Schwalbe Fat Albert Review

Pro Reviews

Testing Specs
I tested the 2.4 and 2.25 sizes of the new Fat Albert in both front and rear versions, and I much preferred the 2.4 size for both, so that was my main testing combination. The Fat Alberts were used on my primary testing steed the Ibis Mojo, in any sort of terrain that Colorado can throw at you. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly loose gravel. The tires were shod on either a set of NoTubes 355 rims or American Classic All Mountain wheelset, and were predominantly set up in a tubeless mode. The tires were cross referenced in comparison to varying sizes of the Continental Rubber Queen and Mountain King, the Maxxis Advantage and Ardent, and the old Schwalbe Albert. Tire pressure was always run at 25 psi.

Measured Specs:
Fat Albert 2.4 Front 761.0 grams
Fat Albert 2.4 Rear 752.2 grams
Fat Albert 2.25 Rear 652.8 grams

First ride impressions were good, but after some more thorough bashing, I found a lack of the old Albert infamous series’ traits, especially in regard to the rear tire version. Both versions rolled quite well for a high volume tire, but they tended to wash out on loose conditions, especially in deep sand and gravel. They just didn’t inspire as much confidence as I would have hoped for when tossing them into adverse terrain. In the Colorado Springs area where I ride, we have Pikes Peak gravel (pea gravel) on most of our trails, it is one of the most nightmarish traction eaters that I have ever dealt with. Cornering, braking and climbing can be a lesson in humility.

Front Tire
The Fat Albert front did stay on line wherever it was steered towards, had decent traction and would rail if you used some balance and finesse. I mated the Fat Albert front with a bunch of other rear tires, and found it to be very synergistic. I especially liked the Fat Albert front tire with the Rubber Queen 2.4, and I actually tested that combination for a long period of time. I liked the Fat Albert front tire, it performed admirably without any glaring issues.

I tried a combination using the front version in front and rear positions (reversed rotation direction for the rear one), and it worked quite well with a certain synergy, and I had no glaring issues. Traction wise, I could occasionally tell that it wasn’t quite as optimal for a rear tire as some others I have tried, but it sufficed. It certainly rolled really well in this combination, and it accelerated and railed around corners, and squiggled through tight technical moves.

Rear Tire
The Fat Albert rear was a totally different beast, and no matter how many chances a gave it to try and shine, it never quite appeased me.The Fat Albert rear wouldn’t hook up when it was loose and tended to bounce around on baby heads and rocky sections. I have a 12 mile loop I do regularly, which has many short climbs of semi-loose to loose conditions, and when I used the Fat Albert rear I could barely make (sometimes not) those always doable climbs. It took an inordinate amount of additional energy due to the traction issues.

I reversed the rotation direction of the rear tire, and that did help quite a bit, but it still had the same odd attributes. It would just decide not to hook up at odd times, which increased my discomfort of what the tire was going to do at any moment, such as in a technical section. It also still got deflected and bounced off to many rocks, which made keeping the rear end balanced for optimal traction difficult. It was this unpredictability that I found bothersome.

Fat Albert as a Set
When the conditions were smoother, on fire roads or hardpack the tire’s did quite nicely.

Pueblo South Shore – Lower Dog trail

I took the Fat Alberts down to Pueblo South Shore Colorado, and they did not have much adhesion on the slab rock sections, and in the loose shale they skidded around too much for my taste. Braking from the rear was difficult to keep in control. The sidewalls really showed the stoutness of the snakeskin protection, and they never betrayed a hint of any sort of abuse that I could toss at them. Other manufacturers should take some notes on how to make protection sidewalls that can handle the abusive American west rocky terrain. The front end did stay put though, and I could steer decently, albeit with a rear that was stubbornly hard to control.

I personally preferred to use the front with another brand in the rear, although I was surprised how well the front worked in both positions.

Next » Bottom Line

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • Anon says:

    Out of interest – did you try the new-FA front on the rear wheel?

  • mountain_bomber156 says:

    Mediocre traction? I found they worked really well.

  • squish says:

    I picked a set of these up in Sol Vista at the Nationals a few months ago, and have been loving them ever since. I run them reverse of what is recommended and they just hook up, sand, roots, loose rocks, and baby heads. Set up tubeless very easy, and I’m typically running between 25 and 30 psi depending on the ride.

    Great tires!

  • Anonymous says:

    1) I did not try the front tire on the rear
    2) I am not sure if you have ever ridden in the Colorado Springs area and dealt with the Pike Peak gravel (pea gravel), it is a loose nightmare for traction adhesion. I have ridden the older Fat Albert and Albert and a whole slew of tires of late and the new Fat Albert rear had mediocre traction in comparison
    3) I did run them reverse once and that didn’t make much difference

  • Blue says:

    I found them to do quite well and preferred them to the old Fat Alberts in loose conditions (Colorado as well), though I generally avoid playing on loose gravel roads. They outperformed the older ones by a decent margin and rolled faster.

  • cesalec says:

    Brian isnt it the one on the left the rear and the one on the right the front specific?

    I do agree, with your review, it could be a great tire! So far in front I haven´t had many complaints. But the rear although it climbs like a Nobby Nic, it grips a bit more than the NN but nowhere where I should expect it over (wet/dry) roots and stone plaques.

    I don´t get why schwalbe doesn´t pay more attention to the grip in the wet. They can be dangerous! though in the dry they are terrific, but not 100% confident inspiring.

  • squads says:

    How does the tread hold up over time? I did not catch anything in the review regarding wear. I was looking at this as a possibility for a front tire.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    I tried a combination using the front version in front and rear positions (reversed rotation direction for the rear one), and it worked quite well.

    I reversed the rotation direction of the rear tire, it that did help quite a bit, but it still had the same odd attributes.

    In regards to longevity, so far they have done well, but I would need more time to see how the wearing is? I used the front for a much longer period of time, and they have shown no ill effects after a lot of miles.

  • jagdpanz says:

    I`ve finished one pair of Fat Alberts (2.35) and i can tell one thing:
    Best tire i`ve ever had.

    For FR, Enduro – and even XC racing – becouse – for me, traction is most important thing on terrain :)

    Next time i`ll buy wired version. Is much heavier but also much harder (more resistant for damage)

  • Doug H says:

    Not very impressed with these tyres. I found the 2.25′s to be pretty slippy in the wet and really not that flash in the dry either. You can’t push them very hard into high speed corners as they tend to wash out. Bigger and softer knobs needed on the outer edges to give it some cornering bite. I recently had 4 weeks hard riding in Crested Butte, Ketchum Idaho and a few days in Santa Cruz Ca. The rear tyre is toast now which is pretty disappointing for the cost.

  • Peter B. says:

    I’m using FA/ 2.25 in front and rear wheels, with tubeless conversion, in a Scott Genius LTD. These are a good grip tires. I feel confident on the fast curves, since the front tire never slide, even in wet terrain. They are also some how mud proof, then I never carry too much dirt back to home. I can’t say these are the best tires in the market, but imho they have an excellent compromise between traction, weight, velocity and robustness.I have to agree: “Tires are a very personal thing “

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