The Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyre

Those of you who do read my blog will know that I undertook some slight bicycle upgrades in January (Another Cycling One). The main upgrade was my tyre. I invested in a puncture proof tyre as I was sick of the patch and repeat method of commuting to work. A lot of you won’t be in the slightest bit interested in my tyre but, cycling means a lot to me. It helps me clear my head, it saves me paying ridiculous amounts of money to the absolute twonk of a man in the Mayors office but, most of all, my bicycle rarely asks for anything in return. Man or machine, that’s something to cherish.

Anyway, it’s got to the point now where I have ridden about 120 miles on it now and reckon that’s a fair enough amount for me to provide an opinion. I’ll start at the beginning.

Fitting the Tyre

I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to fit this tyre myself. I’d read various review which stated the tyre is pretty tricky to get on and off because it’s a tight fit. This didn’t just concern me only from a fitting point of view but also from a roadside puncture aspect. You don’t want a tyre so awkward to get on and/or off that it takes you and age crouched by the side of the road and many swear words before you’re patched and on your way again.

The trickiest bit of fitting the tyre was getting both walls inside the rim. Toward the last few inches of the second wall, it was getting to be a pretty tough job. I’m pleased I has 4 tyre levers and not just 2 as I don’t think there would have been success with only 2 levers. Saying that, I didn’t require cable ties to hold the tyre or a helping house mate. I managed it, solo effort, in about 5 minutes. The thing I found more time consuming was making sure the tyre was properly aligned.

Comparing the task of alignment to my last tyre, the Marathon plus is child’s play. It has a reflective strip and a small rubber ridge which you can use as clear points of reference for proximity to the wheel rim. I ensured the reflective line was the same distance from the wheel rim around the entire circumference of each side. It’s a bit fiddly but it’s completely worth it. If you don’t get your alignment right you feel like you’re riding with a bump in your tyre. If you commute any decent distance this is something that will irritate you immensely. I used to really struggle with tyre alignment of my old tyre (known to sometimes need 3 or 4 tweaks before it rode evenly) but I got the Marathon Plus right first time.

Important Point for First Time Fitters – you may or may not have noticed, but tyres have an arrow on the sides with the word ‘Drive’ next to it. This is the direction the tyre should turn in when you pedal. Make sure you get the tyre on the right way round. I’m sure the tyre engineers spent lots of time figuring out why ‘Drive’ should go the same way as the arrow and it’s be a shame to waste their hard work now wouldn’t it.

How is the Marathon Plus on the road?

I’m about 120 miles in and (touch lots of wood) haven’t had a puncture so I can say that, thus far, the Marathon Plus’ main selling feature is working well. That isn’t the only way it’s changed my ride though.

The Marathon Plus is firm. Really firm. I like to ride at maximum tyre pressure but, for the sake of a thorough review, I took down the  pressures for a couple of days last week. I used to ride my old tyre at a lower than max inflation just because I blooming hated it and wanted one aspect of my cycle to be enjoyable (lower PSI will make your ride less ‘bumpy’) so I do have experience of riding at lower inflation. I appreciate you’re going to carry a little extra weight from a puncture proof tyre but up until my ‘low PSI’ experiment, I really hadn’t noticed it. However, knocking down the PSI really did seem to amplify the extra weight of the tyre immensely. For the 3 days I cycled on lower PSI I can honestly say I felt unfit. I didn’t enjoy the rides one bit as I arrived at work looking like I’d been in the shower with my clothes on. It was truly hideous. However, pumping it back up to 85 resulted in the return of what I can only describe as cycling joy.

I could see real issues with this tyre for riders who aren’t of ‘Max PSI’ club or who like to have more comfortable, leisurely rides on evenings/weekends. Having the Marathon plus at less than max inflation really did upset me. It made me alter the way I ride my bicycle in order to still make good time. It wasn’t my style at all. But on Max PSI, it’s everything I want out of a tyre. Smooth, reliable, grips brilliantly (as a drain cover in the rain on Romford Road will testify to) and generally provides excellent pedal effort to propulsion ratios. I don’t feel like I’m leaving most of my effort on the road behind me. It rolls really well.

In summary:

How tricky was it to fit?

A little tricky. If you have never fitted a tyre on to your bicycle before, maybe have a more experienced friend in the house with you for emergency consultation (my services are available for the princely sum of 1 brew and a decent slice of cake).

Will I be replacing my front tyre with a marathon plus when it bites the dust?

Yes I will, but I’ll only be riding it at max inflation.

Is the tyre worth the £19.99 I paid for it at http://www.evanscycles.com (I used their price match for the cheaper deal as described in ‘Another Cycling One’)

Yes, every last penny.

Would I recommend the Marathon Plus?

Yes. I think it would suit almost any cyclist who has puncture issues on their daily rides.

Out of a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being ‘Paper would be a better tyre’ and 5 being ‘Better than sex’) how would I rate the Marathon Plus?

4.

So there you go. That’s my attempt at reviewing my tyre. it’s a bit rubbish but I had a good bash! Happy cycling!!!!!!

 

 

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