Schwalbe was kind enough to replace a couple of cracked Big Apple 2.3 tires (from way back) with the Big Apple’s little brother Big Apple 2.0. As part of my Alps Tour Training I’ve put 46 miles and about 1550 feet of climbing (and the equiv descending) on this tire in the past three days. This is on my 29er with the GB4 frame and LiveWire 700c wheel and 150mm cranks. I thought it might be nice to try a tire with the same basic cross-section, but with a little less volume, and presumably, a tighter connection to the rim.
Upon receiving and mounting the tire, I see that it has quite a bit less volume, and is quite a bit lighter. I don’t have numbers on those yet, but I did check the diameter, which is about 28.5" compared with the Big Apple 2.3’s 30".
First day: Woah! Squirmier than the 2.3, it demands more attention. I have the tire at about 50 psi, where the max is 70psi. I have a tendency to wander farther from side to side. There is a sense that the tire is adhering to the pavement a little. The wheel is noticeably lighter, and it takes me about 8 miles to start spinning reasonably. Through all the paying attention, though, I have the strong sense that the hill climb on rough pavement was easier, and that the wheel is easier to maneuver through the rough parts. There is also a really nice feel of the pavement through the uni.
Second day: Control of the uni is starting to sink into my lower nervous system, and it only takes about 5 miles or so to start to get a decent spin. Today I upped the pressure to 70 psi, and the glue-feeling is gone. However, it doesn’t feel like a high-pressure tire. The bumps are not hard or harsh at all. On the downhills, I have to press a little harder on the pedals, so there is less rolling resistance. The uphills are still as much easier to negotiate. The flats are also noticeably slower than the BA 2.3, as I still have to deal with a little wandering. However, the control is there, because whenever I pull up to a stop sign with a car coming behind me, I have no problem narrowing my track to a tire width in the squeeze.
Third day: Spinning starts after a mile at the most. What I was really wondering was whether the lower volume would reduce some bouncing at higher cadences, and now that I am getting into the groove, yes, I have to say it does. Bouncing is a complex combination of tire, saddle, and technique, and having the lower volume definitely helps. Climbing is still good. It is really nice to have the lighter wheel on the uphills. The tire is perhaps not as forgiving with balance as the fatter 2.3, but it more than makes up for it in maneuverability and lightness. I imagine that the smaller diameter helps too, as it is a marginally lower gear (5%). I avoid the sandy patches, though, whereas with the 2.3 I was seeking them out.
Overall, the 2.0 does not do full turns as easily as the 2.3. It climbs and descends better, and maneuvers better on rough ground. It is slower on the flats. It reduces rider bounce at higher cadences. It doesn’t bridge as big cracks in the pavement, but it manuevers better to avoid them. It tracks straighter on crowned roads, too.
If I were choosing in Indiana, or even bigger states with long hills, I would choose the 2.3 for the better performance on flatter ground and long gradual slopes. For the tight, steep hills, and heavily crowned, and often winter-damaged roads of New England, though, it appears to have several advantages over the BA 2.3.