Schwalbe makes tires for everything from mountain bikes and road bikes to scooters and wheelchairs. Based near Cologne, Germany, the brand manufactures its performance tires in Indonesia, where it co-owns a factory producing up to 18 million tires per year. Schwalbe also owns a second factory in Vietnam where its commuter and urban tires are manufactured.
Among its range of best mountain bike tires, there is a vast selection of tread patterns, compounds and casings, many of which have names that would better suit cartoon superheroes. Schwalbe has also made a big push into sustainability, with some of its tires and tread made from renewable and recycled materials, saving considerably on resources and energy.
Beyond its mountain bike-specific tires, Schwalbe also makes a full range of gravel tires along with its best-selling Marathon range which is mostly used for commuting.
For the nitty-gritty details on casings and compounds head for the bottom of the page for a full rundown. Read on for a breakdown of Schwalbe's range of mountain bike tires.
Schwalbe MTB tires
The veritable Magic Mary is the go-to tire for a considerable percentage of gravity riders. With huge shoulder knobs, unbeatable braking traction and self mud-clearing abilities, it's fantastic in the wet and for grabbing soft ground while the knobs also manage to stand firm on hardpack.
The tread is heavily siped for grip on wet roots and rocks, and Schwalbe seems to have fixed the issues with disappearing shoulder knobs that plagued the Magic Mary for years.
The Big Betty is Schwalbe's latest gravity tire meant for enduro and downhill riding. Schwalbe suggests riders use it as a rear tire paired with the Magic Mary upfront. Luckily, it's offered in a wide range of casing and tread options. You can get it in a wide range of sizes, too, with plenty of 29er and 27.5-inch options and even a 26-inch option.
Coming as wide as 2.8-inches, the Hans Dampf puts more of a premium on rolling resistance than the Magic Mary. The tread is more tightly packed in the middle and transition knobs round out the tire profile, making it more predictable in the corners.
The shoulder knobs are still well supported and hold their shape, while each tread block is siped for when the trail features get a bit greasy.
Nearing on a semi-slick, the Rock Razor is all about speed on fast and dry trails, and it's actually designed for enduro riding. Yes, we realize how silly a semi-slick enduro tire sounds but the thinking is that on long liaisons or in very dry conditions, rolling resistance is the enemy.
While the center strip has minimal tread, the pronounced shoulder blocks look like they are lifted directly from the Magic Mary and create a square profile that hooks up hard in the corners. This is a tire best run on the rear for fast-rolling, but be warned, the tread goes from nothing straight to huge and the bike needs to be on its side to have any cornering grip.
If your local trails consist of ankle-deep sludge, you are probably already riding the Dirty Dan. Wide-spaced long spikes punch through the muck and soft soil to create traction for braking and cornering, while the open pattern doesn't bring said muck and soft soil along for the ride.
The Dirty Dan comes mostly in the 2.35-inch width so it can slice through goopy trails.
The Nobby Nic is Schwalbe's all-rounder tire. While the older Nobby Nic was a bit uninspiring the updated Nobby Nic has a revised tread pattern and sipping which helps get through just about any riding situation and do it pretty well.
The large blocky knobs make it predictable, and it offers excellent braking traction as well. These grip levels don't seem to have too much of an effect on rolling resistance either which for a trail tire is surprisingly fast and quiet rolling on harder surfaces.
As you can probably guess based on the name, the Racing Ralph is for the lycra-meets-number-plate riders who put a premium on rolling resistance and weight.
The center strip is crowded with low-profile knobs that keep the rolling resistance low, but the cornering knobs are well supported and pronounced to keep you on your line even on hard-packed tight corners. All the knobs are also siped for additional purchase.
The Racing Ray is designed to be the front tire companion to the Racing Ralph. The blocks are a bit taller, and the angled center and transition block and stable shoulder blocks allow for predictable cornering with plenty of grip for when it's time to drop the anchors. Like Ralph, the tread is siped, too.
The Rocket Ron is also a cross-country race tire, but the tread is spaced more widely, and the blocks are a bit more 'spikey' to dig into soft soil. With such wide spacing in the tread, be wary of sharp rocks as there is more real estate for said rocks to find a weak spot between the tread.
It's fast-rolling with a round profile, but the shoulder knobs are bullish and dig their heels in when you lean the bike over.
According to Schwalbe, the Thunder Burt is designed to have as much grip as the Racing Ralph and roll faster than the Furious Fred. Claims aside, as a rear tire, the Thunder Burt offers negligible buzz as it speeds down the singletrack, but still has enough tread on the sides to prevent you from skittering over the side of a corner into the underbrush.
This is a tire we would only mount up for some XC races in dry conditions where you would find smooth, machine-built trails. There's not much protection here, so be wary of punctures.
Schwalbe's fastest rolling MTB tire comes with the moniker as furious as its speed. It's not an all-rounder by any means, in fact, there are two warnings on Schwalbe's site stating as much.
There's very little center tread, but it does grow towards the shoulders, albeit with just a few diamond-shaped knobs and slightly larger siped shoulder knobs to hook into the corners when needed.
At 360g, puncture protection is low, so we'd only run this on XC race days on man-made trails or routes covering a lot of Tarmac.
Schwalbe is one of a growing number of brands offering e-bike specific tires, as best e-MTBs introduce a whole new challenge when it comes to grip, and puncture protection.
With an aggressive front- and rear wheel-specific pattern, the tread blocks are 20 percent bigger than any of the brand's other all-mountain and enduro tires. They are wide and use plenty of rubber, so they don't collapse under the additional weight. The treads are arranged in an open design with 'V' groves in the center and side blocks for precise steering and grip when the motor kicks in.
As the name suggests, this Jumbo Jim tire is Schwalbe's fat bike tire offering. It comes in a range of casings, tread designs, and sizes. Perfect for riding through sand, snow, or just your regular trails.
Schwalbe gravel tires
The Ultrabite is Schwalbe's most aggressive gravel tire. Featuring bigger knobs and an aggressive tread pattern, this tire is ideal for digging into loose terrain to find grip. This would also be a good choice for riders whose gravel rides are exclusively off-road and often meander onto singletrack.
The Ultrabite is a good front tire option and could be paired with a semi-slick in the rear for a good mix of grip and speed. It's offered in both 40 and 50mm widths.
The Bite model is less aggressive than the Ultrabite but still offers plenty of grip. It's faster rolling too, which means that speed won't be compromised on-road or off. Schwalbe describes the tire as "pretty good on the road, but its true strength comes through off-road." This one would be good as a rear tire, or as a front tire too for riders who ride both lots of pavement and dirt.
The Allround has small knobs and no larger shoulder knobs for cornering. This is a tire for gravel routes that feature lots of pavement as well as gravel that isn't too loose or rocky. If you're looking for more grip and support when things get loose and rowdy, leave this one at home.
Endurance road bikes are getting larger and larger clearances which are opening up routing options that can now take in a little off-road riding too. The G-One Speed offers superb all-weather on road performance in all weather with the advantage of being able to leave the tarmac with more confidence.
Alternatively for those who use a gravel bike for all drop-bar duties the G-One Speed offers a great option to boost on-road performance while maintaining grip and comfort that comes with high volume tires.
Schwalbe tires: what you need to know
Schwalbe uses a range of different cases and compounds that offer different levels of protection and grip from heavyweight, soft downhill tires to lightweight, supple fast-rolling tires for XC and gravel bikes.
Previously the casing and compound naming strategy was rather confusing however Schwalbe has updated and simplified its range to make it easier for customers to choose the right tire for their needs.
As you would expect with a tire labeled DH, this is Schwalbe's most robust casing. The casing is two fold, using a wire bead with six layers of casing in the center and seven layers of fabric in the sidewall.
1. Super Downhill
As you would expect with a tire labeled downhill, this is Schwalbe's most robust casing. The casing is two fold, using a wire bead with six layers of casing in the center and two layers of Apex on each side to protect the sidewalls. A Snakeskin layer adds further stability to the tire when running low pressures.
2. Super Gravity Tubeless Easy
The Super Gravity Casing is pitched for enduro riders and downhillers who are keen for something a touch lighter. Based around a folding bead, there are four layers of casing for protection at the center and beefed up with an Apex layer in the sidewall. The stabilizing Snakeskin layer goes bead to bead adding yet another layer of protection.
3. Super Trail
Schwalbe's Super Trail construction replaces the older TLE, SnakeSkin and APEX and greatly simplifies the Schwalbe range. A three-layer carcass drops weight from the Super Gravity tire but keeps the same Apex and Snakeskin layers. Schwalbe recommends this tire for mid-travel bikes riding everything from trail to enduro terrain.
4. Super Ground
The Super Ground carcass is the same as the Super Trail but drops the protective Apex sidewall layer to reduce weight and increase suppleness. Comfortable with a smooth rolling quality, the Super Ground is recommended for longer rides on flowing singletrack.
5. Super Race
The lightest of Schwalbe's tire casings, it has a significantly different construction to enhance suppleness, rolling resistance and weight which is of priority for XC and marathon racing. A three-layer side wall construction is made from Polyamide with one of the Polyamide layers being swapped for a layer of Raceguard under the tread.
For its performance tires, Schwalbe uses its ADDIX compound in one of four levels of hardness denoted by a stripe in the tread.
1. ADDIX Speed - Red stripe
Addix Speed is Schwable's XC race compound, designed to offer plenty of grip and minimal rolling resistance, though don't expect to ride them for long.
2. ADDIX Soft - Orange stripe
The ADDIX Soft is Schwalbe's universal all-rounder compound. It offers a good balance between rolling resistance and grip. Look for this compound if you're a set-and-forget type rider who uses the same tire year-round.
3. ADDIX Speedgrip - Blue stripe
Speedgrip is long-lasting and fast-rolling, ideal for those who pound out a lot of miles on fire roads. Tires with this compound can be a bit lacking when it comes to grip; we wouldn't use one upfront.
4. ADDIX Ultra Soft - Purple Strip
The Ultra Soft compound is found mostly on Schwalbe's gravity-oriented tires, and as the name suggests, is the softest compound the brand offers. They are slow rolling but grip like velcro, especially in the wet. With such a soft and grippy compound, don't expect them to last all that long.