Schwalbe Fat Albert
650b -2.35 TL Easy Front (Trail Star) & Back ( Pace Star)
Well these have been on the bike for a fair few months now and have been put through the mill in more ways than one. But how have they coped? Those of you old enough to remember may see a passing resemblance to a old 90’s tyre from WTB. But times have changed. It’s not only times that changed but the tread design of Fat Albert has too. Not just a bit either.
They come in front and back treads and they are notably different. The front is very much a directional pattern that’s aimed at aggressive cornering in softer conditions. . The rear is much more about grip and getting the power down. Or so you would think. As it happens they are designed to work from reasonably hard to fairly soft conditions. Think of them as a Jack of all trades. Now I have put these through pretty much every condition I can. From Rocky North wales trail centre to wet Winter Mud feasts, from dry dusty Bike Park to exposed moorland and wooded hillsides. So they’ve been thoroughly worked.
The strange thing is they haven’t really excelled at anything particular but also by the same token they haven’t actually let me down. It’s the most confusing set of tyres I have ridden. They do offer a good amount of grip especially in softer conditions where they can get a good bit of bite into the ground.
They still grip well but if you push on a bit they do give way and slip a bit. Not a lot, but enough to raise your heart rate just a bit. They have dealt with everything I have thrown at them. They aren’t a fast tyre on firm ground as the treads are quite aggressive so therefore a degree of drag and noise come with them. But they still roll well enough. they suit Trail centres and Bike parks in Winter/Spring/ Autumn seem better than Summer.
Roots & mud
Roots tend to throw them a bit and if they are wet roots it’s a bit of a gamble. This is partly due to the wide spacing I imagine. In the mud they work well unless it’s so slippery that nothing short of a full mud tyre is going to do the job. A couple of recent rides have shown they are capable of gripping well when you might think they won’t. They clear well to. Wide spacing and aggressive tall treads help here. Climbing can be a bit of a tricky one as they can dig in a bit too much.
I was pleasantly surprised how well thes coped with rocky conditions. From big boulders to smaller stones. Unless it was soaked they didn’t let go once and once I got use to the idea that they weren’t going to let go I could push on a bit.
Puncture resistance and fitting.
Fitting needed the ol “Fit a tube first” trick to get the tyre to sit before sneaking one side off and converting to tubeless. This worked well and they went up ok on a standard track pump. A Booster pump might of cut out a bit of faff. They are TL Easy ( Tubeless Easy) which means they do fit with minimum fuss but I found I needed to do the aforementioned trick. Once up no problem. They come with Schwalbe’s Sankeskin casing which helps reduce punctures. Puncture wise though they did seem to puncture on the most unlikely places. They are a bit thin in the wall to what I would like as the punctures were caused oddly enough by rocks. Not sharp ones either. A tougher wall may of reduced the chances of this.
They are a good all round tyre which seem to work reasonably well in most conditions. I would lean more to the darker wetter months to use these more than drier months. They are a bit of a strange tyre and may not be to everyone’s liking. They haven’t shown much sign of wear either. Which given how much stuff is costing is a good thing. A Jack of all trades.