Schwalbe's Magic Mary
is the new mainstay of their gravity range, replacing the Muddy Mary as their all-conditions tyre. Before it was even released it was clocking up downhill World Cup and World Championships wins. This year this tyre took Steve Smith most of the way to the series overall title. On the enduro race circuit they have taken Nico Lau to Trans-Provence and numerous national race wins. We have been putting in time on them since last May to find out what all the fuss is about.
The profile of the Magic Mary
• Purpose: All-mountain/trail/enduro/downhill (dependent on carcass)
• Sizes available: 26, 27.5 and 29 inch
• Carcass: Evolution-Snakeskin, Super Gravity and Downhill
• Compounds available: Trailstar (intermediate), Vertstar (soft)
• Tubeless ready: Evolution Snakeskin and Super Gravity carcasses
• Weight: 795g, 1045 or 1190g (dependent on carcass)
• MSRP: $93.25 (Super Gravity)Construction
Schwalbe offer the Magic Mary in three carcass options: Evolution-Snakeskin, Super Gravity and Downhill. The Evolution-Snakeskin uses two layers on the sidewall and three under the tread, reinforced with a Snakeskin protection layer on the sidewall. For the downhill tyre there are four layers on the sidewall, reinforced with a Snakeskin layer on the outisde and Apex snakebite protection inside, under the tread there are six layers. On the Super Gravity tyres there four layers on the sidewall, reinforced with a Snakeskin layer and the Apex snakebike protection, unlike the other two options, the Snakeskin layer extends under the tread, supporting the two carcass layers there. In terms of weight, this means a 26 inch Magic Mary is 795g in the Evolution-Snakeskin option, 1045g in Super Gravity and 1190g in Downhill. All tyres with the Snakeskin and Super Gravity casings are tubeless ready, but they don't feel there is the same demand for the downhill tyres.
The three carcass options (from left to right): Evolution Snakeskin, Super Gravity and Downhill. The Snakeskin layer is red and the Apex protection is in blue.
Schwalbe offer two compound options on the tyre - the softer, downhill-orientated Vertstar and the harder and faster-rolling Trailstar. Both options are made up of several different compounds to try and maximise traction where it matters most and offer some additional longevity where they suffert the most abuse. They offer an extensive range of combinations of carcass, compound and wheelsize. In 26" and 27.5" wheels they offer every possible mix, but as there is no market for 29" downhill bikes right now, the 29" tyres are only available in the Trailstar compound with the Snakeskin and Super Gravity casings - there is no downhill or soft compound option.Setup
Michael from Schwalbe offering some expert help with the mounting.
We tested both the Super Gravity casing in, 26" and 27.5" in the Trailstar compound. Mounting the tyres tubelessly depended very much on the rim, with the DT Swiss EXC 1550 wheels they needed a compressor to seat. With the newer DT Swiss Spline ONE EX 1501 and Stans Flow EX wheels they were an utter joy to work with, more or less seating without even needing a pump. We chose to keep our pressures conservative, but many of their enduro racers like Nico Lau and Adam Craig drop the pressures down to around the 20psi mark for racing.Out on the TrailClimbing:
The 290g weight saving in comparison to the downhill tyre makes a huge difference, saving that kind of weight from the rotational mass will completely change a bikes handling. What surprised us about these tyres was how well they rolled, considering the big, aggressive tread pattern and 1kg+ weight. While they didn't exactly dance up long transfers, they don't suck the life out of you, like a full set of downhill tyres. When you get to technical climbing, having a big sticky tyre means you have more traction, more of the time, which helps you tackle obstacles.Cornering:
One of the biggest innovations in the Magic Mary is the block size - having bigger, sturdier blocks means the tyre stands up better to aggressive riding. Combine that with healthy gaps in between them and they allow you to feel where on the tyre you are so well. You know exactly when you transition from the centre to the side and the shape and size of the blocks means that when you lean in they bite and you can hold it there. Unlike some other big block tyres, they encourage you to use the side, rather than push through it. It takes a little adjustment at first to get used to where you can push them to, but pretty soon it is very noticeable when you switch to another tyre with less side, you really miss the grip.
We put a lot of time in on these tyres on the rocky and rooty trails around Sospel in France.
Under hard braking the square centre tread keeps them composed. They brake in a nice, straight line and don't squirm about too much.All-weather performance:
Maybe the most impressive thing about the Magic Mary is how much of the year they work for and the range of different surfaces they work well on. We first mounted them in May and are still on them now in January - we've used them from dusty summer conditions, through to wet, muddy winter. They are a true year-round tyre and we were continually impressed with how well they performed, no matter what we asked of them. Whether it was on slick, wet rocks where we just wanted to understand what traction was available, or throwing up the inviting loam of deep pine forests, they felt good.Lifespan:
This is the one area where Schwalbe tyres traditionally don't perform as strongly as some of their competitors, and unfortunately the Magic Mary is no exception. They have worked on their compounds and the drop-off isn't as dramatic as it was a couple of years ago, but they're not going to last forever. With the level of technology that goes into these tyres, both in terms of carcass and compound, they aren't cheap, which inevitably makes people more sensitive to lifespan. That technology offers great performance, but we suspect a good part of their target audience would prefer to be able to buy them in a single, harder compound, sacrificing outright performance for a simpler, cheaper tyre that lasts longer.Pinkbike's Take:
| There's a very good reason why the Magic Mary is quickly becoming the number one choice of privateer racers in both downhill and enduro. Today they have the dubious privilege of having their logos blacked out by more racers who are unhappy with the tyres they are supposed to be using than with any other tyre. Quite simply, they perform outstandingly in most conditions, offering impressive sensitivity and outright grip. Also, with the extensive range of sizes, carcasses and compounds the chances are they offer them in combination to suit your bike, your trails and your style of riding. Many other tyre companies are still playing catch-up on that front right now. We stand by what we said when we first looked at these tyres: These are the new benchmark for aggressive tyres. - Matt Wragg|