Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The real BA (Big Apple) review

The Internet is not that big. I read every review on every news site, product review site and even forums and found everyone's feedback on the tire. I had a chance to cover 12 miles on these tires today. The conclusion? Get them.

In contrast with the stock KMX Lein Fortune tires:

Although the rear BA wheel is significantly lighter than stock, the front tires are pretty much the same weight. I'm not a fanatic of weight reduction simply b/c the trike already weighs 43lb's. I'd have to shed a few lbs of the trike just to make a dent in the overall weight - not possible. People usually talk in terms of grams. I can shed grams by filling my water bottle a little less. If there's a choice btw tires, weight isn't the deciding factor.

Everyone talks about this. It makes a big difference. I first road the BA's on Mike's trike and could tell instantly that it was faster. After covering just a short downhill drop, I noticed the increase in speed right away. I was equally impressed when I put this set on my own trike.

The lower rolling resistance factor makes going up hills a lot easier. I found myself going up the Cliff House hill in 3rd gear as opposed to my typical 2nd and 1st gear. I felt dumbfounded to say the least. Couldn't have imagined it would have made that big of a difference. The improvement is definitely contributed to the tires. I've been away from the trike for over a week, so my muscles would have weakened if anything.

This is where the fun begins! I was hoping to improve my speed by 2mph from these tires. It does perform at or close to that level. I'd say 1.5-2mph increase on the same hills I take regularly. The efficiency of each pedal stroke is realized exponentially. You don't know fun until you've gone down a hill at 30+ mph three inches off the ground with the wind rushing against every inch of your body. What a thrill!

My first experience with the BA's on my friend's KMX Tornado surprised me a bit. It gets up on 2 wheels fairly easily. Knowing that, I was more careful going down the curvy turns alongside cars. Getting on two wheels would've led to a catastrophe I don't want to think about. I slowed down and leaned extra hard to get the turn. The response of the trike from these BA's is immediate. I can twitch left and right and the trike moves without hesitation. I'm getting to understand what people mean when they say these tires are more predictable. I expect though that even if I were to get on 2 wheels, it would be controllable to a degree. I'm not nearly as fearful of getting on two wheels accidentally on these tire than I was on the stock made-in-China ones.

Most people couldn't care less about speed. They're perfectly fine coasting at 12mph and want to get rid of the bumpiness of the uneven roads. That's where the Big Apples come in. That wasn't much of an issue for me. I was willing to sacrifice comfort for speed and ability to climb hills. Luckily these BA's provide the full package without any downside. At 40PSI, I'm almost maxing out the limits of my mag wheels and can't say for sure that there's a huge difference in comfort that makes my jaw drop. Any improvement in this department would be nice but not necessary.

The last thing people want to do is pop a tube and spend extra time on the side of the road patching. These BA's come with Kevlar lining. At $29/tire, Schwalbe's providing some pretty good stuff. Though I probably shouldn't have taken my shiny new tires through the dirt and gravel, being the curious George that I am, I did. I rode across gravel the size of tennis balls. Some people call these rocks. The tires did just fine. Not flats. I still carry a spare tube as a 4th level of precaution.

1 being the Kevlar lined tires
2 being the self sealing tubes
3 being the patches

Those who know me may not be surprised at my paranoia. I call it preparedness.

Just buy it. I was worried about the weight and as discussed, the weight isn't an issue. In fact the rear BA tire is lighter than stock which makes up for any possible difference in weight of the front tires. Everything is a benefit. I don't see any downfalls. The tires even carry a safety measure of having reflective strips for improved visibility during night riding. Although this is only my first Schwalbe product, I'm more than satisfied with the purchase. Schwalbe, I love you.


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