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  1. #1
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    Schwalbe Big Apples on the Trail - a real test and review

    It's been buggin' me for some time that I couldn't find a blog or thread about the capability of the Big Apples on true MTB trails, so I decided to do it myself.

    Yesterday, I took this same bike on a 40 mile road ride on what Summerson’s "The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) in California" calls the "San Francisco Bay Area's #1 Most Difficult Climb". Of course, that's debatable, and that's not what this is all about. Let's talk Big Apples.

    To be fair, I have these on one of my 26" rigid bikes. But I know many of you use Big Apples for your 29'er, so therefore I wanted to share my experience with you. Before you ask, yes... those are hot pink grips with hot pink cable housing. Badabing.

    Schwalbe Big Apples on the Trail - a real test and review-img_0357.jpg

    This afternoon I decided to give the 26 X 2.35 Big Apples a try on the trail. Since I couldn't find a definitive answer or review of how they worked on real mountain bike trails, I decided to give them a go for myself.

    When I arrived at the trailhead, like I normally do, I first took out about 10psi from both front and rear (maybe a little more up front). I did the "squish" test and proceeded. I was actually very, very surprised on how well these gripped the dirt initially, and boy, did they roll! The only way I could truly describe the way they felt is that they gave off the same feeling I get when I ride my BMX bike on dirt. I proceeded to the entrance and decided to not go nice. After all, I did tackle one of the most difficult road climbs in the Bay Area yesterday on these tires!

    Up Stile Ranch I went. Stile Ranch (or as us locals just call it "Stiles") is a technical climb of big and small rocks with 180 degree switchbacks. It's not easy if you're not used to that kind of ride - but me being a local - I ride this climb all the time.

    I was amazed on how well these tires handled this climb. AMAZED. I did spin the rear wheel, slightly, a couple of times - standing up to get my bike over the big stuff - but nothing that wouldn't happen on my fast rolling knobbies. And let's not forget, I'm on a full rigid.

    Then came the interesting part - the mud. Not just any ordinary mud: clay mud. On my trails, the dark side of the hill stays pretty moist, so you get dry rocky stuff on one side, and very slick muddy stuff on the other. Of course, the Big Apples slipped and slid, but that should be expected. And you can pretty much make a pinch pot out of this type of mud.

    Of course, since they are slicks, they shed all that stuff away very quickly.

    Schwalbe Big Apples on the Trail - a real test and review-img_0359.jpg

    I think the Big Apples handled all the abuse from yesterday and today because of their construction and their ability to go low pressure/high-volume. I love the fact that these can go down to 30psi and still have very good rolling resistance on the road. This low pressure works great for the trails, just understand their limits with wet stuff - my confidence with these tires wouldn't wince on the dry and hardpacked.

    Now, it's obvious that they ARE NOT a serious MTB tire, but some of us like doing 50/50 pavement/trail rides. These rides I normally hit on my cyclocross bike, but at least I know that the Big Apples work for the same concept. They even have the neato reflective strip on the side for nighttime visibility. Value add in my book.

    If you ride like I do, and take a "dual-sport" approach to your rides, consider the Big Apples. They're just not for beach cruisers.

  2. #2
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    Cool. I'd like to try them in 29" size.

  3. #3
    Tulsa
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    i've a set of the 29" 2.0 on cane creek dual rims

    i've taken them off path with trepidation, but i salute your efforts

    they are good in an old school way

    wherever you go, there you are

  4. #4
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    Bravo! I ride Big Apples on me Monocog 29er and the are fabulos tires! I ride them at 55PSI on Dallas streets and they are great for smooyhing out the ride. FIVE STARS in my book!
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill!

  5. #5
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    Nice write up... I have some 28x2.4 big apples and have ridden them on hard-pack. Fun and fast. I also ride 50/50 on my 29er so giving them a chance was worth it.

    Problem is, they weigh almost double my Specialized LK's and they tend to sidewall roll a fair amount.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmaHaq
    ...and they tend to sidewall roll a fair amount.
    I forgot to mention, I did bunnyhop up a curb and the rear went FLEEEEEXXXXX. That was a little squirelly.

  7. #7
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    Great! I have a set (exactly like yours 26x2.35") on an old rigid mtb and its superb. I take it on gravel paths and dry/damp trails all the time with never an issue. comfortable, great cush, rolls great, quiet, pretty darn tough tires too..



    Last edited by Moozh; 11-30-2010 at 06:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    Love my apples

    Fantastic tires, not that good in the snow

    Schwalbe Big Apples on the Trail - a real test and review-inbred1.jpg
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    Last edited by miranmtb; 05-18-2011 at 01:58 PM.

  9. #9
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    I use them on my carbon 26" hardtail for commuting and they handle a lot of gutter jumping and grass shortcuts just fine. I actually use Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on my 29er when I commute on it, which are also very capable.

  10. #10
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    Great report. I have been rolling 29 big Apples for a couple years now on my Rasta bike.

    Around here, I run Kenda Karma's in the late fall, winter and early spring, and as soon as the poison ivy and snakes come out I switch to the Big Apples and roll the gravel and fire roads.

    Settle Down, if you were that important the city would give you lights and a siren for your car

  11. #11
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    I dunno, the few times I've taken them down steep-ish dirt they broke loose like crazy. They're not 'instant death if they touch dirt' or anything silly like that, but for some types of terrain, you really do need knobs and smooth won't do.

  12. #12
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    why would you ride these off-road unless you had to?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    I dunno, the few times I've taken them down steep-ish dirt they broke loose like crazy. They're not 'instant death if they touch dirt' or anything silly like that, but for some types of terrain, you really do need knobs and smooth won't do.
    That should be obvious! These tires were not designed for off road use.
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill!

  14. #14
    The Pantsman
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    Super Moto's are the new Apple's!



    Lighter, better faster!
    Probably the smallest 29-er rider in the Dutch Mountains.

  15. #15
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    I used to ride Maxxis Holy Rollers on my flat trails all the time and they were
    quite good.

    The amount of contact area you get with a tire like this is the main factor
    to how well it performs.

    However, like someone said above, as speed its way more likely to break away.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HetTuig
    Super Moto's are the new Apple's!

    Lighter, better faster!
    Lighter, but without a puncture protection belt.
    Didn't even know they existed for 29ers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeepItSimpleSpeed
    why would you ride these off-road unless you had to?
    Like I said in my OP, this test was for 1) I couldn't find any blog/thread/post about a true test to them on MTB trails, and 2) I like 50/50 rides.

    Knobbies roll like crap on the road - you go nowhere real fast. I'm one of those who rides to the trails and really enjoys epic 30-40 miler loops consisting of road and dirt. I know most people drive to trails, park, and then ride. I ride 10 miles of pavement before I go off road. Since I prefer speed over extreme traction, I ride Geax Sagauros on my XC bike and my On One 29'er.

    True MTB tires should be used for real MTB'ing - I use MTB tires appropriately on all my off-road bikes and on my CX bike, I have it set up for a fast rolling rear with a knobby front (Hutchinson Piranah and Bulldog combo).

    There's a lot to be said about compromise in tire selection. It's difficult to find a do-it-all'er outside of commuter tires. I am always looking for a fast rolling, street worthy tire that can be used on trails, as well.

    A great tire that I discovered for CX applications was the Ritchey SpeedMax. I've done MTB trails with creek crossings with them and rode a road century with those tires. I swapped them out when I began racing, but now that I'm out of the series, I may go back to them or something similar.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    I forgot to mention, I did bunnyhop up a curb and the rear went FLEEEEEXXXXX. That was a little squirelly.
    Can you please enlarge on that? What happened exactly? I'm asking because I had a nasty crash the other day when I hit a bump and the tyre rolled off and blew out. Up to that point, I would have endorsed all the positive comments!

  19. #19
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    I've done some somewhat gnarly trails on my CX/commuter with Panaracer UrbanMax tires. They roll almost as fast as 25s on my road bike and worked well in the mud and rocks. I have tried to do some muddy trails with 28c gatorskins on my road bike. These did not work, as expected.

  20. #20
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    I haul my kids on my 26 rigid using schwalbe smart Sams. I really like these tires and they roll very well for having decent knobs. They're a really good compromise for someone wanting a tire that can handle more wet conditions, and not kill you to push on the pavement. I found this thread however because this fall i'm planning to commute to university which will be a 16 mile trip one way on a nice bike path. After reading this review I will definitely be ordering up some super moto's when i get the chance. plus the phat slicks look awesome in my book.

  21. #21
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    can they be run tubeless on Bontrager duster rims with Bontrager strips?
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