We're getting more and more options for chubby bikes. Over the past two years, I've only tried three, which I'll attempt to cover here.

My first - Panaracer Fat B Nimble 3.5"

Panaracer very kindly sent me these. Upon first pulling them out of the box, I noticed how incredibly light they are. The '90's weight weenie in me rejoiced but I wondered how durable they'd be. I did put them on a scale but I can't recall the exact weights...but they were under 700g each.

I set them up tubeless. No troubles airing them up on my Derby rims. They set up quickly and sealed well but they measured at 2.85" which is shockingly narrow considering the claimed width. Tires never seem to be quite as wide as claimed, but the variance is usually under 0.100".

My first ride out, I set them up at 15psi. Way too low for my weight (210lb) and riding style. I bottomed out both tires several times on rocks and both tires rolled severely on bermed turns. Aired them up to 20psi with the same results. Ultimately, I had to run them at ~27psi to keep them from rolling on berms. IMO, that's way too much pressure on a big tire.

I rode this bike with these tires here in Oregon in dry and muddy conditions and in MD and PA in mostly dry conditions. On tacky or loamy soil they grip quite well. I don't prefer round profile tires, but once I got used to they way they turn in, I didn't have too much trouble with the front end pushing. In late summer OR conditions when things are dry and loose, I struggled with this tire on the front. They're OK in the deep dust we have near Mt. Hood but on loose over hard the front end slides like crazy on berm transitions and fast sweepers. Once into the rainy season, they got really sketchy. Between the pressure I had to run to prevent bottoming, the short side knobs, the rubber compound and the fairly tight tread they just don't hold on to wet roots, rocks or soil. I got a lot of practice getting comfortable with the front end sliding around.

Maxxis Chronicle 3.0 120TPI

No troubles setting these up tubeless either. Straight away I noticed that they seemed to be about 3/4 lb heavier than the Panaracers but just digging a nail into the rubber, it seemed tackier and the sidewalls are much more substantial.

I rode these in OR and MD in a variety of conditions. Once again I started out at 15psi which is just about perfect to me. After a few rides, I settled at 16 front 17 rear and have left it that way for a year. I know they've gone as low as 13 which is when they start to squirm for me but bottom out protections was still really good. In fact, I can't recall bottoming this tire.

This is another round profile tire and I still don't like the turn-in feel but they only condition that I've ridden these in and they've not performed well is when it's really wet and sloppy. There's just not enough cornering knobs to hook up in the mud. Other than in muddy conditions, they're an excellent tire if you can deal with a 1000ish gram tire. Traction over roots and rocks, wet or dry is outstanding and while I was in MD last summer I marveled at the fact that I rode some tech lines on the first try that would have taken me five or six attempts to clean when I lived there in my 20's (back when I was much lighter and in great shape.) Of course the tires are but a small part of that, but they were outstanding on the rocky trails of Gambrill/Frederick Watershed and on the sometimes rooty lines of Patapsco. Here in OR they were great until fall when it got sloppy and they really push through the snotty corners.

Maxxis High Roller 3.0 120TPI

I just got these last Friday and put one on the front right before a ride on Saturday morning. Once again aired up to 15psi. I've been looking forward to a tire like this since fall and have been holding out for a true 3.0 rather than a 2.8. While we've finally had some sunny weather here, the trails are still mostly wet and it's still raining enough to keep the roots and rocks wet, the corners snotty and to leave some puddles out on the trails.

With only one ride so far, it's hard to give a fair review of this tire, but I'm impressed. Maxxis makes a good compound, no complaints there. 15psi seems like too much for this tire. It's a wee bit harsh and I'm going out on Wednesday and will drop it a bit to test it out. I didn't bother weighing it, but it's heavy. I'd guess 1100-1200g.

The side knobs are very aggressive and I had a lot of confidence going into the ride on Saturday morning. The front end slid one time in some really snotty mud at the exit of a berm that was in a dip right before a table top. Other than that one time, it was PLANTED. One of my main riding buddies and I are about the same speed on descents...we can't ever drop the other but I was out front during all of the descending; most of the time by two or three turns. I can't say if it was "new goodie" confidence or if the High Roller is just amazing but it felt good despite it being my fourth ride of the week and feeling fatigued.

The knobs are fairly widely spaced compared to the Chronicle and rolling resistance on a road climb is very noticeable. I'm eager to see how it will feel when it dries out or if I want to trade it for the Chronicle to decrease rolling resistance even if it means I have to deal with the way it falls into turns.