I live on a dirt road which has a serious hill on it, so to get to pavement I've got to deal with that. A lot of road around here are dirt, so a typical ride includes both pavement and hard pack and sometimes loose dirt. I need new tires for 26 inch wheels. I'd like them to be both durable and light. I looked at the Schwalbe marathon plus tires (26.1.3) but wondered how they'd do on dirt. Any recommendations?
As for the saddle, I'm using a Terry liberator X that's about 12 years old. It's a really nice saddle, but after about thirty miles it is really uncomfortable, almost unbearable. I see that Terry has newer models that seem (potentially) more comfortable because they have more padding. Any recommendations for a good, all around, women's saddle that I can tour with?
I'd like them to be both durable and light. I looked at the Schwalbe marathon plus tires If26.1.3) but wondered how they'd do on dirt.
"durable and light" are usually mutually exclusive in bicycle tires.
None of the Schwable "marathon" series of tires are light, but they are widely praised for durability. Even their 1.35" Marathon Plus is not light (listed at 830g), for a 26x1.35 tire. Their 26x1.5 Racer is not so heavy, but at 100 USD a pair they are expensive. You can find other maker's tires in this size and weight for less than half the price.
26x1.5" tires will roll fine on hardpack dirt roads/trails, but if there's any sand or much gravel you're better off with a wider tire, like a 26x2.0. There's a few 1.7-1.75" tires available too.
If you live close enough to the pavement where you can walk over the rough sections of dirt, then perhaps you could run some 26x1.25 tires, which are usually light (~200-250g), and not hard to find at a good price. Performance Forte, for example.
I personally use 1.4-1.5" tires - I find they're a good compromise of durablilty, weight, comfort and cost. If you go below this, tire makers tend to compromise durability (thin tread) to achieve a low weight (key selling point). I wore through a Hutchinson 26x1.0 in 350 miles. Just once.
I've been riding on a 26x1 kevelar city tire and it's done very well, but now the tires are shot. The dirt is almost all hardpack, and where it's not, I do slide around, but if it gets bad I can always get off...
I'm rolling on Marathon Plus 26x1.35. I definitely like them on the pavement. They don't feel heavy and they roll nicely. I keep them at around 90-95 psi. I haven't ridden on much dirt yet, just some sand on the bike path after recent flooding, but they did ok on that. I do have trekking bars, so that gives me better control than road bars on slippery stuff. If your dirt roads are mostly hard packed (especially on the hills) I would think they'd do ok. If you're doing ok on 26x1 tires, the 26x1.35 marathons should do fine.
I'm sure some will disagree with me, but I've never really felt a difference in tire weight. I think a bigger difference is to be found in width and tread pattern. When I put those 26x1.35 tires on, they felt much quicker than my previous 1.75 and 1.5 tires. They don't feel as quick as the tiny tires on my road bike, but that's to be expected.
I remember seeing a tire that was kind of built up at the edges, but had a slick, very narrow band in the middle. The idea was that on the road, you'd be mostly on the slick, but on loose dirt, you'd get some bite. Problem is, I don't remember which tires they were!