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.
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.
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.
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.
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.