SCHWALBE MARATHON PLUS TYRES
£41.49 700x28 *450g each (as tested)
LONG TERM TEST (SIX MONTHS)
Schwalbe Marathon plus have been a long running favourite amongst tourists and commuters prioritising durability and puncture resistance over outright speed. They’re not completely invulnerable and can prove stubborn customers to install but wear gracefully and offer an extremely dependable, majestic, though not overly sluggish ride.
Even the relatively narrow 28 mm sections add 750 odd grams per wheel, which has a considerable effect upon acceleration. Much of this is down to their “Smart Guard” system, which is essentially a sturdy rubber subsection designed to push tacks, thorns and other sharps out sumo fashion. Traditional Kevlar belted models can actually draw the enemy inside, especially towards the end of their lives.
67 tpi casings, reflective sidewalls and dynamo track continue the ruggedly practical theme. Talking of sizes, those seeking to blast along will be delighted to find a racier 25mm section. Refreshingly, they also cater for other genres including 24, 20, 18 and 16 inches - perfect for junior bikes, folders and even tagalongs/trailers – right up to the genuine 28” required by the Pashley Roadster.
Marathon Plus have a slightly unenviable reputation for fighting back, prompting Michael to invest in a colossal workshop “wand type” unit and Spa Cycles to release a YouTube demonstration using old toe-straps. I’ve had few problems persuading ours on and off using standard metal tyre levers, strong thumbs and Herculean grunts.
Run at 85 psi, this additional girth is quickly forgotten and club typical tempos of around 17 mph are easily maintained. Fast, fully laden descents haven’t given a moment’s concern, even when it’s raining dogs and they’ve coped surprisingly well along poorly surfaced roads and green lane.
Raised ironworks such as cattle grids and level crossings still require a liberal sprinkling of caution though. Generally impenetrable from the usual culprits, they are best described as highly puncture repellent - blackthorn spikes have struck with frightening efficiency on occasions.
Ultimately, there is a bewildering array of capable tyres promising similar performance and smaller price-tags. However, the fact I’ve two sets on my bikes and will be buying another for my son’s new bike should tell you something.