After three years of development, much of it on the World Cup DH circuit, Schwalbe's newest addition to their lineup is ready for its public debut. The Tacky Chan was designed with a strong focus on DH racing, where precision and high speed cornering support are at the top of rider's wishlists.
The tire started out as a 3D model back in 2020, with ramped center lugs to increase rolling speed, more stable shoulder lugs than the Magic Mary, and wider spacing between the center lugs. From there, Schwalbe's designers heavily modified a Big Betty tire to see how the design performed in the real world.
Tacky Chan Details
• 29 x 2.4" in Super DH, Super Gravity, or Super Trail casing
• 27.5 x 2.4" in Super DH or Super Gravity casing
• Addix Ultra Soft or Addix Soft rubber
• Actual weight. Super DH casing: 1382 grams (29") / 1241 grams (27.5")
• Price: $98 - $104 USD
The first prototypes were ridden and raced in 2021, and then 2022 saw the design further refined based on feedback from racers like Thibaut Dapréla, Myriam Nicole, and Amaury Pierron. By the end of that season the tire had an impressive race resume, amassing 11 World Cup wins.
Initially, the tire will be available in 29” and 27.5 x 2.4” sizes, with Super DH, Super Gravity, and Super Trail casing options available for 29” wheels, and Super DH and Super Gravity options for 27.5” wheels. The Super DH and Gravity tires are $104 USD, and the Super Trail tires are $98 USD.
It's good to see an Ultra Soft, Super Trail version of this tire in the lineup – that means the softest, stickiest rubber isn't just reserved for the heavy downhill tires. Speaking of weight, the 29” DH casing tire I've been testing weighs 1382 grams, and the 27.5” one weighs 1241 grams.
As for the name, I honestly thought it was a joke all the way up until my test tires showed up, and I still have trouble believing that Tacky Chan actually made it to production. Now I'm just waiting for the Shreddy Vedder, Michael Sipe, and Loose Springsteen models to be announcedPERFORMANCE
I mounted up a pair of the new tires on a set of Reserve aluminum rims, which have a 30mm inner width. Installation was trouble free, and everything popped nicely into place without any sealant leaks. Once mounted, the tires measure true to their 2.4” width.
I ran 20 psi in the front and 22 psi in the rear for the duration of the test period. At various times the wheels were mounted on a Trek Fuel EX, a Propain Tyee, and a Specialized Turbo Levo. ROLLING SPEED
The concept of a fast rolling downhill tire may seem like an oxymoron, but that's an accurate description of the Tacky Chan. On harder packed trails the increased speed compared to something like the Big Betty is very noticeable. It feels smoother, and much less like it's actively trying to claw and dig into the ground. TRACTION
I've been able to ride the Tacky Chan in a wide range of trail conditions – everything from dry and dusty to wet and slimy. Deep mud has been the only surface condition not on the menu so far, but that's not really when you'd want the Tacky Chan anyways.
The Tacky Chan rewards a more aggressive, harder-charging riding style. Schwalbe's designers describe it as a tire that works best on familiar trails as opposed to riding blind in an unfamiliar zone, and after spending time with it that description makes a lot of sense. Tires like Schwalbe's Magic Mary or a Maxxis Assegai seem to find their own way without requiring much rider input. With the Tacky Chan there's not as much of an autopilot feel – it works best when it's pushed into a line rather than being allowed to choose its path.
Even with the faster rolling speed the braking traction is impressive – one of my current favorite trails requires almost constant heavy braking to keep speeds in check, and the Tacky Chan proved up to the task. The Big Betty still has the edge for outright traction, but that comes at the cost of rolling speed. Compared to the Maxxis Dissector, the Tacky Chan seems to bite harder, likely due in part to the taller knobs. It felt most at home on medium-soft to hardpacked trails, trails where it was possible to really get some weight onto the tire.
On wet, slippery roots the Tacky Chan is decent, if not mindblowing - the UltraSoft rubber did what it could to find grip on those slimy wooden noodles, and there weren't any totally unexpected slide outs, but it's not as easy to trust as a MaxxGrip DHR II. CORNERING
Cornering is the Tacky Chan's strong suit, and it takes some seriously hard pushing to even come close to approaching its limit. On more than one occasion I braced for it to break free, only to be rewarded with the sensation of it digging in even harder. It'd be a great tire for bike park usage, especially in the rear, and in the Soft compound to improve its lifespan. DURABILITY
Schwalbe's Ultra Soft rubber compound is the softest in the lineup, which also makes it the fastest wearing. Riders looking to maximize their investment will want to go with the Soft compound, at least in the rear, especially if there are lift-served laps on the menu. Unfortunately, at the moment that Soft compound is only available on the 27.5" Super Gravity option, or the 29" Super Trail version - there's no Super DH casing / Soft rubber combo yet. Overall, the wear is in line with what I'd expect from the UltraSoft rubber. As for the casing, the Super DH has proven to be plenty tough enough to handle all sorts of sharp, unforgiving trail surfaces.
If I was planning on running the Tacky Chan on an enduro or trail bike here in the Pacific Northwest I'd go with an Ultra Soft Super Trail front tire, and then the beefier Super Gravity casing for the rear in order to save some weight while still retaining plenty of puncture resistance.
Great cornering support +
Very precise – rewards confident line choices +
Fast rolling considering the amount of braking traction and overall grip
Precise feel means it's not as forgiving of mistakes -