Saddle Sore – Reviews, Rides & Rablings – Cycling Blog


On my old Revolution Country Explorer I had a set of 700x32cc Schwalbe Marathon Plus with which I did 1000s of miles and didn’t get a single puncture. When I got my Kinesis Tripster ATR I thought I’d try something (supposedly) a little faster and opted for the well reviewed Continental GP 4 Season. The Contis (700x28cc) did well (0 punctures) through the Summer months but come Autumn with all its fallen road debris (namely thorns) I suffered 3 punctures in quick succession. The punctures, coupled with the tyres starting to show signs of wear (after 3000 miles), I thought it time to revert to the Marathon Plus.

With the Schwalbes installed I noticed a difference in grip, especially when riding over small objects in the road or mounting dropped curbs at an acute angle. Where as the Contis would ride over the object (or fire it sideways at unsuspecting victims), the Schwalbes will slide off. I’d guess this is due to the compound used on the tyre; the Contis have a rubbery feel, almost tacky, the Schwalbes are harder more plasticky. The sliding isn’t a major problem when you know it might happen but the first time it happens it can catch you unawares.

I’m happier to forgo the benefit in grip in exchange for the increased puncture protection. Those of you concerned with, and are sensitive to speed may notice the rolling resistance but I’m just as slow with either. If rolling resistance does concern you but you want the same level puncture protection then you could try the Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre – I haven’t used them so can’t recommend first hand.

The Contis and Schwalbes are both pretty hard to fit on my wheels (they of course may be easier (or harder) on yours), with the Marathons the harder to get on. The trick as always is to make sure the bead wire is in the recess of the wheels when you try to lever or pull the last portion over, it is this that gives the tiny bit of slack that allows the wire to fit over the rim. Below is a video on how to fit a Marathon Plus tyre, but the same principles apply to all brands.

I also ordered some Schwalbe Smart Sam Plus tires, which I’ll be collecting soon for offroad use. There is a MTB version of the Marathon Plus but they don’t do this in 29″/700c and don’t have it planned for 2015 (though their email made it sound like they do have it in the pipeline). The Smart Sam Plus seem the next best thing. I will update once I have tried them. Additionally I found a bit of a bargain on the Planet X site for studded tyres – I bought a pair just in case, at £13.99 each (now £14.99) I couldn’t not – I’ll let you how I get on if I need them.

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