Schwalbe Magic Mary (SnakeSkin/Addix Soft) 2018 Mountain Bike Review

Schwalbe Magic Mary (SnakeSkin/Addix Soft) 2018

Reviews / Tyres

Schwalbe 65,692

At A Glance

Schwalbe’s Magic Mary has been a top choice tyre for many aggressive trail riders since its release in 2014. It's a classic tread pattern from the German tyre behemoth, but has the fresh wizardry from Wolfgang Arenz in the rubber recipe made the Mary even more magical?

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The tread pattern of the Magic Mary hasn’t changed from the previous versions, but Schwalbe has completely reworked their rubber compounds from scratch with the help of Wolfgang Arenz and invested in a 1.5 million dollar machine which they say will greatly improve the consistency of the end product.

The tyre on test here is the 29-inch Snakeskin Addix Soft which Schwalbe claims to offer more grip than its Trailstar predecessor, whilst also increasing rolling speed, and durability by 149%. In other words, you should only need to buy one Addix Soft tyre to last you the same amount of trail shredding time as two and a half Trailstar tyres. That equates to a massive saving which, if true, justifies their price tag.

On The Trail

The new Addix Snakeskin tyre seated easily onto my Stans Arch Mk3 rim with 26mm internal width. My previous experiences with the Magic Mary were on a wider 30mm internal rim width, and mostly the Super Gravity carcass. I was interested to find out how the lighter, more supple Snakeskin sidewalls compared to the Super Gravity carcass, especially on narrower rims.

The tyre was put through its paces on steep, slippery UK terrain in the Lake District, as well as dusty, rooty and rocky trails in New Zealand such as Wairoa Gorge and Rotorua.

First off, the tread pattern is the same excellent layout we know and love. The slightly narrower internal rim width does give a noticeably rounder profile than a wider rim, but that means the side lugs engage sooner and provide predictable transition through the corner.

The new Addix compound feels somewhat firmer in the hand than the Trailstar, which left me wondering how much grip it would give on the trail. I needn’t have worried; the new Addix Soft compound rolls faster than the Trailstar of old, whilst offering slightly increased grip levels, and critically, vastly improved durability.

The Addix tyre appears virtually new even after being used over a few months of riding a mixture of conditions and trails including many uplift days and around 20,000 meters of descent. Given the same abuse, the knobs on the old Trailstar compound would have been starting to peel off, and a there would be a good amount of wear on the braking edge.

I did have a few issues with folding side-walls and burping air on bigger G-outs or dodgy landings which is down to a combination of the Snakeskin sidewall and narrower rim profile. This is more of an issue for heavier riders pushing hard who will have to increase tyre pressure or use wider rims to prevent this happening. Indeed, I have now mounted the tyre to a wheel with a wider 29mm inner rim width, and keep the tyre pressure above 25 psi, which offers the tyre more stability and seems to have solved the issue.

Schwalbe has only recently released the Magic Mary in Super Gravity carcass for 29-inch wheels, but is yet to offer the Addix Super Soft compound. This stiffer tyre gives riders the ability to run lower tyres pressures whilst maintaining sidewall stability and offer slower damping, albeit with a weight penalty. Personally, I’d be happy to gain a few grams and lose some durability for maximum levels of grip and damping performance. At the time of testing, that choice wasn’t available but with the surge in popularity of long travel 29ers, it's not surprising to now see that as an option.

Overall

Schwalbe have achieved great things with their new Addix Soft compound. The rubber wizardry has conjured up the Holy Grail, a triple-win of increased durability and rolling speed whilst offering a touch more grip. The Magic Mary’s trail powers have increased further, ensuring it remains high on our wish list for aggressive front tyres.

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By Tom Hodgkin
Tom tries to hide it, but he is a veritable bike and gear geek, forever in search of technical improvements. He cut his teeth on aggressive hardtails, but has a passion for all things on two wheels. Having travelled the world riding bikes, his home is now the Lake District where he can always be found on a bike with his canine companion, Tilly, or shredding with friends.

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