might be about its performance in wet conditions, considering that it is always winter somewhere in Europe and weather should be arriving soon in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. To the first question: the new tires seem to be far tougher than both the Hans Dampf and the previous Nobby Nic, with no broken tread blocks and no ravaged sidewalls to date. To the second question: with only one ride in moderately wet conditions, all I can report is that the 2015 Nics were grippy on wet rocks and heroes on tacky dirt - but roots and slop were not on the menu. Schwalbe posted a video of Brendan Fairclough and his buddies ripping it up in the rain
on the new Nics, which is a good watch. When I do get the Nobby Nics in the slop, I'll add those impressions here. (added Oct. 23)Wet and mud:
Pinkbike's Mike Kazimer had the opportunity to ride the new Nics in the rain in the rooted and mossy trails of the Pacific Northwest. Kazimer says that it is not his favorite tire in the wet. In semi-muddy conditions it was not bad, and the same went for traveling in a straight line, but things got really interesting when the trail had any off-camber roots or rocks. The culprit seems to be that the staggered edging blocks, which give it good grip in dry and loamy conditions, do not provide a defined edge to grip on greasy surfaces. Everything seems fine and dandy, and the all of a sudden: "Oh sh*t, I've got no grip!" That quick slide out is what makes them tricky to ride in the wet.
The 2015 Nobby Nic (left) has a completely different tread pattern than the 2014 version shown here for comparison. Last year's Nics were best appreciated by finesse riders, but the new design can be pushed much harder - especially in the turns.
| Schwalbe took its time to answer the pleading masses and upgrade its most popular trail tire, but the wait seems to be over. While the new Nobby Nic is similar to its 2014 brother in name only, it fills the gap between Schwalbe's host of lightweight XC/trail offerings and the burly Hans Dampf, which has never been fast enough to be considered an efficient trail option. I have always wanted a more robust version of the Nobby Nic, or a lighter, faster-rolling Hans Dampf, and the new Nic sits squarely between the two. As it stands, the new Nobby Nic is set to make a lot of trail riders happy. Apparently, it is also going to live much longer and that will help take the sting out of the premium price that fans pay to roll on Schwalbe rubber. If Schwalbe can reach its stated goal and pare the 27.5 Evo TLE TrailStar from 760 grams down to 685 - well, that would really be something to shout about. - RC|
For more high-res images of this review, visit the Nobby Nic gallery.