SCHWALBE TACKY CHAN REVIEW
Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Max Rhulen
Nearly four years before we got this set of Schwalbe Tacky Chan tires to review, Amaury Pierron and his World Cup Downhill teammates approached Schwalbe Tires with the request to develop a tire that would be even faster and more precise on the track. After a lengthy development period and a number of gold medals in the seasons preceding the tire’s launch, it seemed that the Commencal Muc-Off team and Schwalbe had landed on the right combination of grip, speed and construction. Sadly, most of us will never ride at the speeds or with the level of skill that these World Cup racers display, so how does the new Schwalbe Tacky Chan tire perform for regular ol’ riders? Read on to find out.
Back in June our own Robert Johnston attended a Schwalbe media camp in Leogang, Austria, to meet and ride with the athletes and engineers who helped bring this tire to production. If you’d like to learn more about the evolution of the tread pattern, knob heights and construction, head over to the Tech Check feature and video here.
For those looking for the shortened version, Schwalbe’s Tacky Chain is available in either a 27.5” or 29” diameter and 2.4” width, which is true to size. Casing options are currently: Super Trail, Super Gravity and Super Downhill. Schwalbe offers the Tacky Chan tires in Addix Soft or Addix Ultra Soft compounds, signifying its gravity intentions. Depending on casing and size selections the tires weigh from 1080g to 1320g.
The tread pattern and design of the Tacky Chan is a bit different than other Schwalbe tires, however fans will see some trademark styling queues in the knobs and sipes. What makes the tire different? A slight channel along the shoulder of the tire, with L-shaped side knobs which aren’t found on other Schwalbe tires in this category. The open channel isn’t quite as aggressive as a Maxxis Minion DHF, but more than the Magic Mary, which is Schwalbe’s nearest gravity/burly offering. This design feature enhances the precision and all-out traction when engaging the shoulder knobs, however it requires a slightly more intentional steering or lean to dip the bike and tire over. The Tacky Chan rewards a committed riding approach.
Speaking of the Magic Mary and cornering traction, the Tacky Chan has 10% more stable shoulder lugs compared to the Mary, and is also about 8% lighter than the Magic Mary. That L-shape in the shoulder lugs allowed Schwalbe to tune the stiffness and braking edges of the blocks. The center of the tire features ramped center lugs, which helps give these tires some impressive rolling speed for such an aggressive tire. Schwalbe tested the rolling speed of the Tacky Chans, and found they are 3 Watts faster compared to the Magic Mary.
When it comes to slowing down these fast-rolling tires, long braking edges with plenty of bite help dig into the ground. They’re not quite as good on the brakes as the Big Betty, but they’re quite a bit faster and a better front tire option as well. We like the Big Betty out back quite a bit if milliseconds don’t matter on your weekly rides.
In the interest of full disclosure, Schwalbe sponsored our SL eMTB Shootout this past summer, where we put some of the best lightweight eBikes to the test. Up until that point, Robert was the only staffer who had ridden the tires. He was very stoked on them and we were excited to try them out as it was particularly dry, deep and rocky where we’d be conducting our shootout. Now, while Schwalbe did sponsor the shootout, there was no guarantee, promise or contract that said we had to review the tires after the completion of the project, and especially no mention of us having to promote or review them in a positive manner. That’s also why we took a few extra months to have some other riders test the tires out on other bikes and put time on them in some wetter winter soil. So, with that out of the way, here’s what we like about the tire and what may be worth considering for you.
For a bit of background, I’m taking the lead on this review, however we had five total riders putting time on the tires on a variety of bikes from trail to enduro rigs in the bike park and plenty of eMTBs. All shared the same sentiments about Schwalbe’s latest gravity tire. We’ve all spent a lot of time on Maxxis tires – primarily Minions and Assegais – as well as Schwalbe’s Big Betty, Magic Mary and Eddy Current tires. Personally, I put these tires on-par with the impressive Maxxis Assegai when it comes to all-out cornering traction, with a slight nod to maximum earth-carving capabilities going to the Tacky Chan. The Tacky is noticeably faster rolling than the Assegai as well, but they benefit from being ridden with intent. They do not float or offer a vague feeling the same way a Maxxis Minion DHF does, however they’re not as “always there” as the Magic Mary or Assegai. If you don’t mind telling the bike it’s time to make a move, the Tacky Chan tires will respond with ease, even in the loosest conditions. If you’re a more passive rider, the more consistent grip from center to edge tread of a Magic Mary will likely perform better for you.
Most of our riding was in some deeper, soft and otherwise “blown out” late summer dirt. There was a ton of loose rock, dry dusty roots and rock slabs as well. The Tacky Chan quite frankly blew our tester’s minds on trails that had us feeling nervous until we attacked them. We didn’t think we’d be able to hold a line or carry speed through the loose, dry corners to make the gapped jumps just after the exit of the turn, yet they just hooked! We pushed harder and hard and the tires would grip, grab and crawl up and down. The confidence and stability of the tread under high lateral loads is impressive.
As Fall took over and brought some much needed rain the trails began to pack up and get wetter and wetter. Traction only seemed to improve on hard pack and soft soil alike. We haven’t ridden them a ton in super sloppy mud or wet roots, but we think they’d do alright, though Schwalbe do have tires better suited to those conditions. Especially in terms of climbing traction, where the ramped knobs to increase rolling speed give more chance of the tire floating on looser soils instead of digging in and generating traction – the Magic Mary, Big Betty and especially the Eddy Current would yield better results on an eBike when climbing in wetter conditions.
During our test period we primarily ran the Tacky Chan’s front and rear with an Ultra Soft front and Soft rear in the Super Trail casing. This was also the setup we ran on our SL eMTBs for the Shootout, without a single flat or issue, even in some very rocky and chunky conditions. Impressive for their “trail” casing that’s just over the 1kg mark, we’d say! We did also experiment with the Super Gravity on our Trek Slash test bike for bike park conditions, and also ran the Tacky Chan up front with a Big Betty rear. It was a nice pairing and worked well if you needed more braking traction in drier and harder-packed conditions and desired an all-around grippy tread pattern.
Lifespan of the rubber has been on par with the other Soft and Ultra-Soft tires in Schwalbe’s range, and we actually thought they may have held up a little better than we originally expected with plenty of miles aboard eight sets of tires. Robert did manage to notably wear his Ultra-Soft rear tire on his preliminary test ride on a full-fat eMTB in a hard packed bikepark, but the Tacky Chan is not alone in this fate.
The Wolf’s Last Word
We’ve obviously got a lot of good stuff to say about the Schwalbe Tacky Chan, and you may be asking, “Is there anyone who won’t love it?” Well, we’re sure there is, but we can safely say it’s now one of our favorite tires for MOST conditions. Riders who like an “always on” traction feel, like the Magic Mary or Maxxis Assegai may require a bit of adjustment time to really tilt and dip the bike and tires over for maximum cornering traction, but once they adjust the Tacky Chan is likely to please them. They’re definitely not as floaty or vague as the Maxxis Minion DHF in our experience, but we realize some riders and terrain benefit from a more consistent tread pattern.
For us, we’ll likely put this tire on our personal bikes for about 75%-80% of our riding, as it’s a fast-rolling and good-braking all around tire that gives us the confidence to just lay the bike over and rip turns. Furthermore, we’re very impressed by how durable the Super Trail construction is, and are glad to have a lighter tire that offers nice conformity and trail feel compared to heavier, more muted DH, or gravity casings. Props to Schwalbe and the Commencal Muc-Off riders for putting in the work to make one bad ass tire.
Weight: 1,080g – 1,320g