Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Inspectorgadget
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Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Inspectorgadget » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:06 pm

First of all these are first class tyres for general purpose MTB use. I am not a technical rider, I am 60 years old so no big jumps and aerial gymnastics for me but I do a lot of riding including on paved surfaces and tracks.

I am a new rider and I have a bit of a phobia probably about punctures as I am new to bikes. I have an electric Scott e-Aspect 720 Bosch MTB which has done 1400km since December on and off road.

I wanted something puncture resistant and I posted on another thread on the dreaded double gee which has taken out a lot of tyres including my own until I fitted goo tubes into them. The punctures then stopped with double gee attacks. Goo does work. These tyres are tough wearing with a lot of tread down the middle of the tyre which is different to most mountain bike tyres. They also have 5 mm of Kevlar/Butyl rubber protection under the tread and are rated as the most puncture resistant tyre on the market.

My Tough Toms though were wearing out very quickly...the worn one on the left is the back one and of course it wears more quickly especially on an electric bike. Note the tread too, one knob takes a lot of wear and it is noisy on paved surfaces and under braking.

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I bought the Marathon tyres in the hope of a tougher tyre generally and thorn resistant. Compared to the Tough Tom it is much more heavily constructed. It also has a wire bead around the outside. It is easy enough to fit if you are experienced at fitting tyres and know all the tricks and have some levers and maybe cable ties around as well. I learnt the hard way and made every mistake possible. I finally learnt by watching YouTube and talking to a few people and actually doing it multiple times. If you are not confident about fitting tyres then read up, message me (I am helpful or try to be) , get a friend to help or just suffer and learn the hard way as I did.

Note the difference in tread here. Much quieter on the road and under braking and just as good on a track.

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Once fitted, I took the bike on a test ride a few nights back and was very impressed. I was then confident to do a 32k round trip over rough track between Burns Beach and Romeo road on the Yaberoo Budjara track, on my own at night. The tyres were great. I was very pleased with myself and returning from Romeo Road. Mmmm I thought, the front tyre does make a weird noise, this weird noise unfortunately indicated the air going to the top of the tyre on this Titanic of tyres. Surely these tyres are unsinkable??? This was literally miles from help too in the middle of the night and ON MY OWN and not a soul on the track, deserted. I was worried but confident I could fix a flat. I had the gear with me and a spare tube. I pumped the tyre up and continued, checked it again at Hester Avenue, pumped it up a bit more and 8k later or so was back at my car. The tubes were CST goo filled tubes which was both lucky (I got home) and unlucky (they are crap). I tried unsuccessfully that night to replace the tube and it reminded me that I would have had no luck at all doing this in the bush ( had run out of cable ties too). The next morning I did more research and finally go them on using levers and cable ties but I did afterwards learn a few more tips which will help next time. I replaced the tube with a thorn resistant one and test rode it today. It was fine but I have ordered some Green Slime 650B tubes and have one thorn resistant tube for emergency in the meantime. The leak in the CST goo tube was on the side of the tube and suspect it had been there for some time as I had previously a short lived slow leak in that tyre and I had noticed some of the brown goo when I first took the Tough Toms off. It was on a seam so it was not a puncture but a fault in manufacture.

My cable tie solution. Note I could probably do better next time but it is a tough tyre to fit, not for beginners or the optimistic.

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Finally after tube replacement

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Conclusions:

These are great general purpose tyres and run quietly on the road and perform well on the track. If you are used to replacing to soft thin tyres without wire beads such as the Tough Toms (I found these easy with zero experience) then these will be a shock if you are not experienced replacing more difficult tyres. These require the full range of tricks to fit properly and possibly include using cable ties and levers. I am carrying cable ties with me (these need to be 250mm at least in length and can be found in Bunnings). The rewards should be hard wearing and long lasting (important with an electric bike with extra power in the rear) and few if any punctures thanks to the strong side walls and 5mm butyl rubber and kevlar under the tread. You can probably forget hand fitting these though by the side of the road without any tools. I am confident now though that caught out in the middle of friggin' nowhere at night, that I can replace tubes and/or fix punctures.

Baalzamon
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Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Baalzamon » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:14 am

Here is a tip to make it easier to install those tough tyres. Put them out in the sun for 30mins to 1hr and they become much much easier.
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Inspectorgadget
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Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Inspectorgadget » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:59 am

Baalzamon wrote:Here is a tip to make it easier to install those tough tyres. Put them out in the sun for 30mins to 1hr and they become much much easier.


I was watching a video and that was one of the tricks suggested as tyres are harder to change in the Winter so it makes sense. The problem with these is the wire bead around the edge, it doesn't stretch. You have to make sure that the beads are in the valley of the rim and keep working and pushing the tyres down towards the final bit you are working on. I did do the rear tyre without cable ties but did use levers.

Thanks for the suggestion. These are a tough tyre but that is mostly a good thing.

Inspectorgadget
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Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Inspectorgadget » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:25 pm

The Marathon tyres are going well in spite of attempts to kill them by under inflating them.

I was inflating them by feel and they were WAY under pressure 16/12 front/rear when measured although to be fair I had let more air out just before it was measured in the shop. I had no gauge and I could see riding up on the road that the front was down too much, but I never imagined 12 psi.

I now have a Schwalbe Airmax Pro gauge which I had already ordered at this point. I found also that the air forks were way down. I bought a Syncros Air Shock pump, on the spot, for a shocking price but yes, it is very nice but found that the Rock Shox forks were 40 psi and should be about 100 psi for my weight.

I’ve done two rides, the last one today between Lacey Road and Yanchep Park on a rough six km bit of track. It was just a test. I was feeling pretty crook today from a cold but wanted to get out. The ride was obviously harder in terms of impact, no doubt about it than when it was done with the lower pressures. The traction was fine except for the same uphill steep bit I misjudged the last time I rode this section of track. I was happy enough with the performance of the tyres. I felt the limitations were mostly due to the track rather than the tyres or my technique. A lot of corners are blind and so there is no way to know what exactly the track is like or who might be coming the other way, so I slowed down for corners for visibility reasons. A tyre with more grip would be great for going up or down steep slopes but this isn’t a major issue either and just comes down to speed and planning ahead. I went up a steep hill both times in too high a gear and on the soft shoulder of the track.

The guy in the bike shop told me that the Marathons were commuting tyres and that I should go a Maxxis tubeless in the front. I said ‘yes’ then changed my mind the next day. The thing is he has a point and a Marathon is not the choice of seriously quick MTB riders but then I just ride to enjoy the scenery and I often ride on paved bike paths, for which the Marathon is a better choice. Off road I am very careful especially riding on my own at night. The tubeless tyres are the best tyres for ride quality and grip, no doubt about it but there are downsides also and I decided it was one step too far for me.

The Marathon 27.5 x 2.25 are a perfect choice too for an electric bike which wears out rear tyres relatively quickly due to the extra power and slight extra weight (about 8kg for the motor and 500WHr battery).

Inside the front tyre is a thorn resistant heavy duty 3mm inner tube and in the back the sealant filled tube carried over from the Schwalbe Tough Tom. I have spare 3mm inner tubes and two Green slime tubes spare.

It is quite possible of course that I will change my mind again as I am enjoying riding off road more and more but sometimes a compromise is best. The Marathon Plus is super smooth and quiet on paved surfaces and has a very low rolling resistance, so the range of the bike will be greater than with grippy, soft (and expensive) tyres. They are also almost puncture proof which is important.

If I do change the tyres to something else in the future it will be something cost effective and with a tube in it. The thing with electric bikes is you can cover a lot of distance, easily and I do!

Runjikol
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Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Runjikol » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:40 pm

For tough/tight beads: rub the outside of the bead down with petroleum jelly. I had to do this with 2018 Marathon Plus Tour.
--Current rides: Surly Big Dummy || Dahon Dash P-18 || Surly Troll

Scintilla
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Re: Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB (27.5 inch 650B) Review

Postby Scintilla » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:17 am

These tyres are tough to mount on the rims, not because of the wire bead (ALL sorts of tyres have wire beads and fit fine), but because of the puncture-resistant liner. I have had to resort to the similar cable-tie-method with Vittoria Randonneur Pro, and with Schwalbe Marathon Mondial. Both of these were folding tyres. The puncture-proof layer is the culprit; it forces the tread to flatten, and the bead is lifted out and away from the rim edge. Over time the tyres do take a shape-set and become better to fit.

The greatest virtue is that these tyres have almost zero punctures. I have used the Vittoria Randonneur Cross 26x1.75 for the past 15 years almost exclusively, and have had no punctures at all !! The only flats have been from old patches peeling off, or from tube flaws.

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