SCHWALBE MARATHON GT TYRES
700x35c 808g (as tested) £28.95 each
The Schwalbe Marathon GT tyres are described as “The dynamic marathon with extra comfort”. Designed for daily riding and the additional demands of E bikes; I’d want something more specific for ice and snow proper, or all terrain touring. Otherwise they’ve inspired confidence in pretty much every other tarmac biased context. They also roll a lot faster than their grammes and 67tpi casings would suggest.
In keeping with the brief, these have a distinctly practical, European flavour. I’m a dynohub devotee full stop these days but the stout sidewalls feature Bottle Dynamo track and retro-reflective striping. Then there’s dual guard puncture repelling technology.
Rated 6 (out of a possible 7) Schwalbe have shunned the Aramid/Kevlar belt in favour of a two-ply India rubber/nylon tag team running beneath the tread.
Theory goes, should glass/thorns/flints penetrate the tread, that rubber works like a trampoline, easing it back out before it gets chance to nick the tube. Seems very dependable in the real world; I haven’t flatted in a very mucky 425mile January/February test period.
Talking of tread, this is a water repelling Chevron pattern that looks and feels much faster than the iconic Marathon Plus, which also features a 67epi casing and 95kilo maximum payload. The Marathon Plus feature an even thicker (5mm) rubber/nylon belt.
The GT are also much easier to mount, slipping securely aboard my fixer’s rims, tool and expletive free in under two minutes.
Given the test bike’s rear triangle is good for 32mm but a bit hit 'n’ miss with anything wider suggests the GT are on the precise side of 35mm. Similar mid section models, including the much lighter Vittoria Voyager Hyper have come within tickling distance of the chainstays. And yes, the wheel was perfectly true.
In common with the Vittoria, Maxxis and several other bigger section semi-slicks, the ride quality is firmly in magic carpet territory; literally gliding over lumpy, washboard tarmac and pock-marked town centre streets. Rolling resistance though more pronounced than the Voyager hyper, is considerably lower than girth suggests-surprisingly perky, in fact.
A lot of my riding is fast paced 20-25mile “blasts” but these qualities make a surprising impact, noticeably lessening fatigue on day rides.
Cornering prowess cannot compete with super supple race rubber when flicking through the twisties but the GT have left me feeling surprisingly confident on wet, greasy descents. Even at the maximum 85psi, I’ve been surprised by how well they’ve bitten into the tarmac, when air temperatures dropped well below zero and a white, slippery carpet was literally forming before my eyes.
Admittedly, the fixed test rig allows me to regulate speed by holding off against the cranks, rather than touching a lever and risking a face plant. Bleeding 10-15 psi bought some additional grip and confidence, without obviously impairing efficiency.
Sprinting away at the lights, roundabouts, or on longer climbs, their pace is satisfyingly brisk and doing the pot-hole slalom has been surprisingly fun too. Raised ironworks are tricky customers in the wet, regardless but with a spoonful of common sense; no pregnant pauses or similarly anxious moments.
Dry forest trails and canal towpaths are passable (which may appeal to those with mtb based workhorses) although the wider section Maxxis Roamer deliver a more compliant ride. Personally, I’d go for the Marathon GT365 if you like to mix things up a bit.
At the other extreme, waterlogged lanes haven’t given rise to any unpleasant surprises - I’ve bowled along at 20-23mph and smiled as the water-channelling grooves did their thing. This was also brilliant for cleansing acres of sticky dung and embedded hedge clippings - the sort that tended to get embedded in the Marathon Plus treads.
Zero flats in four weeks, often through really mucky lanes littered with hedge clippings embedded deep in the dung should tell you something! Though I’ve tended to rinse the bike of corrosive salt and slurry, tyres were deliberately ignored. Caked in cack for several, successive rides and deliberately charging through thorns, glass and other nasties suggests most riders will find them extremely dependable.
Summing up, On the face of things, the Marathon GT does exactly what they say in their blurb, to a very high standard and at a very reasonable price. Given the challenging test period and a fair bit of transmission braking thrown in for good measure, there is surprisingly little wear, which makes them particularly appealing choices for working bikes and daily drivers.
Verdict: 4.25/5 Charming, dependable semi-slick, highly recommended for everyday riding
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2017