This afternoon I decided to give the 26 X 2.35 Big Apples a try on the trail. Since I couldn't find a definitive answer or review of how they worked on real mountain bike trails, I decided to give them a go for myself.
When I arrived at the trailhead, like I normally do, I first took out about 10psi from both front and rear (maybe a little more up front). I did the "squish" test and proceeded. I was actually very, very surprised on how well these gripped the dirt initially, and boy, did they roll! The only way I could truly describe the way they felt is that they gave off the same feeling I get when I ride my BMX bike on dirt. I proceeded to the entrance and decided to not go nice. After all, I did tackle one of the most difficult road climbs in the Bay Area yesterday on these tires!
Up Stile Ranch I went. Stile Ranch (or as us locals just call it "Stiles") is a technical climb of big and small rocks with 180 degree switchbacks. It's not easy if you're not used to that kind of ride - but me being a local - I ride this climb all the time.
I was amazed on how well these tires handled this climb. AMAZED. I did spin the rear wheel, slightly, a couple of times - standing up to get my bike over the big stuff - but nothing that wouldn't happen on my fast rolling knobbies. And let's not forget, I'm on a full rigid.
Then came the interesting part - the mud. Not just any ordinary mud: clay mud. On my trails, the dark side of the hill stays pretty moist, so you get dry rocky stuff on one side, and very slick muddy stuff on the other. Of course, the Big Apples slipped and slid, but that should be expected. And you can pretty much make a pinch pot out of this type of mud.
Of course, since they are slicks, they shed all that stuff away very quickly.
I think the Big Apples handled all the abuse from yesterday and today because of their construction and their ability to go low pressure/high-volume. I love the fact that these can go down to 30psi and still have very good, low rolling resistance on the road. This low pressure works great for the trails, just understand their limits with wet stuff - my confidence with these tires wouldn't wince on the dry and hardpacked. Now, it's obvious that they ARE NOT a serious MTB tire, but some of us like doing 50/50 pavement/trail rides. These rides I normally hit on my cyclocross bike, but at least I know that the Big Apples work for the same concept. They even have the neato reflective strip on the side for nighttime visibility. Value add in my book.
If you ride like I do, and take a "dual-sport" approach to your rides, consider the Big Apples. They're just not for beach cruisers.