A new brand name for Big Apple equipped bicycles.

Carefree cycling with Balloonbikes First came the tires, then the bikes. The super-wide Big Apple tire serves virtually the same function as a full suspension bicycle, which is why 30 famous-name bicycle makers now have Big Apple equipped bikes in their range. These are now known as: "Balloonbikes", because they are comfortable, light weight and low maintenance, making bicycles with balloon tires a genuine trend.

Wide tires roll more easily. With their immense volume balloon tires eat up pot holes and road deformations protecting the rider's bones and joints. "The Big Apple reduces the impacts on the spine almost as well as rear suspension", concluded Cologne's German National Sports University. Thus the tire is an inexpensive and effective alternative to suspension seat-posts and forks. Schwalbe's 60 millimeter wide tire has inspired numerous manufacturers to realize their own conceptions of a Big Apple bicycle. "As there are already approximately 60 models, we grouped these developments under the brand name "Balloonbike", said Frank Bohle, managing director of Schwalbe, the European market leader in bicycle tires, situated in Reichshof-Wehnrath.

Comfortable, light and low maintenance Trekking bikes and cool teenage bikes, City-cruisers, step-thru frame bikes for seniors as well as kids and folding bikes demonstrate the versatility of balloon tires. More than 30 distinguished manufacturers, among them Giant, Hercules, Puky, Utopia including Riese and Mueller, realized their visions for the Big Apple. They all have one thing in common: Less technology, which distinguishes a typical Balloonbike.

The high comfort level is achieved by the simple fact that a large volume tire can be ridden at an incredibly low air pressure of around 30 p.s.i. (2 BAR), compared with narrower bicycle tires that usually need at least 60 p.s.i. (4 BAR). Because they don't have complicated technology, Balloonbikes are not only economical, but also light and low maintenance. The principle of simplicity continues with the entire bicycle construction. For example the goal of VSF bicycle group's "All-Ride" models was to develop completely low maintenance bicycles using such other bike components as dynamo hubs and fully enclosed gear-cases and wiring, so making for untroubled cycling. Other makers consider comfort their main aim and incorporate elements for their bikes which address the needs of cyclists in the over 50 age group: Step-thru frames, dynamo hubs and an upright riding position.

Perhaps because of Schwalbe Big Apple's cool looks many Mountain bikers fit them on their 26 inch wheel bikes for city use. Teenage bikers and Cruiser bikers also like riding on the "big foot". Anyone who believes wide tires mean harder riding is mistaken. With the same air pressure as a narrow tire, a wide tire will roll much more easily. "The wider the tire, the lower the rolling resistance. Because a wide tire has a shorter footprint in the driving direction, the tire bounces less and the flattening of the footprint on the road is smaller", explained Frank Bohle. Result: The tire deforms less, remains "rounder" and rolls more easily.

"'Balloonbikes' is the brand name for the many models, which incorporate the principles of the Big Apple in their design" clarified Frank Bohle and recommended: "To experience the unique feeling of a balloon tire one must simply try one - take a test ride". Balloonbikes are available from specialist bicycle dealers.

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