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My Schwalbe Big Apples Re-Considered

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My Schwalbe Big Apples Re-Considered

Old 07-21-15, 10:32 AM
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My Schwalbe Big Apples Re-Considered

I can't find my original post in which I whined and moaned about having spent $95 on a set of 26 X 2.35 Big Apple tires that I didn't like. When I first replaced my 26 X 1.5 Specialized Nimbus slicks with them, I was very disappointed that the ride didn't seem to be any more cushiony or comfortable. I was ready to take them off and give them away after a week or so, but many of you insisted that I try different levels of air pressure and give them a chance.

It took several months, but I think I am much happier with them now. Right before I left for a two-day ride this past weekend, I decided to put the old Nimbus tires back on so the bike wouldn't be dragged down by all that extra Big Apple weight. Wow! What a let-down! All of a sudden, every bump in the road reverberated through every bone in my body. They felt horrible, like I was riding on tires made of wood.

I went back to the Big Apples and had a great ride, never feeling like the fat tires were holding me back. Also, for the first time on this ride, I didn't break a spoke! Maybe that's a coincidence, but I feel like the Apples provide better support for all the gear I pack onto my rear rack.

Anyway, I guess the lesson is that you can't judge a new item by your first few minutes of experience with it. First you have to get over the advertising hype (which no product can ever live up to), then you have to check it out under your own riding conditions.
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Old 07-21-15, 10:36 AM
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I've been thinking about mounting BAs on my trike and am starting to get impatient for my Schwalbe Marathons to wear out.
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Old 07-21-15, 11:16 AM
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Yeah, BA are great tires. I think now-a-days, you can bypass the ad hype and look to see if they are hyped among your peers (these forums). If they are, there's a good chance they deserve the praise. But wow, 1.5 to 2.35 is a huge difference. I'm surprised you didn't feel a massive difference immediately. When I swapped out 1.5 Marathons for 2.0 Big Apples, I noticed a difference.
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Old 07-21-15, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Nightdiver View Post
Yeah, BA are great tires. I think now-a-days, you can bypass the ad hype and look to see if they are hyped among your peers (these forums). If they are, there's a good chance they deserve the praise. But wow, 1.5 to 2.35 is a huge difference. I'm surprised you didn't feel a massive difference immediately. When I swapped out 1.5 Marathons for 2.0 Big Apples, I noticed a difference.
German rival Continental came out with the Retro Ride balloon tire in cream which is also cool. Balloon tire technology has improved from the tire originally developed for beach cruisers to the point they're fast and comfortable. The tire's own wide size creates suspension on the road that makes a suspension work redundant.

Schwalbe's innovation has now become mainstream:

Balloonbikes.com | Schwalbe North America

History of Balloonbike from Schwalbe can be found here:

Balloonbikes - Schwalbe Professional Bike Tires

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Old 07-21-15, 11:57 AM
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This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
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Old 07-21-15, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
I've run Big Apples that low without incident over Seattle and Tacoma streets/potholes, but not touring.

There is an upgraded version of the Big Apple now available called the Big Ben, only downside of that tire is it weighs more.

Deeper tread pattern so more trail friendly than the Big Apple, which is primarily a pavement tire.
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Old 07-21-15, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
My 26 x 2.35 BAs are pretty happy at 40 psi on and offroad, although I typically use them offroad only. I'm also using Marathon Supremes for commuting in 26 x 2.0, and run them at 60 onroad, 50 mixed use, and 40 offroad. Definitely not as cushy a ride as the BAs, but a little lighter and faster.
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Old 07-21-15, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
I have some 2.35" balloon tires (not schwalbe unfortunately) and usually inflate them to 40psi, and then don't reinflate them for awhile. They definitely get down to 30 or less. If I had wider rims to really make use of the volume I would probably never even air them as high as 40, but my rims are a bit on the narrow side.

For me, the extra volume/width seems to offer diminishing returns as far as comfort. I voluminous 2" would probably be nearly as comfortable in all but the roughest conditions, and probably has more to do with the suppleness of the tire and construction. But I've found the stability and control hitting nasty stuff to be great. really rough railroad tracks, curbs, bad driveway entrances, etc... you barely even need to think of those things and just ride over them, compared to skinnier tires where you must take more care. This has saved my ass on night commutes when big chunks of concrete were left at the apex of a tight, fast turn and I hit them straight on without seeing and was able to maintain control and stay rubber side down. I've fallen with skinnier tires because of much smaller obstacles. No, it's not scientific exactly, but it works for me.
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Old 07-21-15, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Matariki View Post
I've been thinking about mounting BAs on my trike and am starting to get impatient for my Schwalbe Marathons to wear out.
Keeeeep waiting
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Old 07-21-15, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
This is all up to how you want the ride to feel. I hit a point with fat, soft tires where they feel less like tennis shoes and more like climbing shoes. They sort of writhe and you can feel it in the steering. I don't like it. I don't think there's any particular danger to it, though, as long as you have enough air in them to keep them from pinch or snakebite flats. When I was a kid I had problems with the tube sliding around and tearing the valve stem but I haven't in 20 years, not sure why. It might have been something about the super thick thornproof tubes I used in the desert.
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Old 07-21-15, 03:31 PM
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I run 40 psi or less... in my 26"x1.75" tires. Feels great, no issues.
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Old 07-21-15, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
I bottom mine out at 40psi (2.0s). Much below that the bike bounces with each pedal stroke.

I do love them so. Got a pair of 2.35s for the tandem I inherited. Lifts it high enough off the ground that I have to tip it over pretty far before getting on.
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Old 07-21-15, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
I can't find my original post in which I whined and moaned ...
Don't worry, we remember...

This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
I have Marathon Supreme 700x50 (29x2) on my crosscheck, I don't know if that fits with the definition of "balloon" but it's gotta be close. I recently pumped up for a 50mi ride to a racy 60rear/40front, and it felt so fast and smooth! (Previously I had let them run down to under 30 each). FYI I am 250lbs. Wide width can be run low, that's the point. I think the famous "15% drop" is a good rule of thumb, but the famous chart only goes out to 37mm, so if you want you can try my formula to approximate the chart and extend it to arbitrary widths.
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Old 07-21-15, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I have Marathon Supreme 700x50 (29x2) on my crosscheck, I don't know if that fits with the definition of "balloon" but it's gotta be close. I recently pumped up for a 50mi ride to a racy 60rear/40front, and it felt so fast and smooth! (Previously I had let them run down to under 30 each). FYI I am 250lbs. Wide width can be run low, that's the point. I think the famous "15% drop" is a good rule of thumb, but the famous chart only goes out to 37mm, so if you want you can try my formula to approximate the chart and extend it to arbitrary widths.
I'm a little surprised that Jan/Frank/etc haven't gotten around to updating that chart for at least 42mm tires, since they've gotten so popular.
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Old 07-21-15, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Don't worry, we remember...


I have Marathon Supreme 700x50 (29x2) on my crosscheck, I don't know if that fits with the definition of "balloon" but it's gotta be close. I recently pumped up for a 50mi ride to a racy 60rear/40front, and it felt so fast and smooth! (Previously I had let them run down to under 30 each). FYI I am 250lbs. Wide width can be run low, that's the point. I think the famous "15% drop" is a good rule of thumb, but the famous chart only goes out to 37mm, so if you want you can try my formula to approximate the chart and extend it to arbitrary widths.
Your formula yeilds some screwy results as the tire sizes get into MTB territory and beyond to fatbike. As W grows, the first term is killed by its denominator and the second term starts to dominate.

Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I'm a little surprised that Jan/Frank/etc haven't gotten around to updating that chart for 42mm tires, since they've gotten so popular.
The famous chart is preloaded with a lot of assumptions that may not be true - especially that the intersection of comfort and rolling resistance is the ideal, that the intersection actually happens at 15%, and that it applies to any tire construction. I suppose the authors all ride lightweight tires that score high on the Jan Heine Suppleometer, and never get any flats that they admit to.

That said, it's worked pretty well for me.
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Old 07-21-15, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
The famous chart is preloaded with a lot of assumptions that may not be true - especially that the intersection of comfort and rolling resistance is the ideal, that the intersection actually happens at 15%, and that it applies to any tire construction. I suppose the authors all ride lightweight tires that score high on the Jan Heine Suppleometer, and never get any flats that they admit to.

That said, it's worked pretty well for me.
In their defense, both Frank and Jan are explicit in their articles that 15% drop is just a suggested starting point, and to adjust pressures up or down to taste. I think even Jan takes a pretty carefree approach to his own 42mm tires, pumping them up again only when they start to feel soft.
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Old 07-21-15, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Your formula yeilds some screwy results as the tire sizes get into MTB territory and beyond to fatbike. As W grows, the denominator of the first term is killed and the numerator of the second term starts to dominate.
I agree, the formula (and the 15% drop assumption of the original chart) may not apply for mountain (and beyond mountain=fatbike), which is why the post says "Note: This whole deal is designed for road riding only. For mountain bikes, refer to the original article, which provides a separate chart of minimum pressures, because the 15% drop rule is for rolling resistance, while a mountain bike is more concerned with traction, cornering, and suspension."

The error you notice yields pressures which are way too high. For instance, for a 150 rear tire load for a 100mm (4") fatbike tire, the formula would suggest 59psi, which is silly. Everybody knows the point of a fatbike is to be able to run in single-digit psi. Same deal with mountain tires, especially tubeless.

But for OP's BA's, a 150lb rear tire load on 2.35" (60mm), the formula's first term coincidentally is exactly 25, which is canceled out by the constant -25, so the recommended pressure is 0.75*60=45. Caveatting that (a) the formula biases high for extremely wide tires, and (b) it's just a rule of thumb, a starting point, that's not too bad an answer. I would recommend OP try 40rear/30front, or maybe even 35/25, depending on how much lighter he is than my 250lbs.
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Old 07-21-15, 09:07 PM
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I forgot to mention that part of my mini-tour in Connecticut last weekend was through Bluffs Point State Park, which is gravel, packed dirt, and eventually, large stones as the path passes next to an AMTRAK line. The Big Apples handled this part of the ride as well as the mountain bike tires I lugged around on this trip last year. The Specialized 1.5's would have chipped all my teeth.
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Old 07-22-15, 08:38 AM
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Only disappointment regarding the 2.35" Big Apples for me was flat protection. Got a flat. Could have been an unlucky fluke.

The BAs were a much, much better commuting tire than the way-heavy 2.5" Hookworms they replaced.

I currently run 1.5" tires at 65-75psi; the BAs I pumped to 35psi and loved the ride.
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Old 07-22-15, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
Only disappointment regarding the 2.35" Big Apples for me was flat protection. Got a flat. Could have been an unlucky fluke.

The BAs were a much, much better commuting tire than the way-heavy 2.5" Hookworms they replaced.

I currently run 1.5" tires at 65-75psi; the BAs I pumped to 35psi and loved the ride.

I am really glad to hear that. I almost bought some hookworms, but realized they probably would not fit. I thought I was ending up with the second best, but I seriously love my BA's.

I switched to them on my 29er mtb turned long distance commuter through various mutations, and have never looked back. 2.35 is the most I could put on this bike, but I love it. I ride faster than before, roll smoother, and for the first time in my adult cycling life, I can actually tune the psi a bit without feeling like my choices are full psi, or feel like I'm riding on flats. I'm uber clyde, so it was like a revelation to realize I could actually ride at less than full psi with these tires and find the ride just fine.

I will say, get the wide BA's the narrow ones don't have nearly the benefit.

The only time I dont use the BA's for commuting is in the winter when the lower road traction is a hazard. (might try fat franks or something this winter though).

Hey Schwalbe, make a new line of tires that combines marathon winter durability and studs, with BA sizing.


They are much less flat resistant than the marathon pluses, but you might have just gotten unlucky. I haven't had a flat in about a thousand miles, and I ride some pretty rough road.

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Old 07-22-15, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
On my mountain bike I run 2.35 Schwalbe Hans Dampf's (tubeless) at 18/23 psi, maybe 2-3 psi higher for on-road (Rider~ 165 lbs). I ran about 25pis with tubes and had no issues on or off-road. Unless you're a clyde I think 30psi would be easily safe.
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Old 07-23-15, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
This time out, I ran the Big Apples at 40 psi. Schwalbe's balloonbikes.com website recommends 2.0 to 2.5 bar, which converts to 36 psi or less. Does anybody really run these that low, and would that be acceptable for touring or commuting?
I have 700X50 Continental cruise contact (or something like that). I pump them to 30F and 40R, which works great. If I had 2.35 tires, I'd go lower.
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Old 07-23-15, 09:16 AM
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You have to experiment on your own. Tires that wide will probably be safe at amazingly low pressure, but at a certain point, it will stop being pleasant.

I'm glad you came around to seeing the value in expensive tires. The top makers have put a lot of R&D, resulting in breakthroughs. Normally heavy tires feel heavy, but not all, because of materials and construction, I suppose.
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