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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.
Seemingly bullet proof commu-tour tyres that roll faster than their girth would suggest but are stubborn to fit .
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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).
Ultra refined, yet surprisingly brisk.
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.
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,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)