A Guide To The Best Touring Bike Tyres from Schwalbe

Flat tyres can be a real pain. They always happen at the most inconvenient times, requiring you to stop, pull your wheel out, get your repair kit out from your bag, get your hands dirty, throw out a tube and pump your tyre up again.

Luckily some tyre manufacturers spend their money on lots of research and development to provide us with the strongest, lightest, most-durable construction materials so we can roll fast and without punctures.

Schwalbe is my touring tyre brand of choice, and this is a guide to the five best bike touring tyres in their range.

Tyre Characteristics To Consider

Durability – How long will this touring tyre last?
Puncture Resistance – What will it take to puncture this touring tyre?
Grip – Will this touring tyre grip the surfaces you’re riding?
Speed – How fast will this touring tyre roll?

Marathon Almotion – Folding

Schwalbe Marathon Almotion Touring Tyres 01

Schwalbe Marathon Almotion Touring Tyres 02

The Almotion is Schwalbe’s latest touring tyre, and they’ve made it their fastest by making it tubeless compatible. Not only is it fast, but it also offers excellent puncture resistance too. This is probably the touring tyre of choice for tours that are mostly on sealed roads. Weight: 655g (700×38).

Marathon Mondial – Folding

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Touring Tyre 01

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Touring Tyre 02

The Mondial is, hands down, the best touring tyre you can buy, and I can vouch for them as I’ve completed over 25,000km on a single set before deciding to replace them! They’re quite fast-rolling too, considering they have good off-road grip. You can read my Mondial review HERE. Weight: 650g (700x40c).

Marathon Supreme – Folding

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Touring Tyre 01

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Touring Tyre 02

The Supreme is 25% lighter than the closest equivalent, the Almotion. That makes it a great choice if you’re riding sealed roads and you’re loaded up really light. When compared to the Almotion, the trade-offs you’ll be making include reduced puncture resistance and reduced off-road grip. Weight: 490g (700×40).

Marathon Plus – Wire Bead

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Touring Tyre 03


Schwalbe Marathon Plus Touring Tyre 02

The Marathon Plus tyres are part of Schwalbe’s ‘flatless’ line, giving them the title of most puncture-resistant touring tyre available. I’ve completed 20,000km+ on Plus tyres without a single puncture which seems to back up that claim. The secret ingredient is the SmartGuard layer which is made from a special rubber that offers a 5mm buffer to shards of glass and other shrapnel. Even a thumbtack is not long enough to penetrate this protective layer. Given the additional weight of this tyre, it doesn’t roll as fast as it’s competition. Weight: 960g (700x38c).

Marathon Plus Tour – Wire Bead

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour Touring Tyre 01

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour Touring Tyre 02

This grippier version of the ‘flatless’ Marathon Plus is designed for those who prefer unsealed roads. Again, it’s not a lightweight, so it will not roll as fast as many other tyres on this list, but it is the most puncture-resistant option available. Weight: 940g (700x40c).

Which Tyre Should You Select?

If you’re still having a hard time still picking a tyre, these are my recommended options based on the type of riding you’re doing and how much gear you have.

On-Road Touring with Two Panniers – Marathon Supreme (Light Touring Bike)
On-Road Touring with Four Panniers – Marathon Almotion (Long-Distance Touring Bike)
Dirt Road Touring – Marathon Mondial
Round-the-World – Marathon Mondial
The Most Puncture Resistant – Marathon Plus, Marathon Plus Tour

  1. I travel in Africa and I use a combinaison of Marathon plus in the back and smart sam in the front, it work well.

    Michel Marceau

  2. I’ve got Marathon Plus 700×35 on both my wheels on my Vivente World Randonneur. I’ve been very impressed with them. Great commuting and touring tyres.

  3. Been running Marathon Plus 700×35 at 70 psi over about 20,000 km and never (touch wood!) had a puncture. Love ’em!

  4. I have to Marathon Mondials folded and in the bottom of a pannier. I put almost 2000 miles on a set and one shredded itself from the inside out. It allowed a huge bubble to form and felt like I was riding on a concrete block road. By bike shop showed Schwalbe pictures of the failure and they sent a tire worth 1/2 the cost of the Mondial. I’d rather they just charge me for X miles of ware and tear and give me a new Mondial. But I do like the ride, little slippery on leaves and needles in fall.

  5. Thanks for this – we are currently speccing our new tour bikes and looking to go up from the excellent 700c x 32 Marathon Plus that we have on our current bikes. Excellent on the road but the only problem is that the front wheel gets away from you a tad too easily on non-tarmac roads when damp, we both got dumped unceremoniously on the Thames Path a couple of months back.

    Comfort and grip are important to us without going too silly, but we were concerned about the rolling resistance on the Marathon Plus Tour tyres, as we will always do >80% on the roads, so it’s reassuring to see that you have them as not materially different for this.

    Current thinking is 700c x 40 Marathon Plus Tour

  6. Good article, but I wish you included another item: how hard (or impossible) the tires are to put on and take off.

    I won’t roll with Marathon Plus, because in the small chance of a flat, I don’t know if I can remove and reinstall the tire. And it’s not for lack of muscle. Maybe it’s lack of skill. Whatever the reason, I can’t reliably install that tire.

    Any thoughts on the most durable touring tire that can be installed by mere mortals? Right now I roll with Big Bens and Slime tubes, haven’t had any problems on pavement or dirt hard-pack.

  7. Unfortunately, tyre fit isn’t just a function of the tyre, but the rim as well.

    The Marathon Plus can be really hard to fit in the narrower sizes (700x28c is painful!) because the ‘smartguard’ strip is so rigid. Folding tyres are often the easiest to fit. I’d suggest grabbing a set of those next.

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