Tire Obsession – Schwalbe G-One Speed
When the Elephant NFE was first constructed it was only natural to put Rene Herse tires on it. The tires were the Babyshoe Pass 650B x 42mm and were tan. Somehow the combination of a red bike, black rims and fenders and silver cockpit just looked off with tan tires. Of course, the same Rene Herse tire is also available in black, but the cost ($87 per wheel) and flat-tire likeliness of the extralight casing were a combination that was too risky for a ride that’s used in the city on daily basis.
There was enough room under the fenders to try something with more volume so after much soul searching and considerations, you decided to try the Schwalbe G-One Speed in 650B x 50mm.
- Size: These tires are very voluminous! At 50mm they are like balloons. They actually “only” expend to ~48mm on the Velocity Aileron but these rims are relatively “narrow” at 20mm internal width. They will probably reach their advertised size on wider rims.
- Weight: These tires are not light. According to Schwalbe, they weight 500 gram per wheel.
- Suppleness: This is where these tires differ so greatly from the Rene Herse tires. These tires seem to be based on mountain bike tires which makes their sidewalls thicker than the Rene Herse tires. Since the air volume in them is so substantial it is hard for this rider to identify the difference between a similar sized supple tire and these, but subjectively these are solid, but are somewhat stiffer than other tires in the stable.
- Color: Black….but….the black model has been discontinued. Anyone interested in these tires in 2020 will be forced to buy a model with tan sidewalls.
- Tubeless: Yes although you have no personal experience.
- Price: The original tire cost 49 Euro. Since they have been discontinued one can only find the newer tan colored version which is available at ~27 Euro. One can still find the 2019 model in tan which was much lighter (400g) and is priced at ~42 Euro.
Now that the technical details are out of the way, how do they ride? How well can they handle the mean streets of Berlin? What about off road riding?
Overall these tires are pretty great. You bought them in March 2019 and have ridden them almost daily since. So far they have not had a single flat tire (the rule is that as soon as one make such statements, a flat tire will arrive). The little round pattern on the tire surface are meant to provide an indication of the health of the tires. The one in the front looks brand new. The back tire thread is starting to wear, but is holding nicely.
These are not as lively as the Rene Herse, but they are very robust. Like most engineering decisions, any benefit also have a price and in this particular case, the price is the extra weight and the less than lively feeling. This being said, for a bike that often is used with groceries and always has fenders and a dynamo on, it is a reasonable balance.
It is interesting that Schwalbe decided to pull these out of the market and replace them with a tan version. The decision is probably based on two factors: tan is all the rage these days. More and more bikes are shipped from the larger manufacturers with tan tires. Tan sidewalls are what fixies were 10 years ago. The second possible reason for pulling these out of the market is that a 650B x 50mm tire is very niche. There are not many commercial bike frames that are at the same time “road” and can fit such wide tires. So one option is enough and tan won the fight.
A good tool is one that fulfills its purpose. The Schwalbe G-One Speed fulfill their purpose nicely. Do they live up to their “speed” name? Not that much, but further studies are needed to make an evaluation. Where they do excel is in providing a cushioning ride and their ability to run across a wide variety of terrains without flatting. At half the price of a Rene Herse tire, these are a great value.