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Schwalbe Marathon Supreme - Overpriced Flat Magnet

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Schwalbe Marathon Supreme - Overpriced Flat Magnet

Old 01-05-12, 12:24 AM
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Ziemas
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Schwalbe Marathon Supreme - Overpriced Flat Magnet

I started out loving the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme; it's got great grip wet or dry, decent rolling resistance, and a lovely ride quality. I thought I had found my perfect commuting tire. But after nine months of commuting I've come not to trust these tires due to how easy they cut and flat.

I've had four flats in nine months, which is a record for me, and which shouldn't happen so easily with tires of this price. Three of the flats were from shards of glass, and one was from a tiny piece of wire which most likely would have punctured any tire.

In comparison riding the same roads for four years on Conti tires (GatorSkins and 4Seasons with Vectran) I've had one flat, and that was due to a massive piece of glass in the sidewall.

Even though the Conti 4Seasons tend to wear quicker than the Marathon Supreme, and Conti has sidewall issues, I find that they are a much better value as my time is worth something, and setting in the dark and rain changing a flat every two months is an activity I'd like to avoid.

In short, it's goodbye Schwalbe, and hello again to Conti.


I'm using 2011 Marathon Supremes in 700x28.
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Old 01-05-12, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
I started out loving the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme; it's got great grip wet or dry, decent rolling resistance, and a lovely ride quality. I thought I had found my perfect commuting tire. But after nine months of commuting I've come not to trust these tires due to how easy they cut and flat.

I've had four flats in nine months, which is a record for me, and which shouldn't happen so easily with tires of this price. Three of the flats were from shards of glass, and one was from a tiny piece of wire which most likely would have punctured any tire.

In comparison riding the same roads for four years on Conti tires (GatorSkins and 4Seasons with Vectran) I've had one flat, and that was due to a massive piece of glass in the sidewall.

Even though the Conti 4Seasons tend to wear quicker than the Marathon Supreme, and Conti has sidewall issues, I find that they are a much better value as my time is worth something, and setting in the dark and rain changing a flat every two months is an activity I'd like to avoid.

In short, it's goodbye Schwalbe, and hello again to Conti.


I'm using 2011 Marathon Supremes in 700x28.
That's really surprising. I have Marathon Pluses on my three bikes and I haven't had a flat in years.

Last edited by Ekdog; 01-08-12 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 01-05-12, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
That's really surprising. I have Marathon Pluses on my three bikes and I haven't had a flat for years.
I'm riding the Marathon Supreme, which is Schwalbe's top of the line touring tire. It differs from the Marathon Plus.
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Old 01-05-12, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
I'm riding the Marathon Supreme, which is Schwalbe's top of the line touring tire. It differs from the Marathon Plus.
Yes, I realize that. That's what makes your experience even more surprising.
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Old 01-05-12, 03:18 AM
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Marathon Plus is rated (by Schwalbe) as having better puncture protection than Marathon Supreme. The tire construction is also different: Plus has a thick rubber belt as puncture protection, while Supreme has a woven fabric as puncture protection.
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Old 01-05-12, 05:11 AM
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I used marathons and never got a flat. I changed to continentals (can`t remember the model sorry) and flatted 6 times in five days between both front and back. The casing in both were so roughly / poorly made that they were puncturing the tubes from the inside. Note this was inside both front and back and within two weeks of purchasing them. I put it down to cheap rubbish and it was enough for me to refuse using any continental tyre ever again. To be honest the best brand tyres I`ve ever used and used most are vittoria. Love em, although I`m currently on kenda small blocks right now and they rock.
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Old 01-05-12, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Seb71 View Post
Marathon Plus is rated (by Schwalbe) as having better puncture protection than Marathon Supreme. The tire construction is also different: Plus has a thick rubber belt as puncture protection, while Supreme has a woven fabric as puncture protection.
I used the Plus for awhile, but the ride quality is terrible, they are heavy, and they are also terribly slick in the rain. The Supreme addressed all these issues, but sadly flats way to often for a high end touring/commuting tire.
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Old 01-05-12, 09:47 AM
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I have Pluses on one bike, Supremes on another. On each bike I've gotten exactly one flat through the tread. I ride through a lot of junk.
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Old 01-05-12, 10:02 AM
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There are threads discussing the SMS.

I suffered a rash of flats with the SMS 700s, dumped the tires. I still have a 26er SMS pair on a tourer, I've gotten flats but not nearly as bad. The compound and design seems to act as flat magnets in the areas I ride, it seems directly related to type of debris you encounter on your roads. Lots of people post they've had zero flats, my tires attracted every goathead on the road.

If I come off as a SMS hater, it's due to double flatting on a solo century on a very hot day. Fair to say those SMS's ruined that day. Considering the SMS price, it should never have happened. My norm is about one flat a year.

Ziemas, I'm with you. I've defaulted to Continentals for all my road tires, Gatorskins and GP4000s are what I trust.

Last edited by FrenchFit; 01-05-12 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 01-05-12, 10:59 AM
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I started off using Conti Gatorskins, kept getting flats. The 'flat protection' was terrible, everything got through. Switched to Marathon Plus, never had a single flat. Ride quality was awful, slow to get up to speed, so-so traction, and felt like pedaling through mud. Switched recently to Vittoria Randonneur Hyper's and no flats in about 500 miles (I ride ~200 miles a week) and much more lively feel and better traction than my SMP. Never tried the SMS but most reviewers complained of flats. Seemed ridiculous for a touring tire in that price range. I got my VHR's for $45/each with free shipping. So far so good!
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Old 01-05-12, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
I'm riding the Marathon Supreme, which is Schwalbe's top of the line touring tire. It differs from the Marathon Plus.
I realize I'm dooming myself here, but I've never had a flat on my Supremes in 2 years.
I think there are certain instances (such as the teeny piece of wire or HUGE shard of glass that goes in point first) where it is more about the circumstance than the tire that happens to be sitting on the rim.
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Old 01-05-12, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I realize I'm dooming myself here, but I've never had a flat on my Supremes in 2 years.
I think there are certain instances (such as the teeny piece of wire or HUGE shard of glass that goes in point first) where it is more about the circumstance than the tire that happens to be sitting on the rim.
I think riding the same routes with different tires is as good as a comparison as one can get. I picked plenty of glass out of the Contis, the difference being that it didn't reach the tube like it keeps on doing with the Schwalbes.
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Old 01-05-12, 12:36 PM
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I'm a little surprised, though this isn't the first report on this forum of people having trouble with the Marathon Supremes. I had a pair of 700x500 Supremes and only got one flat in about 1500 miles (after which I sold the bike they were on). That flat was from a 1-inch screw that completely embedded itself in the tire. With 700x25 Gatorskins, I went about 2000 miles without a flat and then got several in the next 200 miles and decided they were done. I'm riding 700x28 GP 4 Seasons now and at just a little under 1400 miles I haven't had a flat yet.
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Old 01-05-12, 12:42 PM
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Looking at the Schwalbe site, it appears that they changed the Marathon Supreme flat protection system for 2011 from ceramic to "HD SpeedGuard" (the latter, near as I can tell, being Vectran). Maybe that accounts for the difference in experiences?
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Old 01-05-12, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Looking at the Schwalbe site, it appears that they changed the Marathon Supreme flat protection system for 2011 from ceramic to "HD SpeedGuard" (the latter, near as I can tell, being Vectran). Maybe that accounts for the difference in experiences?
HD Speedguard is a densely woven Vectran belt. The HD Ceramic Guard started with the same belt and was then coated with a rubberized material embedded with small ceramic particles. The concept behind the ceramic particles was that glass couldn't migrate through to the tube. This could account for some issues that as AndyK pointed out may not have happened if the ceramic guard was present. That said, after a full year of selling the non-ceramic guard tires we have not noted any significant rise in tires issues with the Supremes. The reason that the Ceramic Guard was discontinued was the lack of a reliable supply of material from our vendor which in turn was creating production headaches at the factory.

Sorry to hear about the problems. In a business like this we know we can't make everyone happy all the time but we try.
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Old 01-05-12, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CrazyLemurBoy View Post
I started off using Conti Gatorskins, kept getting flats. The 'flat protection' was terrible, everything got through. Switched to Marathon Plus, never had a single flat. Ride quality was awful, slow to get up to speed, so-so traction, and felt like pedaling through mud. Switched recently to Vittoria Randonneur Hyper's and no flats in about 500 miles (I ride ~200 miles a week) and much more lively feel and better traction than my SMP. Never tried the SMS but most reviewers complained of flats. Seemed ridiculous for a touring tire in that price range. I got my VHR's for $45/each with free shipping. So far so good!
very tempted to get the Hypers myself. I replaced standard Randonneurs with Marathon Supremes, which seem to do very badly against goatheads. Randos do relatively well, even Gatorskins seem to repel them half the time. The thing w/ the hypers I'm worried about is that they appear to be Vittoria's version of SMS -- light-weight protection in place of heavy rubber protection.
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Old 01-05-12, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
HD Speedguard is a densely woven Vectran belt. The HD Ceramic Guard started with the same belt and was then coated with a rubberized material embedded with small ceramic particles. The concept behind the ceramic particles was that glass couldn't migrate through to the tube. This could account for some issues that as AndyK pointed out may not have happened if the ceramic guard was present. That said, after a full year of selling the non-ceramic guard tires we have not noted any significant rise in tires issues with the Supremes. The reason that the Ceramic Guard was discontinued was the lack of a reliable supply of material from our vendor which in turn was creating production headaches at the factory.

Sorry to hear about the problems. In a business like this we know we can't make everyone happy all the time but we try.
It's quite disappointing really, considering that I count on my bike to get to work, and frequent flats on an expensive tire that touts great flat protection is just not acceptable. If they were inexpensive tires I could totally understand it, but not at the prices that Schwalbe charges for an Indonesian made tire.

I thought the first few flats were just a fluke until I got yet another flat yesterday and had to sit in the rain to fix it. Urgh. FWIW it was a small shard from a wine bottle.
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Old 01-05-12, 02:32 PM
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Guess you ride thru a Minefield of debris..
Got any alternate routes where the streets are swept more often?
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Old 01-05-12, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Guess you ride thru a Minefield of debris..
Got any alternate routes where the streets are swept more often?
No, it's really not that bad. It seems that the SMS just seem to collect glass and puncture rather easily.

My wife as a set in 32x700 with the Ceramic Guard, and she hasn't had any flats, although she takes a different route than I do. Maybe the Ceramic Guard makes a big difference.

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Old 01-06-12, 09:10 AM
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I haven't had any problems with the Marathon Supreme 700x35s since I started using them 8 months ago. I don't encounter much glass on my route, but do use them on unpaved trails quite a bit, and they have held up very well. No flats, no cuts and no sign of wear in approximately 2000 miles. The grip and comfort are excellent.
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Old 01-06-12, 12:38 PM
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I was commuting on Bontrager Racelite Hardcases (700x25s) and was experiencing quite a few flats, switched to the Supremes (700x28s) for almost six months now and haven't had a flat since.
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Old 01-06-12, 01:28 PM
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I've been using the Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires that came with the bike (DaHon Curve SL 8) and I'm not happy with the flat protection at all. Just had another flat yesterday morning, in fact.

I'm averaging a flat for every 9.2 commutes (home-work-home = 1 commute = 15.5 miles of cycling). I installed Mr.Tuffy's after the 2nd flat and I'm not sure they're helping much at all.

I notice many of your comments are referencing 700C wheels, and I have had GREAT flat protection from the Conti Gatorskins I use on my 700C (recreational) bike! However, I haven't been able to find any flat proof (okay, flat resistant) tires in my 16" x 1.5" (40 - 305, Euro spec.) folding bike tire size.

I have a Metro train ride in the middle of my commute, so a 700C bike is not going to work for that (unfortunately).

I'll have to do more internet searching, but in the meantime does anyone have any suggestions for me, Schwalbe or any brand, really?

Rick / OCRR

PS: 3 flats due to glass shards, 1 due to sheet metal screw, 1 unknown cause.
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Old 01-07-12, 12:37 PM
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Very different experiences from what I've had myself. But the comment that using different tires over the same route is a realistic test and I do suggest you change back.

But if you continue to have flats then what? Maybe the condition of the route has changed. When I first got y Schwalbe Marathon Supremes and before recommending them to customers I TRIED to get flats by deliberately driving over broken bottles, car window granules, and by riding through construction sites. No flats in over 2,000kms.


One difference is that I'm running wider tires than you are and narrow tires put a higher load on a smaller area and will increase the chances of penetration by a wire or glass shard. Only thing I can think of.
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Old 01-07-12, 03:24 PM
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Ziemas, I wonder if your route is glassy enough that giving the tires a look over every day is needed to prevent those embedded objects from being further driven in. I've got a shorter commute but daily ride through patches of fresh glass about once a week. Never got a flat with 700x35mm SMS but a few times I noticed a shard of glass that I had to pry out with a knife point then I'd clean and splooge in some ShoeGoo to fill the hole.
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Old 01-07-12, 11:57 PM
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I have two sets of supremes (700x32). I've had one flat in about 10000 miles of commuting. That flat was due to a thin wire which penetrated the front tire. It was the slow leak kind and I didn't discover it until the next day, so no big deal.

The soft compound gives these tires great traction, however, they also attract a fair share of glass shards. I've pulled out many small shards which have embedded in the tread as far down as the carcass, but so far, have not gone any further. The tread wears pretty fast too. I get about half the mileage out of these tires as I did with my old Marathon XRs. However, for touring or commuting, these tires are pretty light and fast. They're great on asphalt (wet or dry), but not so good on unpaved roads and they're terrible in the snow.
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