By Brian Mullin and Francis Cebedo
For the 2013 product year, they’ll have most of the model range in 29er sizes (except gravity tires), and 650B will get the Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic, Racing Ralph, Rapid Rob and Rocket Ron. It’s nice to see Schwalbe stepping up to the plate with a big chunk of their tires in the popular new 650B/27.5 size. They are also releasing a new meatier version of the Hans Dampf, named the Super Gravity. All the tires get a new font look, and Schwalbe is changing their information on the tire, so it’s easier and more legible to read.
The most exciting news of all is that Schwalbe is embracing the 650b platform and offering many different tires. Often with a new platform, the best tires are always the last to adopt the standard and early users are left compromising with tire designs that over four years old.
Mtbr has been given the opportunity to test the Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic and Rocket Ron in the 650b wheel size. These tires are some of the best available to day and even the most demanding consumer will be pleased with one of these offerings.
First observation is the tires are huge. All three tires mentioned have big volume with wide profiles and a tall casing height. This is significant since the 650b wheel size is only 40% of the way between a 26er and 29er tire. And in the early days of 650b tires, most were low volume and low profile to fit them in 26er fork or frame. Schwalbe has done away with this ‘retrofit’ requirement and created some of the biggest 650b volume tires around. This will enable better adoption of this wheel size as users are able to fully realize the upper limit of the 650b tire diameter.
Here are the weights of the three 650b tires:
Hans Dampf 650b – 818 grams
Nobby Nic 650b – 717 grams
The weights go from 818 grams for the Hans Dampf and a ridiculously light 498 grams for the Rocket Ron (with light casing). All are big volume tires so these weights are quite impressive. The Hands Dampf is the true leader of this crop because 650b has set the bullseye on the All Mountain 5-6″ travel bike. And for this category of bike, there are few tires that excel as well as the Hans Dampf. Here is a tire with superb grip and predictability. And to top it off, it rolls pretty darn well as the knobs are closely spaced and the casing is supple.
The Rocket Ron is just a headshaker with it’s huge girth but featherweight numbers at 498 grams. The knobs are short and the side wall is very thin. So we dare not set it up tubeless. But we’ve used it with tubes and we have been shocked so far by its performance. Get the pressures right and it rolls and corners very well.
So there is the exciting line of 650b tires we’ve tried so far from Schwalbe. We’ll let Brian Mullin explain some more of the technology behind these designs.