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Review: Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Evolution HD Tyre

Dirk 07. November 2016

I have spent the last year testing the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme, and this tyre is something special. Check out the rest of my post and see why I will continue to use it.

The past few years, have seen an exponential increase in tyre types and availability. Just take a look at the MTB sector, and you will be overwhelmed with the choices you have to make regarding which rubber compound, sidewall, tread, and size you need. This trend is moving to the Road sector as well, with rims getting wider and tyres becoming more advanced. But when we look at touring tyres things seem to be a little simpler.

The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Evolution HD tyre - The all-rounder

Honestly, there are so many great tests and reviews from people touring the world and the weekend warrior, that for most it has come down to one tyre: the Schwalbe Marathon. But even here, we have started seeing more and more options. For example, the Marathon Plus for increased puncture protection, the Marathon Mondial for rougher surfaces and the Marathon Supreme for increased speed. The Supreme came out in its second generation this year and I was itching to test it. I mostly ride large balloon tyres so I went with the widest version Schwalbe offers at 26” x 2.0”.

Schwalbe claims that the size I tested weighs 560 g. I didn’t check this against my own scale because one, on a touring bike with 30 kg of luggage 10 grams here or there don’t make the difference, and two, I would be hunted down if I used the kitchen scale to weigh bike parts again. To put this weight in perspective, the Marathon Plus in the same size weighs almost double that at 1100 g. This begs the question: is the Supreme a true touring tyre?

Puncture protection and lightweight?

To protect the tyre from cuts and punctures, Schwalbe uses the woven V-Guard layer which keeps the tyre lightweight, but should still provide great puncture protection. I was curious how this would translate to the real world. Sure, I didn’t run over everything that I would have with the bulletproof Smart Guard protection belt, but pointy rocks, broken glass, and sharp edges never punctured the tyres in the one year that I have been riding them. I was also sceptical of the LiteSkin sidewalls and was paranoid that every curb would slice them right open. Of course, my paranoia was unfounded. They handled everything from stair landings and gravel paths to rusty bike stands with ease.

Speed, speed, and more speed

The LiteSkin sidewalls are also one of the reasons why this tyre has unbelievable rolling characteristics. When riding on smooth asphalt, the Supreme runs almost friction free and is extremely smooth. On rough cobblestones it softens the ride much more than stiffer tyres or those with SnakeSkin sidewalls do. Another feature that makes the Supreme so great, is the rubber compound. Taken from the Road sector, the One-Star Triple Compound uses special polymers to optimize the rolling resistance and grip. I still questioned if the compound really was better, and though I didn’t take any watt measurements, in comparison with the regular Marathon and the Big Apple, it is a huge improvement. Thanks to the tyre’s low weight, it is also quick to accelerate and on descents it feels like the tyre wants to roll forever.

True to its Road companions, the Supreme feels more like a dedicated racing tyre than an overall touring one. The grip is also phenomenal in all street conditions and while cornering. Whether riding dry asphalt or wet cobbles, it hugged the corners no matter how aggressive I took them and had everything under control. The only exception being very fast, hairpin corners where the sidewalls protested with a “Schrrrrrp.” Which translated means: “I’m not sure what you are doing, but I’m going to shake back and forth on the rim because I feel like it.” Sure, I was riding at 1.8 bars which is much lower than Schwalbe’s minimum recommended tyre pressure (2.5 - 4.5 bars), but still stiffer sidewalls are more stable when we get down to the nitty gritty. In reality, this isn’t a point of criticism because the Supreme was not made for the fast and tight corners of a criterium race, but instead for City & Touring.

I haven’t used the tyres on any month long trips, but I have ridden them daily. The Supreme is still in close to mint condition with little tread wear, which is great due to the amount of riding I do. Next year, I am heading on a long tour and we will see how they perform. However, I’m not worried.

Final thoughts

Clearly, the Marathon Supreme has become the touring tyre for me. I like that it is faster, has more grip, and is lighter than the other Marathons without sacrificing puncture protection and all around rolling characteristics. Even on rough surfaces and dirt roads, the tyre gave me a sense of security. The Supreme will continue to accompany me everywhere I ride except when it comes to riding down steep gravel paths, in which case I would reach for the Mondial. However, right now I am going to continue to take corners too fast and smile while doing it.