Review: Schwalbe Marathon 700x25c Wire Bead Tire
(2015) Last off-season I marched into Wheelfine Imports in Lambertville frustrated at the fact I had ripped through another tire casing. I told Mike Johnson I wanted something that could hold up to the perils of off-season riding as well has give me a leg up on riding the gravel roads of Hunterdon County. Without hesitation he recommended the Schwalbe Marathon, and because of this recommendation, I will soon snap them back onto my clinchers again this season. It will take some getting used to - selecting a randonneur tire for a ride bike - but it's worth it. This tire has a lot going for it: its puncture resistance is remarkable. It’s not the lightest tire on the market, but it’s also not the heaviest. It comes in road-ready sizes, the smallest width being the 25c. If one’s bike stays can accommodate it, Schwalbe makes a whole range of sizes. Additionally, the tread has stayed in excellent shape after an entire off-season of rolling around Bucks, Lehigh, and Hunterdon counties.
Its decent tread allows for gravel ascents, descents, and unpaved acceleration. It also can handle wet conditions plus sandy/ gritty conditions the off-season is known for. Since gravel roads can sometimes be the death of tires sewn up for cobbles, the Schwalbe Marathon easily covers both factors in traction and puncture resistance.
Another aspect going for this tire is the reflective sidewalls that aid in being seen as the sun sets sooner in the northeast. With a fully reflective sidewall a rider increases his flank and yaw exposure to approaching motorists. This tire fits perfectly in the off-season lineup.
The final attractiveness to this set-up is the price. At around $50 (USD) per tire, it’s a good purchase on a budget. It saves money with regards to preventative tube issues, it’s easily replaceable given the low price, and it’s an easy set-up for under $100 total.
Some areas the tire comes up short are noteworthy for safety concerns. This is a tall tire. The wire bead plus the puncture resistance make this tire sit higher on the wheel. More than a couple times I’ve been concerned about whether the tire was beginning to roll in fast tight corners. If one knows that ahead of time, it can be planned for. But it is certainly unnerving to feel a slippery back tire on a speedy descending turn. If it’s the offseason, these turns should be approached with caution anyhow. Furthermore, this will be the first season I run the Marathons on the front and back. Having a tall tire on the front could take some extra attention. A full tilt sprint for the town sign may be a wild ride, too.
The other concern comes in the already-mentioned clearance. Due to its height, it may not fit on some bikes. Having a bike that is notorious for its inability to accommodate many wheels, I did not notice an issue with this tire.
One area this tire does not shine is on the rollers. If referring to this tire as floppy in performance corners is baseline, the Marathon takes on a mind of its own on rollers when it heats up and starts bouncing back and forth on the drums. It is not at all recommended for indoor use.
The Schwalbe Marathon tire is a durable casing to use for off-season miles. These were seen at many of the spring classics after the harsh winter dug up many of the roads, paved and unpaved. With tread for gravel roads, reflective sidewalls for increased visibility, and puncture resistance as road debris begins to add up, this tire will save money at the shop and in preventative maintenance over the coming months.