Schwalbe Simplifies MTB Tire Casing Lineup, Updates Big Betty and Nobby Nic Treads

Schwalbe has a simpler way to select mountain bike tire casings, and two revamped tread designs on offer.

Redesigned Big Betty tread

The Big Betty tread that many know and love from the late 1990’s is back and it’s burlier. The famed tire now has more shoulder knob support for improved cornering stability, longer braking edges, and Schwalbe says that it also clears mud more easily than its predecessor. The Big Betty is designed to roll as a rear gravity tire, with a Magic Mary or similarly aggressive tread up front. It will be available in sizes 26 through 29″ with the Super Downhill or SuperGravity casing and an Addix UltraSoft or Soft tread compounds. Big Betty retail prices will range between €32.90 and €67.90 depending on the size and build characteristics.

Redesigned Nobby Nic tread

The brand’s beloved do-it-all trail tire, Nobby Nic (compare prices and options), has also received some tread updates to make it more appropriate for the gravity angle of most modern trail bikes. The primary difference is that the redesigned tread has more pronounced and fortified shoulder knobs to improve its cornering capabilities. Like the Betty, the Nic tread is also said to shed mud better than before, though Schwalbe didn’t mention precisely what they changed to make the tire more wet-weather friendly. The most recent Nobby Nic model is also available in 26″ to 29″ diameter, and Schwalbe says that “Its large fan club now gets to choose between the Super Trail construction with Addix Soft and the Super Ground construction with Addix Speedgrip.” Nobby Nic tires will retail for €39.90 to €64.90, depending on the size and build characteristics.

New, clearer carcass designations

Conveying the differences between tire casings is a challenge that most mountain bike tire brands continually wrestle with. All of the letters and acronyms mix together in a list that can seem designed to befuddle consumers. Schwalbe has decided on a patently clear way to denote the intention of their five carcass models that should help us all select the right rubber for the ride.

The lightest carcass is called Super Race, designed for XC and marathon applications when high grip and minimal rolling resistance are a tire’s primary functions. These casings are made up of “two carcass plies and RaceGuard puncture protection underneath the tread, as well as three carcass plies on the sidewall for protection from cuts and snakebites.” A 29 x 2.5″ Racing Ralph tire with the Super Race carcass weighs a reported 620g.

A step up from the race model is the Super Ground, which is said to be a do-it-all strength casing for flowier trails. Hidden under the rubber there are “three carcass plies underneath the entire tread and SnakeSkin fabric running from bead to bead to ensure a fine-tuned ratio of safety and weight.” A 29 x 2.35″ Nobby Nic tire with the Super Ground casing weighs a reported 810g.

Keeping with the clear naming theme, a step up the casing ladder brings us to the Super Trail, designed for the nebulous category of “trail riding” that the majority of mountain bikers enjoy. This level of puncture protection looks to be more appropriate for trails that are a little more natural and stone-strewn. Schwalbe says that the tougher casing uses “two carcass plies on the sidewall, three plies underneath the tread–combines moderate weight with low rolling resistance, immense cornering grip and puncture protection. SnakeSkin fabric from bead to bead and an apex for extra protection.” A 29 x 2.35″ Nobby Nick tire with the Super Trail casing weighs a reported 1045g.

For bikes and riders with steeper and rougher intentions still, the Super Gravity casing is the way to go. This looks like what some other brands would call an enduro casing, as it’s designed to ride the fine line of being super robust and supportive while forgiving enough to roll all day. The extra sidewall protection should help it stand up in hard corner compressions. The Super Gravity, with “four carcass plies as well as SnakeSkin fabric from bead to bead protects the tread and sides that are subject to big impacts. Just like the Downhill version, a modified apex protects from pinch flats and ensures sidewall stiffness.” A 29 x 2.4″ Nobby Magic Mary tire with the Super Gravity casing weighs a reported 1320g.

Finally, we have the toughest all around casing, aptly named Super Downhill. From three-minute race runs to the roughest rideable enduro tracks, this carcass looks built to hold air and its shape against some heavy race-level external pressure. The “Six carcass plies protect the tread area and also add stability when running very low tire pressures. The sidewalls are extremely well protected from cuts and punctures by a combination of four carcass plies and a SnakeSkin fabric layer. A newly constructed apex protects from pinch flats and increases sidewall stiffness.” A 29 x 2.4″ Big Betty tire with the Super Downhill casing weighs a reported 1450g.

So there you have it. No more need to call customer support and ask what a sequence of words and letters means in order to determine which tire you need to purchase. It’s all in the name. From there, just select where you want your tread compound to lie on the soft-and-grippy to hard-and-durable scale and you’ve got it.

Head over to the Schwalbe page for additional info.