This week, we review Schwalbe's reinvented Nobby Nic in the 2.6 by 29-inch size, with their "Snakeskin" reinforced Evo TLE casing. Pinkbike has thoroughly tested the Nobby Nic before, and at first glance, it may appear to be the same tire, but recent improvements, especially Schwalbe's new Addix Speedgrip rubber compound, have breathed new life into it. I've been riding the 2.6-inch version on my 29er for a while and continue to be impressed with its performance - especially in the durability department. Schwalbe's new rubber formula has transformed its reputation for durability, from tread that wore through like dollar-store pencil erasers, to a level of toughness that rivals popular Maxxis tires.
The 2.6-inch Nobby Nic Evo TLE weighs 840 grams and measures 2.55 inches (64.7 mm) at its widest point when mounted to 30-millimeter inner-width rims at 22 psi. In case you were wondering, the tire's outer diameter is 29.5 inches, and they retail for around $90 USD.
Nobby Nic 29 x 2.6" Details:
• Purpose: all-condition, mixed-terrain AM/trail tire
• High-performance, tubeless-ready, "Evolution" casing, folding bead
• Tough, long-wearing Addix Speedgrip rubber
• Nylon "Snakeskin" sidewall protection layer
• Actual dimensions: 2.55"/64.7mm width, 29.5"/749mm diameter
• Weight: 840 grams (actual)
• MSRP: $92 USD
• Contact: Schwalbe USA, Schwalbe Germany
Features and Performance
Schwalbe switched to the present Nobby Nic tread pattern back in 2014 when we first reviewed it
in the 27.5-inch size. Since then, a number of successful tires have appeared with similar designs: a supple casing topped with pointy, well-separated tread blocks, arranged in a rounded profile. The best aspect of this configuration is that the pointy tread blocks can reach through soft or dusty soil and find traction below the surface like hundreds of little goat feet, while the supple casing reduces the rolling resistance of an otherwise aggressive tread pattern.
For trail riders, the Nobby Nic provides a lot of climbing grip, along with a sensitive feel that helps top tricky climbs, especially when you have to scratch up and over dusty boulders or root masses. As mentioned, the Achilles Heel of the Nobby Nic has been accelerated wear and a shortage of high-speed cornering grip, but Schwalbe's switch to their new Addix Speedgrip rubber compound put those negatives to rest.
The new compound has shrugged off a number of high-speed runs down embedded rocks without a single cut. The edging blocks are wearing very well and hold their shape under pressure. Overall, the grip is noticeably better too and together those improvements give the impression that I am riding a different tire. I keep waiting for the Nobby Nic to break and slide when I push it into a turn, but most often, I am left wishing I'd gone after it a lot harder.
Perfect for 29ers?
Before I get too far in, I'd like to state that the motivation for this report is the Nobby Nic in the 2.6-inch size seems to be ideally suited for 29-inch wheels. At 840 grams, it's still lightweight enough to accelerate without lagging, and the tire's wide carcass and rounded tread pattern pair well with the larger-diameter wheel's elongated contact patch. Specifically, the tread grips consistently at any lean angle, which seems to play well with the smoother arcs that big-wheel bikes scribe around corners.
Those unfamiliar with large-volume tires may balk at the look of 2.6-inch rubber on a big-wheel bike, but in spite of the fact that the media seems to be grappling to categorize it separately, 2.6 feels and responds more like an evolutionary step. All-mountain riders are coming to terms with wider rims, which have in turn, created the opportunity to experiment with larger width tires. As evidence: mounted to 30-millimeter-inner-width rims, the 2.6-inch Nobby Nic delivers the lateral support one would expect from stiffer, smaller-volume casing, but without a hint of the harshness. It's not going to fit every bike, but if you have the chance to try one, you may find it hard to return to a conventional width, 2.35-inch tire.
The blue line indicates Schwalbe's tough-wearing Addix Speedgrip mixed-condition compound.
I ran the same tires on both ends, and after some experimenting, I found that pressures near 20 to 24 psi (front/rear) worked best overall, in rocky conditions that ranged from tacky, moist soil to blown-out dust on top of cement-hard dirt. (PB editor Mike Kazimer reports that they also grip well in wet conditions.) At those numbers, straight-line traction was such that I easily topped loose technical climbs - pitches I had struggled with using the well proven Maxxis Minion tires, and braking traction was equally dependable. A better comparison may be that, in the 29-inch size, the new Nobby Nic sacrifices some of the class-leading grip of Schwalbe's Magic Mary, but in return, you get the same versatility in a much faster rolling and quicker accelerating tire.Pinkbike's Take: