45NRTH Nicotine 29″ Tire
Stated Width: 2.35”
Actual Width: ~2.5”
120 tpi casing, folding bead
Measured Weight: ~920 grams
Mounted to: Canfield Yelli Screamy, Stan’s Flow EX rims
Intended Use: To provide lots of big wheeled traction
Duration of Test: About 3 months
Locations: Primarily in and around Whitefish, MT
Reviewer: 5’9” 150lbs
While I have a few go-to favorites when it comes to tires, I’m also always looking for new options. For 29” tires, this search has often been less than fulfilling. A lot of the 29” tires out there place a considerable emphasis on being fast rolling and lightweight, while sacrificing any semblance of traction. Since I don’t race cross-country with any semblance of seriousness, “fast rolling” and “lightweight” aren’t really my priorities.
A while back, a friend sent me the Nicotines—a tire that he designed for 45NRTH. Full disclosure: when he was designing it, I gave him my opinion on what the tire should look like. Some of what I suggested can be seen in the tire, but my input was ultimately fairly minimal.
Now, a lot of people might not be that familiar with 45NRTH. It’s a company that specializes in cold weather gear. Most of their tires have optional studs, and the Nicotine is no different—it’s available in both a studded and a studless version. I rode the studless version because, quite frankly, once the trails are snowy and icy, I’d rather go skiing.
So if you’re looking for some feedback on how this tire will perform in the snow, unfortunately I don’t have any firsthand experience.
I do, however, have a pretty good handle on how this tire performs in the dirt. I didn’t get the Nicotine into much sand, but I used it in a variety of other conditions—gravel, loam, slop, and hardpack. While the Nicotine probably isn’t on a lot of people’s radars when tire shopping, it certainly warrants a look for anyone who ranks traction as their main goal in a tire.
The Nicotine is, at its heart, a fairly straight-forward channel design with big square-ish knobs. The center knobs are widely spaced and have some longitudinal siping to help with traction when they’re being pushed sideways. There are also a few low knobs that are spaced fairly close to the center line.
To the sides of the center knobs there’s a wide knobless channel. The sides of the tire are lined with aggressive knobs, every third of which is buttressed and siped.
Numerous center and side knobs have holes for studs, which I didn’t use.
The casing on my test tires was 120tpi, folding bead. They don’t have any fancy dual rubber compounds—they’re 60a throughout.
They only come in one size—29” x 2.35”, and while they’re marked as being 2.35”, in reality they’re quite a bit larger than that. On my Flow EX rim, they measured 64mm (2.52”) at their widest point. (For reference, a 2.4” Maxxis Ardent measured 60.5mm on the same rim.) They’re wide enough that they would frequently rub on the stays of my Canfield.
These tires were apparently not meant to be used tubeless. The bead is not particularly tight on the rim, which means they peel off the rim fairly easily in corners. I literally made it about 300 feet on my first ride before I blew the rear tire off. But once I stuck a tube in it, I didn’t have any issues.
I did successfully run the front tire tubeless with only occasional minor burping. I didn’t have any issue with bleeding air through the sidewalls—2oz of Stan’s kept the tire sealed up just fine.
The Nicotines are a wide tire with big knobs, so unsurprisingly they give you a lot of traction in pretty much all situations. In every category where traction really matters, the Nicotine will give any other tire a solid run for its money.
The Nicotine will brake pretty much instantly. Even when leaned over, they didn’t have any odd tendencies to step out to the side or do other unexpected things. It didn’t matter if conditions were wet or dry, the Nicotine was a consistent performer.
The Nicotine will crank up steep climbs quite well, especially given that the center knobs aren’t very paddle-y. Every third center knob is unramped, meaning that you have a big square edged knob to dig into whatever you’re riding up.
While those big knobs come at the expense of rolling resistance (more on that below), if you’re working your way up a steep, loose climb, the Nicotine will do a pretty darn good job of keeping you from spinning out.
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