- Schwalbe Big Betty tyres
- Fisher Outdoor Leisure
Anyone who’s even slightly familiar with the Schwalbe tyre range will know that they’ve all got vaguely silly names that go [adjective] [bloke’s name] – Fat Albert, Racing Ralph etc. The exception is Big Betty, which has a girl’s name albeit a faintly Benny Hill one.
Names aside, what we’ve got here is a big chunky freeride tyre. It’s listed as a 2.4in and measures similarly (it’s about 60mm across the widest bits of the knobbles). It’s part of Schwalbe’s Evolution tyre series, which means it’s got various bits of cleverness tucked away inside. The casing is a par-for-the-course 67TPI construction, but the bias angle (the angle between the overlapping fibres) is steeper than most tyres which is claimed to make the tyre more flexible and reduce rolling resistance. You also get “Apex Technology” sidewall reinforcement for stability at low pressures, “Anti-Slip System” to prevent the tyre from rotating on the rim and a choice of two compounds – the firmer ORC (Off-Road Racing Compound) or the soft and sticky Gooey Gluey.
The tread is an uncompromisingly chunky design that’s clearly got cornering and braking as priorities. There are serrated shoulder blocks and two orientations of centre block, mostly with siping for extra biting edges. The claimed weight for all this rubber is a surprisingly light 880g (although perhaps less surprisingly the test tyres came in at 940g on our scales).
Obviously this isn’t a tyre designed for sprightly uphill performance, but they put up a pretty good showing in a fairly heavy kind of way. They certainly don’t struggle for grip on climbs – if anything’s going to give up it’ll be your legs. They’re not so heavy that climbing out of the question, certainly.
Going the other way they’re really good. We blatted through a load of muddy singletrack that it’s all too easy just to slither straight off the edge of, but the Big Betties just did a really lovely controlled drift thing in the corners and then dug in to accelerate out to the next one. They’re good in loose stuff and good on rocks and they don’t go squirelly off drops. They feel a bit slow on hardpack but we can’t say that that came as any great surprise given the tread and weight. The test tyres were the ORC version – if you ride a lot of surfaces where you need adhesion rather than mechanical traction (rock slabs, hardpack) then you might get a benefit from the Gooey Gluey version, although inevitably they’ll wear quicker.
Positives: Big, chunky, stable, well-controlled, not terrifyingly heavy
Negatives: Bit draggy on hardpack, not cheap
Verdict: The Big Betty is very definitely a freeride tyre – it’ll go up hills fine but you won’t be going all that quick, but it’ll do pretty much anything that you ask of it down the other side. It’s a viceless performer – if you need confidence in a tyre, give it a try.