tires: should you try to balance between durability and speed/efficiency?

stw

Member
Region
USA
When choosing tires for an e-bike do you try to balance between durability and speed/efficiency? (for ordinary paved road use, about 40-50mm wide tire)
Or should you go straight for durability and flat-resistance since you have the extra assist to overcome a stiff, slower, but durable tire?

new to ebiking but a long time cyclist who's always favored supple high quality tires for efficiency and speed since I'm the motor and don't want to waste any of me. But I think e-biking puts different stresses on tires (lots more), and I'm building a hub-motor ebike that can drive the rear wheel directly with a lot more torque than my own self-motor can. Flats are super-rare for me but with a hub motor I want more protections from flats than I usually bother with.

For example, for regular cycling I've never bothered with famously tough but sluggish feeling tires like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but maybe they wouldn't feel sluggish on an ebike with assist. And maybe I need the durability and flat prevention.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Same here: Lifetime cyclist who went over to the dark side. There was a time I would laugh at and spit upon a 30 tpi tire. Now I look for them. Some examples:

On a fat bike, the Arisun Big Fatty in 30 tpi is effectively a tank tread. Much more flat resistance. I am doing street commuting with park trails in the middle so its not like I need nimbleness. In fact the whole concept of a fat bike doesn't become truly viable until you put an electric motor (or motors :D) into the mix which wipes out pretty much all of the negatives, and there's a long list of them.

Also a fat bike, the Origin8 Supercell was/is available in a 30 tpi version and its semi slick tread was ideal for fat fast commuting purely on city streets. I was shocked at how firmly it gripped pavement in cornering.

Skinnier: Continental Contact Plus City in 26x2.20 - used on a cargo bike, these were totally flatproof which on a daily utility bike counted for a lot. However on 30mm inside-width rims (SunRingle MTX39), they were like rolling on rocks. Thats desirable from a rolling resistance standpoint (I had them pumped up to sidewall max) but for an ebike there's no need to punish yourself unnecessarily... how's that for a crazy concept coming from a cycling background?

I replaced the above tires with 26x2.8 Vee Speedsters. The opposite kind of tire. Vee tires are known to wear fast. OMG they transformed the bike. The extra loft of the big poofy 2.8's served the cargo bike application well as I am loading the bike heavily. And that same loft made the bike with its alloy mid-tail frame downright comfy.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus - Also in 26x2.0 on a totally different (cargo) bike. Different wheel although it uses the same MTX39 rim. The Schwalbes are comfortable to ride on. Also flatless. Sticky enough that I have never been concerned in a corner.

I and everyone else can go on and on citing various use cases and preferences, and we'll all be right and we'll all have different takes. Bottom line is yes your thinking is correct you can and should consider tires that are far more durable, with thicker casings, than you ever would have considered on an analog bike. But still keep your options open because a lighter tire has its good points as well.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I have been riding all my life, but never seriously, and I've always ridden 'cuz I felt like it! Never had the need to commute or anything.

Now, at 70, I could care less about a tire that would last me a lifetime. Here, it's about comfort and rolling resistance. I went from 60psi or more in Marathons to 30 or less using the balloon type Big Apple and Super Moto-X tires. These low pressure/low rolling resistance tires are a God send for these old bones. They make as much sense as a suspension seat post. Lesson learned here. I would not be without, just as I would never own a car without power windows and cruise control......
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
You are thinking correctly about these considerations. Great advice so far. I often use Marathon Plus, Big Apple, Big Ben and am crazy for the Super Moto-X. They fly over the worst broken pavement.
 

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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
You are thinking correctly about these considerations. Great advice so far. I often use Marathon Plus, Big Apple, Big Ben and am crazy for the Super Moto-X. They fly over the worst broken pavement.
without rattling your teeth out, or messing with your wrists!

Yup, forgot about the Big Ben. They're the same breed of tire as the Big Apple and Super Moto-X. All 3 are Schwalbe balloon tires designed to run at lower pressures while maintaining great low levels of rolling resistance.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I ride side by side with very expensive bikes from stores. I out roll them with the Big Bens on my 29er. On a long low degree decent I can tuck and coast while they still need to pedal to keep up. They will then try to draft me. We are talking about imperfect rural roads.
 

Mango1234

New Member
Region
USA
You can have both! Schwalbe Marathon E-Plus has high ratings in both categories(4.5/6 Efficiency and 6/6 Durability). I've been using them for a short time and they do roll well and haven't had any flats yet. I have had Marathon Supremes, Marathons, Marathon Pluses, and now Marathon E-Pluses. Their ratings have been accurate so far.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
You can have both! Schwalbe Marathon E-Plus has high ratings in both categories(4.5/6 Efficiency and 6/6 Durability). I've been using them for a short time and they do roll well and haven't had any flats yet. I have had Marathon Supremes, Marathons, Marathon Pluses, and now Marathon E-Pluses. Their ratings have been accurate so far.
All are good tires. The difference between the Marathon and balloon series mentioned above is the ride provided by the balloon series. They can be run at MUCH lower pressures than that suggested for Marathons, with a corresponding very noticable difference in ride.
 
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stw

Member
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USA
You can have both! Schwalbe Marathon E-Plus has high ratings in both categories(4.5/6 Efficiency and 6/6 Durability). I've been using them for a short time and they do roll well and haven't had any flats yet. I have had Marathon Supremes, Marathons, Marathon Pluses, and now Marathon E-Pluses. Their ratings have been accurate so far.
Mango, what width M. E-Plus do you use, and how do you compare it in ride/efficiency/durability to the M. Supreme and M. Plus? Did you run those in the same width as the E-Plus? I'm assuming the E-Plus is the same Marathon as the Plus but with a harder more durable rubber compound. That's a guess.
 

stw

Member
Region
USA
Re @AHicks reference to the Balloon tire size (which starts around 50mm by my reckoning): On the hub conversion I'm building, I can use 40mm to 48mm under the fenders. Easily 60mm if I removed the fenders (dry climate where I am). The reason I'm leaning toward the narrower 40-48mm widths is my recent experience with a Bosch driven 4x26" fatbike iZip Sumo. Fun, and a good introduction to e-assist riding, but I'm a little surprised how much slower the 4x26" tires are in general since I'm new to fatbiking. Even after I switched to the quieter, smoother Origin8 Supercell 30tpi. Maybe with a wider balloon size 2" wide tire it can still feel like a lighter, quicker bike than the 4x26" fatbike.
 

Mango1234

New Member
Region
USA
The Marathons and Marathon Supremes were on regular bikes. The Pluses and E-Pluses are on E-bikes so comparisons to the other two are difficult. The Supremes were 700x35s and rolled very easy, comparable to the Gatorskins I had before. The regular marathons are 26x1.75 and smaller diameter and wider than the supremes so they feel very different. They feel slower but much more stable. The Plus tires are 26x2.0, the E-Plus tires are 27.5x2.0. I always ride with the motor on, so pedaling efficiency feels similar, but when on a downhill the E-Pluses coast better.
 

Mango1234

New Member
Region
USA
I would have bought bigger tires if Schwalbe made them in the "flatless" models. I wrote Schwalbe an email suggesting they make the Plus and E-Plus in 2.4, 2.6, 2.8 widths.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Re @AHicks reference to the Balloon tire size (which starts around 50mm by my reckoning): On the hub conversion I'm building, I can use 40mm to 48mm under the fenders. Easily 60mm if I removed the fenders (dry climate where I am). The reason I'm leaning toward the narrower 40-48mm widths is my recent experience with a Bosch driven 4x26" fatbike iZip Sumo. Fun, and a good introduction to e-assist riding, but I'm a little surprised how much slower the 4x26" tires are in general since I'm new to fatbiking. Even after I switched to the quieter, smoother Origin8 Supercell 30tpi. Maybe with a wider balloon size 2" wide tire it can still feel like a lighter, quicker bike than the 4x26" fatbike.
I bought a fat bike last October, and quickly decided all the hype regarding the ride was not for me. An expensive mistake. You can make them ride nice, but the trade off is a lot of rolling resistance. A feel I don't care for at all. Then, when switching to tread patterns for pavement use (to get rid of the roar when riding on pavement), you have the self steering issues, in addition to the rolling resistance. Sure you can dial that out with increased air pressure, but then that great ride disappears. And last, 26x4 tires make the bike look, feel, and handle huge.

That's when I learned about the 2.35 and 2.4" (and the 2.8 to a lesser extent) Schwalbe tires. They are what I thought I would be getting with the 26x4 bike - without the huge feeling.

As far as "flatless", the balloon tires have that green guard layer too, but no tire is flatless. That's one of the reasons God invented Slime (and similar products). Slime makes all of them, including the Marathons, nearly flatless....

As far as my fat bike, currently collecting parts to convert it to 27.5+ wheels (something in the 32-38mm range). -Al