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schwable marathon original vs supreme off road grip

Old 08-14-17, 04:49 AM
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schwable marathon original vs supreme off road grip

i'm soon to depart on a tour through slovakia, hungary, romania, bulgaria and turkey. i'm trying to decide on the most suitable (700c) tyres.

i think it will be a mix of asphalt, rough (poorly maintained) asphalt and dirt/gravel. we'll be aiming to stick to asphalt where possible but there may be long sections of poorer quality road.

my bike currently has 35mm schwable marathon supremes which i've found to be excellent on road - fast and light for a touring tyre - and although can handle some rougher tracks get slowed down very quickly by them.

i was considering the standard ('greengaurd') marathons to get a bit more grip, but the trade off is slightly higher rolling resistance and quite a bit heavier. id also go for 40mm, for a bit more cushion.

excellent reviews and comparison data for these tyres is available at bicyclerollingresistance dot come (can't post url as it's my first post)

however by much comment is made as to the difference between the two tyres handle off asphalt

the original marathon has a deeper tread pattern than the supreme but i'm still not sure if it really adds that much and wonder if it's largely cosmetic (the tread on the supreme is definitely cosmetic!). schwable themselves rage the 'off road grip' of the supreme as 1.5/6 and he marathon as 2.5/6, but i never really trust in house rating scales.

the supremes are pricier but are available on discount currently putting the two tyres at a similar price. so i'm not sure whether to switch to marathons, or just go for slightly fatter supremes (42mm). if i can convince myself there's a definite off road benefit of the marathons i'll go for them, if not i'll choose the lighter and faster rolling supremes.

does anyone have any experience comparing the two?
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Old 08-14-17, 07:46 AM
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here is my take on this, and comes from experience with both tires and similar riding situations with supremes as what you plan to do.
A bit of background--Ive used standard or regular marathons on my commuter bike with a bit of touring for perhaps 10,000km on all kinds of road surfaces, 26x1.5 (40mm) and this winter, on another bike used supremems 26x2 (50mm--measured 45mm on my rims) during a 2 month trip through central america.

I too thought long and hard on tire choice, ultimately went with the supremes as I knew I would be nearly always on paved roads, but despite what I did, I will still give you a recommendation for regular marathons....

- re off asphalt, frankly I dont see much of a diff, yes the extra tread on the standard marathons probably helps a bit, but I also rode on dirt and stuff on the supremes and in the end, if you have reasonable bike handling skills, either can work given that we are riding loaded bikes and so should not be pushing it too much, especially not to whack into holes or whatever, so for me tread is a moot point. I also rode 28mm slicks for years and rode them on gravel etc and they work, not great, but they work.
I have also ridden my old mountain bike in latin america on another trip with rear panniers only, and handlebar bag, with the 40mm regular marathons, and on steep loose stuff, they slip as well, the tread certainly is not a mountain bike tire.

**The big issue between the two tires is the sidewall thickness--I had the 2 inch supremes for a few years, got them on sale and kept them for a trip, but it is very very apparent that the sidewall thickness is much thinner than regular marathons. Its a "you pay your money and you take your chances" sort of thing here, ie if you are not a careful rider and you are riding on surfaces with sharp rocks that could rub up against the sidewall if you are one of those people who doesnt have a good idea of where their rear tire tracks along, you could be in deep doo doo easily.
I took a chance and used the supremes-I was not on rough, sharp rocked roads, and I was very aware to be careful. I also took a spare supreme tire as insurance. In this regard, the standard marathon is tougher.
-I recently changed my bike used in central america (a Surly Troll) from the 2in supremes to my set of 1.5in marathons, to see the diff, and the 40mm vs 50 (45 really) tires show that the narrower ones roll along a little bit easier I think, but in the end, not a big diff. I know you are comparing same size tires, so I would say that yes, the supremes are a bit lighter, roll a bit easier, but the diff wont be that noticeable, and given where you are going, a tougher sidewall could very well be the better way to go.

I was happy with the wider supremes because they give more "suspension effect", and as I was more loaded than usual given the unknowns of my trip, and on 32 spoke 26in wheels, I felt it was more important to be easier on my wheelset , and given the rough roads I was on sometimes, Im glad I did.
**I am in my 50s, so probably more aware of being easier on my body as well, but Im sure it made life easier on my rims and spokes.

if you use proper pressures though, 40mm can also give a good compromise of cushion and rolling resistance, I just mentioned my case for reference.

in the supremes defence re punctures, I did ride through a crapload of glass at times, didnt get a flat on the trip, but, and a big BUT, I ALWAYS stopped and checked/cleaned off my tires with a finger after running through sharp looking glass---I do this on my commutes, and figure a minute spent doing this is WAAAAAAAAAAAY faster than dealing with a piece of glass that continues to work its way into my tire and causing a puncture down the road--you decide on your own how you want to spend your time.

another thing, on the supremes, I was very pleasantly suprised by how well they wore, I did about 3000km loaded, but (and again, a big BUT) while I had at least 50lbs on the bike, I only weigh 135, so a lot lighter than most guys and so easier on the tires, plus I generally ride carefully over rough stuff.

on the 2 in supremes fully loaded, I ran about 42psi front, 45 psi rear. This was a good compromise for the rough roads, higher is possible of course, but I found it too jarring and not worth it.
In general, I find the rule is to try a given pressure, and reduce it by 5psi increments until it starts to feel a bit too soft--basically use common sense and observation--but in the end, too high a pressure is counter productive re jarring to you and your bike. Experiment with whatever tires you use and on what surfaces.

given what Ive read about eastern europe, if it was me, I'd go with the standard marathons, or heck, maybe even plus marathons, but for sure the regular marathons over supremes.
I'd also take a spare tire as my impression is that it would be worth it given the eastern european countries lack of stuff.

happy planning
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Old 08-14-17, 09:07 AM
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I have never used the Supremes, so I can't offer the comparison that you seek. But I can say that I was very happy with the Marathon (with Greenguard) size 26X1.5 (559X40mm) on the two tours where I used them. Those tours were 95 percent good pavement, 5 percent off road or bad pavement. I think the Marathons roll best with high pressure, but that of course means less cushioning on bad roads.

I have had a total of one flat with my Marathons. It was a construction staple that would have punctured any tire. Thus I am quite happy with the flat protection.

My Marathons were the wired beads (non-folding). If I was going where you are going I would carry a spare folding tire.

I have two philosophies on folding tires. If I am going where I think tires will be available for purchase within a few hundred miles, I carry the lightest weight tire I have since I only expect it to get me a short distance. But if I am going where I might have great difficulty finding a replacement tire, I carry the tire that I would want to use on the rear for long distances, even if it is heavier. I have not researched Eastern Europe, so I am not sure what kind of spare tire I would carry but would probably lean towards one that should be good for long distance.

The tires that I would use if I was going where you are going have been out of production for several years, so I won't elaborate on the models. But I will say that I would be using a more robust tire on the rear than the front. I do not think you need to use the same tire on both front and rear.
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Old 08-14-17, 11:04 AM
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I have only commuting experience with 700cx35 Supremes and a 26"x 1.75 regular Schwalbe Marathon. If you aren't a light person and aren't carrying a light load I wouldn't pick the Supremes for a trip where sidewall damage is a possibility. They are very good tires but there's a reason for that and it's a light flexible sidewall. Commuted in all weather on the 35mm and replaced the rear tire because of a severe sidewall failure and casing fibers becoming exposed. Never got a flat in the rain or riding right through broken glass. There was still tread left.
The criteria for "Performance" includes durability when your use is riding a loaded bike occasionally on rough surfaces, it's not just how it rides on smooth roads. Not much performance when you're under a tree in the rain and repairing a pinch flat and sidewall gash.

I wouldn't focus too much on tread shape for rougher roads as much as getting a sufficiently large enough tire to cushion the ride.

Given the rear tire wears more and if your riding with panniers can't unweight as much as the front consider a sturdy rear tire and a nice riding and sturdy enough front tire.

Maybe a Mondiale in the rear and an All Motion in the front.

I'm heavy and commuted with 40mm Mondiales for awhile. Awful front tire for street riding but probably wouldn't be as noticeable on the rear with weight.

Last edited by LeeG; 08-14-17 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 08-14-17, 02:09 PM
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I have not used the Schwalbe Supreme, and may not have ridden on as rough of roads as you are anticipating or that djb has experienced; but I have used the regular Marathon tires extensively with good results for touring.

We have used the Regular Marathon tires for several long fully loaded tours in 12 countries. On one tour through central Europe we experienced over 400 miles of dirt and gravel roads and paths, and 500 miles of cobblestone, sett stones and paver stones roads and trails. The Green Guard Marathon tire performed well. IMO it a a good compromise between weight, performance and durability.

We have also used the Marathon Plus tires, but I would not recommend them for touring due to weight and performance issues.

Last edited by Doug64; 08-14-17 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 08-14-17, 02:32 PM
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https://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_t...rathon_mondial

You do not like these?
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Old 08-14-17, 03:04 PM
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Supremes are terrible in dirt. I've used Supremes, the regular Marathons, and Mondials. Of those 3, Mondials are the best in dirt and regular Marathons are 2nd best. But Supremes are the fastest on pavement.
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Old 08-14-17, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by chrisx
I would use them with wide rims.
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Old 08-15-17, 06:21 AM
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thanks guys. this is all fantastically helpful information and really good of you to write such long posts and share your wisdom. sidewalk strength wasn't something i had considered - i'll give it some thought, study my route and the sort of roads i can expect a bit more and report back
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Old 08-15-17, 06:33 AM
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What about the new Marathon Plus Tour? Schwalbe is touting it to be "A heavy-duty trekking tread for asphalt, or off-road." Seems to me that this would be the beast of a tire for asphalt + bad roads?
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Old 08-15-17, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by richbrown
... sidewalk strength wasn't something i had considered - i'll give it some thought, ...
My general rule of thumb has been that a more stiff sidewall means more rolling resistance. For a trip where I will be on pavement most of the time or for other reasons think it unlikely that I will need to worry about a tire being cut in the sidewall, I prefer the tire that has the more supple sidewalls.

That said, I did have positive comments on the Marathon (with GreenGuard) that I think has a stiff sidewall. But using higher pressures negates some of the higher rolling resistance because tire flex is reduced. That is why I commented above that I like higher pressures in that that tire, at the cost of cushioning.
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Old 08-15-17, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl
What about the new Marathon Plus Tour? Schwalbe is touting it to be "A heavy-duty trekking tread for asphalt, or off-road." Seems to me that this would be the beast of a tire for asphalt + bad roads?
a friend put these on his bike, and holy kajeepers they are heavy son of guns.
To me, its balancing out and or being realistic about how much you'll be on asphalt, and how little realistically you'll be on gravel. Again, for me, some dirt roads rreally arent an issue to deal with, not for a while in any case. Riding predominantly on dirt gravel and who knows what in Mongolia is one thing, but it sounds like he'd be fine with the tread of regular marathons, I know I would be.

bottom line, my view is that the tour plus has too much of a weight rolling penalty for his use (of course, my take on it)
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Old 08-15-17, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
My general rule of thumb has been that a more stiff sidewall means more rolling resistance. For a trip where I will be on pavement most of the time or for other reasons think it unlikely that I will need to worry about a tire being cut in the sidewall, I prefer the tire that has the more supple sidewalls.

That said, I did have positive comments on the Marathon (with GreenGuard) that I think has a stiff sidewall. But using higher pressures negates some of the higher rolling resistance because tire flex is reduced. That is why I commented above that I like higher pressures in that that tire, at the cost of cushioning.
I would add to that though that my experience with the regular marathon is that at a given pressure for a given load, it can still roll fairly well, and if you find that sweet spot of pressure, it still has reasonable cushioning.
Again, my experience with them given the fact that being a light rider, I can get away with lower pressures than many of you here.
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Old 08-15-17, 09:55 AM
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Nearly-indestructible compared with other tires may outweigh (no pun intended) the weight disadvantage. Again, I think this depends on if you travel UL or are fully-loaded.
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Old 08-15-17, 10:59 AM
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I have the Supremes and personally I cannot think of a worse tire on dirt or gravel. I'm not sure I can tell any meaningful difference between the 26x1.5 Supremes and a 700x23 road tire on those surfaces.

Maybe I lack confidence, but tires without tread on slippery gravel scares the bejesus out of me.
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Old 08-15-17, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by twodownzero
I have the Supremes and personally I cannot think of a worse tire on dirt or gravel. I'm not sure I can tell any meaningful difference between the 26x1.5 Supremes and a 700x23 road tire on those surfaces.

Maybe I lack confidence, but tires without tread on slippery gravel scares the bejesus out of me.
A supple casing tire with or without tread can be nice on dirt roads IF the size of the tire matches the load. When I weighed 145lbs with weight on my hands feet and seat, unweighting off seat constantly 30mm sewups were great. But once I did trips with any load and off road heavy 32 mm tires were preferred with the greater weight and stiff sidewall affecting handling, more sliding and skittering in turns.
If you look at the racing mtb tires for hard pack it's not a thick tread.

Also the Supremes have kind of a funny handling characteristic when deflated enough for dirt to have a bigger contact patch. The puncture resistant strip makes it feel like the bike is wallowing side to side.

This is where I like putting two different tires on front and back. Nice rolling round profile in the front that has predictable handling and the tough sidewall rear tire where rear braking and weight smashing through ruts is more frequent
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Old 08-15-17, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by twodownzero
I have the Supremes and personally I cannot think of a worse tire on dirt or gravel. I'm not sure I can tell any meaningful difference between the 26x1.5 Supremes and a 700x23 road tire on those surfaces.

Maybe I lack confidence, but tires without tread on slippery gravel scares the bejesus out of me.
when a rider has experience doing mtn biking and or other two wheeled riding where sliding tires front and back is just part of the deal, one develops a good feel for traction and how to deal with it properly when things slide.
My riding with the 2in supremes on dirt has been fine, but like I said, I've done a lot of riding on 28 slicks, loaded and loaded, on dirt and gravel, as well as other two wheeled activities where sliding was commonplace.
You just have to develop a feel for the edge of traction and understanding the limits of a given tire/surface/braking amount/lean angle and all that.
Some folks just aren't comfortable with that sort of thing.
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Old 08-15-17, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
...
my experience with them given the fact that being a light rider, I can get away with lower pressures than many of you here.
I do not think I am unusually heavy at about 80 kg, but I am not an ultra light packer. My last trip with the Marathons (with Greenguard) I was packed as in the photo. These were the 40mm wide 26 inch version. I am guessing I had about 85 psi in back, around 70 psi in front for most of that trip. But that trip was on very good smooth pavement.
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Old 08-15-17, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by twodownzero
I have the Supremes and personally I cannot think of a worse tire on dirt or gravel.
[We ride on 26x2" Supremes]

Even though I agree, I'd add that dirt and gravel come in many flavours...

1. Handling: We found the Supreme to be good to excellent on hard-packed surfaces, be they clay, crushed stone or gravel and dirt mix. On the other hand, I cannot safely handle more than 1-2 cms (less than an inch) of loose dust, and probably a couple of inches (4-5 cms) of loose gravel. But yes, I remember not liking a few segments riding along a beaches.

2. Durability: Over the course of 15 000kms, we've had a total of 4 flats, 3 caused by tiny glass shards (possibly preventable had we carefully examined the tires every evening) and 1 by a utility blade. Sidewalls were never an issue.

I personally very much doubt that surface adherence would be something to worry about on a European tour. You may have to step down and push here and there, but the benefit of superior tarmac rolling provided by the Supreme (or even better, the Almotion) tips the scale in their favor.
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Old 08-15-17, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
when a rider has experience doing mtn biking and or other two wheeled riding where sliding tires front and back is just part of the deal, one develops a good feel for traction and how to deal with it properly when things slide.
My riding with the 2in supremes on dirt has been fine, but like I said, I've done a lot of riding on 28 slicks, loaded and loaded, on dirt and gravel, as well as other two wheeled activities where sliding was commonplace.
You just have to develop a feel for the edge of traction and understanding the limits of a given tire/surface/braking amount/lean angle and all that.
Some folks just aren't comfortable with that sort of thing.
I am used to riding a dirt bike, so I definitely know the feeling.

The scary part is that unlike the knobs on a dirt bike tire that will generally dig in and grab something if you slide, a smooth bike tire is unlikely to rise to the occasion.

If I have to ride gravel, I keep lean angle to a minimum and I look out for the deeper/looser gravel. Packed gravel is a non issue of course.
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Old 08-15-17, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I do not think I am unusually heavy at about 80 kg, but I am not an ultra light packer. My last trip with the Marathons (with Greenguard) I was packed as in the photo. These were the 40mm wide 26 inch version. I am guessing I had about 85 psi in back, around 70 psi in front for most of that trip. But that trip was on very good smooth pavement.
I'm about 40lbs less than you, and when I've ridden on the 1.5 40mm regular marathons with about 25lbs in rear panniers, and only a handlebar bag up front, I think I ran 60 rear, maybe 65, and 50 or 55 front, but it was 5 years ago and I forget, but I think thats what it was. I was riding on reasonable pavement in Costa Rica that time.
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Old 08-15-17, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by twodownzero
I am used to riding a dirt bike, so I definitely know the feeling.

The scary part is that unlike the knobs on a dirt bike tire that will generally dig in and grab something if you slide, a smooth bike tire is unlikely to rise to the occasion.

If I have to ride gravel, I keep lean angle to a minimum and I look out for the deeper/looser gravel. Packed gravel is a non issue of course.
pretty much sums it up, comes down to playing off great dirt traction compared to a nicer riding pavement tire. I really like going around corners, so prefer a smoother tire rather than one with a smooth center and knobby stuff on the edges.

In the end, I'm sure the fellow asking the question here will have a good trip regardless the tire, as long as common sense is used in watching what he runs over and how.
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Old 08-15-17, 03:50 PM
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I'm going to do a century next month on my 26x1.6 Marathon Supremes and if they work out, I may do a brevet with them sometime. They are a good rolling tire.
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Old 08-15-17, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by twodownzero
I am used to riding a dirt bike, so I definitely know the feeling.

The scary part is that unlike the knobs on a dirt bike tire that will generally dig in and grab something if you slide, a smooth bike tire is unlikely to rise to the occasion.

If I have to ride gravel, I keep lean angle to a minimum and I look out for the deeper/looser gravel. Packed gravel is a non issue of course.
I have done gravel and cobbles, but I have also done gravel and cobbles with a heavy load on the bike. I find them to be quite different experiences.
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Old 08-15-17, 04:10 PM
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The Almotion has more tread than a Supreme, and from my experience, better off-road traction. It's not as light as the Supreme, but according to CyclingAbout, it has even less rolling resistance (best tire tested!). I found it to be the perfect tire for the Katy Trail, and excellent on pavement. I only wish there were a 35 mm option.
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