Sunday, April 16, 2017

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme: the N mile semi-review

My primary bike, the one that I commute with and run errands on, the one that I do all my recreational riding on, the one that I actually do all my riding on, came equipped with Schwalbe Big Apple tires (700Cx50).  That was one of the great attractions of the bike; the wider tires gave me a more stable ride, while the low tire pressure gave me a more comfortable ride.

The Big Apples have stayed on the bike more or less constantly since the day I bought it. I did have a brief fling with some Panaracer Pasela 700Cx35 tires, but...they weren't right for the bike. Too uncomfortable. To be fair, I have ridden other bikes with these tires on and they worked quite well.

Like almost every cyclist, though, I'm always looking for improvements in my ride. So I though...well, why not try another Schwalbe tire? After a little research, I settled on the somewhat pricey but good-looking Marathon Supremes.  I went for the 40mm tires, largely because...I don't know why. Maybe there's a placebo effect, but I always feel that wider tires will be more comfortable.

The entirely scrumptious-looking Marathon Supreme HS 469. Photo by Schwalbe.
Are they more comfortable? Well, no. They are as comfortable on some surfaces as the Big Apples. On the chip seal streets that make up about a quarter of my commute, they can be pretty uncomfortable. On the positive side, it's teaching me to have a more relaxed grip on my handlebars. On the negative side, they don't float on the grungier roads the way the Big Apples do.

Was it an improvement? Not a huge one, but enough. I've ridden these tires about seventy or eighty miles at this point. While these tires don't ride as comfortably on rougher surfaces as I might like, they do roll more easily than the Big Apples.  So they're not a huge improvement, but they're as much of an improvement as I was hoping for.

They're also very solid feeling for a folding tire. Like the Big Apples, they give the impression of being very puncture-resistant.  The treads feel almost as stiff as those on the Big Apples. The Marathons have Green Guard, the Big Apples have K-Guard. I believe the K-Guard is either Kevlar or a Kevlar-like material, while the Green Guard is a 3mm thick layer of...something. 

I'm looking forward to riding these on a longer ride next weekend. I'll be doing a forty-five mile ride to benefit Oakland schools. As with all charity rides, it will be a will be a sunny day and there will be a strong tailwind.'s charity!

Coming soon: a review of the only jersey I own.

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