Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Schwalbe Marathon Supremes - Making the Cut?

I love 35mm Paselas. Really. Made in Japan, high quality, flexible sidewalls, so-so puncture protection. Inexpensive to buy and readily available. They roll fast and wear at a reasonable rate. In fact my only criticism is that the sidewalls start disintegrating before the tread is worn down!

Panaracer Pasela sidewall damage 700X35C Tourguard w/ Kevlar bead

I do have an on-going problem with goathead punctures, so am always looking for a tire that rolls as good but is somewhat resistant to punctures. For those of you not living in the Southwestern United States, let me tell you how awful goatheads are. They are from an invasive ground level plant that reproduces at a prodigious rate. The seeds are built like little caltrops that puncture just about any tire I've found.

I've tried the amazing 700c Grand Bois tires, and while they roll wonderfully, they are just too delicate for my needs. I really do appreciate how low their rolling resistance is. Some QC issues as well I found.

In my quest to find the next best thing, I was able to borrow a set of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes (thanks Doug!). I found them to be about the same weight as the Paselas (Paselas have less wear, so I'm extrapolating that they're about the same weight when new).

tire weight comparo

Both tires pump up to near 34.5mm at 35psi.

tire width comparo

So same weight, same size, but they don't roll the same. The Pasela seems to be able to roll further when I'm coasting down a known road. Not hugely, but enough that I can notice it. The Supremes also feel heavier and clunkier. That's on the same rim, same bike, same pressure, same roads. Yes, subjective seat of the pants speedometer. I'll gladly refund any subscription money you've paid to this blog if you don't like those results.

And then there was the puncture!

Only you can prevent goatheads!

This happened the same weekend that I mounted the tires up. Maybe within the first 20 miles? Anecdotal of course, but it seems like the puncture protection isn't all that much better than the Paselas. Perhaps because the Supremes were fairly worn? With full tread they should be more resistant, but also a bit clunkier then what I felt was already sorta' clunky-chunky.

So, long blog short, I'm going to keep up withe the Paselas for a while longer. The Supremes would be great tires if you value long wear and probably improved puncture resistance. While I like those things, I want something with a bit less rolling resistance, but not too fragile. For now the Paselas meet that goal! Will keep my eye on the Challenge Eroica, though. I bet they will be a bit on the delicate side, similar to the GBs.


Anonymous said...


Schwalbe lists a weight of 440 grams for the 35 MS, so it was indeed quite worn. The ride difference may be sidewall construction. I started looking at heavier construction tires after ripping up the sidewalls on Paselas. Your mounting issue is a true PITA, especially of you have to fix a flat. On the A 719 Mavic rim they mount up by hand, & only need a lever to get them started coming off.

A new pair would definitely be more flat resistant, but at $71 apiece, I can understand your reluctance to experiment further. Especially with the ride quality & mounting shortcomings you encountered.

It's always good to have more data on hand, so in that respect the experiment was successful.


cyclotourist said...

The Supremes are definitely more worn than the Paselas, but the Paselas do have a bit of wear on them. This is the front, which is the less-worn of the set. But even if it was new @ 425g, that's only 15g less than the listed weight for the Supremes.

I think a lot of that is in the sidewalls which definitely feel sturdier in the Supremes. That's the weak point on the Paselas, but also which let them feel relatively zippy in the 35mm size.

Puncture protection is probably better in the Supremes, I couldn't say.

It was fun doing a compare and contrast though! Thanks for being a part of this grand experiment!

Philip said...

I think sidewall construction has a bigger impact on road feel than tread thickness. No proof.
I can't deal with the Pasela sidewall failures, either, but maybe I'll go back to them and figure if they last half as long as a $60 tire, then they're "worth" $30, so if I only paid $20 for them I still come out ahead...

Maybe the real answer is to shave down the tread, so they're worn to the cord at the same time the sidewall fails!
I don't see any downside (goathead) to this plan at all, do you (goathead)?

I have Schwalbe Marathons (47s, actual 41s). They don't feel super zippy, but I like the fatness. I may go with JB Greens, or Cypres tires for my commuting.

Rob At Ocean Air Cycles said...

Any reason in particular you have not just given up on the Passelas and bought some Jack Browns?

I have a set of Vittoria Randonneur Pros that ride and feel somewhat like I recall the Marathon Supreme. In a few weeks they will be coming off to ride on some Voyager Hypers I have waiting in the wings. If you remind me, the Pros can be yours for the cost of shipping, or sit on my shelf until you make it out here for a ride

cyclotourist said...

I have JBs on my racey bike. They're great. But at 2mm narrower and $60 more per tire... not that much greater.