Saturday, 13 February 2010

New Rubber

While we had the recent cold snap I changed my tyres back to the original mountain bike knobblies for a bit of extra grip in the snow/slush combo. I immediately noticed how noisy they were on the tarmac and how much I have been enjoying the commute using semi slick Continental City Ride tyres. The only problem I've had with the Continentals was a fair few punctures over the months, particularly if I ventured on country roads or tracks. Despite having them at decent pressures and inspecting them every few rides, bits of glass, slate and even thorns managed to work their way in. When I took them off this time I was shocked at how big some of the holes actually were. I wanted something that gave the on road performance I liked but with added puncture protection. 

A Holy Grail? Perhaps. Before I took the knobblies off I wanted to look around at the options available. I had used tyre liners before and didn't like them. Filling the tube with slime was not an option that appealed as I: a) didn't want the mess and b) don't believe it works long term. Maybe different tyres would be the answer? A bit of in depth Googling led me to the Marathon Plus tyre from Schwalbe. These promise:
Punctures are a memory. The SmartGuard‚ layer made from a flexible, special rubber offers particular resistance to shards of glass and flints. Even a thumbtack cannot penetrate this protective layer. The SmartGuard belt does not increase rolling resistance. The MARATHON PLUS rolls as easily as a tire without protection.
There were some favourable independent reviews as well (at Bike Radar and Wiggle) so I got a pair at 26" x 1.75cm and have been riding them for about 100 miles so far - 70 on road and 30 on tracks/paths. Despite being a little on the heavy side they run nicely without the resistance of the knobblies, have sufficient grip for most of my riding and are quiet. They also have a bright reflective strip which I like for the present night light commute. I was a bit dismayed when I got a flat after just a few rides but was reassured to find it was a failed tube patch and not a new puncture.

All in all very pleased with them. I intend to report punctures against miles I get with them as well as my long term impressions later this year.


  1. Hi Darrell

    Ah, the illusive search for the perfect touring tyre! I've got Marathon Pluses on my touring bike and they seem to manage well on 1,000-mile rides.

    Although I don't think anything is actually 'puncture-proof', these do a lot better than most. My brother once had 5 punctures in one day in Germany (not on Schwalbes, I hasten to add!).

    I still use anti-puncture tape and run the tyres at as high a pressure as I can get away with, which seems to help.

    The one downside I noticed was a slightly increased rolling resistance, but worth the sacrifice if it means a few less punctures...

  2. Matthew

    Glad to know I'm in good company.

    On the Santos I'm getting some wider Schwalbe Supreme tyres.

    Eric didn't rate the Marathon Plus tyres for fully loaded touring and I am happy to cede to his experience.

    I'll just choose my tyres depending on whether I'm commuting or touring.

  3. I'm also riding on Marathon Plus tyres at the moment on the Mango. I put them on just after Christmas and have done over a thousand km on them without incident. They're not the quickest tyres, but they are amazingly puncture-proof. The last thing I want at the moment is to have a puncture on the way to work in the snow. And they're not that slow either. It took 52 minutes this morning for the 30 km commute, which is not too bad.

    I like Marathon Plus tyres. We have also fitted them to our hire bikes and the children's bikes as I don't really want to be called out to rescue the kids from friends 20 km away, either.

    I tried Supremes late last year and found them extremely slow compared with the Vredestein Moiree which I was using before. They make a lot of annoying noise too, so they didn't last long on my bike.

  4. David

    If not Supremes, what tyres would you go for on a touring, diamond frame, bike that is going to be about 35kg fully loaded and will be covering both tarmac and a variety of off road paths/lanes?

  5. Hi Darrell

    Just as an update, my new Cannondale Touring Ultra has come fitted with Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.

    One thing, they're absolutely huge! Obviously should help with ride comfort, but not so sure about the rolling resistance!

    On the road there is a noticeable 'roar' from them, but they do feel comfy and not too slow, if a little slippy in the wet...

    Not long until you have the Santos!



    ps Just watched some of your YouTube vids. Terrifying!