Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Frank ist Fat, and We Like Him That Way

I was mistaken when I deemed my child carrying bike perfected. The Bobike Mini is indeed the best child seat you'll find for sub 33 lb children, but I squeezed in some Schwalbe Fat Frank tires the other day and well . . . I'll just have to gush below.

In "Historic" downtown Wilmington half the steets are brick and the other half are terrible. Okay, I exaggerate. About a third of the streets are brick. Seven twelfths are terrible, one twelfth is smooth. Does that add up to one? Downtown Wilmington is built along the Cape Fear River. Water, Front, 2nd, 3rd, etc. run parallel to the river. Water is mostly brick. The streets which run perpendicular to the river are mostly brick. 3rd street is smooth. 2nd is smooth for six block. Everything else isn't brick but is very bumpy.

I'm not complaining. My gut feeling is that really bad roads act as traffic calming devices.

Back to the tires. In rough terrain these excel, but even on the smooth streets of mid-town the tires are fast and unbelievably comfortable.

The tires float over brick and cobblestone. Improvised unpaved lines become as smooth as chipseal. They aren't just huge tires. They are very nice huge tires. Thin, supple sidewalls. Just enough tread.

Me and my son equal a 200 lb rider. I've been using 25 psi in the back and 20 in the front. The bike rides like a dream. You have to try them to understand. I have e-mailed Schwalbe begging for a 650B or 650A version. It won't happen. Like the Gran Bois Hetre and Cypres, these are tires worth of designing an entire bike around. In fact, Frank Patitz, the tires' namesake, did just that.

Schwalbe Fat Frank tires are (unfortunately) only available in 26" (559-60 ISO) diameter. They are available in black and cream. $40 each. The Big Apple, which is similar to the Fat Frank, is available in a wider variety of sizes. Black only. $40 for 26" and 700C versions, less for smaller wheel diameters.


hazyvariable said...

I saw those creamy cushions on an Electra at a LBS last week and thought the same thing, about how they looked good enough to have a whole bike devoted to them.

I haven't ridden them yet, but the color is just so good and they are so beautifully fat, they seemed like a perfect 'ride on WHATEVER you want comfortably, though maybe not in a hurry' tire. Like the Surly Pugsley tires, but a bit less extreme and without such compromises to frame design and wheel selection.

Longleaf Bicycles said...

You would be very surprised how fast they are. It might be hard to get that feel on an Electra, but on anything with a steeper seatube angle that allows more efficient pedalling you'll be blown away.

Let's put it this way--if I took my current setup (old rigid mountain bike, 3-spd internal, Fat Franks, big stem, albatross bars and B66 to the local club ride I couldn't ride with the middle group (avg ~18mph) that I usually ride with, but I'd have no problem riding with the slow group (avg. ~15mph).

I think I'm going to take them on the local mountain bike trail in the next couple of weeks.

hazyvariable said...

hmm, that sounds plenty fast for those tires that fat! does it seem like they'd be easy to fit on most mountain bikes? they look very balloon-ish, but I guess compared to wide knobbies, they'd probably still have clearance for fenders on most bikes, right?

I haven't been able to find a used road bike yet that has the room for a set of 650B Hetres, so maybe I should switch my search to a mountain bike and give these a shot.

I'm also glad to see you have Kogswell 650B low-trail conversion forks in now! Really, really makes me wish my old Univega had space between the chainstays for Hetres and a fender, but I don't think it's in the cards, unfortunately. A CdlV clears okay, though, and I think would have room for a fender, too. I think I could settle on those for my do-everything bike.

So many good, practical options! You run the sort of shop I aspire to be part of! I'm moving to Asheville next year, and I think I'll have to make a pilgrimage to the other side of the state at some point for a visit!

alright, gush-fest over, haha.

hazyvariable said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zakkaliciousness said...

I've been riding on the Fat Frank tyres on my Velorbis for 8 months now and I can't imagine how i got along without them before.

They're brilliant. I've learned that balloon tyres became popular back in the 1920's and now they are enjoying a renaissance here in Copenhagen and in Germany. And the creme coloured tyres are lovely, but now Schwalbe can make them in dozens of colours. I've ordered some chocalate coloured ones.

Anonymous said...

Now it is 2016, and the new Electra Townie Go! turns out the be the
PERFECT bike for these tires. I put a pair of apehangers on my Townie
to make it more comfortable from a posture standpoint, and with the
Fat Franks and the electric assist, I zip up hills like it's cake, and enjoy
cruises along dirt paths with glee. If anyone out there has been waiting
for Townie to get it right with their electric bikes, 2016 is the year. Worth
every penny. Honestly, if my bike could fit on my futon, I'd spoon it
while I sleep. Love. This. Bike!!!!!!!