I personally have long been a fan of Schwalbe tires. Among the offerings of Schwalbe are several different tires to choose from. My first exposure to Schwalbe tires was when I bought my Catrike Trail. When I had my first flat tire I discovered something about Schwalbe tires that I had never experienced before with any other tire. It was extremely easy to install and uninstall on the rim. This really impressed me as over the years I have had numerous tires which were much more difficult to install and uninstall. I have never known of a tire that was so easy to work with. (See my update below.)
My Catrike Trail came with Schwalbe Marathon Racers installed. When it was time to get new tires I decided to try one of Schwalbe’s other offerings as I didn’t care all that much for the Marathon Racers. Since then I have used Marathons, Kojaks, and Trykers.
Speaking of Kojak tires … have you seen this picture? Pretty incredible, huh? Of course, it is fake. The riders are supporting themselves with their legs holding themselves and the bikes up in the position you see. Kojaks do have excellent traction but no tire could do what is shown here.
I had intended to try Big Apples, but when I tried the Marathon Plus I fell in love with them and have not used anything else since. (See update below)
I must insert here that as I stated above all of the other Schwalbe tires were easy to get on and off of the rims … in fact, they practically fall on and off. 🙂 The Marathon Plus tires are another matter. As much as I love them they are far more challenging to install and uninstall. Even so, once you learn how to do it it becomes much easier. I also discovered that not all rims are created equal. I received a rim from Golden Motors with a hub motor laced in it. It was extremely difficult to mount a Marathon Plus tire on it. I had to use tire tools to get it on … something I never do on the rims Catrike uses.
I had started out to write this article about Schwalbe Big Apple tires, but as I researched tires I came across other brands out there to choose from. I want to state upfront that I have absolutely no personal experience with any other tires on my Catrike tadpole trike than those I listed above. Since this is true I cannot personally comment on any other tires. I will, however, report what I have read about them. I did have my homemade tadpole trike on which I installed Kenda Kwest 100 psi tires. They were ok, but not near the tire the Schwalbes are. They just aren’t in the same league.
For one reason or another some trike owners are wanting to go with “fat tires” on their trikes. Now when I say fat tires I am not talking about the new extremely wide tires like this:
Those are definitely fat, but I am here to say that they are an entirely different animal. No, what I am talking about is a little more tame than these. I mentioned the Schwalbe Big Apple tires so I will start off with those. They are truly reminiscent of the “balloon tires” from yesteryear which were around when I grew up. Of course, they are still available today and we see them on bicycles.
The Big Apple is 2.35 inches in width. It is also available in 2.0 inch width. My trike came with 1.5 inch width tires. My Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I use now are 1.75 inches wide. So you can see the 2.35 is quite a jump. Other than frame width on the rear the only limiting factor for wide tires I can think of is the use of fenders. On my trike the use of the 1.75 width tire required slight modification to my fender brackets. I bent them out for additional clearance. I don’t think I could install Big Apple tires on my trike without doing something additional to my fenders. The Big Apple is a 70 psi maximum tire. A common term found online when looking up the Big Apple tire is “built in suspension”.
Another offering I know of is the Maxxis Hookworm tire. It is reported to be pretty tough tire. It is also a very heavy tire. Most of what I have read about this tire is good, however one thing several people mentioned is that the rolling resistance and ride comfort is far better with the Schwalbe Big Apple tires. That stands to reason about the ride comfort since these Maxxis Hookworm tires are so tough and firm.
The Maxxis Hookworm is a high pressure tire capable of holding 100 psi. It is a 1.95 width.
There are other tires also in the “normal” width range like what came on my trike. One of them is the Greenspeed Scorcher. This tire is 1.5 inches in width.
It comes in 3 choices: standard, HD which stands for heavy duty and has a motorcycle tire casing, and TR (thorn resistant) which has a Kevlar belt. They are all also high pressure tires … 100 psi maximum. Greenspeed says that these tires are lightweight and designed for good rolling resistance. They have built in wear indicators. These tires seem to have mixed reviews. I just read one that these tires do not hold up well at all and the users went back to Schwalbe tires. HERE is the review I read. And here is the particular part I am referring to:
“My wife and her parents are on tour right now, and so far my in-laws have had 4 Scorchers disintegrate in the first 200 miles of riding, some of the tires with less than 50 miles on them. Not a good record. They had to have a batch of Schwalbe Marathons Fed-Ex’d to them so they could continue.”
To be fair it might be a quality control issue as even Schwalbe has had some issues with certain tires. Some users had problems/failures/disappointments and others did not.
Primo makes the Comet tire with Kevlar. It is 1.5 inch width and has a maximum pressure of 100 psi.
Just a note here about Kevlar belt protection … Here is a picture showing a typical Kevlar belt in a tire and the same tire without the belt:
As you can see the Kevlar belt is quite thin. Now compare this protection with what is found in the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire:
Quite a difference for sure! The fact that they rarely have a flat and they still ride and handle great is sufficient in itself to sell me on them, but they also wear great … I have been getting 2.5 to 3 times as many miles out of them as I did any other tires I have used. HERE is an article I wrote on the Marathon Plus tires. They not only offer excellent flat protection with this thicker belt but the rubber is a different compound than their other tires. It is just plain tougher. I used to get a lot of cuts in all the other Schwalbe tires I used. These Marathon Plus tires rarely get any cuts and they just hold up so much better. In over 13,000 miles of riding on Marathon Plus tires I have had one flat which was just recently and it was a matter of failure of the inner tube and no fault of the tire.
Now if you still aren’t sold on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires HERE is Hostel Shoppe’s webpage listing the tires they carry for the 20 inch 406 rims. As you can see there are quite a few to select from. Yes, there are other tires available which will fit the 20 inch 406 rims of recumbents, however, some of them I would not recommend as they just are not the same quality as these premium tires I have covered here. They won’t ride or handle as good nor wear as good. Some are much lower pressure tires so they won’t be able to provide the speed some riders want and it takes more physical effort to pedal the trike along due to the higher rolling resistance of a lower pressure tire. Some tires are quite cheap in comparison to these premium tires. Just remember … “you usually get what you pay for” … and as Benjamin Franklin said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. Going with a good quality tire on your trike will help you …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
I now have over 80,000 miles on my trike. The vast majority of those miles have been ridden on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. I tried the 1.35 ” width but didn’t care for them … if for no other reason than the fact that I didn’t get near the wear out of them as I do the 1.75 ” width. I have been getting about 13,000 miles out of the 1.75 ” width tires. That is 3 to 4 times as much mileage as I got out of any other tire I have tried. Oh by the way, I never tried Big Apple tires, but I did try Big Ben tires. I liked them but they are not as flat resistant as the Marathon Plus and they did not get wear so I switched back to Marathon Plus. I don’t like having flats. I much prefer to be riding my trike and not dealing with a flat tire while out riding. I had a couple of flats with the Big Ben tires. That is a whole lot less than I used to have before I switched to Marathon Plus but even one flat is more than I care to deal with when it isn’t necessary. I have never had an externally caused flat with Marathon Plus tires. I have had a few internally caused flats over the years where the inner tube failed. I have learned to use an ample amount of talcum powder (baby powder) coating the inside of the tire and the outside of the inner tube during the process of installing a tire on a rim. That has almost completely eliminated internal flats so now I can just simply …
ENJOY THE RIDE AND KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!