LOVIN’ OL’ BIG BEN PLUS

For many years I have used Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and absolutely love them. I assumed that I would always use them. However, they now have some competition. Oh it is still a Schwalbe tire but I decided to try the Big Ben Plus tires. It is a balloon tire so it is lower pressure and a softer ride. What I have discovered about them is that they not only ride nice but they handle and roll superb. I am extremely impressed with them. They have a reinforced sidewall. They are E-bike rated. As stated they are a “Plus” tire but they do not offer the flat protection of the Marathon Plus tires. In fact, they have 40 % less flat protection which is a significant amount of difference. I have not had them long enough to know how they are going to wear but I am quite sure they can’t begin to compare to the Marathon Plus tires which get phenomenal wear. So my guess is as long as I don’t get flats I will stick with my new love (Big Ben Plus) and just sacrifice the difference in tire mileage. I am extremely impressed with them.

I had to raise the front fenders up using spacers and longer bolts as these tires are taller than the Marathon Plus tires. Also the rear fender had to be raised for the same reason. And upon installation of the tire on the rear wheel the tire was rubbing. Upon investigation I discovered that it was rubbing on the braces for the seat back angle adjustment. I had to adjust my seat angle up one position to stop the rubbing. I didn’t like having to do that but the only alternative would have been to saw off the braces making them shorter so they would clear the tire.

Since these are balloon tires there is plenty of room inside of them. So I am using heavy duty thorn resistant inner tubes with them to help prevent flats. And, of course, I continue to use baby powder liberally inside of the tires and on the inner tubes to help eliminate internal flats.

BTW, I previously tried the regular Big Ben tires and they did not impress me like these Big Ben Plus do. I had ordered the Plus tires but they sent the regular Big Ben tires so rather than going thru the mess and expense of sending them back I just installed them. When they had ran their course I switched back to Marathon Plus. Definitely the Big Ben tires did not do all that well in the wear dept. I still wanted to try the Big Ben Plus so the next time it was time to change tires I ordered the Big Ben Plus. I am so glad I did.

BTW, it is my understanding that the main difference between the Big Apple/Big Apple Plus and the  Big Ben/Big Ben Plus is the Big Ben/Big Ben Plus have a deeper tread so they have more wear available out of them.

Did I mention that I really like these Big Ben Plus tires. Oh yes, I did, didn’t I? Hey, at least I have an excuse … I am getting old. 😉

Tis’ time to end this commentary on ol’ BBP. They are helping me to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HERE is a web page where you can compare the various Schwalbe tire lineup as to rolling resistance, durability,  flat protection, road grip and off-road grip. I will have to admit I take issue with what they show concerning flat protection. Marathon Plus has a 5 mm layer thickness while the BBP has a 3 mm layer thickness. That is 40 % difference yet they show both at nearly the same flat protection on this web page. That makes no sense to me.

 

INNER TUBES … is there a difference?

Now I ask ya … are all inner tubes created equal? Is it worth it to purchase a certain brand at a higher cost? Here is what I think I know and understand about the matter. In a word … YES! … there is a difference. My answer is based on my personal experience and what I have read about it. I used to use common lower cost inner tubes and I had a lot of flats, many of which were “internal” flats … not caused by a puncture from the outside.

When I first bought my Catrike Trail it came with Presta valves. I had never heard of them prior to that. I quickly learned to hate them so I took action and drilled my rims out larger  to accept Schrader valves. Quite some time passed before I discovered that Schwalbe inner tubes with Schrader valves have a threaded metal valve stem like the Presta valve has. The threaded metal valve stem was the only thing I did like about the Presta valve. I like the idea of having a threaded metal valve stem which with the use of the nut won’t push down into the rim when the inner tube has no or little air in it. So I started buying Schwalbe inner tubes which were considerably more expensive than the inner tubes I had been using.

Some more time passed before I discovered that Specialized also offers the threaded metal Schrader valve stem inner tubes. And although they are more costly than the inner tubes I originally used they are a little bit cheaper than Schwalbe brand. And I can buy them at my local bike shop where they offer “buy three and get the fourth free”. So I have been using these Specialized brand inner tubes for several years now.

Now to get to what I have read about inner tubes. Only a few brands claim that they are made with equal thickness thruout. And yes, they are the more expensive brands such as Schwalbe and Specialized. You might ask “does that matter”? Yes, it does because an inner tube that has thin/thinner areas means that those thin/thinner areas are weaker than the areas which are thick/thicker. A weak/weaker area in an inner tube is more likely to fail in that area.

To be totally fair I have to say that the biggest factor in reducing the number and frequency of flat tires for me was when I started using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. That in and of itself totally eliminated externally caused flats for me. As far as I am concerned the Marathon Plus is the best tire money can buy. It not only offers great flat protection but the mileage wear out of them is incredible. I have consistently got 12,000 to 15,000 miles out of each of these tires. Previously other tires I used yielded 2,000 to 5,000 miles before I had to replace them. And I buy them for half of what they retail for making them a real bargain. HERE is my source in the U.K. where I buy them.

Lastly I want to touch on internal flats. A few things come to mind here. Before I started using Marathon Plus tires I had started using Mr. Tuffy tire liners in an effort to reduce flats. They did help accomplish this but in the process something else happened. My internal flats increased. Upon dealing with this I observed that the area of the inner tubes which were failing was right where the Mr. Tuffy liner overlapped itself. I read about the use of talcum or baby powder to help eliminate internal flats so I started using it. It helped immensely although I still occasionally got internal flats and still many were caused by the Mr. Tuffy tire liners. When I started using the Marathon Plus tires I continued using the Mr. Tuffy tire liners. That was a mistake which I eventually figured out. I didn’t have any external flats but I had an occasional internal flat. Coming to the realization that I didn’t need the Mr. Tuffy tire lines with the Marathon Plus tires I removed them and just kept on with the baby powder. From then on I extremely rarely ever had an internal flat. I am  sold on Marathon Plus tires and baby powder. BTW, when I apply baby powder I use it very liberally coating the inside of the tire as well as the outside of the inner tube. I rub in in to all surfaces using my hands.

Have you ever noticed when removing an inner tube from a tire that it is stuck to the inside of the tire almost like it is glued to it? That is what happens or at least can happen when there is no lubrication such as I speak of further below. Also have you ever noticed an imprint on an inner tube from something inside of the tire? That is another example of lack of lubrication. Neither of these can happen when baby powder is used. Below is a picture of the imprint of Mr. Tuffy tire liner on the inner tube. It shows the overlap of the tire liner.

You might be wondering what the baby powder does. Well, it more less acts as a lubricant to keep the inner tube from sticking to the tire and to help keep rubbing from occurring. With the lateral forces taking place in cornering the tires move about side to side on the rims and this tends to create rubbing (abrasion) between the tire and the inner tube. And this causes internal flats. So helping to eliminate this abrasive action helps reduce internal flats. One note on the use of baby powder … be sure everything is bone dry as moisture will cause the baby powder to clump together and that causes abrasion and internal flats. I learned this from experience.

And I am fully convinced that the reason on rare occasion I have an internal flat is simply because inner tubes fail. It is that simple. I have done all I know to do to eliminate this and it rarely happens anymore … but … it does still happen. (Fortunately it has been a very long time since the last time it happened.) I have talked to bike mechanics about this … all of this … and they are in full agreement with me. They don’t and won’t recommend the use of tire liners.

Another safeguard one can employ is to use heavy duty thorn resistant inner tubes in place of the standard inner tube. Of course, in order to do this there has to be sufficient room inside of the tire. They work best in a balloon type tire such as Schwalbe’s Big Apple or Big Ben as they offer lots of room inside. That thick wall makes for a lot stronger/tougher inner tube which can’t fail very easily from internally.

As far as I know the threaded metal valve stem is not available with the heavy duty thorn resistant inner tubes.

Like ol’ Forest Gump … that’s all I’ve got to say about that. I don’t know about you but I much prefer to simply …

ENJOY THE RIDE

and

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

rather than being stuck alongside of the trail or road working on a flat tire problem.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

GOING HEAVY DUTY IN THE WHEEL DEPT.

bought new front wheels from Catrike in 2018 to replace my original 2009 wheels that had gone the course. They were in bad shape. I was so thrilled to have new wheels on my trike but the thrill was short lived as the new wheels were in worse shape than my old ones in only about a month’s time. In fact, I have been using one of my old wheels for months now as it is in better condition than the newer one. The local streets and trails are in such bad shape that the bumps and holes are destroying my rims. My rear rim that came with my electric hub motor was also destroyed and had to be replaced. I bought a much heavier duty BMX rim to replace the rear rim. I am pleased to report that it has been holding up quite well. So now I am buying two more BMX rims and having my Catrike hubs laced into them. They are the Sun Ringle Envy (rear) rims and are black in color not white as pictured below.

 

They are considerably wider than the Catrike rims which gives them considerably more strength. Truthfully they probably are not what I would have selected as I like the extra structural pieces available in some other rims I have looked at. The picture below illustrates what I am talking about.

My local bike shop suggested these Envy rims to me and I trusted in their expertise. They assure me that they will be quite strong. Still I would be more comfortable with rims like the one I pictured above as I know they would be stronger.

I am also installing Schwalbe Big Ben Plus tires in place of my beloved Marathon Plus tires.

I am going with heavy duty inner tubes in the Big Ben Plus tires hoping that they will help in preventing flats … externally caused as well as internally caused. They are 5 times thicker than a standard inner tube. I used them once before but they are just too big and difficult to install in smaller sized tires, especially Marathon Plus which are more difficult to install than other tires.

I am still using baby powder inside of my tires and on my inner tubes. The Big Ben Plus do offer some flat protection but they are 40 % less effective than the Marathon Plus tires … meaning that I am concerned about getting flats. I am hoping all goes well and these balloon tires provide enough cushioning to ensure the new rims hold up okay.

I know I will miss certain factors about the Marathon Plus tires. Probably the biggest factor is the incredible mileage I get out of them. I know that these Big Ben Plus tires will wear out much quicker. That means that they will be more expensive to use. I understand that they are suppose to provide fairly decent rolling resistance performance so that is good. Of course, having e-assist helps eliminate some of the concern over this. I may only use them until they wear out and go back to Marathon Plus. I will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile I plan on …

ENJOYING THE RIDE.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

UPDATE 10-19-2019 … I installed the new wheels with the Big Ben Plus tires today and went for a long ride. I am quite impressed with the tires thus far. They ride nice, roll very good and handle extremely well. Time will tell as to their flat protection and mileage.

TIRE WEAR

It is no secret that tadpole trikes are hard on tires … especially if you enjoy their handling characteristics they are capable of. Fast cornering does “scrub off” rubber. I just changed my right front tire after nearly 2 years of service on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire. Over that nearly two years I racked up 7655 miles. You just can’t beat those Marathon Plus tires! I am sold on them. That is phenomenal mileage. I did good to get 2000 miles out of any other tires I tried. And the additional bonus is I have never had a flat tire the entire time I have been using the Marathon Plus tires.

I just ordered 3 new Marathon Plus tires from Germany at $37.42 apiece (including shipping). It it the lowest cost source I have found for these tires and their service is excellent. I have only ordered from them once previously so I don’t have a whole lot of personal experience with them, but I was very impressed with that first order.

www.bike-discount.de

schwalbe-marathon-plus-tire

If I appear to be “pushing” Marathon Plus tires that is because I am. To put it bluntly I don’t understand why anyone who rides a tadpole trike would even consider using any other tire on their trike. I have tried most of the other Schwalbe tires and there is just no comparison. If you like getting flats and inferior mileage the others are fine. I would much prefer to ride than deal with flat tires and low mileage as far as tire wear goes. You are just throwing money away using any other tire. I know that there are those that would not consider using the Marathon Plus tires as they claim that they slow them down a half mile an hour. Big deal! That is like the tortoise and the hare. Those of us running Marathon Plus tires will pass you by when you are broke down changing a flat tire. But hey, to each his own!

My friend I ride with won’t use the Marathon Plus tires. (At least not so far.) On downhill runs my Marathon Plus tires outperform his Tryker tires. I can’t compare any other situation because I out weigh him by nearly 100 pounds and I have bad knee joints while he doesn’t. As far as I am concerned there is no appreciable difference in rolling resistance and maximum speed obtained. I am sure there are those that won’t agree on this. That’s ok. If everybody used the Marathon Plus tires the supply available would be greatly reduced. I will continue to use them as long as I can obtain them. They help me …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

THE BEST BICYCLE TIRE MONEY CAN BUY

As far as I am concerned the very best bicycle tire money can buy is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have been using them now for several years and since I switched to them I have never had a flat tire caused from anything external. I have had one inner tube failure caused by the a Mr. Tuffy tire liner which I have since removed as they are not needed and do cause flats internally such as I experienced. Before I use to deal with a lot of flats. I joke about these tires being nearly bullet proof and I think they come close. They are indeed quite amazing!

Schwalbe-Marathon-Plus-tire

schwalbe marathon plus 20x1-75 406 cutaway

I personally ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike. Here is a picture of me on it.

new trike 1st pics 004

It is a blast to ride and extremely comfortable. Many compare riding a tadpole trike to driving a go cart or sports car as they handle so well. I have ridden this trike over 33,000 miles. Before I bought this trike I made one similar to it although it was made out of mild steel. My Catrike is made out of aluminum.

Over the years I have tried various other Schwalbe tires on my trikes. All of the various types of Schwalbe tires are quite good … among the very best made in the world, but the Marathon Plus out does them all … very flat resistant and long wear. I highly recommend these tires. I run the 20 X 1.75 406 size. They also come in 20 X 1.35 406 as well as larger diameter sizes for those who have a larger size rear wheel. By far the best price I have found is ordering them online from a company in the UK …   Merlin Cycles   They offer excellent service and free shipping if ordering a minimum of $75. With three or 4 tires that is easy enough to meet the requirement. I used to buy them from a company in Germany …  bike-discount.de   They are the second cheapest prices I have found. They also offer excellent service. I think a maximum of 4 tires can be ordered at one time for the flat rate shipping charge they have. Even with the shipping charge they have always been much cheaper than prices I have found elsewhere with the exception of Merlin Cycles. With this German source the best price per tire is had by ordering 4 at a time. I have found that the price per tire varies from time to time so sometimes I pay more or less than other times. Early on I paid $37 something apiece. Recently I paid $29.45 apiece. Again, the cost thru Merlin Cycles has been better.

I will readily admit that these tires are probably the most difficult tires to mount that I have ever encountered. However, there is a way which once known and followed make it much simpler. Once you learn how to do this it is fairly easy. Here is a video showing how to do it:

FREE GIFT awaits you!

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