First Impressions: Schwalbe Marathon Winter Tires

Last February, I logged a measly 25 miles for the month because of icy roads.  This winter I vowed that Mother Nature would not get the best of me.  Ice or no ice, I was going to keep riding.  In order to meet that goal (and stay upright), I decided that it was time to invest in some studded tires.

Checking the internet, I discovered that Schwalbe offered four studded tires.  Since I would be riding primarily on pavement, I chose the Marathon Winter in the 700×35 size.  The studded Marathon utilizes the company’s RaceGuard anti-puncture technology, and is constructed from a special winter (rubber) compound.  The tires also feature reflective sidewalls, and dynamo strips.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter GRAVELBIKE.com Sun Ringle

One of the first things you notice about the Marathon Winters is their weight.  The 35mm versions weigh 910 grams–230% heavier than the Vittoria Voyager Hypers that I normally run.  At the maximum recommended 85psi, the tires measured 35.1mm when mounted on 23mm rims.  Before the carbide studs are broken in, they’re surprisingly sharp, so it’s not a bad idea to wear gloves when mounting these tires.

On dry pavement, the Schwalbes are extremely sure-footed thanks to the 240 carbide studs.  They’re also a bit noisy, but I found that I tuned it out after a short while.  Traction on dirt roads and trails was outstanding, even at pavement-friendly pressures.  My first encounter with ice was, thankfully, uneventful.  Straight-line traction (and braking) was very predictable, but I did detect some slipping when transitioning between the center and side studs (decreasing the pressure improved traction, however).

GRAVELBIKE.com Boulder Colorado Schwalbe Marathon Winter Sun Ringle Salsa Vaya Avid BB7

Surprisingly, snow presented more of a challenge than ice.  The Marathon Winters fared well in fresh snow (as long as it wasn’t too deep), but navigating rutted, “crusty” snow was tricky.  For those types of conditions, the wider 700×40 version would have been a better choice.

Because of the tires’ increased drag (and added weight), I only use them when I expect extended icy conditions.  After approximately 150 miles, the tread shows virtually no wear, and no studs have ripped out.  At this rate, I expect that the tires will last many years.

Please visit the company’s website for additional information about Schwalbe’s entire line of products

One thought on “First Impressions: Schwalbe Marathon Winter Tires

  1. I have been using Nokian winter tyres since december 2012. I have the same experience as you have. Living i Stockholm, Sweden makes it perfect toest tyres on everything the winter waether throws att you. Ice is as steady as you could wish for. Fresh powder snow is no probs but as soon as this snow get heavier by walkers or car driving it can put up a hurdle ranging from anywere between sliding sideways a bit without much problems to the other end of the scale were you have to carry your bike over the snow. The last in the former happens surpricingly seldom, but that is dependent on how the roads and track are plowed mostly. I ride a cyclo cross which I think is the perfect type of bike for a winter up here in the north. It is supposed to be carried some and it is lighter than any mountain bike. Some days when the road I’m riding on have packed snow which has lots of marks from foots etcetera the road bumbpiness killes my hands and arms. It can take the joy out of the ride so a suspended front wheel fork could be a best choice for these roads. It is to some degree a matter of learning to not hold the handles to hard and slow down, but a softer front end would be nice most often when the snow been packed and have bumps everywere. My main experience from riding in a full blooded winter landscape and in city environment is that it is very possible to use a bicycle and only few days are to much of a hurdle to make it too hard. It is very good traing, both for your stamina and strength but also for your ability to balance your ride during difficulties. After a winter here on the bike I feel I’m going to fly on my racer with 23 med mera slicks, the the the sun clears out the snow from the roads. I will have a tremendous start with lots of power and from the first day I will be more than fit!

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