Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Schwalbe Marathon Dureme Tires!

The subject of tires can bring about a gigantic can of wormy debate.

Most of the debate exists around how one defines "great performance". For some, that means extra light, high-pressure, skinny tires with great grip and low rolling resistance for fast riding. For others, it means low-pressure fat tires with aggressive tread for dirt and rock navigation without slipping. For others, it means no flats EVER, and nothing else matters. Still others might define performance as being the cushiest, smoothest ride ever, without any major concerns of weight or speed. Your definition of tire performance may be en-"tire"-ly different. That's just fine ... and that's why there are so many different tires on the market ... to suit the many different needs of many different riders.

I've had just enough time riding a bike to finally form an opinion of my own regarding tire performance. It goes something like this (not necessarily in order):

  • Lots of air for comfort. 
  • Enough tread for mild trails and fire roads, but not too much for paved surfaces. 
  • High puncture resistance. 
  • Durable. 
  • Folding bead preferred.

Notice I didn't use the word "fast" anywhere. I guess I'm over that. I figure any tire that fits the other criteria will be plenty "fast" enough for me. I also didn't use the words "light weight". With the same logic, I think any tire that fits the other criteria will be light enough. Also, I've never actually had a tire so heavy that I said to myself "wow, that tire feels heavy when I'm riding on it". I generally assume that if I'm slow, it's because it's ME ... not the bike or the tires. Besides, I'm not in a hurry, and a little extra effort won't kill me.

All that aside, I pretty much adhere to the theory that when something's right, I'll basically never notice it or give it any thought. It just sort of blends in and does its job so well that it doesn't draw attention to itself. It's a bit like adding reverb to a track in a music mix ... the right type and amount should not be actually "heard" by the listener, only a noticeable difference when removed. Well, at least that's my take on it ...

Back to the purpose of this post ... it was a beautiful day today, and I was out riding on a trail that had some rough spots from horse hooves, mixed with some soft sandy spots ... and for whatever reason, I realized how nicely my tires were handling it all.

Nice day for a ride on the trails ... how nicely my tires are handling this!
Seven miles or so on pavement to the trail ... and a few miles of mixed trail surface ... and throughout the ride, there was no thought about how my tires were working ... that is until the moment it popped into my head that my tires rolled so well everywhere. This wasn't the first time I'd taken this route, so I'm not sure why I thought about it this time ... maybe because it was so nice to never NEED to think about it. So I thought it might be a good idea to pass on the experience of the tires that I haven't thought about ... thus, in the event you're looking for a tire you won't ever think about, here's a review:

Here's my disclaimer:  None of the products reviewed here were provided to me by the manufacturer or any retailer for evaluation. Nope. I'm not one of those famous bloggers who gets stuff for free. I purchased everything with my own money, and without any sort of special interweb journalist discount, so you can rest assured that the opinions expressed here are unbiased and come purely through my own experience ... good, bad, or otherwise. That being said, should any manufacturers out there wish to provide some cool bike-related products for ... ummm ... testing and evaluation ... I would likely be open to offering my honest review. 

The Schwalbe Marathon Dureme is described by the manufacturer as follows:

This new Marathon is a dream. Incorporated in it is all of Schwalbe’s Evolution

  • HD Ceramic Guard. The safest protection belt for light weight tires.
  • SnakeSkin. Much lighter than a rubber sidewall, but just as robust.
  • Triple Nano Compound. Our best rubber compound for outstanding grip,
  • easy rolling and long life.
We combined this high quality technology with a classic, versatile tread, which feels at home on any road: The Dureme is a breeze on tracks and rolls phenomenally easily on the road.

Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 26" x 2" on Velocity Synergy rim
I've been a Schwalbe fan for a few years now, since installing my first set of Marathon Plus tires on my Look carbon road bike after getting "tired" of flats. Everyone talked about how "heavy" they are, but at the same time, never had a flat. I tried them ... never got a flat ... and actually found them to be very comfortable for a high-pressure tire. When I got my Surly LHT, I put a set of Marathon Supremes on it ... and was very happy with those, as well (see previous review here). So, when putting together the component list for my Rivendell Hunqapillar, I was pretty sure it would be Schwalbe again, just not certain about the particular model.

If you look at my list above for my definition of "performance", then look at Schwalbe's description of the Marathon Dureme, it's easy to see why I chose that model. It has great puncture protection, good tread for mixed riding conditions, a "robust" sidewall construction, and a "long life" durable design. Plus ... it comes in a 26" x 2" size ... plenty of air for a comfortable ride. And ... a folding bead for easier installation and (in my opinion) better rim attachment.

The price for these tires was a bit of a shock at first. Actually, it's still a shock. They're expensive tires. Even for high-quality tires, they're expensive. But my experience with Schwalbe told me they would be worth the price, and when I thought about it, $150 for a pair of tires that will probably last for two years of great riding isn't really that much to spend. I spend that much EVERY MONTH for cable TV and Internet! Breaking the cost down, if they do last two years, it's only $6.25 per month and only 21 cents per day! I can't even buy a cup of coffee for 21 cents ... so for something that really makes a difference, it's quite a bargain. In the end, I really felt the Hunqapillar deserved a great set of tires, so I added them to the build list without hesitation.

Fat tires and fenders ... appropriate style elements of a Woolly Mammoth bike!
Keven at Rivendell concurred, saying this tire would be one of the best all-around tires available. They fit nicely in the Hunqapillar frame, with plenty of room for big fenders. We don't get a lot of rain where I live, but the fenders sure do help to keep the sand and dirt out of the drivetrain and off the frame.

Bright ... BRIGHT ... reflective stripe on the sidewall!
I've been riding them since I got the bike about three months ago, and they have "performed" perfectly for my needs ... which is to say I haven't given them much thought during any ride. That's a great thing, considering I've taken them on a variety of paved surfaces, trails, and gravel fire roads. The ride has always been smooth and comfortable, regardless of the surface, and the tread seems to be just right ... rolling well on pavement, digging in just enough on the trail. I looked at the tread today after three months of almost-everyday use, and it shows virtually no signs of wear, except for being a little dirtier than when it was new.

Marathon Dureme Tread: sure-footed on trails, smooth on pavement
In contrast to the Marathon Supremes mounted on my Surly LHT, I find the Marathon Dureme to roll just as well on the road (for the riding I do), but much better on trails, where the Supremes tend to slide a bit in loose or sandy conditions. The Supremes also make a bit of noticable noise on smooth roads, like a medium-pitched hum. This doesn't happen with the Duremes, which is odd, since there's more tread ... so I'd think the road noise would be greater. As far as comfort, I find them both to be about the same ... nice and smooth, very forgiving of bumps and cracks in the road. They are both rated for the same load, which is 140kg per tire, or 280kg for the pair. That's 616 pounds of load capacity ... more than I could ever carry ... so they're certainly strong enough for whatever I'll do with them. They're also both rated for the same air volume, which is 30-70psi. I generally inflate them to 50psi and ride without worrying about it. I like it that way, and don't really find a need to modulate air pressure for different terrain, although I'm sure the traction would be better for more off-road riding with lower pressure, adding more air back for speedier pavement riding. With these tires and a good set of tubes, I find that I only need to add air about once every 2 weeks, and even then it's just to top them off ... a nice benefit of lower pressure tire systems. As a side note, Schwalbe tubes really do hold air better ... just sayin' ... try them for yourself and find out.

30-70psi for the 26" x 2" model ... 50psi works for just about everything!
To say I like these tires because I haven't thought about them sounds awfully lackluster as a review, but the truth is, that's why I really LOVE them! To have a tire that always rolls well, regardless of the terrain, never gets a flat, and holds a lot of cushy air means I never really HAVE to think or worry about them at all ... and that's a truly beautiful thing!

Have a great weekend!!


  1. thanks for the review

  2. I currently ride a combination of the Supreme up front and Dureme in the back and I have to agree with you review. You just don't notice they are there, but I did notice quite a difference in grip between my previous tire and this one. Especially on roads with some sand.

    1. Is the difference in grip better or worse for you? And what tires were you riding before? There are so many tires out there ... having lots to choose from is great, but it's always difficult to know what works and what doesn't, so I'm always curious to hear about other makes/models.

      I've been riding the Duremes now for almost 8 months, and I'm still very happy with them for this bike. Although they're now a bit dirtier, they show very little wear (considering the amount of use) and they've been great on everything from roads to sandy beach trails.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. Whoops, I should have seen this reply.
      To be honest I don't know what tires I had before. They were the standard tires that Gazelle put on their Orange line of bicycles. Probably Vredestein.

      What I meant is that in just a little bit of sand, the Supreme goes flat on it's face. No traction at all, where the Dureme can keep goin like nothing happens. So it's perfect for some on-road and off-road use.

      On tarmac however the Supreme holds up a lot better, especially in wet weather. I actually had the Dureme on my rear tire slide out on me a few times the last few weeks when it was raining. This could however be to the difference in grip and my brake settings. So anyone contemplating on putting these on, do use the same tires on both wheels.

  3. I put new bearings and grease in the wheels of my old tour bike and decided (after much research) to install Duremes (700 x 40). Then I rode half way across the Rockies this summer and never had any problem at all. As Scott says, I found I gave no thought to the Duremes, except when I couldn't dodge broken glass, which only then made me relize how well they were performing - what a great feeling. I put in about 45 lbs pressure and don't remember topping up after that for the month I was on the road. Can't wait to finish the Rockies next year, and to carry on across the rest of Canada.

  4. Hi Scott, I see this review is old but it is correct. The current Dureme tyres on our bikes were OEM from Thorn (SJS Cycles UK) purchased in 2012. Due to work commitments the bikes were hardly used for a couple of years. This year we did 5000kms on the Duremes over all sorts of terrain, and I mean everything! Really happy with the performance.
    We are about to ride across the Nullarbor, Australia, and I noticed a split in the tread of my rear Dureme. They have only had 2 punctures between two bikes (10000kms combined, both fully loaded). They ha e been so "easy" to live with that I've purchased a couple more for our 2015 ride, $89AUD each, ouch...

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  6. Agram CroatiaOctober 11, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    Schwalbe Marathon Dureme Tandem 1.6 is for me the best tire in the world. I've got them over 5 years on a trekking bike, driven with them over 15,000km and I have never dumped them. I changed the rear with the fromt tire. Driving was asphalt 70% and macadam 30%.he front tire and can still go with them at least 5000km.I bought two more pairs of these tires, though they no longer produce them. Very durable and long lasting. Rating is 5+. Croatia