Schwalbe makes tyres for everything from road bikes and mountain bikes to scooters and wheelchairs. Based near Cologne, Germany, the brand manufactures its performance tyres in Indonesia, where it co-owns a factory producing up to 18 million tyres per year. Schwalbe also owns a second factory in Vietnam where its commuter and urban tyres are manufactured.
Among its range of off-road tyres, 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 tyres and tread made from renewable and recycled materials, saving considerably on resources and energy.
Beyond its mountain bike-specific tyres, Schwalbe also makes a full range of gravel tyres 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 break down of Schwalbe's range of knobby tyres.
Jump to: What you need to know
The Schwalbe mountain bike tyres range in detail
Go-to rubber for the gravity rider
Casing: Downhill, Super Gravity, TLE | Tread: Addix Ultrasoft, Addix Soft | Intended use: Enduro and Downhill
The veritable Magic Mary is the go-to tyre for a considerable percentage of gravity riders. With huge shoulder knobs, unbeatable braking traction and self mud-clearing; 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 purchase on wet roots and rocks, and Schwalbe seems to have fixed the issues with disappearing shoulder knobs that plagued the Magic Mary for years.
Jack of all trades, master of none
Casing: Super Gravity, TLE | Tread: ADDIX Soft, Addis Speed Grip | Intended use: Enduro, Heavy trail
Coming as wide as 2.8in, 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 tyre 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.
Fast rolling rear tyre for enduro racing
Casing: DH, Super Gravity, TLE | Tread: ADDIX Ultra Soft, ADDIX Soft | Intended use: Enduro
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 realise how silly a semi-slick enduro tyre sounds but the thinking is that on long liaisons or in very dry conditions, rolling resistance is the enemy.
While the centre 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 tyre 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.
Muck and mud slayer
Casing: Super Gravity, DH, Snakeskin TLE | Tread: ADDIX Soft, ADDIX Ultra Soft, ADDIX Speed Grip | Intended use: Mud
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 2.35in width so it can slice through goopy trails.
Every-day driver for the trail rider
Casing: TLE Snakeskin, LiteSkin, TLE | Tread: Speedgrip | Intended use: Trail
The Nobby Nic is Schwalbe's all-rounder tyre. It's not rubber that is going to wow you with buttery-smooth rolling resistance, or jangle your fillings lose when it hooks up in a loose corner, but what it will do is 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, but the high centre tread isn't super fast rolling. Even so, there is a sizeable horizontal gap in the tread that can make it a bit slippery as a front roller, so we'd opt to mount it on the back.
Fast-rolling XC rear
Casing: Snakeskin TLE, TRL | Tread: ADDIX Ultra Speed, ADDIX | Intended use: XC
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 centre 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.
Ralph's front-facing grippy sibling
Casing: Snakeskin TLD, TRL | Tread: ADDIX Speedgrip, ADDIX | Intended use: XC
The Racing Ray is designed to be the front tyre companion to the Racing Ralph. The blocks are a bit taller, and the angled centre and transition block and stable shoulder blocks allow for predictable cornering with plenty purchase for when it's time to drop the anchors. Like Ralph, the tread is siped too.
Best for soft soil and wet XC racing
Casing: Liteskin, SnakeSkin, TLR | Tread: ADDIX Speed, ADDIX Speedgrip, ADDIX | Intended use: XC
The Rocket Ron is also a cross-country race tyre, 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.
Grips like Ralph, faster than Fred
Casing: TLE, Liteskin | Tread: ADDIX Ultra Soft | Intended use: XC
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 tyre, 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 tyre 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.
Featherweight fast-rolling tyre
Casing: Liteskin | Tread: ADDIX Speed | Intended use: XC
Schwalbe's fastest rolling MTB tyre 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 centre 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.
Big and burly E-MTB tyre
Casing: Super Gravity | Tread: Addix Soft | Intended use: XC
Schwalbe is one of a growing number of brands offering an e-bike specific tyre, as 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 per cent bigger than any of the brand's other all-mountain and enduro tyres. 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 centre and side blocks for precise steering and grip when the motor kicks in.
Schwalbe MTB tyres: what you need to know
As you would expect with a tyre labelled DH, this is Schwalbe's most robust casing. The casing is two fold, using a wire bead with six layers of carcass in the centre and seven layers of fabric in the sidewall.
2. Super Gravity Tubeless Easy
The Super Gravity Casing is pitched for Enduro and Downhillers who are keen for something a touch lighter and want to ditch the tube. Based around a folding bead, there are five layers of protection at the centre and seven in the sidewall.
TLR is Schwalbe's basic tubeless carcass, which is slightly cheaper than its tubeless easy tyres. The brand says it is for 'hardtails and bikes with moderate travel.'
4. APEX TLE
The Apex casing appears in Schwalbe tyres that are between 2.6 and 2.8in wide. It uses a reinforced insert between the layers of the carcass.
5. SnakeSkin LTD
This is probably the lightest carcass you should use for general trail riding if you don't want to spend all your time fixing flats. Tyres with this carcass see a Snakeskin layer on the outside of the sidewall to stave off cuts — these are lightweight, fast-rolling tyres.
The XC only carcass will shred like tissue paper if you look at a sharp rock. They are super light and supple, but not for tubeless use.
For its performance tyres, 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 tyre 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. Tyres 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 tyres 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.