Since I’ve used several Schwalbe Big Ben (11,500km combined) and several Schwalbe Land Cruiser tyres (pre 2016 model, 9,000km combined) at the rear wheel of my ICE Sprint, I’d like to make some comparison. This is not the usual tyre test where rolling resistance is determined. Since the rear wheel of my ICE Sprint tadpole trikes are equipped with fairly powerful hub motors, my focus is primarily on traction.
Rear wheel traction on a tadpole trike with hub motor is pretty important. If the rear wheel washes out at speed, you’re most likely in big trouble. While drifting around corners is great fun, the range between fun and an unavoidable crash is fairly narrow.
The Schwalbe Big Ben (Performance Line)
The Big Ben is a great rear wheel tyre for a electrified trike. Note, that I’m referring to the sligtly more expensive ‘Performance Line’ version with Schwalbes ‘Race Guard’ puncture protection. I have no experiance with the cheap ‘K-Guard’ version.
Described by Schwalbe as ‘a Big Apple with more thread’, its relatively soft rubber offers very good traction on dry or wet tarmac and fairly good traction on gravel. Its supple side walls provide a comfortable ride even without suspension. Especially the traction on wet roads is head and shoulders above most other tyres I’ve tested. It only takes a close second place behind the old Land Cruiser, or the Marathon Almotion on wet roads below 5°C, where the Big Ben looses traction more abruptly when pushed hard around tight corners.
The old Schwalbe Land Cruiser is out of Schwalbes budget ‘Active Line’ tyres without any ‘bells and whistles’. Nonetheless its my preferred rear tyre for the cold and wet season.
Its serrated ridge in the middle of the thread and the relatively soft rubber compound offers equally good traction on any dry and wet surface, compared to the Big Ben, but with its coarse thread its obviously better suited for sand, snow, mud, ect.
On wet roads below 5°C, the Land Cruiser looses traction a smidge earlier than the Big Ben if you push it hard around corners, but it slides more gracefully and is easier to handle.
I’d phrase it like this. The Land Cruiser will give notice if you are slightly too fast, while the Big Ben is less forgiving when it looses traction if you push it too rigorously in cold and wet road conditions. That can make the difference between getting the message and taking the next tight corner a bit more carefully, or ending rubber side up with the Big Ben (then you will take the next corner a bit more carefully as well!).
The Schwalbe Land Cruiser (new 2016 model)
I haven’t tried the new 2016 model of the Schwalbe Land Cruiser yet and can’t say if it behaves the same as the old version. Schwalbe gave it a slightly different thread pattern with a wider middle ridge.