Schwalbe MTB Tire Guide: Which Is Right For You? [Video]

Schwalbe is one of the bigger tire companies you will see riding around North America.  They make a wide range of tires, everything from Mountain to Road to City, and everything in between.  We are going to take a look at the overall most popular Mountain tires they make. The models tested are as follows:

These tires come in a variety if different compounds, making it all that much tougher to narrow down the exact tire you want for your bike. Last year, Schwalbe launched a new compound to their Evo line, Addix, which aims to please riders in every category by increasing durability without skimping on grip or rolling resistance. Below we dive a bit deeper into each Addix compound.

Available MTB Addix Compounds:

  • Addix Speed, red identifier: The new compound for XC Race specialists rolls even better than the previous PaceStar compound and has a considerably extended service life.
  • Addix Speedgrip, blue identifier: The compound with by far the widest range of use, almost a universal compound. Ideal for cross country, all-mountain and trail. Durability is 62 percent higher compared to its predecessor PaceStar, with grip up by 35 percent.
  • Addix Soft, orange identifier: The compound is used just as often in demanding all-mountain and trail riding as in the enduro and downhill world. It has impressively good rolling characteristics and at the same time outstanding damping, both of which are also evident at low temperatures. It’s also ideal for e-MTBs.
  • Addix Ultrasoft, purple identifier: The new compound with maximum damping is perfect for hardcore use in enduro and downhill. Seriously improved low-temperature properties in terms of grip and damping, compared to the previous VertStar compound, make it eminently suitable for year-round use.


Aside from differing compounds, there is numerous different options for sidewall protection. We make it easy for you and go over the basics for each form of protection.

  • Tubeless Easy - Schwalbe tubeless technology – special monofilament fabric (SnakeSkin or MicroSkin) avoid air loss and guarantee highest puncture protection in combination with sealant liquid. Schwalbe Flat Protection = 6/7
  • Dual - The new puncture protection technology from Schwalbe combines two protection layer principles (special India rubber + nylon fabric) under the tread 2 layers of nylon carcass, 2.5mm flexible, special India rubber. Schwalbe Flat Protection = 6/7
  • Double Defense - The combined protection is available in three executions. In the Race-version (A) a tire is protected by all around SnakeSkin and RaceGuard (under the tread). Touring tires (B) are protected by SnakeSkin on the sidewalls and high density V-Guard is beneath the tread. “Plus”-tires (C)combine a layer of GreenGuard under the tread and SnakeSkin on the sidewalls. Schwalbe Flat Protection = 6/7
  • RaceGuard - Double layer of Nylon fabric under the tread. Excellent puncture protection for a tire that should be fast and lightweight. 2 layers of crosswise Nylon fabric, 67 EPI carcass. Schwalbe Flat Protection = 4/7
  • LiteSkin & Performance - Tires, made from high-quality carcass fabric without a separate protection belt. Minimum standard for all Schwalbe-tires: 50 EPI carcass. Schwalbe Flat Protection = 2/7

With the bases covered for the different compounds and sidewall protection for Schwalee tires, let's dive into the tires themselves and see which tire will have you getting rowdy out on the trail!

Schwalbe MTB Tire Overview

Thunder Burt:

Schwalbe Thunder Burt Tire

Starting with the Thunder Burt, this will be the most XC focused tire. It features a fine tread in the center, or a semi-slick pattern. The cornering tread on the sides feature much larger knobs to help get some grip when leaning the bike over. The Thunder Burt will be a very very fast tire in good conditions, but not provide much grip in wet or loose conditions. It’s mainly used in the rear for most riders, however sometimes you will see them front and rear for races with a lot of gravel and road, or if riders are looking for the fastest rolling option. It’s available in the Addix compound Speed (red stripe).

Available Sizes: 26 x 2.10, 27.5 x 2.10, 27.5 x 2.25, 29 x 2.10, 29 x 2.25

Compounds: PaceStar, Addix Speed

Performance: SnakeSkin, TK Easy, LiteSkin, RaceGuard

Shop Schwalbe Thunder Burt

Racing Ralph:

Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tires

The next level up in amount of tread will be the Racing Ralph. This tire is still very XC focused, but has a more well rounded tread pattern. This provides more grip than the aforementioned Thunder Burt and will perform much better in wet and loose conditions. A great tire for the front and rear of an XC bike or even in the rear of a trail bike. Available Addix compounds are Speed (red stripe) or Speedgrip (blue stripe).

Available Sizes: 26 x 2.10, 26 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.10, 27.5 x 2.25, 29 x 2.0, 29 x 2.10, 29 x 2.25, 29 x 2.35   

Compounds: PaceStar, Addix, Addix Speed, Addix SpeedGrip, Dual

Performance: SnakeSkin, TL Easy, LiteSkin, Performance, TL Ready, Performance, Handmade Tubular

Shop Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Rocket Ron:

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Tires

The last offering in the XC area, the Rocket Ron features taller tread and a more overall spaced out pattern than the Racing Ralph. This will be the best XC tire option when the terrain is loose or wet. While it’s commonly used up front on XC bikes, this is not a bad option to be used front and rear or in the rear of a trail bike. It sheds mud much better than the Racing Ralph while still rolling fast and providing good grip. Available Addix compounds are Speed (red stripe) or Speedgrip (blue stripe).

Available Sizes: 700 x 33C, 24 x 2.10, 26 x 2.10, 26 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.10, 27.5 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.60, 27.5 x 2.80, 27.5 x 3.00, 29 x 2.10, 29 x 2.25   

Compounds: PaceStar, Dual, Addix, Addix Speed, Addix Speedgrip

Performance: Handmade Tubular, Performance, Performance, TL Ready, LiteSkin, SnakeSkin, TL Easy

Shop schwalbe rocket ron

Nobby Nic:

Schwalbe Nobby Nic Tires

Moving into the full trail category and possibly the most popular tire Schwalbe makes, we have the Nobby Nic. One of the best all around tires offered by Schwalbe, the Nobby Nic will perform great in most conditions you put it in. Dry, loose, wet with roots, the Nobby Nic can handle it. Falling into the trail category, you could run these front and rear on a mid travel bike, put it up front for some grip on an XC bike, or put it in the rear of your 6-inch travel rig. It’s an incredibly versatile tire that is not going to disappoint. Available in Addix compound Speedgrip (blue stripe).

Available Sizes: 26 x 2.10, 26 x 2.25, 26 x 2.35, 27 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.35, 27.5 x 2.60, 27.5 x 2.80, 27.5 x 3.00, 29 x 2.25, 29 x 2.35, 29 x 2.60

Compounds: Dual, Addix, PaceStar, TrailStar, GateStar, Addix Speedgrip

Performance: Performance, Double Defense, Performance, TL Ready, SnakeSkin, TL Easy Apex, SnakeSkin, TL Easy, LiteSkin

Shop schwalbe nobby nic

Hans Dampf:

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tires

The Hans Dampf is very similar to the Nobby Nic, but leans slightly more toward the heavy trail/enduro bike dominion. Square tread patterns in the center of the tire means it will not only grip when climbing but also braking. This is the least aggressive tire (don’t worry, it’s still plenty aggressive!) available in Schwalbe's “Super Gravity” protection. The reinforcement makes it very strong and resistant to cuts and failures. This would be a good tire to use in the rear of an enduro bike or up front on a trail bike. Available in Addix Soft (orange) for Super Gravity casing, and Addix Soft (orange) and Addix Speedgrip (blue) in the tubeless ready casing.

Available Sizes: 24 x 2.35, 26 x 2.35, 27.5 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.35, 29 x 2.35

Compounds: Dual, Addix, Addix Soft, Addix Speedgrip

Performance: Performance, Performance, TL Ready, Super Gravity, TL Easy, SnakeSkin

Shop schwalbe hans damph tire

Magic Mary:

Schwalbe Magic Mary tires

Don't let the name fool you, the Magic Mary will impress you with a hard charging aggressive tread. This grip-monster has the most tread, featuring Schwalbe’s tallest and most aggressive knobs. It’s great for days in the bike park, smashing out shuttle runs on your enduro or DH bike, and setting PRs on any kind of downhill you throw at it. It performs well in all conditions. Coming in a range of casings and compounds, you can find one to match your terrain and riding style. It’s available in a downhill casing that offers max protection and comes in Addix Ultra Soft (purple stripe). The Super Gravity casing is available in Addix Soft (orange stripe) and Addix Speedgrip (blue) and is tubeless-ready.

Available Sizes: 26 x 2.35, 26 x 2.60, 27.5 x 2.25, 27.5 x 2.35, 27.5 x 2.60, 27.5 x 2.80, 29 x 2.25, 29 x 2.35

Compounds: Addix, Dual, VertStar, TrailStar, Addix Ultra Soft, Addix Soft, Addix Speedgrip

Performance: BikePark, Downhill, Super Gravity, SnakeSkin, TL Easy

shop schwalbe magic mary

With a full range of tires, you should be able to find a pair to match your bike, terrain and riding style.  


If you're one strange human and would like to read a transcript of the video above, continue reading below!

What's up guys, Jeff here from Worldwide Cyclery and today we're gonna talk about the most popular Schwalbe mountain bike tires. But before we get into it, do you think I look like the singer from Sum 41… remember that band? So mountain bike tires can be a pretty confusing topic. There is an incredible amount of tires out there on the market to buy. There's a ton of different types of bikes out there as well so it is sometimes challenging to figure out what tires might make the most sense for you. We made a video similar to this one where we sort of talked about the most popular mountain bike tires for Maxxis, which is at least in North America the most popular mountain bike tire brand. Maxxis has probably even more mountain bike tire models than Schwalbe does. I don't know if all of Schwalbe tires actually make it to North America. It is a German company so they're likely much more popular in Europe than they are here in the States. But we've gathered the six most popular ones right here and gonna dive into a little bit of the model names here and what these tires are specifically used for. I've lined these things up from sort of the most cross country to the least cross country and most downhill oriented tire.

So the biggest difference with these things: weight, traction, and durability. Those are going to be the three things that really change when you look at the different models. So if you start out with the Thunder Burt. This tire is extremely lightweight, it's got very small knobs so it's very fast rolling and this is typically available in pretty thin widths and the reason for that is because this tire is made for really just cross country bikes. If you're on a hardtail and you're looking for a lightweight fast rolling tire the Thunder Burt is probably your tire right here and it's also typically used just on the rear. I've seen these on the front here and there but it's pretty much always just a rear cross country bike tire. Next up is the Racing Ralph. So now we're getting into a little bit more tread. This is a pretty good one, you can run this on an XC bike to a trail bike, you could probably put it on like an enduro style bike, but again it's still a fairly lightweight tire and you see it has pretty small knobs and they're pretty flat. So again this tire is more aimed at being lightweight and low rolling resistance. It's not made to have the best traction in the world. It's really just made for, like I said, weight and rolling resistance. If you get a little bit more traction, now you're talking about the rocket ron. So the rocket ron is still pretty similar to the racing Ralph. It's gonna have a little bit more knobiness to it and possibly a little bit more weight to it and some different widths. There's a ton of different widths and compounds and casings available for all of these tires. We're gonna put a link below to a blog post where we go more in-depth on all of that stuff but we're just gonna do in this video an overview of what these things are really for. So rocket ron - this is still your cross-country slash trail bike style tire right here and a good one at that. If you're getting a little bit more knobby, yet again the Hans Dampf this is probably equal knobiness and you know discipline to the nobby nic but the Hans Dampf typically you see these on the rear of a bike. It's a pretty popular rear tire I've seen for schwalbe over the years. This tire has been around a long time with the same tread pattern and this same name is sort of notorious with Schwalbe. Been around a while, and it's always been a very good top performing tire and I've seen it personally mostly on the rear. I think I've seen a couple people running these on the front but I almost always see this as a rear tire on a trail or enduro bike and when I say trailer enduro I'm talking you know five inches of travel to six inches of travel and when I'm saying cross-country I'm talking four inches of travel and below, which is more this side of the table right here. Next up is the nobby Nic. So this could be the most popular Schwalbe tire at least that I can think of. I would say just from over the years looking at different riders' bikes and you know I've run these tires myself so it's a popular name when it comes to Schwalbe. This tire they have a different version of this which I really like to kind of wish they still made it this version, I don't know if it's quite as good as the last version of this tire but this is their new iteration of it that's been out for I think probably a few years at this point. but a very popular trail slash enduro Schwalbe tire right here at the nobby Nic and all the way on the other side of the table is the magic Mary. So you can tell by just looking at this thing especially in comparing it down the line here, this thing is the beefiest of all the schwalbe tires and you typically see this on a downhill bike. So very high side knobs, very high Center knobs, very heavy very strong casing, so pretty much enduro or downhill bikes are gonna be running this tire right here. We actually did a comparison video of this tire versus a Maxxis minion dhf because they often get compared as sort of these enduro slash downhill tires that are some of the more popular ones from both brands. So people are often asking us as a retailer: hey what do you guys sell more of? What do you think works better? So that's why we made a comparison video of the Schwalbe magic Mary versus the Maxxis minion dhf. But that right there is your six most popular Schwalbe tires and what riding disciplines, therefore and sort of the differences between them. So again, just to go over it briefly you know you have the Thunder burt all the way over here being this ultra lightweight fast rolling sort of low traction cross country tire and then it goes this direction to get all the way to your magic Mary which is your enduro slash downhill tire with the most traction and the most weight and the most durability. So these all have a different use case for them so it all depends on again what your riding as far as the terrain, the bike, your riding, your preference, what you're looking for specifically out of the tire. Schwalbe makes great stuff, I personally am more of a Maxxis fan but I don't really have an allegiance to anyone.

I switch from Schwalbe to Maxxis, I've tried some Michelin and recently I've been riding some WTB's lately, I really like some of their new tires. I like changing it up. There's definitely people out there that have a total allegiance to one brand but all I can say on that front is just try some other stuff. It's cool to try different tires and really see what works for you and especially as different riding conditions you know come about. Like I'll run different tires in the wintertime when there's more rain and more traction than I would in the summer when it's sort of a Dust Bowl out in California. Let us know in the comments: are you guys running any of these Schwalbe tires, do you hate schwalbe, do you like Maxxis instead, do you hate Maxxis, do you love Schwalbe, do you like WTB? Let us know what your thoughts are on these tires, on the Schwabe brand in general, and don't forget to hit that subscribe button and we'll see you guys in the next one.

August 02, 2018

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