Schwalbe Marathon Extreme - 4 stars ****After putting approximately 1,000 kilometers on the SME during my most recent tour I feel I can make a few comments on their characteristics. I hadn't intended to put that much distance on them but a tire failure of my rear road tire made it necessary. I give them four stars and that rating is based on how closely they meet the advertised characteristics and how they filled my personal riding needs. I was torn between giving them four stars and three stars, but was hoping for five stars when the package arrived at my home. They earned the forth star by being the only tire on the market that met all my basic criteria. Relatively light weight, durable, folding, good off-road capabilities, the largest size my bike can handle, and at least fair performance on paved roads were the must haves.
Size accuracy - **
Despite the universal acceptance of ETRTO/ISO tire sizing I think most riders know actual size of a tire is still a guessing game. According to ISO standards a bike tire can be +/- 3 mm and still be within acceptable size limits. Nonetheless the Extreme is the flagship world touring tire of the premiere bicycle tire manufacturer in the world. The most advanced and stable materials are advertised. For a $78.00 tire I didn't expect a tire 2 mm under the stated size. It measured 40 mm wide and 39 mm high.
Tracking - ****
On both the front and rear the tires tracked well. They are not as crisp as a quality road racing tire or even a good road touring tire, but they track straight with little wandering. On rare occasions the rear tire would catch an uneven break in the road and take an unexpected short hop to one side or the other before coming back into line.
On dirt and very rough pavement they tracked very well.
Cornering - ***
The round profile and even tread pattern give the Extreme much better than expected cornering characteristics, but they are not high performance road tires. On two occasions, the rear tire broke loose while braking on a down hill corner.
Rolling resistance - ***
They are big tires with an aggressive dirt tread. I could feel the increase resistance and see it in my daily distance and max speed. I was surprised when I did a down hill coasting test, the Extreme had less resistance than the 37-622 Continental Travel Contact. The TC is actually 34 mm wide and has a smooth center section. I repeated the test three times to make sure.
Road noise - *
They are really loud on paved roads. I was past by thirty two wheel Canadian B-trains that made less tire noise. At fifty kph they literally scream. On dirt this is not a problem.
Mud - ****
They handle mud well and clear out quickly.
Tire wear - ****
I measured the wear when I got home and they lost about 20% of the center tread depth. Most of the time was on paved roads and that would equate to about 5,000 kilometers of road life. That seem pretty good to me for a knobby tire. I am sure on dirt the center tread would wear more slowly.
Flats - *****
Not even a sign of a glass nick or a cut. They seem to be about as bullet proof as you can get.