Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires build on their long-standing reputation for reliability and puncture resistance. They can also be used on e-bikes, as well as conventional bikes.
Marathon Plus tires claim to be puncture-free, thanks to their unique patented puncture protection belt. They offer long life, dynamic rolling behavior and anti-aging technology – which prevents ugly cracks in the tire sidewalls – and rank among the best road bike tires in terms of reliability and resistance to damage. punctures.
This puncture protection belt is super strong and made from a special highly elastic rubber. Even thumbtacks/pointed pins can’t puncture it – and it’s rated 7/7 on Schwalbe’s puncture protection scale.
It is intended primarily for tarred roads and paths and secondarily for light gravel surfaces, such as canal towpaths.
There is a wide variety of sizes ranging from 35-349 (16″) to 47-622 (700c/28″) available, with 18 options in total.
Schwalbe Marathon Plus: Construction
The Marathon Plus 28c tire uses a wire bead with the ADDIX rubber compound used in the tread. Beneath the tread, the SmartGuard puncture strip uses a proportion of recycled C50 rubber from old latex products.
The 28c tires weigh 750g each (which I confirmed with my scale). They also require a tube, rather than being tubeless compatible – but given the puncture proof credentials, the sealant would be really overkill. The tires have a reflective sidewall, which is a good safety feature, especially for night or winter rides.
They are also e-bike ready, with this model being E-25 (up to 25km/h – UK maximum assist), while others in the range are E-50 (up to at 50 km/h).
The pressure range is listed on the sidewall as 5.50 – 7.50 bar (80 – 110 psi) for the 28c model, but that’s a lot higher than you’ll really want to use them. Previously, Schwalbe had advised us to run as low a pressure as possible before the tire felt like it flexed a bit in the corners and moderate square-edged hits hit the rim.
Schwalbe Marathon Plus: the route
My first job, after weighing the tires, was to mount them. I decided to try them with the Pinnacle Laterite 2 bike that I had in test. The Pinnacle wheels had an internal rim width of 17mm, which reasonably matched the Marathon tires. I found the wire bead tires to be a bit tricky to install. They weren’t tight, as some can be, but more clumsy.
What I found was that the stiff sidewall/bead was coming off the rim on the opposite side of where you mount the tire. You almost needed three hands to install them, with two hands to hold the bead in place and the third to set the tire in place. Since this is not the case, it means that the struggle lasted for a while…
I aligned the center of the sidewall writing with the valve, for the sake of good form, and initially pumped them up to 90 psi. Even at this pressure, you can feel a softness under the center ridge of the tire if you squeeze it. This is the 5mm thick puncture protection (the blue section in the photo below), which is able to resist punctures from thumbtacks, says Schwalbe.
Although they are nominally a 28c tyre, when mounted on the rims mentioned above I found them to be a bit wide. I measured the tires at 30mm – worth bearing in mind that if you have tight tolerances, for example with mudguards, you may wish to size down to maintain a safety gap between the tire and the bike.
Once on the bike, I was delighted with their ride comfort. I was surprised how well they hid their 750g weight. The laterite test bike was shod in 25c wire-clincher Schwalbe Lugano II tires, which weigh less than half the weight of the Marathons at 365g—and yet the Marathons felt more comfortable.
Both setups felt they kept a similar pace, although I didn’t take any timing measurements. Schwalbe claims the rolling resistance remains excellent, certainly compared to other tires with similar thickness puncture belts. That seems like a reasonable claim, as they rode well.
The one area that let Marathons down a bit was the more difficult turns. There is a turn that I take that tightens on you in the middle of the turn. The road surface is well tarred and quite smooth. When I first rode it with the Marathons it was 6°C / 43°F and a cool, cloudy day with wet road surfaces. As I leaned over at the start, I didn’t feel as safe on marathons as I normally do on other tires, so I straightened up a bit and took the corner wider, wondering if it was because the tires were new and not yet broken in. .
So a few rides later I tried the same corner again. The conditions were broadly similar (9°C / 48°F this time) and I found the same thing. I had to straighten the bike in the middle of the turn because I didn’t feel 100% safe. Note that with the Lugano tires there were no problems when they were driven two days later.
But other than that tight, technical turn, I had no issues with the handling of the Marathons. I wonder if it’s the softer tire sealant that’s causing that slight squirming feeling. I understand that this is a tire designed for reliability rather than performance, and you’re probably not going to ride very hard on a commute or trip to the shops!
One of the main reasons to use these tires is that you don’t want the inconvenience of flat tires. So, like the right time, a local farmer was cutting a hedge in the lane I was driving. I would normally tiptoe through the shards, but sensing a testing opportunity, I rolled full throttle into the detritus. Nothing! I even deliberately went back down the same route on the way back to catch more hedge trimmers. Needless to say, the tires stayed fully inflated.
After six weeks of riding and having them removed from the test bike, I inspected them closely for any wear, tears, cuts or thorns and saw nothing untoward. My friend has been using a pair (32c) for several years with no problem. In fact, he must replace the rear tire as soon as it wears out!
Schwalbe Marathon Plus: value and conclusion
At $50.00 / £44.99 RRP these tires are quite expensive but represent good value for money as they come from a quality manufacturer, last well and are very puncture resistant. The improved rolling resistance is a good thing and the fact that they use an amount of recycled C50 rubber in the SmartGuard is also a plus for the environment and recycling. The reflective sidewalls are a good safety feature when riding at night.
Although they are quite heavy at 750g, it feels like others in this segment. They rolled surprisingly well, which probably helped hide their weight, while still being a comfortable tire to ride. Although they weren’t good at tight turns, keep in mind that’s not their goal. Moderate turns were good.
Overall, I enjoyed putting in the miles on these tires as they rolled well and didn’t let me fix a roadside puncture in the rain!
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