Over the past few years Schwalbe has been gaining momentum, producing some great mountain bike tires like the Nobby Nic. I recently had a chance to test the 2010 Fat Albert 26 x 2.40 Evo Snakeskin Triple Nano (one of 7 Fat Albert flavors) and at $83.55 MSRP it’s not necessarily what I would consider a cheap tire. Do I think it’s worth the money? You gotta read on to find out…
The Fat Albert is available in front and rear specific tires, each with 7 configurations depending on width and tire compound. I tested the Evo Snakeskins on my FR bike because this tire claims to combine great traction with relatively decent weight. Out of the box the Fat Alberts came very close to their advertised weight (750 grams) and installing them was a snap. I inflated the tires to 38psi (after a bit of debating) and I was off to Blue Mountain with my OPUS Nelson and gear in tow for some serious slope time.
After abusing the Fat Alberts thoroughly on the slopes I can honestly say these perform very well in most of the terrain I have around my area. Some of the trails I rode during my tests were heavily rooted and rocky while others were nearly flat and hardpacked with a fine layer of dust on top. I even pointed the Fat Alberts down a few steep and loamy slopes (think North Shore).
At 26 x 2.4 this tire is well suited for heavier riders (it’s rated for loads up to 330lb. per tire at max pressure). The large volume and low TPI casing allows for more squish before a rim strike. I’m 190lbs with equipment on and I didn’t suffer a single rim ding while racing down the rock gardens at Blue Mountain.
One thing I learned to love about running the Fat Albert front and rear is the level of traction I got on the trail. In certain off-camber turns the Fat Alberts kept the bike on track, holding lines that other tires I’ve tested simply couldn’t hold. I found I got even more traction out of these tires in moist terrain, usually under tree cover where the soil doesn’t dry out as much. It’s a good thing too – those parts of the trail are usually the most technical with switchbacks, roots, and zig zag turns.
Perhaps the best thing about the Fat Albert tire is its predictability and evenness. When you pitch some tires into corners they tend to change their traction characteristics which can make the rider feel a bit uneasy – but not the Fat Albert. These tires ride very much like another favorite tire of mine, the Maxxis Ardent. Pitching the bike kept the same traction level as I went from the center tread to the transition knobs and finally the U-shaped cornering knobs. Perfect, especially when you’re going fast and threading the bike through steep, technical corridors.
Braking was excellent with the Fat Albert tires thanks to the tremendous amount of grip they offer. Of course that grip comes with a bit of a trade-off in terms of increased rolling resistance. That’s not to say this is a bad rolling tire but it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen. On flats you tend to feel the tire below you which to me means there’s a bit of energy loss.
If you’re looking for a tough, predictable tire that will corner great, brake great, and survive nearly anything you can toss at it then these are for you. Looking for a tubeless or more economical version of this tire? Check out the Schwalbe website for more Fat Albert configurations.
I would like to thanks the folks at Schwable for sending the tires for review.