Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

A Trio of Tough, Top-Notch Tires

We travel, in a week, to the high desert south of Boise for a three day ride on mostly unpaved roads. For the rough, loose surfaces we have outfitted our bikes with wider tires. More air volume at lower pressures is going to make for a smoother ride and a wide footprint will float over the loose sections.
On the Long Haul Trucker I am running the Schwalbe Big Apple 29 x 2 tires. I have always been impressed with the way the Big Apple tires transform the ride on any bike and I’m looking forward to this test of their toughness.
Sky King will be riding the Grand Bois Hetre tires from Compass Bicycles. So far she is liking the way the Hetres perform on her 650b Rivendell Bleriot.
Julie opted for the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial in 26 x 2. The beefiest tire of the three the Mondial also has a more aggressive tread pattern.

line up of three tires

Left to right: Schwalbe Big Apple, Grand Bois Hetre, Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

three tires

Tableau of Thickset Treads

riding in the Boise foothills

Sky King and Sky putting the Grand Bois Hetres through the paces.

A rare Bike Hermit sighting

Notice that none of the bikes have fenders. We removed them because, even on the Surlys where “fatties fit fine” there was no room for fenders with the new big tires. And anyway, after my experience with tumbleweeds on my recent two day trip down to Swan Falls, I might infer fenders to be dispensable and even unsuitable for off road touring. Stay tuned for updates… same bat time, same bat station.

16 comments… add one
  • Chris Reino May 25, 2012, 10:03 am

    Hey Jim, Good post…I was thinking about the whole fender thing for this ride. Might remove at least my front fender from the atlantis (running schwalbe marathon extremes). Looking forward to the ride!

  • Clancy May 25, 2012, 1:31 pm

    I really like the Big Apples. I have 26 x2.35 on my Xtracycle that have seen many miles on pavement and gravel/dirt. I have ridden the Weiser River Trail and 90+ miles of the Hiawatha, Milwaukee Alternate with them.

  • Dennis May 25, 2012, 4:25 pm

    Are you running 29″ tires on a 700cc LHT?

    • Bike Hermit May 25, 2012, 4:29 pm

      Yup. 700c and so called 29’r tires both use a rim with an effective diameter (ERD) of 622mm. 29’r tires are just fatter 700c tires.

  • Linda Paul May 26, 2012, 9:13 am

    Hey, you guys oughta ride out to Indian Creek Winery on Monday for their Wishes & Wine fund raiser. See you there.

  • Sky King June 5, 2012, 9:56 am

    Just a quick update on tire performance while we work on the post(s) about the Owyhee Trip. All 3 tire types performed quite well. I did put Mr Tuffy liners in the Grand Bois just in case. No one flatted. I did walk Sky a short section of deep gravel on a steep hill but Cruella and Toto rolled up without any major slippage. I am a cautious down hiller, especially on a loaded bike but didn’t feel I needed to brake anymore given my tread. Toto is owned by a fearless de-sender and I can witness that the need to slow down wasn’t an issue.

  • Ron Riley June 8, 2012, 8:35 pm

    Hi Guys, just cleaning and inspecting Olive the LHT after the awesome Owyhee Tour to find that I lost some tread on the Continental Contacts! Not too much of an issue, but this might be a good time to “fatten” my tires – especially with Chris’s Cascade Lake circumnavigation coming up. How fat can I go and still keep my sexy Planet Bike fenders? I’m kinda looking for tires I can use on both gravel roads and tarmac since I will be encountering both on the Boise to Lander jaunt. BTW Sky King, I did flat – but it happened between the end of the tour and getting home in the back of the truck! Lucky or what…

    • Bike Hermit June 9, 2012, 11:17 am

      The Conti’s that came on your bike are nominally 700 x 37 but they measure more like 34mm wide. You could go to the Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700 x 38 which measures closer to 36mm wide or the Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 700 x 40 which measures closer to 37mm wide. Either one will work with your fenders. I will be updating this handy dandy tire width chart in the near future!

      • Taylor December 15, 2016, 10:35 am

        I run my Surly LHT with Schwalbe Marathon Racers (622-40) listed as 700x38c, they measure out to 40mm wide on the stock rims, and I have been quite happy running them with SKS P45 fenders. I still have some wiggle room for both the fenders, and the tires to accommodate any wheel true issues on trips, but I feel like this is a good combo for most riding. One note of caution, any tire/fender combo will fail in sticky mud conditions unless you have a LOT of room between the tire and fender 😉 personal experience…

        • Ryan King December 19, 2016, 2:11 pm

          Howdy, Ron!

          Thanks for sharing your experience! You’re absolutely right that proper clearance is critical. Lots of folks don’t consider the potential consequences of a severely clogged fender. We typically shoot for at least 1cm of clearance. 2cm is better. However, if the fender is too far from the tire you’ll get more spray out the sides, greater potential for toe overlap issues and an unsightly fender line. It is always a balance…

          Cheers and thanks for reading!

    • Chris Reino June 26, 2012, 3:21 pm

      Hi Ron,

      I am coming into this conversation late but wanted to recommend the 40 mm duremes for sure! I am wishing I had gotten those in 2″ for my Atlantis instead of the extremes (better for road)

  • Julie Gates June 14, 2012, 10:31 am

    I rode the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial in 26 x 2 on my Surly Long Haul Trucker on the Owyhee Tour. The tread is aggressive – similar to a light duty mountain biking tire. I had excellent traction on the hard packed red-clay, the loose pea gravel, and especially on the lemon-sized, rail-road track ballast rocks. The Marathon Mondials held traction both climbing and descending.

    I did not add tire liners and had no flats (not even on the trip home Ron!) .
    The only downside to the M. Mondial is the weight of the tire. For reference, I’m a short woman who is old enough for the senior discount at Perkins Restaurants. I’m an average recreational fitness level. I did notice the increase in rolling resistance when I exchanged my 1.5 road tires to the 2” M. Mondials. It took my legs (and brain to modify my gear selection) 2 weeks to adjust to the difference in the tires.
    After 3 days riding on the variable Owyhee road surfaces, I highly recommend the M. Mondials! I would choose the M. Mondials again for the Owyhee trip. I look forward to riding them on upcoming adventure tours in McCall and Stanley. These beefy tires and treads just git ‘er done!

    • Bike Hermit June 14, 2012, 11:59 am

      Glad you ended up liking the tires Julie!

  • K.G. Thornburg June 15, 2012, 7:08 am

    I ride on the Big Apples on my LHT 26″. It is a 2012 with the crowned fork. I installed Planet Bike Cascadias and had tons of room. I like them because I can run 45lbs in them for added cush. I ride mostly the crushed gravel paths around western suburbs of Chicago. Can’t wait to go on a “real” ride out west someday! I love your website. Thanks.

  • Dena June 25, 2012, 12:09 pm

    The Bontrager Hard Case are the only tires I’ve found (so far) that stand up to the ubiquitous goat heads of southern Idaho.

  • John November 27, 2012, 2:27 pm

    @ Dena- I have had excellent luck with panaracer ribmo tires. I put 5000 miles on my last set and had two puncture flats, both from large nails.


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