Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyre  £31.99

9/10

One of the best heavy duty tyres for touring or commuting

Weight 970g   Contact  www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

by Shaun Audane   June 13, 2013  

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyres are essentially heavy duty, ultra reliable commu-touring tyres that inspire unprecedented confidence without feeling sluggish or barge-like, as the 970g weight for a pair would imply.

Much of this is attributable to the Smart guard system. This is essentially a clever subsection of supple rubber designed to force sharps out, rather than drawing them in as deep treaded Kevlar types can, especially with age. Stout sidewalls feature the usual refinements including a dynamo track, reflective detailing and directional arrows, removing all doubt.

There's an unusually broad range of sizes too, including 24, 20 18 and even 16 inch - catering for everything from tourers and junior/mountain bikes through to small wheeled folders, whose wheels can prove devilishly difficult to remove at the best of times, let alone puncturing en route to the station on a wintry morning.

Ours were the tour sensible 35mm section, optimal for modern load luggers. The same goes for cyclo crossers using mudguards - ours have served handsomely on my cross inspired fixer but ran fag paper close, factory fresh residual bobbles tickling the rear mudguard section for a hundred miles before wearing flat.

Wider section rubber usually breezes aboard the hoops in thirty seconds flat sans tools. These however induced a torrent of agricultural language and claimed the life of a composite tyre lever, prompting me to invest in a commercial unit - not that roadside removal should be required unless you happened to roll over that nine-inch nail with your name on it. I would have saved myself a lot of hassle had I seen this handy video on how to fit a Marathon Plus… with just the aid of some old toe straps.

Peace of mind, great handling and modest rolling resistance aren't easily married in the same sentence but the Marathons are notably faster at 85psi than competitor models, affording a decent momentum in most contexts while turning a lofty seventy nine inch gear. Even inflated to ninety psi, they've delivered a serene, magic carpetesque passage over horribly surfaced lanes and the ability to shrug and speed through shards of broken glass is truly liberating, although there's plenty of scope for split second skirting of these, potholes and other potentially damaging imperfections.

Demon descending at 40mph along greasy sections, they handled as if on rails - wet manhole covers/similar ironworks induced the occasional pregnant pause but suffice to say, these were shorter than most. On the basis of our test period and despite fighting back during installation, they're easily my favourite of the heavy-duty genre, although likely to be swapped for the brand's spiked winter siblings when the snowman cometh.

Verdict

Seemingly bullet proof commu-tour tyres that roll faster than their girth would suggest but are stubborn to fit .

road.cc test report

Make and model: Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyre

Size tested: 700x35C

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

"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 tyre without protection".

No quibble here. Wide range of sizes makes it highly appealing whether belting along on the Brompton or crossers earning their keep as road-going winter trainers.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Smart guard layer (adds c 200g apiece), Reflective sidewalls, dynamo track, operating pressures between 50 and 85psi (700x35c).

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Seemingly bullet-proof.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10

Ultra refined, yet surprisingly brisk.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall I've been completely smitten by the marathon plus. Its a rugged all season's tyre well suited to touring, commuting and crossers serving as winter trainers. Rolling resistance is much lower than their girth and deep tread pattern would suggest and the clever sub layer seems vastly superior to Kevlar, inspiring confidence when negotiating town centre streets littered with glass, tacks/similar nasties.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Magic carpet ride, modest rolling resistance, apparent invulnerability.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Incredibly stubborn to install in the first instance-prompted the purchase of a workshop fitter/removal tool!

Did you enjoy using the product? Immensely.

Would you consider buying the product? Definitely .

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

The best of this genre I've used to date.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 1m 81  Weight: 70 kilos

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

20 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Is that 970g per tyre..?

posted by Nick T [836 posts]
13th June 2013 - 7:53

7 Likes

I believe that is per tyre.

Personally I prefer the Marathon Supreme, they're about half the weight, better rolling and I've found them also to be virtually indestructible. For touring you're not going to get much better than either of these.

netclectic's picture

posted by netclectic [121 posts]
13th June 2013 - 8:22

7 Likes

What sort of mileage did you put on the tyres Shaun?

Nick - claimed weights for all sizes here: http://schwalbe.co.uk/tour/marathon-plus/

Spa Cycles have a useful video showing how to fit these tyres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUFVrl0UT4‎

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2028 posts]
13th June 2013 - 8:32

6 Likes

I'll +1 the Supremes.

A issue with the Plus tyres is that if they do flat (unlikely, but happened to someone I know on the European tour they're currently on) they're a pig to fix roadside.

posted by cowspassage [43 posts]
13th June 2013 - 8:59

7 Likes

That's the weight per pair.

Sarah Barth's picture

posted by Sarah Barth [1035 posts]
13th June 2013 - 9:29

5 Likes

My dad's quite special. I'd recommended these to him. First time out on them, he managed to get a blackthorn thorn all the way through the foam rubber AND the kevlar band.

So, if anyone wants to to test puncture-proof tyres, can I recommend sending a set to my dad?

posted by Al__S [618 posts]
13th June 2013 - 11:51

9 Likes

I used to use marathons during the winter on my commuter but I found they were more prone to puncture because glass would get wedged in the tread and work its way into the tyre. Also an absolute b* to get off the rim if you need to fix a flat. Went back to gatorskins and took it a bit easier on the slippery bits.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [876 posts]
13th June 2013 - 12:24

6 Likes

I originally found these to feel VERY slow, but this improved as they wore in and the sidewalls became more supple. Also, much easier to remove/refit once broken in. The main issue fitting these when new is that they are so stiff that the inside bead won't stay put in the centre dip of the rim when you try and lever on the outer bead. I never had a puncture since fitting these, but they aren't the most comfortable tyres I've used due to their stiff casing. They are the only tyre I'd use when commuting, but I prefer marathon supremes for recreational rides.

Nic

posted by nbrus [285 posts]
13th June 2013 - 12:39

7 Likes

Simon E wrote:
What sort of mileage did you put on the tyres Shaun?

Nick - claimed weights for all sizes here: http://schwalbe.co.uk/tour/marathon-plus/

Spa Cycles have a useful video showing how to fit these tyres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUFVrl0UT4‎

Do not attempt installation without watching the Spa video unless you're made of tyre levers. I was two Bromptons and a Pedro down before resorting to YouTube.

posted by robert_obrien [117 posts]
13th June 2013 - 15:39

5 Likes

I can't say I found mine *that* difficult to get on. Harder than some for sure, but no real problems with some Pedros levers.

posted by Chuck [416 posts]
13th June 2013 - 16:00

6 Likes

Thanks for the link to that video SimonE, very useful indeed - we've added it to the review

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4151 posts]
13th June 2013 - 18:23

5 Likes

Marathon Pluses are different from Marathons. I used to use Marathons but now use Marathon Plus. I essentially never get punctures.

posted by InvisibleVisibleMan [20 posts]
13th June 2013 - 18:30

10 Likes

I used 23mm Open Corsa CX's all through the winter, commuting, training etc, and they're still going now. Had 2 punctures in all, on London's glass lined tarmac. They even stood up to a rather gravelly and agricultural detour last weekend. They do look a bit tatty now of course.

If you're getting a weekly pop then you might be doing something wrong to be honest.

Oh, and IMHO, YMMV, HTH etc.

posted by Nick T [836 posts]
13th June 2013 - 20:00

6 Likes

I've got 700 x 25 Marathon Pluses on a Boardman Hybrid as has one of my work colleagues. He's had some problems with them blowing off the rim when under higher pressures. After trial and error he now runs them at around 55psi.

My experiences have been more positive. The rear was replaced after around 4000 miles because of tread wear but the front is still going fine after about 6500. I run mine at around 80psi and have had no problems with them coming off the rim. When I started taking my daughter to nursery on the back of the hybrid I wanted tyres that gave me the best possible chance of puncture-free commutes and the MP's have done me proud. I've also used 700 x 28's on my cross bike when in winter trainer mode, again no problems.

Their only drawback is (as mentioned above) the difficulty getting them on the wheels in the first place.

posted by jarderich [87 posts]
13th June 2013 - 22:27

5 Likes

jarderich wrote:
I've got 700 x 25 Marathon Pluses on a Boardman Hybrid as has one of my work colleagues. He's had some problems with them blowing off the rim when under higher pressures. After trial and error he now runs them at around 55psi.
That's interesting because I also have a Boardman hybrid fitted with 700 x 32 Marathon Pluses, and I had my tyres blow off the rim twice when first fitted and pumped up to max pressure. I discovered the problem was down to the inner tube being trapped between the tyre bead and rim, which is very easily done and difficult to spot ... pumping up the tyre results in a loud bang as the tyre ejects and the tube bursts. I now check my tyres very carefully after fitting and before fully inflating.

Nic

posted by nbrus [285 posts]
14th June 2013 - 5:20

8 Likes

I have had this too, except that it blew the rim off..... New wheel time.

posted by wakou [83 posts]
14th June 2013 - 9:55

6 Likes

I've been running these for three years or so (so roughly 12,000 miles give-or-take, over all manner of thorns, glass, potholes, beds-of-nails etc.) and had one puncture in that time - caused by a spoke-head through the rim.

Yes, they're heavy. I get around that by pedalling harder Smile

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1102 posts]
14th June 2013 - 11:06

5 Likes

They're slow and uncomfortable.
I'd go for Paselas TG or Supremes or tubeless instead...

85PSI?
What is it about this obsession of pumping up the tyres to the max. pressure (cos it says on the side wall)?

Unless you weigh 20 stones such high pressure in 35mm ish tyres offers no benefits and most certainly won't make you faster.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [188 posts]
14th June 2013 - 13:19

4 Likes

Is it just me or are there endless variations of Schwalbe tyres, sometimes the same tyre with different names? Out here in flint country, you need steel mesh under the tread to be safe.

And directional arrows? Yes, I see them and follow them, but is there one shred (pun intended) of evidence it makes a difference? Sheldon Brown claimed even tread was irrelevant on a bicycle tyre. But it's cool Smile

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [160 posts]
14th June 2013 - 19:34

7 Likes

Marathons really are the Captain Scarlet of tyres.

Ran an original pair of Marathons for years on a Moulton with no punctures, until the day the rim tape started to give out.

Now running these, with self sealing inner tubes (were on offer for same as normal tubes), and Velox rim tapes.

Kinda feel that the only thing that'll make me get a puncture now is a landmine!

In contrast take either road bike (which have "normal" tyres) out on the paths round here, and I will virtually guarantee a puncture within a few miles

posted by gazza_d [255 posts]
15th June 2013 - 7:09

7 Likes

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