SCHWALBE Magic Mary 2.35 29″er tires – Final Review by c_g
While the winter here in Germany is somewhat delayed, this fact has given me plenty of opportunities to ride the SCHWALBE Magic Mary 29er tires more. For the Intro with all the details and the First impressionssimply follow the links.
After more than 2 months on these tires, with a good variety of trail conditions (but a huge percentage in rather sloppy, wet grounds) I have a rather complete picture of what the Magic Mary is all about. While the tires have seen every single trail around my area, chances to ride them in an alpine environment have been scarce, but I did manage to take them on a long, rather technical ride that did confirm my previous impressions. This specific loop has a lot on root sections, plenty of slippery forest grounds, often off camber and with very tight switchbacks – a loop I usually reserve to good weather and dry conditions. But the trail time on SCHWALBE’s Magic Mary has built up such a trust in their grip and control in adverse conditions that I did tackle the circuit despite the conditions being rather wet and slippery. I admit, that I was a bit tense when I dropped into the key section, but I never felt like the tires were the limiting factor. And sure enough I made it through the entire 3hr loop without any crashes and with a huge (yet very mud smeared) grin on my face.
Enough of a prelude – The SCHWALBE Magic Mary is a beast when traction and grip are key. Under dry conditions, there was no limit to how far I could take these tires, and even when things got slippery the grippy TrailStar Compound made them hold lines very long – up- and downhill. The only other tire I can think of that gave me such a confidence and inspired me to search out my own limits in technical terrain and sloppy conditions has been the MAXXIS High Roller II / Minion DHR combo (here). The tread design does a great job overall but it is those burly shoulder knobs, that deserve special thanks, as they are so strong and tough that they are nearly impossible to buckle under load (one of my main points of criticism I had with the MAXXIS High Roller II especially).
On muddy or deep grounds, the Magic Mary would hold a line very well and when it finally would give way, it would do so in a very controlled manner. On hard soil I they can grip very hard and long – even when ridden at ridiculous angles. The best part about this quality is, that it remains even at very low pressures. When I tried to lower pressures limits of the Mary, it usually was the casing that would start to feel unstable before the shoulder knobs would. I have easily taken pressures down to 1,45 bar (or 21 psi) in technical terrain and still felt it to ride well.
What I personally liked very much about the Magic Marys, was that despite offering a very high level of traction, its limits were well defined, so that when you got to them, there was plenty of warning and even when ridden beyond, it was hardly ever an abrupt letting go, but rather a gentle one. I must say, I haven´t had the chance to ride it on very rocky alpine terrain, but in everything I did ride them in, they have proven to be surprisingly well mannered for a tire that is designed to be raced.
Of course this comes at a price. No I am not talking about SCHWALBE tires costing much overseas (they are not cheap in their homeland either ) but I am talking about their rolling resistance. On the long rides, especially on hard surfaces, I sure heard the knobs flex and felt that they do suck up energy – so don´t mistake this tire as a all around pedal anywhere tire- it is an aggressive trail to Enduro tire, and as such it does exactly what it should. They take you down a mountain at warp speed and with the utmost level of control. When pedaling uphill you better have strong legs or simply take things a bit more laid back.
Summary: Ever since I have seen the SCHWALBE Magic Mary 29″er, I have been looking forward to reviewing this tire in its 29″er version. This anticipation was well worth the wait. My time with the Magic Mary on board the CUBE Stereo 140 mm (tuned with the 160 mm ROCK SHOX Pike – (verdict here) has proven, that they currently are some of the most capable tires within the rapidly growing segment of aggressive All-Mountain/Enduro tires. As we see new tire introductions to this segment all the time, this statement may change in the course of this year, but for now the SCHWALBE Magic Mary 2,35 (Snakeskin, Trailstar version) rightfully carries the title „Queen of Traction and Control“.?The tubeless characteristics are spot on, uphill and braking traction are awesome and the super stable shoulder knobs give it cornering control even under very low pressures – so all in all, they are a great package, that is both capable and well mannered under a big variety of trail conditions.
ps: If you are more a “pedal-up-and-down” kind of rider, but are looking for maximum grip and control, I would still suggest the SCHWALBE Magic Mary as front tire, but would probably opt for a more pedaling friendly rear tire (… I am still hoping for the Rock Razor to materialize in 29″er size).