Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story

Jan 7, 2016
by Nathan Hughes  
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



With golden leaves coating the hills, the twitter of birds and the smell of fresh grass filling the air, we pick up the trail outside the little village of Wiehl, near Cologne in Western Germany. We're a stone's throw from Schwalbe's international headquarters, home to the R&D, storage and distribution of some 17 million bicycle tires over the year. As interesting as that place may prove to be, this morning is very much more about the latter end of the development process - a key area best enjoyed with one or more like-minded friends; some real-world testing on local terrain. Our two riders sprint towards the trees swaying in the autumn wind while a captive audience, for some reason difficult to quantify and remain awake, look on in apparent fascination.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Both Michael Kull, Schwalbe's marketing and race support manager and long-term Schwalbe athlete and ambassador Steffi Marth are obviously no strangers to this life behind bars. Testing may, hopefully of course, never be finished as they put their ProCore's through the rigors of the roots, just 'one more time'.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Michael's flawless Aggy impression is still no match for Steffi's raw speed as they continue to make complex telemetry calculations in their heads without the help of computer equipment... Just how much is the reduced pressure of the outer chamber assisting the handling of their bikes on this trail? The figures can be discussed later at the office, by the water cooler... or heck, maybe just over a nice beer.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Let's face it, not much is getting done at HQ today... Out in the forest we also have laboratory technician, Sascha Ochmann and Markus Hachmeyer, head of product management. After a quick spell of almost 20 years at Schwalbe, Markus is the main man behind innumerable designs, not least the mighty ProCore system itself.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
A former cross-country World Cup racer and previous German national champion back in the day, Markus leads his crew of Schwalbe mates through the forest at corporate high speed. As with all tough jobs, someone simply has to do it.



bigquotesThere's this old rivalry between the mountain bikers and roadies at the company, but of course it's all fun. The roadies are doing some races on a regular basis, for example at the Schwalbe Tour Transalp, an annual road race over the alps, where we even had 4 teams doing the week-long-race. The MTB crew meet up most weekends and some evenings during the summer to ride the amazing trails that we have around the company or at nearby bike parks such as Olpe-Fahlenscheid or Winterberg. It's not a bad place to ride bikes around here, that's for sure!
Michael Kull - Schwalbe



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
In a nutshell, Michael Kull is Schwalbe's 'gravity guy'. The strong presence of the brand at the DH World Cups is largely all down to his hard work and enthusiasm. Currently the brand supplies around half of the teams on the circuit, including a couple unofficially who require better performance than their sponsor's offerings allow. With a strong 10 out of the top 20 riding Schwalbe at a given WC, Michael will tell you getting the top guys on board is about the performance and innovation of the company, more so than writing big checks.




Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Carsten Zahn, head of marketing, is famed for his powerful speeches at Eurobike, always stacked with German humor (definitely a thing), introducing all the year's latest innovations. It's all smiles outside the headquarters with Steffi and Michael, but on the inside of these walls is a sinister world of pain... for tires anyway.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Welcome to 'the torture chamber'. It's really called that. Sometimes just 'the laboratory', but here, at any rate, tires are punished endlessly in the name of R&D by a team of three technicians, all avid cyclists.




Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
On this machine tires are put through their paces to determine durability. Long term tests over days, even weeks, are conducted with thousands of kilometers amassed within a very short amount of time. The sophistication of this particular set-up ends with bumper-equipped rollers to simulate an uneven ground surface, which of course accelerates deterioration, while other, more modern machinery, takes care of forces truer to real cycling.


Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



'The Stabber' consists of a weighted blade falling from variable height to indicate forces required to pierce tire carcasses, puncture protective layers or complete tires. Meanwhile, 'The Pumper' drives water into the tire to a maximum of 30 bar (435psi). This MTB tire failed at 9 bar. And why water not air? All in the name of ear-drum preservation.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
'The Gripper' is obviously all about traction, with an interchangeable surface. A typical choice would be tarmac or concrete such as this, taken from the street. The hose provides the rain.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
That would be 'The Slasher'.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
No sidewall is safe.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



You may have noticed conventional wheels have no place in this house of pain. Reinforced steel rims, designed specifically for testing purposes, take over for improved laboratory lifespan. Not many typical MTB wheels could withstand 'The Guillotine' at full tilt. Computer feedback is of course collected from every station in the lab and held on record for many years for use by product development. However, with such a large array of hi-tech machinery and measuring equipment, all unique and self developed, Schwalbe also hosts the editors of big magazines who make regular testing appointments. Rolling resistance, puncture & snake bite proofing are the usual focus and while conducted by Schwalbe's technicians, they are always overseen to guarantee lack of bias between brands.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The highest-tech machine in the lab is currently nameless, but capable of simulating braking and turning forces with its large robotic arm.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
In the corner of the room we also find a 3D printer, used to bring new designs to life before investing in a costly mold for a new tire in the making.


Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Meet Ralf Bohle, father of current Schwalbe CEO, Frank Bohle. Times were tough when Ralf took the reigns back in 1955. A divided Germany saw changing markets, and the increasing affordability of cars and fashionable motorbikes began to impact the bicycle tire manufacturer. Business was scarce for exporters of such European produce, but Ralf would struggle on for many years before making the switch in 1970, when the decision was made that the Bohle enterprise would become the importer, from the Far East. However, by 1973 the quality of the imports seemed to be falling short, and they needed something better. Along came 'Swallow Tires' (schwalbe means swallow in German) of Korea as new partners and the rest is history.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Four huge halls, each consisting of four large aisles afford Schwalbe a four million tire capacity in total.


Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
What Frank can't lift...
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
...ain't liftable.



The fire safety system at the enormous warehouse sounds like a thing of beauty and with so much rubber in one place it needs to be. In the event of an uncontrollable blaze, the roof is designed to collapse downwards shutting out the oxygen, while a reservoir under the building floods the aisles from below in minutes. If you see a big red button....



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Markus Hachmeyer back at his design station in the office. One of his latest projects was the development of the all new 'Fat Albert' tire. He's the first to admit that the tread isn't perhaps the most handsome in Schwalbe's off road line-up, but they were not afraid to break far from the typical mold with its curious appearance in the quest for the ultimate hook-up and rolling efficiency combined.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Danny Hart's 2011 glory machine stands outside the sales department.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
6' 6" of customer support, Stefan Franken... Any questions go his way first.



A miniature tire museum is found in the middle of the HQ that takes you through the production process of the manufacturing plant in Jakarta. Michael explains that while all aspects of design are created in Germany, they are dependent on the relationship with their Indonesian colleagues and a group of international chemical experts, not least Dr. J.S. Hong, Schwalbe's very own compound mastermind.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
A compound is created from a huge range of ingredients, but it always begins with a mix of natural and synthetic rubber.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Pigments, oil, black carbon adhesive and sulphur for the vulcanization process, are all key components.



bigquotesCompounding is a complicated game and we are constantly working to make our tires better. It's always a compromise between rolling resistance, wear, damping, grip and numerous other important characteristics. There is no such thing as the 'ultimate compound' and that's the reason we do the triple compounding. For this we use two compounds in the tread and one underneath the tread to bring the rolling resistance as low as possible. During the last years we've, for example, worked a lot on the performance and wear of the Trail Star Compound. Even though the name is still the same, we were able to make the TSC tires last far longer and eliminated the former issues of breaking side studs
Michael Kull - Schwalbe



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
After the compound has been created, different grades of tire carcass are selected - 50 tpi (historic only), 67 (used in majority of today's tires) and 127 tpi for the most high-end race tires. The bead and tread strips are applied on assembly drums, with precision assisted by lasers.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
This is the 'green tire' as it's known. Pre-vulcanized, like plastercine, before molding.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Rocket Ron, before and after receiving its tread.


Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Tire presses.
A green tire is pressed using a high pressure airbag, while the mold is heated to around 340 degrees F (170 degrees C). Molds for new designs are kept well guarded to prevent copying and each costs several thousand dollars to produce in itself.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The finished goods, back from a long sea journey ready to be shipped. At the end of their lives tires may end up back at the HQ once more as part of Schwalbe's recycling program.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Just enough time for an extra hot, triple strength Irish coffee before another field trip...


Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



Big bikes don't equate to big profits. What they can do is bring innovation which can then go to the mass market... Innovations as well as a good deal of inspiration. In terms of Schwalbe's turnover, the gravity disciplines are rather more a drop in the ocean than a headliner, but there's no doubting the company's passion for the good stuff we all like to see. On this gloomy autumn day Steffi, Michael and I drove a few miles out to visit Schwalbe athlete and test rider, Christian Textor, at a freeride spot he cultivated years ago specifically for putting the distance between his wheels and the ground.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story


bigquotesThe Gravel pit has always been a favorite spot of mine since I was a little kid. It's just a few kilometers out of the village, but already there's almost no phone connection so it feels a bit like the wilderness haha. We used to go there and build maybe just 10 or 20cm high lips then send it with our bikes... no interruptions! Over the years our riding obviously developed, but the spot always offered something for us to keep coming back
Christian Textor - Bulls/Schwalbe



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Check out my gravel pit, a mystery unraveling... Texy slashing into dark home soil.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Steffi getting into Texy's playground on her Session on the scrub jump.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Somewhat...
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
...oblivious.
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Time for a quick bite and remodel, but the set-up's almost perfect as it is thanks to some hard graft over the years.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Dropping into the arena.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The main line at the gravel pit consists of 3 pretty sizeable step-downs and a beefy step-up. The kickers are as smoothly crafted as Texy's riding and he has a clicked-out move on each.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Steffi's eye of the tiger coming into the step-up.


bigquotesTexy's spot is seriously rad, we were all mega impressed! To be honest I wasn't too tempted to hit his biggest stuff today in the freezing cold, but Texy went wild! Maybe a rematch next summer?
Steffi Marth - Trek



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
There are two definitions of a scrub and a 'semi-abrasive cosmetic lotion applied to the face or body in order to cleanse the skin' is the other one.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story


bigquotesThe cool thing about Schwalbe is they're constantly trying to make something new and take risks to make progress, which is what we're all trying for in the sport, isn't it? For me it's super cool that the headquarters are so close to where I live - it's so easy to get involved with testing and just spend time with awesome people who are committed to improving our bike's performance
Christian Textor - Bulls/Schwalbe



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
With rain in the air, the sight of first blood (admittedly small) and the darkness sweeping in was time to call it a day and find ourselves a juicy steak in Cologne.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story




Back at HQ for one more point of interest before hitting the road... So shrouded in mystery during the development and testing phases as the world's fastest racers rolled around with two valves in their rims; we were keen to know - how exactly did the Procore product come about and what were its origins? Head of its development, Markus Hachmeyer, took us through the stages.




Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The ProCore design you'll find on the shelves today, in all its cut-away glory.



Markus is the first to admit it: a dual chamber system for a tire is no new concept. It is in fact a kind of system that has been around for decades in the automotive industry. Still, he first made the suggestion that Schwalbe could take the idea and use it to improve off-road bicycle performance back in 2008. Although well received, Schwalbe decided it wasn't worth the expense of all the development for the tiny market that was downhill and most rims elsewhere were not, at the time, wide enough. With the continued growth of gravity MTB and particularly the rise of enduro, however, priorities shifted and suddenly a dual chamber system was back on the menu and top of the 'to do' list.

The two biggest design problems remained... First - how to bypass the inner chamber and deliver air to the outer? And secondly - how could having two separate valves be avoided so that rims did not require drilling for installation?



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The way it could have been... Here we have the 'sidewall valve' option, in consideration around the 2012-13 period. While it was of course detachable there were drawbacks in the form of potential damage by rocks, the need to embed the sidewall of every tire and the inconvenience of having to carry the valve stem with you on rides.

Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



With the sidewall concept out the window something new was needed. Having considered the viability of a pipe to serve the outer chamber, Markus and the team quickly realized that far less sophistication was required. All they needed was something that would create the smallest of gaps to allow airflow - even something as crude as a piece of nylon rope was enough. However, following further testing it became evident that using string in the long term caused blockages with the sealant and the air guide then went through many shapes, sizes and materials before arriving at the ideal design (the wider of the two red models pictured below).



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
The (relatively) complete evolution of the ProCore air guide and valve system.



With the air guide all sorted there was still the issue of the valve itself - how could it service both chambers? Well, in the end it was all about spot-on engineering. With today's patented dual valve, the upper part acts as the selector - with a simple turn it would be possible to switch between inflation of the inner and outer chambers. What's more, it would be compatible with every rim wider than 23mm on the market.



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story
After so many tweaks and changes we have the perfect valve design as it stands today.


bigquotesThere is so much more potential within a tire than you might think. We have the simple mission to make the best you can get for your bicycle. Over the last two or three years we have a range of new materials from our suppliers that offer us new and very exciting capabilities... More on what to expect from us in the future, I can't yet say, but we are very excited for what is to come
Michael Kull - Schwalbe



Images by Nathan Hughes for his article - Inside Schwalbe Tires - The Home Story



About the Photographer


Nathan Hughes • Age: 28 • Years Shooting: 3
Nathan Hughes was snared as mainstay Pinbike media crew for the 2013 World Cup and has been trapped behind the lens and the keyboard ever since. In between the biggest bike events of the year Nathan can be found on client shoots, making far-off travel stories and trying to catch a moment to spin the pedals himself. A great appreciation of the wilderness, the fear of a normal life and the quest for the perfect picture will have him hooked and looking to raise the bar for years to come.



MENTIONS: @natedh9 / @schwalbe




132 Comments

  • + 83
 Inside Schwalbe tires - air. Nice one Smile
  • + 41
 and in some cases another tire...
  • + 8
 Can I get the Mug please?
  • + 5
 Inside schwalbe tires.....dark PB very dark.
  • + 42
 I can assure you no sheeps were harmed in this production of this story. All @schwalbe tires are 100% vegan @Pablo16v ;-)
  • + 14
 So if you all cant sleep do you jump sheep?
  • + 5
 Gluten Free?
  • + 1
 But, the tires could be made from dinosaurs!
  • + 29
 Every Schwalbe tire I have owned has been nothing but perfect. Trail Star lasts for months on the rocks. Not sure why everyone else has problems, but I'm a life long customer. Always open to new things though. Keep on bringing out the goods guys, cheers from so cal!
  • + 3
 I used to run Schwalbe a few years ago, but i had a set of tyres that should be tubeless ready, but there was holes everywhere and they also lastet for a short period so I tried Continental instead. These Racing Ralph tyres came stock on a bike I bought, and I remember I read somewhere that tyres that comes stock on a bike might be made out of cheeper materials! Anyways, I found some Schwalbe tyres on sale about a year ago and wanted to give them another try, and god damn I love these tyres. I now run Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres on my Anthem and Hans Dampf on my Meta HT Am. They last like forever and the grip is amazing. I ride alot and I just changed the rear tyre on my Anthem after a whole season of punishment Big Grin
  • + 10
 Dear @somismtb thanks for your comment. The TrailStar compound went through a big makeover since end of 2014 as stated in the article. Since then the tire wear is by far better and the side studs do not crack anymore / not more than and other mtb tire. Most people complaining about this problem while still riding old tires. Unfortunately we were not able to change the name of the compound by that time so there is no clear change visible, but almost all tires with our new labels (no outline - silver design TL easy / golden design for SG and DH) which are in the market are OK. We´ve done multiple tests in our labs and with test-rider to assure everyone who buys a 2015 or 2016 tire with TSC that he will be satisfied with the performance and wear of the tire.
  • + 13
 I had problems with a pair of Hans Damph Trailstar. Side knobs ripped apart after a few rides. Then the sidewalls started delaminating. Thankfully schwable warrantied then and shipped replacements without any hassle. It sounds like they've solved the issue. Any company can have manufacturing issues. It's how they handle it that matters to me. Well done schwable.
  • + 3
 I own a pair of @schwalbe Hans Dampf's and I love them. Super grippy tires and they last a long time as well! I ride on a lot of shale and the tires tend to get pretty shredded fairly quickly but the dampf's have been keeping up. Other than being out of line like a Russian border, they work great!
  • + 1
 I love their tires too however i rip MM casings open like a plastic bag. Side walls are strong but rubber between the tread is weak. Got the snakeskin carcass, puncture, got super gravity puncture. Puncture is the wrong word too.. more like inch long tear.

They need a test where they slam the top of the tire into a sharp rock. It looks like their "Slasher" test is exactly exact opposite.
  • + 5
 In love with my Magic Mary in SG/VS & Rock Razor in SG/TS. These ties have been nothing but excellent throughout the Dry California Spring/Summer/Fall. Was loving them in the loamy conditions of our winter as well (up until I banzied into a Redwood Tree breaking my wrist, no fault of the tires). I am an agressive 6'4" 240lb rider, and these have done everything I've asked of them and more. Grippy, predictable and fast. Thanks @schwalbe Keep up the great work!
  • + 1
 I had the same problem with my Magic Mary's. I didn't actually check to see if they'd warranty them. Good to know because I just ordered a new set for my brand new 951 build. They're just the grippiest tyres I've ever used.
  • + 16
 Water is used for pressure proof tests instead of air because with a gas you have a bomb but due to the incompressibility of water as soon a tiny drop comes out the pressure is released and the explosive energy is lost. Super interesting article and a great behind the scenes!
  • + 19
 Great pics, I only tore two knobs off my Racing Ralphs while reading this article.
  • + 3
 True story
  • + 1
 Comment of the thread @davidccoleman
  • + 12
 Amazing article. When I open PB I am looking for this information. Amazing factory nice images, dream job. Congrats
  • + 11
 i love schwalbe tires .. never been disapointed with what i got
  • + 0
 Does seem to be people who haven't tried anything else who like them lol, judging that from the comments here
  • + 2
 No, Redburns been annoying for a long time.
  • + 6
 Not hating on Schwalbe, as I love the tires, but the Hans Dampf side knobs wear out after a race weekend, and become unusable for competition, and unusable for trail riding just a few rides after. Unless you dont corner hard anywhere, they dont last. The side knobs need some darn backing support as the fold over and tear. The side knobs on the new nobby nics and magic mary are much much better, add those type to the hans and you got a winner.
  • + 4
 Biggest knock against Schwalbe is the durability. They are among the best tires you can buy in terms of performance, but its hard to swallow a $100 pill every couple of months.
  • + 1
 Buy them in Germany, they're waaaaayyy cheaper! Even with shipping, if you order several tires, it is a win!
  • + 3
 I agree, they need to revise the Hans. But for now, I'm happy with the Magic Mary up front and Rock Razor out back.
  • + 4
 Schwalbe gets a lot of flack from the online community but dammit they're still my favorite tires to run on. nobby Nic paired with a Rock Razor for some trail riding and Hand Dampf and Rock Razor in the rear so some nearly rides. Never had an issue with them and will continuing to support them.
  • + 7
 Great article but I'm a bit concerned about the close ups of the sheep though ;o)
  • + 12
 Trust the Scottish guy to worry about sheep
  • + 0
 Aye, but they show them from the wrong side for me likes. I think I'll get me Wellies ready for one of them wee beauties. I'll take her to the edge of the mountain again, like last september. Wonder if she remembers, She was pushin back so sensually, it was ecstatic!
  • + 6
 Did anyone else notice that they were all wearing ridiculously clean cloths, without a speck of dirt on it. They were not really having fun...
  • + 2
 good eye !!! my Spot is 20min. from tschwalbe headquarter away...they never ask me to come over,maybe to dirty lol
  • + 6
 And happy smiling faces. No plans for world domination there.
  • + 4
 I love my Schwalve tyres and its the only brand I've used so far and have stuck with them. Just wondering though why my Magic Mary snakeskin sidewalls are oozing out Stans sealant all over them. Check my profile for pics. Thanks.
  • + 3
 Omg is it really the sealant guy. You've become quite the on celebrity.
  • + 1
 sealantfish1974
  • + 7
 ♥ Steffi ♥ ...be still my heart
  • + 3
 I thought I had escaped the clutches of the expensive Schwalbe tires.. I was happily running some Maxxis until they wore out and I was given a set of the new Nobby Nics... Now I'm sucked right back in.. you can't argue (IMO) that they're not the best, but you can't argue that they're not horribly expensive. Oh well, money is meant for spending
  • + 7
 Hey Schwalbe! When is the new Aerothan innertube available?
  • + 3
 Had a Magic Mary 26"x2.35 Trailstar SS with severely cracked side knobs. Went through the warranty page on Schwalbe's website, blammo, new tire in the mail three days later with much better longevity. Coupled with that particular tire's impressive performance, I couldn't be happier.
  • + 3
 I have to say, I'm kind of a Michelin fan-boy but eventually I realized the Schwalbe Magic Mary and Rock Razor (with SnakeSkin and TS front/PS rear) was pretty much the ideal tire set for me. And to top it off, the Procore was the perfect answer to my tubed/tubeless dilemma. I am now a happy Schwalbe customer. Although sadly, they've been punctured to heck by the stupid spiky seeds we have around here. But adding some more sealant eventually got it sealed again. And to be fair, perhaps only the heaviest heavy duty tire would have been able to resist those... But again I say, brilliant design and engineering! Keep it up!
  • + 2
 I was a big fan of Schwalbe and must say their tyres are second to none,but they pi**ed me off a bit with the way they would be supplying the Procore system in the UK. Why would you only be able to buy this system via a LBS and have to have it fitted by them(but only in the UK).That to me was basically implying that here in the UK we weren't clever enough to fit it ourselves.Anyway I opted for the Italian Deaneasy system because of this, which I got from nextdaytyres.co.uk and fitted it myself(And yes you have to drill the rim hole out)and I must say it has proved it's worth.
  • + 2
 How do you think the deaneasy system compares to procore? seems simpler and lighter than having to seat a tyre and tube within your tyre but not sure about the valve and drilling my rim, can you easily replace the inner if it get punctured?
  • + 1
 I haven't used the procore so I don't know how it compares.I wasn't too happy about drilling the rim and about having the bulky dual valve on my bike but now it's fitted the performance of the system soon makes you forget about the valve.
  • + 2
 DeanEasy has worked fine for me, maglor, on the rear wheel of winter hard tail with winter Mud tyre for UK trail riding. Procore is too fat for sub-2.3" tyres anyway. DeanEasy has worked fine with a 2.1" Trailraker on 21mm and 22.5mm inner width rims. The rear wheel/tyre is always going to have a hard life on a hard tail slamming around. Twin tube lower psi helps just a little on ride comfort, shock absorption and offers a fraction better traction on the likes of wet roots + a little more protection against the consequences of a puncture. To answer your specific question; I can only guess there is almost nil chance of me puncturing the inner tubular but, yes, it could be expensive to replace unless you contact DeanEasy direct and can obtain separately. - coz the kit comes complete and as a pair - A regular tubular tyre might work, even though you'd carry around surplus unnecessary weight with the tread layer, if the valve is same diameter, but, when I checked them out they looked very expensive anyway.
  • + 5
 "Torture Chamber"?! hahaha. My home trails were too much for a Nobby Nic on my rear wheel.
  • + 6
 Now I want to quit my job...
  • + 7
 Article was gripping.
  • - 3
 Until the sideknobs ripped off
  • + 2
 Great article! Really enjoyed reading it.

One thing I was wondering about @schwalbe is that I've recently read a research where the results were that the wider the tyre, the less the rolling resistance. This research had the Schwalbe logo stamped on it quite some times (link: www.mtbonline.co.za/downloads/Rolling_Resistance_Eng_illustrated.pdf)

If the results are correct and you agree on it, how come you don't offer wider (2.4") versions of your faster rolling tyres, such as the Racing Ralph, Thunder Burt and Furious Fred? Or are these still being developed?

Or was it just the South African distributor who paid the researchers to use Schwalbe tyres and to put their logo all over the research? Meaning that the test results in your personal testing facility disagree with the results of this research?

The reason I'm asking is because the current tyres on my xc bike need to be replaced soon, and I'm still doubting which size tyres to buy, which would have the lowest rolling resistance off-road. I'm planning to buy a Racing Ralph front and a Thunder Burt rear. Would you recommend to go as wide as possible?
  • + 5
 All this tech, brains and research and developement....and they still can't stop the outer tread on their tyres cracking.
  • + 1
 @Matt76 Haha, same came to me mind: All this crazy gear and still the outer knobs on the Alberts, Hans'es and Marries fold over like some origami art?
  • + 1
 Lol, every schwalbe tyre ive ever had the outer knobs crack. Dont use them anymore because of this.
  • + 4
 I had a strange thing happen to mine, I had several bubbles appear under the tread, as in between the tread and carcass the rubber was lifting and making bubbles in the rubber
  • + 1
 I second that... I was impressed to see the technology, processing, and testing that goes into this brand but I cannot help to be dumbfounded when my very expensive Schwalbe tires rip knobs off and side wall tears with ease even with the extra protection models. I think they have great tread designs but I stay away from this brand for the mere fact that every tire that I've had failed.
  • + 2
 Awesome photography but I didnt see much about the tech involved with designing the tires. Looked more like a look at how were just an awesome group of awesome people making these tires and going on rides. If like to see the R+D of how they make a top shelf dh tire. Everyone loves magic marys... less of the hipster feel good vibe and more tech please. Loved the detailed pics of some of the manufacturing tools and layups etc. Could care less about the schwalbe sponsored jump session.
  • + 6
 The pics in this article are OFF THE SCALE - amazing work Nathan!
  • + 1
 I've used the Rocket Rons, Nobby Nics and Hans Dampfs and I think they can all be summarized like this: good grip and light weight, but the side knobs are structurally weak and deteriorate quickly making for poor cornering traction while the centre ridge knobs still remain with usable life.

Just last summer I mounted a pair of first gen, Nobby Nics for a Chicotin's trip (they new & were left over from two years ago so why not) and used them for maybe two months and then dumped them because of the failing side knobs even though the centre ridge was going strong. I know the NN has been redesigned with this in mind but for ~$85 CDN I am looking for a more dependable, longer-life tire.

I used the Hans Dampfs for a while as well but the base of the side knobs towards the centre ridge became shredded and unpredictable in the corners, while the centre ridge line remained with reasonable wear and still usable. The side knobs looked OK but upon closer inspection where structurally done.

I've gone back to Maxxis in the mean time.
  • + 3
 Exceptional photos in this article. I see that Steffi picked up a shovel to make up for those berms she blew out in Oregon for the Dakine article.
  • + 1
 Hey @schwalbe, why are your tires so damn hard to mount? I have to use steel levers to get them on or else break plastic ones and leave the pieces rattling inside. They inflate tubeless no problem, even with a floor pump, but taking them off I've ended up damaging the beads, not to mention having to file smooth the rims after. Other than that, I love the product.
  • + 2
 a friend of mine hooked up like glue to loose loamy dirt on a down-slope run with crazy switchbacks and off-camber drops... not once did he take a foot off keep control... MAGIC MARY's did all the work.
  • + 1
 I have had nothing but bad experience with the few Schwable tires I tried. With new Racing Ralph/Rocket Ron getting punctures on their first rides (sidewalls, but not only), not holding tubeless well, having to inflate the tire all the time. I dont even ride that rocky terrain, and always ride 30psi.

On the other hand running similar weight Speciallized tires such as Fast Track/Ground Control with no punctures for months (Same for maxxis).
  • + 3
 ditto. Ran through 3 sets of snakeskin evo pacestar etc RaRa's, wearing knobs quickly (150-300 miles) and tearing knobs on occasion. Switched to the paper thin Sworks Fast Traks and they're going strong as they approach 1000 miles. Several buddies went to Maxxis Ikons and have had a similar improvement in longevity.

I'm much faster on the Fast Traks than I was on the Schwalbes, but that's probably a product of riding more instead of sitting at home waiting for new tires to come in.
  • + 1
 My Racing Ralph didn't last two weeks as a rear tire. It constantly folded over when cornering hard while running about a 30psi tubeless setup. Not only was I constantly having to fill it back up every ride it blew out far too quickly from tread punctures. Popped a Kenda, Honey Badger Pro on instead and now I have much better traction and tread life.
  • + 1
 Hey Schwalbe, any chance of getting Dr. J.S. Hong, Schwalbe's very own compound mastermind to direct some of his attention to producing a Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic or Magic Mary that doesn't develop cracks and lose the side knobs. Kinda disappointing when you pay the same for these tires as you do for a car tire.
  • + 5
 Read the comments.. They addressed the very issue you are talking about (at least for the TrailStar compound.)
  • + 6
 Hey @integralnz what crazy cheap car tires do you run?!
  • + 1
 Just fitted a set of snow tires to my golf 45 Euros each delivered!
  • - 1
 Issue has been addressed? Must be for 2016/17, my 2015 Hans Dampf and Magic Mary have both fallen apart at the side knobs.
  • + 5
 They solved that about a year ago. They will warranty them as well. None of mine have done that since they fixed them.
  • + 2
 Schwalbe verleiht Flüüüügel Wink This area is where I come from. If you visit Germany, come to the beautiful Sauerland: mtb-zeit.de/mtb-sauerland (Willingen, Winterberg, Brilon, Warstein etc. etc.) Ride on, Marc
  • + 1
 @shwalbe

The "normal" Nobby Nic still seems to be getting mixed reviews. I was just about to pull the trigger on a 2.8" Nobby Nic. With this being a very new version of the NN, did it get any updates/improvements over the smaller diameter versions of this tire?

Also, is the Rocket Ron 2.8 or 3.0 even worth considering for all around trail riding? I keep reading that the extra contact patch and low pressures can make tires with low profile tread patterns do amazing things...

I want to believe that tires this lightweight can be engineered to hold up, but common sense makes me wonder.
  • + 5
 no picture of the factory in Indonesia? Wink
  • + 8
 There's a picture of some pictures from Jakarta... would have been tight to fit a 17hr flight into a two day visit @rifu
  • + 2
 Yeah would love to see some
  • + 8
 Sorry @wikenrider , this time it was only about the Schwalbe HQ in Germany. Our production partner in Jakarta is run by some very skilled and passionate people. A few pictures in this story wouldn´t justice to them. Also we´ve went through some changes during the last month and restructured the production. Once we are fully set up, a new production movie is definitely on the list to show you all the work (and magic) that goes into our tires. Even though it´s a bit old in the meanwhile (+/- 10 years), have a look at the current production movie to find out how our tires are produced: vimeo.com/46347186
  • + 1
 So it is true schwalbe have a factory in jakarta i thought it was only a gossip Smile
  • + 2
 @natedh9 @schwalbe thanks for the reply! can't wait to see the new production movie Smile
  • + 2
 Love Hans Dampf tires, plan on trying the Mary up front at some point. Great article/photos. Steffi is styling in those pics!
  • + 0
 Side punctures is a regular issue with schwalbe, I tried hans dampf and rocket fpn, now I use maxxis, no problems so far... Weight penalti is ok fot better performance. Schwalbe - nice condoms fo eacing, however for redular riding too thin IMHO
  • + 4
 Superb photo job, man! Really good! @natedh9
  • + 1
 @schwalbe , what kind of recycling program do you guys run? It would be an interesting topic in itself. Just think of it: millions of tires annually with not very long lifespans...
  • + 0
 There are few things which are not ok with Schwalbe in general.. The knobs pul out to easy, the grip is not as good as by Conti or Maxxis in DH ST versions and the price is to high. The most annoying is first thing.
Now I am going to test ProCore but on my favourite Conti set of tires.
The only really good point I see is Steffi... Wink
  • + 3
 Ok now I understand why Schwalbe tires are so freaking expensive! So what's your excuse Vee Rubber??
  • + 2
 love my MM´s...all conditions tire... enduro and dh...everything fine!

but the more interesting question is... where is this spot? Smile
  • + 3
 Fantastic right up. Great photography. Very cool article to read as I open shop.
  • + 2
 I like Schwalbe tires but Jesus, we get about 10 a week come back on warranty, damaged, split or w/e.

Don't get it, mine have never had any issues :s
  • + 2
 Same here, some colleagues have no probs with MM, HD or similar, others (including me) always had problems. No stringent quality, unfortunately. Switched to Minions and I'm fine with it.
  • + 5
 nice work Nathan
  • + 3
 If Schwalbe made camouflage condoms, then no one would see you coming :-)
  • + 3
 Some very serious riding skills Texi! You should do more freeriding
  • + 2
 Was expecting to see Ford Transits or a little renault, not a ram with bling rims.
  • + 2
 Dear schwalbe where my freeking duo core that iv had on order for over a year!!!

Please and thank you :-)
  • + 3
 Great piece PB.... need more stories like this!
  • + 1
 Hello Schwalbe, why did you choose to make Procore from 2 parts, procore tube + innentube? And not one tubular tire, wouldn't it be easier whit just one tubular innen tire?
  • + 1
 Then it wouldn't fit in multiple rim widths, it wouldn't be repairable, and most of the bead retention would be lost.
  • + 4
 F 1.4?

Amazing shots
  • + 3
 Thanks @Lem0n - everything was shot with either the 105mm 2.8 (macro), 70-200mm 2.8 and the 16mm 2.8. Maybe the odd 24-70 shot creeping in somewhere too.
  • + 2
 I dont know about you guys, but I would love to see like a few videos of those torture test.
  • + 2
 I will be a life long customer as long as they keep making 26 inch Dh tires
  • + 3
 Super nice imagery, really like these kind of stories!!
  • + 3
 They are going to need a lot more sheep with the newest fad of fat tires
  • + 3
 An awesome and insightful written article, accompanied by killer shots!
  • + 2
 f*cking Hell, Ralf Bohle looks like the new Dr Who lol
  • + 1
 Magic Mary Evo trailstar out front, Hans Damph Evo trailstar at the rear..... nuff said !
  • + 1
 But it didn't answer why their sidewalls are made of single ply rice paper!?
  • + 11
 Hey @ctd07 , we do offer LiteSkin tires which are the lightest options you have for a XC bike. These tires are very limited in their cut-resistance, but that´s what we communicate. For all normal trail rider we do offer the SnakeSkin option (TL-Easy) which is quite a strong sidewall for it´s weight. It wins all tests to its competitors so far. As for the Gravity side of things you find the SG and DH version. Widely used in DH racing and decorated with trophies like the worldchamps win of Loic Bruni or Kurt Sorges Rampage victory. What tire option did you chose and what kind of riding are you doing with it?
  • - 1
 My giant trance came stock with nobby Nic pros or something like that, 7 punctures and a torn sidewall in the first few months and I only get to ride once or twice a week, worst experience ever, swapped with maxxis now. Terrain is trail riding with a few rocks thrown in, nothing crazy.
  • + 3
 You can't compare a stock Nobby Nic to any other Schwalbe tire. None of their other tires blow out that easy. Try any other tire from them and I'm sure that you won't experience that. I prefer the Magic Mary with Vertstar compound front and a Rock Razor with Trailstar compound rear.
  • + 1
 Why make a tyre that useless in the first place? I wouldn't even want that product against my brand name - what tyre would you suggest is good @schwalbe ?
  • + 5
 Better blame the bike manufacturers' choice of tires. They go for a low catalog weight by mounting tires that do not suit the intended use of the bike.
  • + 2
 All I needed to see was that first picture of the sheep.
  • + 1
 It might be me, but it seems even the sheep got new clothing and pose a bit too much in the pics.
  • + 2
 What do you do with 365 used rubbers? Make a tire and call it a Goodyear.
  • + 0
 I will remember forever my "Al Mighty" jumping out of the rim at full speed on a DH track... (twice, and two others just waiting at the chair lift).
  • + 2
 Excellent Wu Tang reference.
  • + 0
 Wow - a Dodge Ram in Germany. Is that the equivalent of still driving a Hummer in the US?
  • + 1
 Just went for a fresh pair of schwalbe tires for my rig Big Grin awesome photos
  • + 1
 is that a new Nobby Nic tread pattern? (first pic under the jar of thorns)
  • + 2
 Steffi is gorgeous.
  • + 0
 If you want to read about German tyres, then you are on the wrong page Smile
  • + 0
 "...a German free ride spot..." is it rated by a "pain index"?
  • + 0
 Okay half of this article actually made me cringe no joke.
  • + 0
 Why does that portrait put me in mind of a vampire...
  • - 3
 CONTINENTAL! ????
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