I Get a Grip while the Aspen Bloom

Descending on tires that slip on wet rocks and roots is not as fun as it sounds. Beautiful more than makes up for it though! (Yes, I'm in there. Bottom middle, slightly to the left. Wee lad. Grin.

In which I swap tires after discovering Maxxis Icon+ are slip and slides on wet rocks and roots, aspen bloom, Pascha flowers blossom during Paschatide, and I'm happier than a clam on a bike 9,000 feet above the salty sea on my new Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5 x 2.8” Addix Apex Speedgrip SnakeSkin (Whew!).

Crocus (also known as Pascha or Easter Flowers) blooming before the recent May snow.

Crocus in the rain, snow, sleet, and snell of May, before the cold set it and the snow stuck for 24 hours.

Atop Lovell Gulch. Fifty feet lower and these fat flakes were melting in the air instead of on the ground.

Nobby Nic 27.5+ Tire Initial Review

Installing:

I was needlessly concerned when I received these that they would be way too stiff. The casing feels stiffer than the Maxxis Ikon+'s casing, the tire they replace, but the Maxxis have been ridden by me a few hundred miles and for whatever the demo bike did before heading my way and becoming Beorn. As esoteric as Schwalbe's rubber compounds are, they do know their stuff. Though thicker, it is more compliant, and this shines through with a much smoother ride. I've also wondered with increased tire width how much more fortification is needed both for protection against sidewall rocks and just because there is more tire. I have no idea, and hope to one day try out a Rene Herse level supple 2.8” tire, whatever that may be. I installed these with tubes, as I don't do the tubeless slop shinnannigans (at least until they sort out the need for trailside fiddling and goop).

No issues installing. As is often the case, I did need to go into the rim well with the tire bead to have room to get the last bit on.

Nobby Nic has a soft, pliable rubber feel, and though the casing feels beefy, it also feels compliant, much more so than the Ikon. The profile is rounder, with the knobbies and profile giving an impression of a plus sized Steilacoom.

Initial Ride

I rode at the same pressure front and rear as my Ikons had for this mornings ride for direct comparison (15 front, 20 rear). Compared with the Ikons, Nic is a plush ride and rides much more like a supple tire than I would have suspected. The nobs on pavement are quiet, possibly quieter than the Ikon, also a surprise, though I expected something similar to the Steilacooms because of the soft rubber and nobby pattern similarities. Nic didn't feel slower, though almost 200 grams heavier per tire. I'll see if I notice it when climbing well known trails next time I get that far out.

Second Ride

25 miles, roughly 1/3rd each paved, dirt road and technical single track. Damp from yesterday's snowmelt, with occasional patches of snow remaining higher up in the shady bits.

The similarity in appearance to Rene Herse's Steilacooms translates to a surprisingly similar ride ... almost as if the Steilacooms were super-sized. Very predictable, dependable, and sure cornering on all surfaces and rolls easily over rocks and roots.

Wow. Smoooooth. Quiet. Smoother, quieter, and faster than the Ikon+. I feel the extra 200 grams or so only slightly on steeper climbs, but am still as fast or faster due to the tire conforming to the rocks and roots rather than jarring into them, and that is with 5 additional psi per tire (suppler tires need slightly higher pressure).

Jan at Bicycle Quarterly and Rene Herse Cycles is spot on in his assessment that knobby tires have far fewer drawbacks on fast surfaces than previously thought ... when on a supple casing.

I am very hopeful this will be my tire of choice for daily riding and bikepacking. The big test was if it was more supple than the Ikon, and it is without a doubt. It is Steilacoomesque smooth on pavement, and the knob pattern is much the same, so I expect will grip rocks and roots well. Schwalbe designed this to be an aggressive all-rounder and that description fits so far.

Update

Wow. I'd calibrated their speed based on gearing and feel to the Maxxis Ikon+ on dry trails, but my initial ride was on wet, semi-muddy and mud collecting on the Nobby Nics, so when I thought the were about on par or slightly ahead in terms of effort in the same gear, I was selling them short. Today's ride was on dry trails, and Nobby Nic just glides along, conforming to the terrain and not loosing speed. Smooth and delicious and confident. Schwalbe has produced an amazing tire here, with flat protection yet impressively supple. Amazing ride on all ways.

Wee pipe in the snow

Doon through da glen...

Aspen in bloom. They bloom with catkins, much like a pussy willow.

#NobbyNic #Rivendell #WithAbandon