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Schwalbe Smart Sam
Performance Line Folding Tyre
570g 26x2.10 £37.95

The Schwalbe Smart Sam Performance Line Folding Tyres are a 67tpi model claimed to be “The all-rounder for an on road and off-road use”. I’ve been impressed by their low rolling resistance, cornering prowess and compliant ride quality on drier singletrack and metalled roads. Puncture resistance has also been better than I was expecting from their baseline model, but they’ve proved vulnerable to thorns and similarly aggressive sharps.


Pros: Lively on dry hardpack trails, relatively quick and well-mannered on tarmac.

Cons:  Clog quickly causing poor traction in wet trails, vulnerable to aggressive sharps.

test review Sam Smart Schwalbe


The Smart Sam employs the brand’s Addix compound - a 67epi dual compound rubber which promises a good blend of performance and durability. The folders are also refreshingly svelte at 560g apiece. Talking of weight, 100kilos apiece is their recommended weight and they’re compatible with E-bikes capable of 50kph. Look carefully at the tread and you’ll notice a thin, proud centre strip flanked by the shoulder’s small blocks.

Raised centre strips have been around since the 1980s and cheaper, stock fare was infamously poor on and off road. However, in my experience the genre was unfairly maligned. Better quality, more expensive designs were surprisingly capable - great for mixed terrain touring and commuting. 

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Pressures range between 30 and 55psi (2-4 bar), which lacks the outright tunability of a tubeless setup but affords more bite when conditions turn unexpectedly gloopy, or roads have cultivated a frosty glaze.

The baseline model doesn’t have any puncture resistant belt and personally, I’d go for the DD Raceguard version, but ours haven’t been overly vulnerable to cuts and damage per se. In common with the Maxxis Ikon , the Smart Sam are easily scooped on and off XC rims, with a little gentle guidance from an equally standard composite tyre lever. You’d be going some to pinch a tube. Getting them from flaccid to 55psi took less effort than the Maxxis, although all things being equal, I’d be reaching for the Co2 on road/trailside rescues.

Test Bike/ Contexts 

No surprise to learn it’s Ursula. I began testing by running the Smart Sam up front, Maxxis Ikon behind just to evaluate differences in handling/characteristics. Otherwise, I’ve done 1200 miles with the Smart Sam between August and November.

bicycle gravel ursula rider

Ride quality/Handling 3.5/5 

Lighter than the Maxxis Ikon, I wasn’t surprised to find the Smart Sam were quick on the uptake and on tarmac, needed palpably less effort to keep them at 17mph. Similarly, even during some decidedly wet spells (including Storm Babet), the Smart Sam hold their line better when cornering hard on wet roads - even at their 55psi maximum: all characteristics that suggest there’s a tangible benefit to the raised centre strip. Again, Kenda’s Small Block 8 are slightly quicker in the same contexts but can be run to 80psi and at 26x1.95 are a little narrower.  

cycling tyre tire wheel test review

The Smart Sam’s touring credentials are open to debate. If you’re doing a mix of metalled road, bridle/towpath and dry trails then, I’ll go with that. models like Specialized Crossroads Armadillo and indeed, Maxxis Overdrive Excel are better choices for longer spells on the road and gentler off-piste meandering. Indeed, the 100 kilo maximum payloads are beast of burden friendly, and an e-assist build will mitigate rolling resistance.

Dry trails and unmade roads unleashed their most playful and engaging side. 

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Acceleration is swift - they’ll climb and hold their line remarkably well. Things such a frame material and suspension will play their part but even across washboard surfaces and smaller ruts, I’ve found them compliant and hard to coax into misbehaviour. For 70 kilo me, 50psi hit the sweet spot, especially for switching between road and trails. 

Light to moderately wet trails dotted with horse and cow dung saw them become impacted quickly, inducing some modest squirm, though ultimately this wasn’t any worse than the Maxxis Ikon. There’s plenty of feedback before a real, face plant inducing loss of traction strikes.


Again, a little caution is called for when negotiating slimy tree roots and unexpected ironworks but nothing out of the ordinary. They also shed mud better than I’d suspected, meaning higher speeds (23-25mph) were realistic off road: impressive, especially given the Smart Sam fall under Schwalbe’s sport category. Nonetheless, they wouldn’t be my first choice for winter typical cross-country conditions - that includes cyclo-cross meets on a mountain bike.

Talking of winter, I switch to the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro when the iceman cometh but dropping the pressure to 45psi, they’ve inspired confidence over frosty lanes, provided you keep the cadence steady and don’t get carried away when cornering, at junctions, roundabouts etc. Being a hardpack tyre, much the same experience off road in these contexts.

tire test review tyre schwalbe smart sam
bike tire tyre test review cycling

Puncture Resistance/Durability 3.25/5

Given they rate 2 out of 7 rating on Schwalbe’s site, I’ve found the Smart Sam reassuringly reliable. In 1200 miles, ours have only succumbed to two flats- both at the rear. Aside from the annoying whirring click, stones and similar sharps that can get lodged didn’t linger long enough to become really maddening. In common with the brand’s otherwise likeable Land Cruiser, hedge clippings - especially those collected within gloopy mud are their weak spot. 

bike countryside puncture repair

The first hit at 5.30am and with a very audible “Pop” as the thorn pierced the tube’s seam and 55psi roared out. Then of course, the heaven’s opened. Thorn dismissed, tube switched, I rode the remaining seven miles home, inspecting the tyre casing later that morning. 

tire tyre review test bike bicycle puncture

The first hit at 5.30am and with a very audible “Pop” as the thorn pierced the tube’s seam and 55psi roared out. Then of course, the heaven’s opened. Thorn dismissed, tube switched, I rode the remaining seven miles home, inspecting the tyre casing later that morning. 

The cut was straight through the shoulder, requiring superglue, but thankfully this hadn’t pierced the casing, so no call for a boot. The second, a tack, was collected while passing a seemingly forgotten development and again, gloop was the conduit. In fairness, they’re marketed as a sport, not a winter tyre so, if your budget allowed, I’d go for their DD Raceguard version. This features a double layer of nylon fabric and “Snakeskin” sidewalls for added protection without undue weight penalty. 

Otherwise, the casings are still looking reassuringly fresh, with no obvious signs of premature wear, although it’s worth noting, save for the first puncture (when I settled on 35psi) I’ve defaulted to 45 and 55psi. Factors such as e-bikes, rider weight, regular trailer/tagalong tugging, and similar load-based work may accelerate wear.  

Value 3.25/5

£37.95 though hardly outlandish, is a little steeper than some offering similar specification. The most obvious comparators being Maxxis Ikon (although that’s a wired, rather than folding comparator, so a bit heavier, which is apparent on tarmac).  Then, there’s the Panaracer Comet Hard Pack are another cheaper small block design for three season folding riding, they are another small block design £29.99 rrp. 

WTB Trail Boss Comp at £29.99 for the 26x2.25 are another model that might give the Ikon a good run for your hard-earned. These also feature a close block tread but wire beads. 

WTB reckon they’re ideal for cross county and enduro mountain biking duties. On paper, this suggests they might win by a nose if you’re looking for four seasons all-rounders. Then we have the Kenda Small Block Eight, which are faster rolling and similarly effective in dry, hard contexts. However, they’re a couple of quid dearer at £39.99 and in my experience, more vulnerable to punctures. 


In some respects, the Schwalbe Smart Sam are a relatively niche tyre but not without some definite charm and merit. If you’re looking for moderate conditions, fair-weather trail rubber and/or more adventurous lightweight spring/summer touring, these might be it. They're lighter and surer footed than the commuter biased “trekking” models but without the drag of an aggressive knobbly. That said; in this regard, though they still have an edge off road, in my experience, they don’t rival designs such as Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Dual Defence in terms of versatility and puncture resistance. However, the Marathon Mondial are also a good bit pricier. 

Verdict 3.5/5 Sprightly and engaging tyres best for dry to moderate conditions.


Michael Stenning


Start - Schwalbe Professional Bike Tires





Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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