The Magic Mary has been around for years and is easily the most popular offering from Schwalbe, for the downhill and enduro crew. The Super Gravity casing came just at the right time when EWS racing was kicking off and riders demanded heavy duty, but not quite DH-weight tires. This latest version comes in a 2.6" from the EVO line, has an APEX-reinforced casing, is Tubeless Easy and features an ADDIX Soft compound. There are multiple combinations of Magic Mary available from Schwalbe, this particular combination costs $87.99 USD / €78.99.
Magic Mary Details:
• Intended use: all mountain/enduro
• New 2.6" Casing
• New Addix Soft compound
• New Apex puncture proof casing
• Weight: 27.5" x 2.6" - 1080 grams (actual)
• Price: $87.99 USD / €67.90
The pattern, number, and size of treads on the Magic Mary remains similar to previous versions in a smaller casing. This expanded 2.6" version means there are wider gaps between the treads, which should be better for mud clearance and biting into soft dirt.
The new APEX casing uses a double layer of material on the tire sidewalls in addition to the SnakeSkin fabric layer. The 'TL Easy' logo means that the tire will work tubeless from the get-go, with no air seepage through the sidewalls. It basically lands smack in the middle of a Super Gravity casing and an Evo Snakeskin weighing 1,080g.
The 2.6" Magic Mary versus a 2.8" Nobby Nic on the same 40mm rim. The MM measures 69mm and the NN measures 71mm
The 2.6" Magic Mary versus the older 2.35" version on a 30mm rim.
The Magic Mary's inflated easily on my 40mm-wide, DT-Swiss XM1501 wheelset using a standard track pump. There is not a huge amount of space to mount the tire inside a 27.5" RockShox Yari/Lyrik casting, it will fit, but could clog in thick mud. Ideally, this tire would be paired with a 27+/29" fork casting.
Mary's first outing was on a dry, machine-built downhill run. Where a 2.35" Magic Mary SG feels more at home on hardpack (although still bettered by a specific dry condition tire), this version, with its wider spacing, felt sketchy and vague as the spiky tread block struggled to bite and the outer surface area is limited to adhere to the dirt. The casing is also a little more lively than the heavily-damped feel of SG, which won't help in this situation.
On to softer terrain and some steep and technical climbs (dare I say on an eMTB), the Magic Mary provided tractor-like grip, though, I've never driven a tractor up trails as that would be cheating. Braking traction is also immense, cornering grip is great and breakaway is very controlled. Where the MM got out of its depth was at higher speeds, as vague tire roll started to appear, but the Apex casing is designed for people looking for something a little lighter than SG. Currently, I still prefer the feel of a narrower tire with a Super Gravity or DH casing for high-speed downhill, but I would like to try the 2.6" MM in a downhill casing with the Ultra Soft Addix; the combination of size and the stability from the heavier casing could be awesome for brutal tracks like Fort William – I remember racing the 2.8" Michelin Comp 32's back in the day.
The new orange-striped Addix Soft compound worked well and seems to be ideal for this size of tire and the speeds it excels at. The Ultra-Soft probably wouldn't help the shortcomings of casing and volume at higher speeds and a harder compound might revive that sick feeling of riding a 3.0", 700g tire in a plastic-based compound. The Addix Soft wore well and I didn't experience any knob-tearing.
2.6" tires do put riders in a predicament, though; especially riders who believe their bike has been perfectly optimized for a particular wheel size. Do you run extra-large tires on your 27.5" bike and end up with a higher ride height, or do you take your 27+/29" bike that has been perfectly optimized for larger diameters and use smaller tires and risk dragging your pedals along the ground?
Clearance of a 2.35" Magic Mary in a 27.5" RockShox Yari.
Clearance of a 2.6" Magic Mary in a 27.5" RockShox Yari.