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Schwalbe Magic Mary Addix Soft Snakeskin Review

Compound change makes Schwalbe’s benchmark aggro mountain bike tyre even more magical

Schwalbe Magic Mary
(Image: © EWS)

Our Verdict

Compound change makes Schwalbe’s benchmark aggro mountain bike tyre even more magical

For

  • Impressively predictable grip on all surfaces in all conditions
  • Faster rolling and better wearing than before
  • Excellent range of generous sizing, compound and carcass options

Against

  • Expensive list price
  • Soft is more medium in terms of grip

Anyone who valued fantastic aggressive riding grip and visceral trail feel all year round held their breath when Schwalbe announced new rubber mixes for its much-loved Magic Mary. It wasn’t like old Mary didn’t have some issues - rapid wear, knob tearing and occasionally under tread ballooning - but it was still the go-to tyre for all weather aggro riders. 

Ride, handling and performance 

Thankfully initial apprehension about the faster, longer-lasting Addix compound options has proved unfounded and the fact our tyre samples from over two years ago are still going strong - and we haven’t taken them off - confirms Mary is even more magical than before.

The wear life is even more impressive as the orange band on our 29er test tyres shows they’re the ‘soft’ compound. In reality, the ‘soft’ are closer to medium than proper sticky so don’t expect ‘chewing gum’ drag on tarmac. The wide-spaced knobs and smooth-moulding carcass give very reliable stick to predictable drift traction on pretty much every surface. They're able to work all angles with very predictable poise in a contemporary, super-short stem set-up. 

Even the purple stripe ‘Ultra Soft’ 27.5in version impressed during Alpine and E-bike use returning crazy levels of adhesion and damping. Alternatively, run the TrailStar mix if you’re into higher self-powered mileage but want big lugs for braking or leaning. There is a PaceStar version too, but, to be honest, we’d match that to a naturally faster-rolling Nobby Nic or Hans Dampf compound. 

Schwalbe Magic Mary

SnakeSkin TLE carcass has proved impressively tough and stable at low pressures with no splits or knob tear (Image credit: EWS)

You also get four different carcass levels offering myriad compound options. Even the standard 890g SnakeSkin TLE carcass has proved impressively tough and stable at low pressures with no splits, knob tear and only some weave stress marks beginning to scrub through after two years. 

While listed widths range from 2.25 to 2.8in, it’s worth noting that the Magic Mary tyres generally inflate larger than the listed size. Our ‘2.35in’ measures 60mm wide on a 27mm internal rim which skinnier brands would say was a 2.5in. That obviously means the weights are effectively lower, too.

Verdict

Magic Mary already had a fantastic ability to stay hooked up in a wide range of - particularly wet/winter - conditions but suffered fast if you ran it in summer. Now it lasts fine on dry rock, rolls even better and somehow still grips as well as it ever did. The expanded range of size, compound and tread options mean it works for more riders and bikes, too. That makes it one of the very best - if not the best - all-round aggro tyres available although like most premium tyres that comes at a cost. 

Tech Specs 

  • Price: £65
  • Weight: 885g (2.35, 29er)
  • Protection: Snakeskin
  • Sizes: 2.25 - 2.8in
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg