So I will just come out and say it. I am smitten with this tire. Over the years I have gotten a gotten a “thing” for certain tires that prove themselves to really excel in conditions common to the slice of heaven known as Northern Michigan. Previous long term crushes have involved tires like the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 (and then the 2.35) and the Bontrager Chupacabra; both tires that stand out for their all around performance. I have got it so bad for the Fat B Nimble that I even resurrected my zombie bike (aka a regular 29er) once I found I could run that tire on the front, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me get the ugly stuff out of the way first. In my First Look write-up (which also has all the specs for the tires) I noted that both of my tires had a wobble to the casing. I mounted them up on several different rims and used a variety of techniques to make sure I wasn’t screwing anything up, but the wobble wouldn’t go away so I contacted Panaracer. After talking to Jeff Zell about the issue I found out that a limited number of their first batch of tires had some wobble issues. Panaracer was awesome and shipped out a new set of tires right away. Jeff said that there was a bit of a learning curve manufacturing these new tires with monster sized casings and that they had ironed out the issues. The replacement tires I got ran true within what my eyeballs would describe as “normal” for the modern tires. If anybody runs into similar wobble issues, talk to the retailer you bought the tires from and they should be able to help you out.
So now that the ugly is out of the way, let’s get right to the charms of this tire: a versatile tread, lightweight and a super supple casing. This adds up to make a great trail riding combo where you don’t have super sandy conditions. I feel like I have almost the traction of some of my other favorite 29+ tires (like the Chupacabra and Chronicle) but they seem to roll a bit faster and are a heck of a lot lighter. When you switch from any of the 29+ offerings around 950-1,050g to the Fat B Nimbles, you immediately notice how well the tires accelerate.
The reduced casing size compared to other 29+ tires (2.72” vs. 2.86” on my 35mm rims) caused me to need to run a couple psi higher (13 front/15 rear) but the supple casings still made the tires feel like they were conforming to every little bump and crevice in the trail. There is just this butter smooth feel to these tires that reminds me of the first time I rode a high end tubular on my road bike.
Because of the light, supple casings on these tires I was a bit worried about durability. While my local trails are far from testing when it comes to sidewall durability, I haven’t seen any worrying signs such as threads showing on the sidewalls or bulges. Basically the sidewalls look as good as new which is pretty rare for tires that have seen a few hundred miles of use at low pressures and hard cornering. The tread compound is holding up ok. Riding hard in rocky terrain definitely is taking its toll on the knobs but wear isn’t anything out of the norm for those conditions. For comparison, they are holding up better than the compound that Surly uses in their Knards and Dirt Wizards but not as well as the Chupacabra.
These tires seem to roll quietly and with little resistance but when really pushed in corners they turn into some of the loudest tires I have ever run. When you get to the edge what they can handle in a corner there is a distinct growl that lets you know. I kind of dig that. Grrrrrrr!
A side benefit to the slightly smaller casing (compared to other 29+ tires) is that you may be able to squeeze them in a regular 29er frame and/or fork. Above is a bike that I loved riding for several years but once I went 29+, I never touched it because the + tires just rode so much better. I found I could fit the Fat B Nimbles on 35mm rims with plenty of clearance into the 1st generation Niner carbon fork on my 29er. I could also fit them in the rear but clearance was pretty minimal and I had to run my sliders all the way back. Because of that I ran a 2.35” Racing Ralph on the back that plumped out to 2.5” on my 35mm rims. With my zombie bike resurrected from the dead I decided it needed a new name and henceforth it shall be known as the Contra Mullet (party in the front, business in the back).
Hats off to Panaracer for jumping into the plus tire arena. This tire is the “raciest” 29+ tire on the market right now. For 29+ riders looking to go as fast as possible in cross country style conditions, the Fat B Nimble should be at the top of your list for tires. Add on the combo of a fairly low cost and slightly smaller casing and you have a recipe that should also allow a lot of people with zombie bikes to get a taste of plus sized radness.