Let's face it, we all love to ride on the trails, but there comes a time when you need to hit the pavement. Maybe it is COVID-19 that keeps you from hitting the dirt and maybe it is your commute to work that requires you to be on the streets, but if you have to hit them, then you really need a good set of rubber under you and the Schwalbe Big Ben is a great tire for hitting the streets and taking on the crap that sits in your way.

I generally shy away from Schwalbe, even though they are German, because they tend to be more expensive and they wear out fast. Everyone loves the performance of their mountain bike tires but price always hits them hard.

I had worn through my previous tires and had 3 flats on 3 successive rides, blowing a tube each time. I ordered the 2" 29er tires and got them quick. The tires were inexpensive in tire terms.

The tires mounted quickly and were actually a bit loose on the rims; what made them easy to put on made them impossible to set up tubeless right out of the box. Part of this issue may have been due to the way that they were folded in shipping. After an hour of fighting them I decided to throw tubes in for a couple of weeks and stretch them out a bit. Yesterday I tried to go tubeless again after a few hundred miles and they popped on perfectly. No problem inflating and the following day they were still holding air. So despite being billed as not tubeless, they did fine on WTB rims with Stan's liquid.

 

One of the key drivers for me was flat protection because of the 3 recent flats. Previous tires were great for a year, but when they got too thin, even the puncture resistant tubes would not help. Inside the Big Ben is a special "Race Guard Puncture Protection" layer inside the tire that is supposed to prevent all of the road crap from piercing the tire and flattening your ride. Because the tires are new I would doubt that I would have issues this early, but it is good to know that the extra protection is in there based on the things I have pulled out of my tires in the last few months.

Schwalbe makes these tires in a variety of sizes for both mountain bikes and normal street bikes (i.e. 26, 29, 700, etc.) so you should be able to find one to suit your specific needs.

 

 

The tread pattern is pretty typical for an urban tire. It has plenty of grip on the streets, but the real challenge, like so many of these tires is not how it handles on dry pavement but how it is on wet pavement. 

There is a particular spot in Highland Park, near Balcones and Hancock that is always wet and would cause other tires to slide. Sadly, these did the same. No worse than any other urban tire, but if you have to commute in the rain occasionally, you know the challenges that you will face already.

At ~$35 each, they are not the cheapest tires, but they appear durable and most importantly, you can make them tubeless once they are broken in. I recommend these for urban riding because they give you a good cushion and enough protection to keep you rolling all day long.