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.