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.  


August 02, 2018

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