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  1. #1
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    Tires for electric bikes

    Hi,

    My 20 inch ebike currently has Kenda Kwest 1.5" wide tires. They're not comfortable at all, and my ebike has no suspension whatsoever, so the ride is only smooth on perfectly smooth roads.

    I think 2" of width is the limit for my frame, maybe 2.15 or 2.25 will fit but I won't take the chance of buying useless tires, especially considering the fact that I'll buy them online from Germany.

    So, I was thinking about getting the Big Apple tires, but on Schwalbe's website it says "EBIKE READY 25", which means they're good for ebikes that do 25kmph or so. They also have "EBIKE READY 50" tires, and my ebike's speed is 32-37 on flat roads, and 44-55 in declines. Will the Big Apple explode or something if I rode this fast with them? The Kwest don't seem to mind the speed (about 1500km so far).

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    Think about Under the saddle suspension rather than the small contribution Tires make ..

    Rather than bargain shop abroad , a Bike shop will try tires in person , if it doesn't fit let you try something else ..

    At least True in My LBS ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    Hi,
    So, I was thinking about getting the Big Apple tires, but on Schwalbe's website it says "EBIKE READY 25", which means they're good for ebikes that do 25kmph or so. They also have "EBIKE READY 50" tires, and my ebike's speed is 32-37 on flat roads, and 44-55 in declines. Will the Big Apple explode or something if I rode this fast with them? The Kwest don't seem to mind the speed (about 1500km so far).
    The Schwalbe Big Apple tire is the best tire for e-bikes. I've spent over $500 trying various tires for my 30+ mph e-bike. None have come close to the performance of the Big Apple tire. I am also using an inner tube liner and extra thick inner tubes just to be safe.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    The Schwalbe Big Apple tire is the best tire for e-bikes. I've spent over $500 trying various tires for my 30+ mph e-bike. None have come close to the performance of the Big Apple tire. I am also using an inner tube liner and extra thick inner tubes just to be safe.
    So I'm safe at those speeds (55kmph) with the Big Apple? I'll see if I can find the Big Apple Plus in stock, to save me from having to purchase and install a tube liner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    So I'm safe at those speeds (55kmph) with the Big Apple? I'll see if I can find the Big Apple Plus in stock, to save me from having to purchase and install a tube liner.
    I've hit 36 mph without any problems. The key to any of the Schwalbe tires with their patented liners is to keep the tire vertical on the payment. If you like taking corners like a racing motorcycle then that's where a puncture can happen since the protective strip is no longer on the ground and you are riding on the sidewalls.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    I've hit 36 mph without any problems. The key to any of the Schwalbe tires with their patented liners is to keep the tire vertical on the payment. If you like taking corners like a racing motorcycle then that's where a puncture can happen since the protective strip is no longer on the ground and you are riding on the sidewalls.
    OK. I think I'll get the Schwalbe Big Ben instead, since they're very much like the Big Apple they're based on, and they're EBIKE READY 50, so just to be sure... Now I need to find out if the rims of my ebike can take a 2.15" tire. Any idea how to do that, other than calling the shop I bought the bike from?
    Last edited by YonathanZ; 04-11-15 at 01:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    OK. I think I'll get the Schwalbe Big Ben instead, since they're very much like the Big Apple they're based on, and they're EBIKE READY 50, so just to be sure... Now I need to find out if the rims of my ebike can take a 2.15" tire. Any idea how to do that, other than calling the shop I bought the bike from?
    If you purchased the bike new then I'd go to the bike manufacture's website and check the max size tire you can use front and back. Remember, if you have fenders for the original tires they may not work/cover the larger width tire.

    If you are reaching 30+ mph you should also upgrade your brake rotors to 180 mm or more. Hydraulic brakes are a must at 30+ mph as well.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    If you purchased the bike new then I'd go to the bike manufacture's website and check the max size tire you can use front and back. Remember, if you have fenders for the original tires they may not work/cover the larger width tire.

    If you are reaching 30+ mph you should also upgrade your brake rotors to 180 mm or more. Hydraulic brakes are a must at 30+ mph as well.
    The manufacturer did not list any specs for the bike until I asked them to a week ago. They didn't mention the widest possible tire, though. The brakes are V brakes, so there's nothing to replace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    The manufacturer did not list any specs for the bike until I asked them to a week ago. They didn't mention the widest possible tire, though. The brakes are V brakes, so there's nothing to replace.
    You'll need to do some research then. I would also notice how much room I had with the Kenda Kwest tires to judge if I could fit a 2+ inch tire. If the rims have an aftermarket name on them I'd contact the rim manufacture.

    It's probably a good idea to ask yourself do you want to stay with your current e-bike. The options for a 20 inch wheel and having v-brakes are not the best foundation for a 30+ mph e-bike. You need to ask yourself, "Do I continue to invest in this where the parts are few and hard to come by or do I get/build an e-bike where I have more options?". I've had to make the same decision myself and it's not easy.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    You'll need to do some research then. I would also notice how much room I had with the Kenda Kwest tires to judge if I could fit a 2+ inch tire. If the rims have an aftermarket name on them I'd contact the rim manufacture.

    It's probably a good idea to ask yourself do you want to stay with your current e-bike. The options for a 20 inch wheel and having v-brakes are not the best foundation for a 30+ mph e-bike. You need to ask yourself, "Do I continue to invest in this where the parts are few and hard to come by or do I get/build an e-bike where I have more options?". I've had to make the same decision myself and it's not easy.
    There's no question, I'm sticking with this bike. Reaching 40 kmph or more is rare and only possible in decent declines. The brakes work fantastically at that speed. I don't understand your comment about parts - which parts are hard to come by? 20 inch is a common size for a folding bike, and v brakes... Well, now they're fitting road bikes with disc brakes as well, so they're not so popular anymore, but I don't think I'll have a problem getting them replaced when I'll need to.

    I already took measurements between the fork and the current tire, and the same thing with the back wheel. There's a total of 25mm free space in each side, which are a whole inch. The space isn't identical from both sides of any wheel, so I think the wheels might need to be "straightened" or "centered" or something...

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    Dishing a wheel (getting it in the center of the frame) is easy if the wheel is true, and slightly more difficult if it's not. Look up the tutorial by Sheldon Brown. Also, you can determine the range of sizes that your rim is most compatible with on the manufacturers web site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post

    I already took measurements between the fork and the current tire, and the same thing with the back wheel. There's a total of 25mm free space in each side, which are a whole inch. The space isn't identical from both sides of any wheel, so I think the wheels might need to be "straightened" or "centered" or something...
    Sounds like you shouldn't have any issue with 2+" tires. A very wide range of tire widths can be used on given width rim, so if there are no clearance issues at the frame or brakes you should be fine.

    Seems odd that the tire maker would put such speed limitations on tires intended for e-bikes since they don't list such limits for regular bikes. Mine have no motor, but I live in a fairly hilly area so reach speeds of over 50 kmph on almost every ride - and over 80 kmph fairly often. Never had any tire issues related to speed, nor any problems stopping with regular rim calipers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    There's no question, I'm sticking with this bike. Reaching 40 kmph or more is rare and only possible in decent declines. The brakes work fantastically at that speed. I don't understand your comment about parts - which parts are hard to come by? 20 inch is a common size for a folding bike, and v brakes... Well, now they're fitting road bikes with disc brakes as well, so they're not so popular anymore, but I don't think I'll have a problem getting them replaced when I'll need to.

    I already took measurements between the fork and the current tire, and the same thing with the back wheel. There's a total of 25mm free space in each side, which are a whole inch. The space isn't identical from both sides of any wheel, so I think the wheels might need to be "straightened" or "centered" or something...
    If you use the folding aspect of the bike then there's nothing you can do; you'll have to stick with the 20 inch wheels. For example, take a look at Schwalbe's sizes for the Big Ben tire. You only have one option in the 20 inch size; whereas, the 26 inch tires have six tire options.

    If you have close to one inch on either side of the current Kenda tire then you shouldn't have a problem with the Big Ben 2.15 inch tire. Aligning the rim in the forks isn't an issue. What's most important is getting the tension on the spokes to be the same and as close to 100 as possible on each rim while still having clearance in the forks.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 2old View Post
    Dishing a wheel (getting it in the center of the frame) is easy if the wheel is true, and slightly more difficult if it's not. Look up the tutorial by Sheldon Brown. Also, you can determine the range of sizes that your rim is most compatible with on the manufacturers web site.
    My bike is just 6 months old and is still under warranty, so whatever it is, I'll have them fix it. As I've written above, the bike manfacturer's website does not list any information about the rims. I'll assume the rims are chinese ones that belong to no brand.

    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Sounds like you shouldn't have any issue with 2+" tires. A very wide range of tire widths can be used on given width rim, so if there are no clearance issues at the frame or brakes you should be fine.

    Seems odd that the tire maker would put such speed limitations on tires intended for e-bikes since they don't list such limits for regular bikes. Mine have no motor, but I live in a fairly hilly area so reach speeds of over 50 kmph on almost every ride - and over 80 kmph fairly often. Never had any tire issues related to speed, nor any problems stopping with regular rim calipers.
    So I also need to make sure the brakes will fit those tires? How do I do that? Can't I just make them as wide as I want to by loosening the brake cables as much as needed, until they're wide enough that they don't touch the rims when not engaged?

    As for the tires - my thoughts exactly. I've reached 50kmph on this ebike without the battery (sport rides with the dog) in descents, and I guess you could do that with any decent bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    If you have close to one inch on either side of the current Kenda tire then you shouldn't have a problem with the Big Ben 2.15 inch tire. Aligning the rim in the forks isn't an issue. What's most important is getting the tension on the spokes to be the same and as close to 100 as possible on each rim while still having clearance in the forks.
    Sorry if I've written it in a way that's easy to misunderstand, but what I meant is that there's a total of 1 inch for each wheel. If the wheels were perfectly dished, that would be 0.5" on each side of every wheel, assuming my measurements were accurate (I did mym best with the ruler ).

    The difference between 2.15" (Big Ben or Big Apple Plus) and 1.5" (current tires) is 0.65", so even if I wasn't very accurate, they should still fit. Tomorrow morning I'll call the shop, and I'd like to know if you think I should worry about dishing the wheels for now (it will be a while before I get whatever tires I'll eventually order, since they'll be ordered from overseas).
    Last edited by YonathanZ; 04-11-15 at 03:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    Sorry if I've written it in a way that's easy to misunderstand, but what I meant is that there's a total of 1 inch for each wheel. If the wheels were perfectly dished, that would be 0.5" on each side of every wheel, assuming my measurements were accurate (I did mym best with the ruler ).

    The different between 2.15" (Big Ben or Big Apple Plus) and 1.5" (current tires) is 0.65", so even if I wasn't very accurate, they should still fit. Tomorrow morning I'll call the shop, and I'd like to know if you think I should worry about dishing the wheels for now (it will be a while before I get whatever tires I'll eventually order, since they'll be ordered from overseas).
    It's going to be close...very close. I just measured my 2.35 inch Big Apple tire and at full inflation it's actually 2.4+ inches from sidewall to sidewall. If you try to get the tires to fit you may end up not having the spokes on one side tight enough. Try using ebikes.ca spoke calculator to test out your setup.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    It's going to be close...very close. I just measured my 2.35 inch Big Apple tire and at full inflation it's actually 2.4+ inches from sidewall to sidewall. If you try to get the tires to fit you may end up not having the spokes on one side tight enough. Try using ebikes.ca spoke calculator to test out your setup.
    I didn't know changing tires affects the spokes... The whole idea is starting to look a bit intimidating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    I didn't know changing tires affects the spokes... The whole idea is starting to look a bit intimidating.
    Consider it a challenge instead. You'll be testing out the possibility that the Big Ben tire could fit...just with some modifications. Then let the rest of the 20 inch wheel e-bikes know.

    You may want to try the Schwalbe Marathan Plus tire if it comes in a 20 inch size. It's the only tire that I believe is better than the Big Apple tire and only because of its durability and low wear rate.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    Consider it a challenge instead. You'll be testing out the possibility that the Big Ben tire could fit...just with some modifications. Then let the rest of the 20 inch wheel e-bikes know.

    You may want to try the Schwalbe Marathan Plus tire if it comes in a 20 inch size. It's the only tire that I believe is better than the Big Apple tire and only because of its durability and low wear rate.
    What kind of modifications? And the Marathon Plus is not a balloon tire, so what's the point in getting one? My current tires are very durable, I had no problems riding over glass shards and gravel.

    Anyway, I have measured the fork without the wheel - it's 2.75 inches wide.
    And I took two measurements of the internal part of the rim, not sure which one is the relevant one:

    sxiqts.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    What kind of modifications? And the Marathon Plus is not a balloon tire, so what's the point in getting one? My current tires are very durable, I had no problems riding over glass shards and gravel.

    Anyway, I have measured the fork without the wheel - it's 2.75 inches wide.
    And I took two measurements of the internal part of the rim, not sure which one is the relevant one:

    sxiqts.jpg
    You'll need to use different length spokes on one side. The spoke calculator will let you know.

    The Marathon Plus behaves like a balloon tire at full pressure. The only thing different is that it doesn't come in wide sizes. It's also a very fast tire and very expensive.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    You'll need to use different length spokes on one side. The spoke calculator will let you know.

    The Marathon Plus behaves like a balloon tire at full pressure. The only thing different is that it doesn't come in wide sizes. It's also a very fast tire and very expensive.
    Can you explain the need to change spokes? And will a Big Apple / Big Ben fit on those rims?
    Based on what I've read, the BA/BB provide more comfort than the Marathon Plus, and I don't mind changing spokes if needed. I have no idea what spokes to get, though.

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    1. Why don't you look at the rim to determine the manufacturer, not the spec sheet. If there are no markings, it's different than any I've ever seen.
    2. Is this some kind of cruel joke; of course the rear wheel has different length spokes (usually about 2mm or so shorter on the cassette/freewheel side) in order to accommodate the necessary dish, but isn't your wheel already built. You just need the dish corrected in order to have the wheel in the center of the frame. The spokes don't change the rim and have no influence on which tire(s) fit. This is a function of the rim width.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2old View Post
    1. Why don't you look at the rim to determine the manufacturer, not the spec sheet. If there are no markings, it's different than any I've ever seen.
    2. Is this some kind of cruel joke; of course the rear wheel has different length spokes (usually about 2mm or so shorter on the cassette/freewheel side) in order to accommodate the necessary dish, but isn't your wheel already built. You just need the dish corrected in order to have the wheel in the center of the frame. The spokes don't change the rim and have no influence on which tire(s) fit. This is a function of the rim width.
    1. The inside of the rim has a sticker that says 20 x 16. On the outside, there's a sticker that says 20" x 1.5.
    2. That's what I thought, the wheel is built, I'm just replacing tires, why even touch the spokes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by YonathanZ View Post
    Can you explain the need to change spokes? And will a Big Apple / Big Ben fit on those rims?
    Based on what I've read, the BA/BB provide more comfort than the Marathon Plus, and I don't mind changing spokes if needed. I have no idea what spokes to get, though.
    That should be Marathon Supreme and not Plus.
    Normally, the rear spokes are 1-2 mm shorter on one side but if you need to move the rim more over to one side to fit the larger width tire in the forks then that 1-2 mm won't be enough and you'll run out of threads before you get the spokes tight enough.
    Sapim spokes are very good. You can use 12 gauge on the rear and 14 gauge on the front. Only the 12 gauge are thicker and if you have eyelets on the rim spoke holes they may need to be drilled out. Spoke washers are also a good idea.

    You'll need to calculate your ETRTO; this page will help. The ETRTO for the 20" inch Big Ben is 55-406.


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    Quote Originally Posted by EBikeFL View Post
    That should be Marathon Supreme and not Plus.
    Normally, the rear spokes are 1-2 mm shorter on one side but if you need to move the rim more over to one side to fit the larger width tire in the forks then that 1-2 mm won't be enough and you'll run out of threads before you get the spokes tight enough.
    Sapim spokes are very good. You can use 12 gauge on the rear and 14 gauge on the front. Only the 12 gauge are thicker and if you have eyelets on the rim spoke holes they may need to be drilled out. Spoke washers are also a good idea.

    You'll need to calculate your ETRTO; this page will help. The ETRTO for the 20" inch Big Ben is 55-406.
    You obviously know about bikes way more than I do, but I disagree. Here's what I did:
    I took the "worst case scenario", in which I get 2.15 tires (Big Ben). My current tires are 1.5". So, 2.15 - 1.5 = 0.65. Divide that by two (both sides of wheel), and convert to mm, that's 8.25 mm. I currently have at least 10mm of space between each side of the fork and the wheel. Same with the back tire.

    Regardless of the spokes issue, can I put those Big Ben tires on my rims? If yes, then I'd like to try that first without buying new spokes. I can buy those from the LBS if I find out I need them.

    Thanks.

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