Pacific Northwest Winter 2015 Tire Comparison Test 1: 2015 Nobby Nic, High Roller II, Neo-Moto & Hans Dampf REVIEWED

Pacific Northwest Winter 2015 27.5" Tire Comparison Test 1

Session 1 of 2, November 9, 2014


About Dirt Merchant Bikes:

Dirt Merchant Bike conducts testing to help us determine which products will work best for our customers and their riding style. We are the exclusive Seattle/Tacoma area dealer for Turner Bikes and have the new Turner RFX available to reserve for demo at Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, WA:

Testing Overview:

Four tire combinations were tested in Seattle winter conditions by product testers recruited from the Seattle area via a Facebook posting and myself.  Each of the test riders rode either a Turner Flux (120mm rear travel) or a Turner Burner (140mm rear travel) for the duration of the comparison test.  Each rider rode the five tires combinations both uphill and downhill.    Tires/wheels were switched to the next rider after an uphill/downhill loop so that test riders rode each of the tire combinations once.

Tires Combinations Tested:

Tire Dimensions based on mounting on a Stans Arch EX rim (21 mm internal width)

Maxxis High Roller II

1. Maxxis High Roller 27.5" x 2.3 Front & Rear, 3C compound/EXO

  • Claimed Weight: 875g
  • Actual Weight: 865-870g (2 tires weighed)
  • Tire Height: 56 mm
  • Casing Width: 56 mm
  • Knob Width: 57 mm

Panaracer Neo-Moto

2. Panaracer Neo-Moto 27.5" x 2.3 Front & Rear

  • Claimed Weight: 665g
  • Actual Weight: 710-720g (2 tires weighed)
  • Tire Height: 53 mm
  • Casing Width: 55 mm
  • Knob Width: 59 mm





Schwalbe Hans Dampf

3. Schwalbe Hans Dampf: 27.5" x 2.25 Front & Rear, Pacestar/Snakeskin

  • Claimed Weight: 680g
  • Actual Weight: 690-720g (4 tires weighted)
  • Tire Height: 53 mm
  • Casing Width: 57 mm
  • Knob Width: 58 mm



Schwalbe Nobby Nic (2015 version)

4. Schwalbe Nobby Nic:  27.5" x 2.35 Front, 2.25 Rear, Pacestar/Snakeskin


  • Claimed Weight: 610g
  • Actual Weight: 710 g (1 tire weighed)
  • Tire Height: 55 mm
  • Casing Width: 56 mm
  • Knob Width: 56 mm


  • Claimed Weight: 685g
  • Actual Weight: 814-820g (1 tire weighed)
  • Tire Height: 55 mm
  • Casing Width: 58 mm
  • Knob Width: 58 mm



Location: Grand Ridge Trail in Issaquah, WA going southbound after the boardwalk. The climb/descent has a 200 foot vertical gain.  Grade on the incline ranges from 6-16 percent. One-way distance is 0.75 miles (1.5 miles for the round trip).

Trail Conditions: Light Rain with wet leaves, some slippery corners, some wet roots & wet rocks.  The trail was generally hard-packed without any deep mud.  Good drainage on the trail.  No problems with rear tire traction overall, but front tire traction was more important with a good number of higher-speed turns as the trail traverses across the fall line.

Product Testers: Test riders were myself & 4 other riders that had signed on to be product testers with Dirt Merchant Bikes.  All test riders were competent climbers & descenders with some faster on the uphills and some faster on the downhills.  The number of climbs completed during the course of the comparison test were well within the stamina limits of the recruited testers.

Test Bikes: Turner Flux (120mm travel) & Turner Burner (140mm travel) Each rider rode the same bike for all 5 tires (Tires/wheels were switched between bikes)

Wheel setup: Stans Arch rims (21mm internal width) on DT350 hubs.  Tires were run tubeless with 30 psi.

Testing Procedure:  Each rider rode each of the 5 tires up the course and then back down.  Wheels/Tires were changed after each uphill/downhill round trip.

Evaluation Methodology: Tires were evaluated based on subjective comments & a quantitative rating of multiple factors on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the best score, 3 being an average score and 1 being far below expectations. The average quantitative rating was calculated as an average of the 5 individual rider scores on each attribute & subjective comments will be added to provide more in-depth understanding of the quant ratings.


Quantitative Rating Scale

 5 stars - Absolutely outstanding
4 stars
3 stars - Solid performance, meets expectations
2 stars
1 star - Misses expectations by a wide margin


Notes on Interpretation of Results: 

I suggest reviewing the subjective comments in conjunction with the quantitative data for a general understanding of each tire’s strength/weaknesses.  Please note the following caveats when interpreting the results from this comparison test.

1. This is not intended to be a scientific test:  Though this test includes quantitative data, the numerical data is intended only to help interpret rider feedback.

2. Difference between tires in the quantitative results are not statistically significant: With only small sample of riders rating each tire, differences in quantitative ratings should be interpreted as directional and not as statistically significant differences.

3. Projectability of results to other Trail conditions: This comparison test was conducted in typical Seattle area winter trail conditions.  These results on tire performance are generally not projectable to dissimilar trail conditions in other geographic areas.



Testing Results – as a Front Tire

Subjective Comments – Front Tire

Maxxis High Roller 2.3 (as front tire):

Summary: High cornering limits, but high rider confidence is needed to push the High Roller to its limits.


  • Very high cornering grip limits:  “Nice & sticky on the downhills”


  • Lack of communication from the tire at traction limits: “Requires [rider] confidence to push the tire hard.  Did not push the tire to the limit.”, “On/Off feeling for cornering grip”

Panaracer Neo-Moto 2.3 (as front tire):

Summary: Decent grip limits given its low rolling resistance, but provides less confidence at cornering limits compared to tires with more aggressive tread patterns


  • Less Predictable at traction limits: “Low confidence in cornering grip.”


Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35 (as front tire):

Summary: Good amount of grip with predictable limits


  • Solid cornering grip
  • Highly predictable


Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.25 (as front tire):

Summary: High grip levels combined with predictable handling at traction limits generates a lot of rider confidence in the Hans Dampf.


  • High cornering limits:
  • Predictable grip: “Know exactly what this tire is doing at every moment”, “Predictable going fast downhill”, “Felt confident pushing the bike [harder] with this tire.”



Testing Results – as a Rear Tire

Subjective Comments – Rear Tire


Maxxis High Roller 2.3 (as rear tire):

Summary: Slow rolling as a rear tire, but very good cornering grip


  • Cornering grip


  • Rolling Resistance: “A bit sluggish going uphill”

Panaracer Neo-Moto 2.3 (as rear tire):

Summary: Truly outstanding rolling resistance at the expense of some cornering & braking grip in wet conditions.  This would be a tire to consider for less slippery trail conditions.


  • Lowest rolling resistance in the comparison test: “Fast to really fast”, “This is the tires that I want in dry conditions when I want my bike to feel like a rocketship and want to be faster than all of my friends.”  "It was incredible to feel how much faster this tire rolled than the slower rolling tires in this test.   Putting on these tires on felt like changing from a heavy wheels to a lightweight XC racing wheels."


  • Cornering traction: “Low confidence in cornering grip.”


Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25 (as rear tire):

Summary: All-around good balance of traction & rolling resistance.


  • Low rolling resistance (second to the Neo-Moto): “Almost as fast rolling as the Neo-Moto as a rear tire”
  • Good balance of traction & rolling resistance: “…sticky enough on the down without the penalty of a lot of rolling resistance.”


Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.25 (as rear tire):

Summary: Lots of usable grip with reasonable rolling resistance


  • High amounts of predictable cornering grip: “Great fun to ride downhill.  It's not the fastest going uphill, but I enjoyed being able to push it on the down.  The Hans Dampf made me feel like a better rider on wet, slick stuff.”
  • Climbing Traction


  • Only average rolling resistance: “Not the fastest climber”


Comparison Test Summary:

All five test riders selected the Schwalbe Hans Dampf and Nobby Nic tires as the top choices in the comparison test for winter conditions in the Seattle area.  The key factors driving this selection were the amount of communication from the tires about available cornering grip and a good balance of traction & rolling resistance.  Predictability of cornering grip proved to be more important than the absolute amount of grip available.  Some of the tires with a high level of cornering traction were deemed to be less capable and satisfying than other tires with lower levels of traction but with better communications as to the limits of that grip.

The Hans Dampf was selected by all testers as the best front tire with a high amount of usable grip and good predictability as to the limits of that grip.  As a front tire, the Nobby Nic had slightly less grip available than the Hans Dampf, but with better rolling resistance.  The choice of rear tire between the Hans Dampf and Nobby Nic depends on a rider’s desired balance between grip and rolling resistance.

Among the other tires, the High Roller had perhaps the highest cornering limits but required confidence to reach those limits.  The High Roller may be good as a front tire paired with a faster rolling rear tire.  The Neo-Moto had adequate traction for cornering and braking, but was truly outstanding in its rolling resistance, or lack thereof.  We’ll include the Neo-Moto in a summer tire comparison test next year run on firm, loamy trail conditions with better traction.


The Schwalbe tires that we carry & our pricing is:

Schwalbe Nobby Nic (new HS 463 version) Evolution Line –26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution Line –26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Magic Mary Evolution Line –26” & 27.5” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Evolution Line – 26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99,

Typically, we will have the Pacestar (normal) and Trailstar (soft) compounds with Snakeskin/TL-Easy casing in stock with VertStar (softest compound) available to ship in 2 days.


The Maxxis tires that we carry & our pricing is:

Maxxis Minion DH-F 3C MaxxTerra EXO/TR

  • 27.5 x 2.3: $62.99
  • 27.5 x 2.5 Wide Trail: $63.99

Maxxis Minion DH-R 3C MaxxTerra EXO/TR

  • 27.5 x 2.3: $62.99
  • 27.5 x 2.4 Wide Trail: $63.99

Ordering:  Tires can be ordered from Dirt Merchant Bikes at: 

If you have any questions/comments about this tire comparison test or questions about tires, please e-mail Dirt Merchant Bikes at

Follow-up Tire Comparison Test for Winter 2015:

If you liked this comparison test, also check out our 2nd tire comparison test for Winter 2015 in which we tested the following tires against the winners from this 1st tire comparison test. 

The 2nd Winter 2015 tire comparison test is located at:

1. Hans Dampf 2.25 (front)/Nobby Nic 2.25 (rear) – This combination balances the traction of the Hans Dampf as a front tire with a faster rolling Nobby Nic as the rear tire.
2. Magic Mary 2.35 (front)/Hans Dampf 2.25(rear) – The Magic Mary is the highest traction tire in the Schwalbe lineup short of a full-on downhill tire.
3. WTB Vigilante 2.3 (front)/ WTB Trail Boss 2.3 (rear)
4. Continental Trail King 2.2 Protection Apex - front & rear – The Trail King is similar in concept to the Hans Dampf.
5. Continental Mountain King II 2.2 Protection - front & rear:  The Mountain King is similar in concept to the Nobby Nic.