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Old 01-18-06, 09:15 PM   #1
ApolloCVermouth
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How fast are balloon tires?

I've heard good things about the Schwalbe Bib Apple and they seem like a smart idea. Are there other balloon tires out there that work well or are they generally slow and inefficient?
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Old 01-19-06, 07:33 AM   #2
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What do you mean by "baloon tires"? The term normally means large cross section regular pneumatic tires like those that come on "cruiser" bikes and beach cruisers. They are large, heavy and use relatively low pressure but are otherwise convention tires. They also have relatively high rolling resistance compaired to thin high pressure road tires.

You question implies a different type. Do you mean one of the various foam filled or other non-air pressurized tire designs? So far none have worked well enough to be useful.
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Old 01-19-06, 03:00 PM   #3
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The flexability of the tread has a big influence on how fast a tire will be and so this is where I guess they are getting some speed into the big tires such as the Big Apple from Schwable. Vredestein also do a tire called Perfect Moiree which is along very simmilar principles. I use cheap 1.75 inch slicks on my Mtn beater bike and they're deffinitely a lot faster than knobby tires. IRC Metro's are regarded as being pretty fast tires.

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Old 01-19-06, 03:42 PM   #4
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I was skeptical of the Big Apple tires but my local HPV crowd swears by them saying they're quite fast and add a lot of cushioning.
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Old 01-19-06, 04:00 PM   #5
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I'd love to run thicker tyres, but I want high pressures in them.
90 psi is minimum, but anything above 1.5", and you're down to 65 psi or less.

Why don't they make them for higher pressures?
Is it because they'd pull out of the bead seats?
Is it because the tension along the tyre's cross-sectional surface would be too great, making the tyre too heavy?
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Old 01-19-06, 08:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
What do you mean by "balloon tires"?
Thanks to all. What I meant was whether the claimed increase in performance of larger tires like the the Big Apple over earlier cruiser type 'balloon tire' were justified and if there were any other such tires in this category. If they do offer the benefits of both the cushioning of a large volume tire and the low weight/ resistance of a racing slick then they would definitely be worth trying.
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Old 01-19-06, 08:49 PM   #7
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go into the jobst brandt yahoo archive and type in rolling resistance and tire pressure; there's some good reading.http://yarchive.net/bike/index.html. grant peterson of rivendell and jan heine of vintage bicycle quarterly both have some interesting things to say about larger volume/lower pressure tires as well. ceteris paribus, a larger volume tire will have less rolling resistance than a smaller volumer one, plus will arguably provide more cushioning. of course, things are rarely equal between the two, even in a high quality ATB slick. i don't ride mountain bikes, but i can say a nice skinwall MTB slick definitely seem to ride nicer on the road when i'm test riding a MTB bike. even on my road bikes, i generally prefer a 700X28 inflated to under 100 lbs. i keep up fine and they ride nicely. on the go-fastererer bike, it's 23s inflated higher.
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Old 01-20-06, 10:14 PM   #8
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Today, I tried my new wheels with 26x2.35 Big Apple tires.

They were much faster than 700x38 cross or 700x40 hybrid tires, and the ride was way way smoother. Around the same speed as 700x32 touring tires, but super cushiony. Definitely recommended.
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Old 01-21-06, 05:08 AM   #9
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I got some Specialized 700x32C tire to replace the Continental 23C tires for winter. The 32C's are a little slower but the ride is super smooth. The steel frame sprung Brooks saddle and fat tires make for the smoothest ride I've ever had.

Tim
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Old 01-21-06, 05:43 AM   #10
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I 've been running 26x 2.1 Continental town and country tires as my 26" city tire for years, arguably a fat 'balloon' tire, and find them pretty fast and cushy as all get out.

So, I pumped them up to 85 psi on Wednesday. Wanted to decrease the rolling resistance a little bit. I usually run them at about 65 psi. Rode on them at 85 psi, no problem.

Thursday, I get woken up out of a nap by a loud loud noise, a snap like a bullet. I think someone shot a gun off nearby, so go back to bed.

When I went to load up my mountain bike for some errands on Friday, i noticed the back tire was flat, and the source of the loud noise the other day - I'd put the inner tube right thru the sidewall with the increased tire pressure. The town and countries were at the end of their service life anyway...

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Old 01-21-06, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
...a larger volume tire will have less rolling resistance than a smaller volumer one......
This is true only at equal pressure. The problem is large tires won't accept the same pressure as small tires.
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Old 01-21-06, 06:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
This is true only at equal pressure. The problem is large tires won't accept the same pressure as small tires.
but sometimes tires of the same size will take different pressures.

I've got a few different 700x37c tires from the SAME manufacturer, and the max reccomended pressures range from 76 to 100 psi. Same width tire, same maker, different model. So some identical diameter tires are designed for higher pressures than others, you've got to read the sidewalls.

Today I rode down and bought two Michelin Transworld city 559x47s (26x1.95) to replace the Town and Countrys. I've yet to see how the Michelins ride, but their max psi is at about 60psi. I'm not going to make the same mistake and pump them up to 85 like the T&C's!!
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Old 01-21-06, 07:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider
This is true only at equal pressure. The problem is large tires won't accept the same pressure as small tires.
well, if you're comparing a 700X20 to a 26X2.10, probably not; but there are plenty of tires between those two extremes that have some middling ground. a lot of the nicer MTB slick will run up to the 85 psi range, and there's no hard and fast rule that a 700 X 28-whatever must be run at 120 psi. of course all this has to take into rider's weight, wheels, riding conditions, etc. i think a lot of the 650B hype, for good or bad, stems from people wanting both comfort and speed, and there's some validity to it.
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Old 02-20-11, 10:37 PM   #14
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Don't let me burst your balloon (tires)

I've recently been riding around on a balloon bike, so sat down and worked through some numbers and arguments. At the end of the day, you ride balloon tires because you like how they look. Higher pressure tires have smaller contact patches, and comfort can be dealt with better with frame and fork design than space-hopper tires. Balloon tires need low pressures to achieve those much lauded cushioning benefits, but that can leave you with as much as 6 square inches of rubber massaging the road, slowing you down. Makers like Schwalbe mitigate against this with soft compound rubbers, but play down the drawbacks of their approach, namely more punctures, and tires wearing out quickly. I've written a full article on my blog: http://behoovingmoving.livejournal.com/66499.html
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Old 02-20-11, 10:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
I'd love to run thicker tyres, but I want high pressures in them.
90 psi is minimum, but anything above 1.5", and you're down to 65 psi or less.
I was running a pair of 1.9" Ritchey Cross-Bites rated for 70psi.
After I broke the *second* Mavic rim, I came to the realization that just because the tire could take 70psi, didn't mean the rim could take it.
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Old 02-21-11, 12:17 AM   #16
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There`s `FAST` and then theres `fast`.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApolloCVermouth View Post
I've heard good things about the Schwalbe Bib Apple and they seem like a smart idea. Are there other balloon tires out there that work well or are they generally slow and inefficient?
The Schwalbe Big Apples are excellent tires and so are a lot of the recent `oversized` tires introduced by different manufacturers.

I hear `rolling resistance` and `fast bikes` talked about it a lot and to be honest - my opion is that most of those conversations are more hypothetical than practical.

Me? I happen to live in Montreal, a city that is probably home to more bikes than exist in all the rest of canada combined. And Montreal has an ubelievably well developed system of bicycle paths that run alongside the river, as well as city streets that present some moderately steep climbs up Mont Royal in the centre of the city. So there are headwinds, tailwinds, construction zones, traffic and speed limits to contend with. In my opinion thats a pretty PRACTICAL testing ground for tires.

And since I am involved in the bicycle industry, I`ve had ample opportunity to road test a number of tires - some of them quite extensively.

Currently I have 700 x 23c tires mounted on a chromoly road bike. Is it `fast`? It depends.The speed limits tend to keep me in check so even if they`re faster - top speed isn`t a major priority.

There is something else related to rolling resistance that no-one seems to talk about though. Breaking power. And on that road bike I doubt I could stop on a dime even if my life depende on it. The contact patch is too small. The tire pressure is too high. In an emergency stop the tires will end up sliding because there isn`t enough adhesion.

And then there`s the ride. Harsh because 130psi and a small tire footprint transmits EVERYTHING to the rider. Racing bikes work best on indoor track or smooth asphalt. The construction zones and road conditions tend to make me keep my speed well in check on a road bike.

OK, but I also have a hybrid that runs 700 x 33c tires in the summer and 700 x 40c studded tires in the winter. Again, theres lots of talk about increased rolling resistance with studded tires. The stories are greatly exaggerated. The primary source of resistance is the snow. When the roads are clear there is no problem breaking the speed limits in the area. and if the tires have more `rolling resistance`, I guess my ski jacket and Srel boots aren`t as areodynamic as spandex either. I should mention that the ride is a lot nicer than the road bike. It also stops in a much shorter distance.

And last summer I did have a chance to run around with a titanium framed mtb with 30 gears, a front suspension system and 2.3 inch tires. In spite of the weight of the disk brakes and the knobby tires - the bike was still fun to drive and got me everywhere I wanted to go. It was really just the road noise that bugged me. That and running out of tread in corners on asphault.

So I threw some 2.3in BMX tires on it just for fun and ....... it turned out to be a lot of fun! Have 65psi in the tires and can push the bike to almost 50kph. Road noise is almost nonexistant and braking is amazing!

And since I can`t get these in a 700 size, I`ll be buying some 2in 700c Big Apples myself this summer to put on the hybrid. The road bike may be faster, but it spends most of its time hanging on the wall because its just not as much fun to drive.
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Old 02-21-11, 01:33 AM   #17
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Rolling resistance, efficiency , and such is not speed , you still have to do the work..
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Old 02-21-11, 02:00 AM   #18
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"How fast are balloon tires?"

Depends...are they mounted on a moving bicycle...or are they leaning against the wall of the garage?

if the latter, then they are not very fast at all.

-j
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Old 02-21-11, 04:35 AM   #19
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Big Apples are different to older cruiser-type balloon tyres. They use thin, flexy sidewalls, the same as modern high-performance tyres. They can be pumped to about 70-80 psi. The result is a tyre that has fairly low rolling resistance.
Is it fast?
In my experience, it is very efficient at cruising speed BUT it is not good for high-speed racebike type performance. Big Apples still have a lot of aerodynamic drag which counts at high speed, and they are heavier than racebike tyres.
It works very well over rough ground and cobbles allowing higher speed than 700cx32.
If you want an everyday tyre for getting around town, have some bits of rough road or track, want a comfortable ride and like to cruise at an efficient pace then Big Apple is great.
I have used the 1.9" version for a couple of years.
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Old 02-21-11, 08:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
I'd love to run thicker tyres, but I want high pressures in them.
90 psi is minimum, but anything above 1.5", and you're down to 65 psi or less.

Why don't they make them for higher pressures?
Is it because they'd pull out of the bead seats?
Is it because the tension along the tyre's cross-sectional surface would be too great, making the tyre too heavy?
PSI means "pounds per square inch". A skinny tire has a smaller surface area - fewer square inches. A fat tire has more square inches so, at equal pressure, it would have more total force trying to blow the tire off of the rim and more force trying to force the rim's bead seat flanges apart.

On the other hand, assuming everything else is equal, a fat tire will deform less front-to-back, at the contact patch. The practical result is that you need less air pressure with a fatter tire to equal the rolling resistance of a skinnier tire with more air pressure.

I think that a lot of people focus on the wrong end of the tire width/rolling resistance equation. The advantage of a wider tire isn't lower rolling resistance at equal air pressure, it's equal rolling resistance at lower air pressure.

Last edited by Retro Grouch; 02-21-11 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 02-21-11, 09:12 AM   #21
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I hear `rolling resistance` and `fast bikes` talked about it a lot and to be honest - my opion is that most of those conversations are more hypothetical than practical.
Burton, what a great post - thank you.
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Old 02-21-11, 09:29 AM   #22
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From memory 375*Hp=.0023*V^3*A+V*R Where Hp is horsepower V is speed in miles per hour A is area in square feet and R is rolling resistance in pounds. Rolling resistance runs from .002 for track tires to .01 for the heaviest balloon tires. Fred Delong's guide to bicycling and bicycles published rolling resistance as a function of inflation pressure. It turns out rolling resistance hurts you the most at 10 mph a 2 inch tire compared to a 1.5 inch tire will slow you down about 1 mph. As a practical matter I have found 1.5 inch tires last the longest. Tires larger than this fail by ripping at the bead.
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Old 02-21-11, 03:37 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApolloCVermouth View Post
I've heard good things about the Schwalbe Big Apple and
they seem like a smart idea. Are there other balloon tires out there that work well or are they
generally slow and inefficient?
Schwalbe makes some very nice tires in the
wider and more practical widths for bombing
around the urban environment.
I'm always bragging to people about the 26x1.5
Marathons i have on the Retro Raleigh Post
Apocalyptic Transportation Module.

They can be very, very, and I mean
colorful language, tool throwing difficult
to mount on certain rims. The upside
is you can carry higher pressures.

Mike Larmer

Last edited by 3alarmer; 02-21-11 at 05:45 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-21-11, 03:40 PM   #24
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As a practical matter I have found 1.5 inch tires last the longest. Tires larger than this fail by ripping at the bead.
Heck, the last tire I replaced failed by ripping at the bead, and it was a 32mm.
Fortunately, I was just a mile from home on the return trip when I started feeling the thumping of the bulge forming as the cords started ripping.
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Old 02-21-11, 04:41 PM   #25
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I have run several different tires on my LWB recumbent in an effort to find cushioning that would eliminate harmonic vibration coming from the pavement surface (washboarded slurry seal). It drives the nerves in my hands wild. The Big Apples did a fair job of cushioning at lower pressures but would be slow. At higher pressures, good speed but little cushioning. Then I went to Schwalbe marathons (20x1.75 & 26x1.75). Good speed but not much cushioning at all. They were too stiff, with 4 plies in the sidewalls. Next were Schwalbe Marathon Racers (20x1.5 & 26 x 1.5). These are 2 ply tires and the plies are thinner that those in the Marathons. These are much faster tires and have very good cushioning, even at close to max pressure. The key is the softer sidewalls. I'm running 65psi on the front, and 75 on the rear. Both tires call for an 80 psi max. bk
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