Three days with the Schwalbe Big Apple 700c x 2.0

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.

Could you explain what you mean by “a decent spin”
What attibutes are you talking about?

Well, without going too deep, which is a bad habit of mine, a decent spin is cycling smoothly in a circle, especially with a smooth transition of pressure from the back half of the cycle to the front half.

In contrast, poor spinning involves an abrupt push on the downstroke with very little pressure during the rest of the cycle.

Good spinning is a key factor in efficient riding on road, and also good climbing and descending, both off- and on-road, for more than one reason:

– It keeps you in control for a much larger percentage of the cycle, so if you encounter irregularities anywhere in the pedal cycle, you are better prepared to deal with them.

– It directs your energy better to the wheel, meaning that more of your effort goes into actual productive wheel torque.

– It helps your feet work together better, so that one leg is not working against the other nearly as much.

– It uses more muscles in your legs and hips. Bad spinning tends to use only your quads, and that in an excessive, anaerobic way. Good spinning spreads the load to your hamstrings, calves, and other leg muscles, so that they share the work, and the work is more aerobic.

As you can see, improving your spinning improves your endurance and technical ability. It also permits you to have higher cadences.

An aside: even in good spinning, most of your work will be done (for uphills) on the downstroke. However, with good spinning, the cyclic increase and decrease in force is very smooth and well matched with the opposite leg.

Sounds like an interesting tire. Does it have the same tread pattern as the 2.3? I may check that out to possibly use it for Mt Washington.


Yes, it does, Ben. I have a spare; shall I send it up?

yeah, that would be great. Thanks. How do you think it compares to the Schwalbe maration? Higher or lower volume?