Schwalbe Marathon – Two words to end discussion on touring tires. Before I started my first tour in SE Asia, I had read about tourists and touring for many years and the consensus among everyone on the road was that Schwalbe Marathon’s were the bee’s knees. I had the distributor in Singapore procure me some, but they were unable to get the tires thro official channels in reasonable time. So I ended up ordering my tires online at an online retailer, StarBike. They had pretty well discounted prices and the tires were shipped to me within the week. Sweet.
The trouble with Schwalbe these days is that there are too many options in the Marathon series. Gone were the days where one would get the XR and be done with it. It took me a lot of time to figure out the pro’s and cons of different versions and of course, given the models have been changing often, specific details on real life handling on different terrain was hard to come by. I eventually decided on the dureme simply because it was the cheapest folding tire option I had and it had high points for durability. They are designed for tandem bikes and I figured that might mean extra durability.
I rode the Dureme’s primary on asphalt road and a little bit on gravel roads. I rode the pair thro most of SE Asia (about 7000Km) and continues on them in the Americas, starting in Canada all the way thro Mexico (another 10,000 Km). I eventually donated the still usable tires at a small bike shop in San Cristobal, Chiapas.
First up, Durability. Te tires were fantastic. I suppose after 10,000 Km or so, I switched the front and rear tires around because the rear’s started balding a little. Overall, n the 17,000 Km or so, I had, may be 2 punctures that went thro the tires. The few other flat’s I had were due to some muck on the inner side of the rim and can’t blame the tire for that. So Awesome durability. The tread lasted with load on for many many Km’s and I suppose this tire uses some sort of super hard compound that does not wear easily.
However, I had some serious issues when I had to take the bike off road. The treads are definitely designed only for asphalt. The traction off road is abysmal at best. I’d be the first to admit I am a clumsy rider and wouldn’t be caught with my bike on single tracks, but the tires did contribute tomy choosing my routes quite often. Marbles, rubble, sand etc. on roads would mean I’d lost traction completely. So if you’re heading offload, or your route might get dirt on the way, think twice before embarking on the Dureme.
That said, at the moment, I am in Ecuador and as I head South, am likely to get into long stretches of dirt road. When I had an opportunity to resupply on tires, I chose the Dureme simply because the tires were so darn cheap (16 Euros for folding version). Also, I know it’s limitation and personally am happy to be on asphalt more than on dirt roads.
So bottom line is that these tires are super durable and highly recommended if you are on asphalt. On dirt roads, they are pretty slippery. It would seem like with the deep discounts on offer, the tire might be discontinued soon, or may have an upgrade. So if you re looking for good On-Road touring tires, you cannot go wrong with Dureme.