Schwalbe Tires started manufacturing the Al Mighty a couple of years ago as an OE exclusive for MAXX bikes in Germany according to www.fat-bike.de. And then last week, I saw that Graham Foot of Smokestone Bikes was riding a set and had them for sale at his shop Slam69 in the UK
The Schwalbe website says that the Al Mighty is new and coming out in 2023. It’s available as a studded or studdable version. The tire without studs has a listed weight of 1700g. The tread pattern looks pretty aggressive with large 6mm tall rectangular knobs.
I think that we’re all so hungry for something new to come out, that when Al showed up, it was like Christmas morning and the Fourth of July put together. Since I’ve been running 27.5 wheels and reviewing new fat bikes with the taller wheels, the announcement that the Al Mighty would only be available as a 26×4.8 made me scratch my head a little. After I read some of your social media comments and thought about it, I realized that there’s a bit of a fat-bike tire drought for both 27.5 and 26 wheels.
The thing about the internet age, is that we can see products that might not be redily available in our region or country. Until recently the Al Mighty was available in Germany and probably other EU countries, but they only came on MAXX fat bikes. Now it looks like they’re avialable in the UK from Slam69.co.uk. Someone in the US or Canada looking to purchase a set of these tires could do so, but the shipping would be as much as the tires but that situation could change.
I went and did some internet shopping to gauge the availablity of new fat bike sneakers and I fould a limited selection of quality name-brand 26 and 27.5 models that are currently available for purchase (in the US). In my experience, the place to find hidden stocks of quality fat bike tires is at independant bicycle dealers aka your local bike shop. The shop that I used to work at had a 26″ Vittoria Canoli that had been sitting hidden and unsold for years. Not every shop has embraced the fat-bike segment. The shops that have fat biking in their blood might be your best bet to find hidden treasure. I used to think that riders with legacy fat bikes had the advantage over riders that ride 27.5″ fat bikes, when it came to tire availability. It looks like the fat bike tire market is currently suffering from a scarcity in both diameters.
You know, now might be a good time for a series of posts on the ‘state of the fat’. Lots of parts are in short supply, is that just supply chain issues, or a permanent trend? The market is shrinking, obviously, you will take our fat bikes from the cold dead hands of many of us, but what does this mean for the future? How many manufactures are sticking with fat tires? What wheel sizes will persist. Are fat bike ever going to move towards ‘modern geometry’ or does that not work as well in the snow. Lots of questions, this is the place I come for answers.
Over here in Ottawa-Gatineau, on the border of Ontario and Quebec, we really could use some more options. Many of us have gone to new bikes with 27.5, and we really need tires wider than 4.5, with more supple casings. Many of us ride showshoe trails, much more technical than what groomers can handle. I’m trying to figure out whether I need to drop to 26″ and legacy tires to get the performance I’m looking for.