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First Ride: Schwalbe’s Superlight Jumbo Jim 4.8″ Wide Fat Bike Tires

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Photo Credit: Ryan Krueger ryankruegerphotography.com

One of the biggest pieces of news from Eurobike this year for fat bikers was that Schwalbe was finally coming to market with a fat bike tire. And not just a single tire, but a 4.0″ and 4.8″ tire in Liteskin (lightweight) and Snakeskin (tubeless easy). The excitement was because of a large player entering the game and bringing tire technology and experience to these large tires, where the weight of a single tire can sometimes be more than the frame they are mounted to.

The actual weights are only a few grams heavier than claimed, which were pretty impressive. We tested the 4.8″ Liteskin version on a Surly Ice Cream Truck, and ripped around the amazing boreal forests of northern Wisconsin on a day with a fresh dusting of 3″ of snow, and more continuously coming down.

Check out our thoughts on this highly anticipated tire after the jump…


l_img_jumbo-jim

At first glance, the Jumbo Jim looks like a high end tire. Schwalbe does a great job with textures and graphics on their tires, with a matte finish to the tire under the tread, a shinier finish to the sidewalls, attractive logos, and knobs that look high tech with lots of siping. Even for their first entry into the fat bike game, Schwalbe made sure this was a high-end tire, worthy of their name.

Jumbo-Jim-Actual-Weight

Schwalbe claims the Jumbo Jim 4.8 with Liteskin to be 1,190g, and the actual weight came in at 1,214 grams. Tires of this magnitude have a lot of rubber, and more rubber can lead to a larger variance in manufacturing. A 2% tolerance in the weight is pretty good, considering they are also just getting started up making fat tires. The claimed weights of other similarly sized tires would be the Surly Big Fat Larry 4.7 at 1,400g, Specialized Ground Control Fat 4.6 at 1,450g, and the 45Nrth Dillinger 5 at 1,493g. So when you factor in that Schwalbe can be more than 200g less per tire than competitors, this simple choice can make up to a pound of difference on your ride.

Jumbo-Jim-And-Dillinger-5

Sitting next to a 45Nrth Dillinger 5 (Dillinger on top, Jumbo Jim on the bottom), you can tell why the Schwalbe tires are so light, as they only have about half of the knobs of the Dillinger. Knobs are usually a pretty solid chunk of rubber, so that can account for a huge amount of the weight savings in the Schwalbe tire. This can definitely be felt on the trail, as the Jumbo Jims feel “slippery”, in that I often could not climb the bike out of the saddle or it would break traction, and the front of the bike felt as if it wanted to wash out from under me if pushed hard into a corner. I can best equate them them to riding a semi-slick cross country tire, if you are normally used to riding a 2.3″ knobby all-mountain tire

Jumbo-Jim-Casing-Width

For testing, the tires were mounted to a 100mm wide Surly Clownshoe rim, and inflated to 10psi. On this rim, the casing and the knob both measured the same, at 112mm in width. This is 4.41″, which is a pretty far cry from the 4.8″ claimed. However, we will probably see many tires in the future that actually measure in around 4.5″ or 115mm wide, since the Rockshox Bluto’s tire envelope is 128mm wide, most frame manufacturers are going to design with at least the Bluto in mind and those designers typically try to shoot for 6mm of clearance between a tire and a frame.

Schwalbe-Jumbo-Jim-First-Ride

Lighter weight tires are great, unless they start to sacrifice performance. They haven’t been tested in all conditions, but on a snow packed trail where fat bikes get used most of the time, I couldn’t really find a benefit to the Jumbo Jims. Sure they were light, but honestly, I can’t feel the difference on the trail if my 36lb bike is now 35lbs. However, I can feel the lack of traction mentioned above, and it was a relatively negative experience. At $112-$139 depending on model, they are actually pretty affordable when you compare them to the Specialized or 45Nrth at $160. The seem to be aimed at those that will count the grams at all costs, and if that’s your game, then these are the winner.

www.schwalbetires.com

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26 Comments
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RGR
RGR
8 years ago

Looking at the tread – could see how maybe it’s not the best in snow. Wonder if it’s better on dirt?

Brandon
Brandon
8 years ago

10psi?! Why were you running so high of pressure? With a 4.8″ on a Clownshoe, I would have started around 6psi, especially after looking at the snow you were riding on.

reverend dick
8 years ago

So…they were slippy and narrower than claimed. That sounds like losing to me.

Wheeladventurer
Wheeladventurer
8 years ago

Thanks for the review. Lots of great info here. It would be useful information to hear how the tire performs at typical fatbike tire pressures. In my experience with 4.8″ tires they best perform at about 4 psi on fresh deep snow, 6 psi on packed snow, 8 psi on firm dirt, and 9 psi on pavent.
A fat bikes tire pressure is like setting up air shocks and damping on a full suspension bike.

Tires in my quiver: surly bud and Lou 4.8, specialized ground control 4.6 , 45 Nrth Dillinger 4.0

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
8 years ago

A lot of fat tires are probably made to be their printed width at max pressures that nobody rides. If a tire can handle 20psi but you plan on riding at 5psi, you may wind up with a tire that has a over 1/4 inch difference from max pressure to the pressure you’re gonna ride at. My road bike does this too…I ride tires that are over 31mm wide at 100psi but 29mm wide at the 70-75psi I ride them at(Conti 28mm 4 season’s on HED BELGIUM+ Rims). 2mm for a tire that narrow extrapolated 4x makes for 8mm which is roughly 1/3 of an inch. When its wet I ride them at 60psi and they’re closer to 28mm then.

Michael Tardiff
6 years ago
Reply to  Tim Krueger

thats amateurish
need a gauge
wasn’t mention in review
also no performance increase from what ? all that is referenced is a drop in weight

hao Nguyen
hao Nguyen
5 years ago

^^ someone didnt have a hug from their mom this morning, not saying you are wrong, but the way you said it sting like a pile of dog shit

MotoPete
MotoPete
8 years ago

Surprised to not see Schwalbe’s Procore dual chamber system used on fatbike tires. If benefits felt on smaller tires – then why not?

Lars
Lars
8 years ago

With the freeze-thaw cycles that we have been seeing over the last several winters in Alaska, winter tires without studs don’t make a lot of sense to me and my 47-year-old body.

chuckster
chuckster
8 years ago

I’ve never actually measured but what’s funny is the contact patch gets wider as pressure goes down (assuming you’re sitting on the bike)… that would be a pretty relevant measurement when you’re talking traction. In my first season of snowy fat bike riding here and low pressure and big knobs are king in lots of snow. Either way, it’s nice to have more options.

Now get those prices down to something less than the cost of my car tires!!!

WG
WG
8 years ago

@MotoPete – a typical fat bike rim is as wide as the tire, as opposed to MTB, where a 20-something milimiter rim supports a 50+ mm tire. If there was to be a Procore tube on a fat bike, it would fill almost the whole inside of the tire, which would eliminate all potential benefits to the user.

Dude
Dude
8 years ago

That tread looks more like it’s made for dry conditions, grass and hardpack.

Matt
Matt
8 years ago

I took a look at these at Interbike and was likewise disappointed by the treads. The lack of traction is exactly what I expected. It’s probably a great dirt tire, but in the summer I find a 3.8″ to be plenty. Also, I’ve yet to find a 4.8″ tire that measures anywhere close to that width. It would be nice to see the manufacturers get honest in this regard. Lastly, re: @lars’s comment, non-studded tires are for first year riders. After that, almost everyone I know upgrades to studs.

Zachary Brown
Zachary Brown
8 years ago

All these companies really missed the boat by not having a studded version. QBP has next to zero inventory left for studded tires. The weight wars have begun for Fatbikes in general. Since they have become 4 season bikes for people tires like this will appeal to some. For me I need something in between a nate/bud/Lou and Bfl/endo for summer. The d5 rocks for winter so far but grips studs would have made a knobby surly awesome as well. Even with grip studs this tire would still be lacking. There is no paddle affect or anything appealing to me about this tire.

Nit-Pickin
Nit-Pickin
8 years ago

It looks like you’re also including the weight of the electrical tape holding the tire together. The tape probably doesn’t make up for the full difference of the actual vs. claimed weight, but it would bring them closer. Dang it, now I’m curious how much electrical tape weighs…

JimInSantaCruz
JimInSantaCruz
8 years ago

Testing a tire with such widely spaced knobs in snow only seems like kind of waste, I may not know what the heck I’m talking about but to me these look like fast rolling tires and I would be very curious to know how they run on sand…

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago

I recognize there’s been follow up to the ‘tested at 10 psi’ description, but for a fat bike tire reviewer to state that they do not measure tire pressure yet state that they ride somewhere between 4-8 psi, that’s pretty telling IMHO. For example, there can be a huge difference in handling and traction with a 2 psi difference, eg between 3 and 5 psi and it can be difficult to tell where you’re at without an empirical measurement.

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago

Tim Kreuger – any updates after more ride time? I’ve got these tires on order, both the Lite and Snakeskin versions, wondering if the Lites are tough enough, particularly if run tubeless? If you have anything further to add after more time with these tires, would certainly enjoy getting an update.

Tim Rice
7 years ago

Semi slicks…
I have ridden for 10 winters on 700x25c or 28c slicks. Packed snow. loose snow, fresh snow. even off road. Pretty sure I can make a 4.8 Jumbo Jim work for me on a sub 30 lb fat bike. I thought the point to a fat tire was low psi and floating??

Fat Man
Fat Man
6 years ago

Since these Jumbo Jims have now been on the market for a year, do riders have more to say about performance and durability? In the snow, ice and summer trails? I’m looking for a 4.0 general use tire that covers three seasons well.

jezzaboy
jezzaboy
6 years ago

Hi,got the 4.8s, work really well in dry, ok in wet mud, pretty good in crunchy snow. Grip brill on slippy damp rock. Sidewalls show scarring from battering over rocky descents, think they will split before tread is really worn out.

Alan A Downie
Alan A Downie
6 years ago

I have ridden a set of these- Liteskin 4.8 tubeless on HED BAD rims- for a full season of year-round riding. They handled great in the winter at 4.5 PSI and have done very well at 8 PSI on the mountain bike trails. I have some scuffing of the sidewalls but no punctures or tears.

bob2
bob2
6 years ago

i love these sukkas. std spec on my norco sasquatch. prob never go back to a tire under 4.8″. i onLy ride in winter and they grip for me. each handler is different as is the monkey they are handling!
peach

Snigs
Snigs
6 years ago

Have been riding 4.8 JJs, LiteSkin tubeless on Mulefuts at 2-4 psi front and 3-5 psr rear. These tires will grip like crazy on loose, powdery, mash potato snow climbs. Steep ones, too. The right pressure is everything. I will second that when transitioning from hardpack to loose, they can wash out. But as long as conditions are consistent, good to go.

And I got them for $66 each from Germany. BAM.

Jack
Jack
4 years ago

Just did my first fat bike ride on ice (my second fat bike ride period) with a buddy who had 3 years experience winter riding. He was on his 45 North 4.6″ which were never used in the summer and I was on the Shwalbe jumbo jims with the new addix compound. We had the same tire pressure, guessing around 7psi (dodgly gauge). On the slick ice, I had far greater traction. He even swore at me. On slick ice,the tire compound means much more than the pattern. The center knobs are not nearly as agressive as on the 45 North. Only when he dropped his tire pressure very low was he similar speed to me. I did not drop my tire pressure to match his as I was feeling really good on the tires. On the very slickest ice, there was little traction, but I did not expect the bike’s stock tires to be rally that good!

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