SCHWALBE Thunder Burt 29″er Tire– Final Review: by c_g

It was only a couple of weeks ago, that we introduced you to the SCHWALBE Thunder Burt, which by SCHWALBE’s own claim is their fastest MTB racing tire. In their line-up the Thunder Burt is placed right between the very extreme Furious Fred and the very popular Racing Ralph therefore is a 100% racing tire. Maximum speed, very light weight. But how about its trail worthiness and grip? I admit, that when I first saw this minimal knob semi slick tire, I was skeptical. When we went on this first demo ride around the Nürburgring race track and it did really well there … but there the ground had been dry and rather tame. How would it do on the mostly humid to outright muddy trails back home? Again I wasn’t expecting much.

So when I set out on m first ride on the humid trails around my home, I was in for a big surprise. The SCHWALBE Thunder Burt is not only very fast but it handles wet and slippery grounds much more competently than anyone would have guessed from looks alone. On the RADON Black Sin 10.0 hard tail I rode it on, I was able to climb up the steepest pitches over wet roots and muddy grounds … stuff that gives lots of much more aggressive tires a good challenge. Ok, it wasn’t that I could simply grind my way up, I did need to be a bit cautious about what line I rode and what pressure I put to the pedal, but this minimal knob tire did definitely work better for me than lots of other XC tires such as the TUFO XC2Plus, SYNCROS Flavor, MAXXIS Ikon or SCHWALBE’s Racing Ralph, on which I would struggle more to make those pitches without walking. Great!

When it came to reduce momentum, the braking grip was also very good for the type of tire it was – no All-Mountain monster grip, but very good for an XC tire. So far so good, but where I was really surprised big time was how the Thunder Burt did when pushed to the limit in corners, off camber situations or simply when ridden more aggressively. Racing tires often have a tendency to be tricky then, braking loose suddenly, but the Thunder Burt was exceptionally predictable and well mannered

. There have been a few situations where with the Thunder Burt I would ride a slippery corner or techy section with lots of control and some predictable drifting, where under comparable situations I would be a lot more cautious on any of the above mentioned tires. Another thing the Thunder Burt did really well was remaining in control on loose over hard pack, where a majority of the other tires (XC or all-around) would start “floating atop” with little ride precision.

OK, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to hear me say it is one of the fastest tires out there – with those minimal knobs, very thin casing and super low weight it ought to be. I cannot comment much on how much mileage you will get out of it, since I have only ridden it for a limited period of time and predominantly on forest roads and earthy soil which creates very little wear in tires, but given the EVO triple compound, and minimal tread, it likely won’t last very long. But what I can say is that despite my weight and riding style, I didn’t have any flats or other issues like tubeless burping or such.

As a regular read you have heard how I have added one more testing phase to the AMERICAN CLASSIC Race wheels and for that I had mounted the Thunder Burt on those 24mm inner width rims. Compared to the stock MAVIC Crossmaxx STs on the RADON, that adds about 5mm of rim width, which of course did add considerable volume to the tire and lead to a full 3 mm more in casing width. The results were immediately noticeable: More vibration damping, more comfort, more traction and tire support which allowed me to reduce the air pressure some more (even more comfort and grip ;)) … and all that with a 2.1” tire! And like other narrower XC tires before, the Thunder Burt even gained in control. If you ask me – when it comes to low weight, great acceleration and overall performance – the combination of the SCHWALBE Thunder Burt tires and the AMERICAN CLASSIC Race wheels is ace for racing in dry to moderately humid conditions. Should it get wetter and deeper, I’d probably opt for something like a Rocket Ron up front and be happy for anything but extremely deep grounds.

VERDICT: I am a typical All-around mountain biker, with a love for more technical terrain, but I come from a XC background. When introduced to the Thunder Burt, the racer in me rejoiced, but the trail rider was left wondering about the minimal knob design and fragile feeling tire. This Thunder Burt is bound to be a dry conditions racing only tire, right?–> Well, to my honest amazement it is not! For me the SCHWALBE Thunder Burt has become the new benchmark for a fast XC-tire. If it is not only speed and lowest possible weight you are looking for, but a surprisingly high level of traction, control and predictability, then the Thunder Burt for me is one of this year’s hottest tire for sure. (Which only leaves me to call out to SCHWALBE, that they soon introduce a wider version of this tire … say 2.25 or so.)

Ride On