Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Schwalbe Big Apple Review

Schwalbe Big Apple HS 338 Fatty Bicycle Tire (20x2.0, Allround Wire Beaded, Reflex)

I'm gonna write about my experience with the Schwalbe Big Apple, since I have to forgo my weekends riding, I might as well revel in another activity which I like - writing about cycling. The Big Apple is a pretty fat tyre that's touted by Schwable as a "balloon" tyre, and it has the highest-end tyre protection, the Smartguard.

I have put around 600km of use into these tyres through mostly road, but also on gravel and in the wet. My opinion of the tyre is mixed. On one hand, it's a great, comfy tyre for bikes which do not have the luxury of having suspension, on the other, it's an effort killer!

Before I took these tyres touring, I used to ride the bike in the city. Immediately after changing them from Schwalbe Kojaks, I found that these tyres almost sapped me of 5km/h of speed! The reviews that I read showed that they were quite fast, but that was contrary to what I felt. I completely felt that it was so slow! The biggest indication was my speedometer - I could only keep a speed of about 20km/h, and that was quite a far cry from the 25km/h which I used to do. Of course, more critically, my maximum speed dropped to 32 - 35km/h instead of 40km/h.

Nonetheless, I still decided to take it to tour, and after the tour, I am ambivalent on this tyre. On one hand it's slow and can be frustrating when you need to travel long distances, on the other hand, it is great for Taiwanese roads which were terrrrrrrrrible. In Singapore, you probably don't need such a comfortable tyres because our roads are excellent and don't have so many uneven spots or potholes. However, one characteristic that I'm quite appreciative of is its traction. This tyre has traction that is perfect for wet downhills. When doing looooooooong downhills, I had traction to do a lot lane-wide corners at 40 - 45km/h.

The 2.0 width of the tyre also means that it has a lot of ability to tolerate lesser roads such as roads littered with gravel, packed mud singletracks and cobblestones. Within limits, you could take a bike with these tyres to light off-road areas, as I did when I was going downhill on one of the mountains in Taiwan. There were roadworks being done throughout the whole road - it was gravel all the way, but with these tyres, it wasn't a problem. With Kojaks or tyres of that kind of size, I suspect I'll have a big problem with traction as the tyre would be busy kicking stones around and the 90psi tyre would be digging a hole.

Its puncture protection... supposedly to be the best among all Schwalbe liners, but take a look!

Unplattbarr... not!
Bad luck? Probably. Or maybe I shouldn't have ridden over areas littered with crap. Oh well, that's the bane of cycling, you have to keep right as possible without obstructing cars. Nonetheless, taking the tyre out was easy because the bead isn't as stiff as the Kojak's. You could practically mount it without any tools!

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