SnakeSkin + High Density Ceramic Guard = Double Defense!!!
These are all marketing terms that Schwalbe enthusiastically uses to describe various flat protection technologies used in their tires. What does any of it mean and how do the different technologies compare relative to one another? Well, let's have a look . . .
The description for the Marathon Plus reads as follows:
"Punctures become obsolete with the MARATHON PLUS! The SmartGuard layer made from a flexible, special rubber offers particular resistance to shards of glass and flints. Even a thumbtack cannot penetrate this protective layer."
Even a THUMBTACK. No way!
Oh, and just so you don't get the idea that this super-razoo flat protection comes at a price, they add that, "The SmartGuard belt does not increase rolling resistance. The MARATHON PLUS rolls as easily as a tire without protection." And here they say, "The approximate 200 gram extra weight compared with the 'classic' Marathon is hardly noticeable in everyday use".
So weight doesn't really matter. Cool. The Marathon Plus in 700 x 28c weighs 740 grams, by the way. Sounds like a great tire.
By comparison, the description for the Marathon Extreme reads like this:
"Only by riding can the easy rolling ability of the Marathon Extreme be experienced. The light, yet at the same time, solid construction is made possible by the all-around SnakeSkin fabric layer. The HighDensity belt protects against punctures and is made even more efficient in this latest version with the addition of ceramic coating. SnakeSkin + HD Ceramic Guard = Double Defense"
Hmmm. Sounds pretty great. Thumbtacks? Dunno. 490 grams in 700 x 35c.
The description for the Marathon Supreme, on the other hand, reads differently yet kind of the same:
"Exceptional. Outstanding. The best. A touring tire that can do everything. That was the goal of our development team. For 2009 we have completely revised our : HD Ceramic Guard, Triple Nano Compound, LiteSkin side wall. The Marathon Supreme is now even lighter and faster. Puncture resistance has also been improved and its grip on wet roads remains outstanding!"
Wow, what a great tire. I'm a little suspicious about how it might handle thumbtacks, though. 375 grams in 700 x 32c.
So there you have it, the different flat protection systems just offer different levels of flat protection greatness. Clear as mud.
But before you get the wrong idea, let me say that even though I poke fun at their site, I really like Schwable tires. My observations came about as I was recently trying to use their site to select a tire with the minimum amount of flat protection, something akin to the Panaracer Pasela. Why not the Pasela? Well, because I'm really into the reflective sidewall that comes on almost all Schwalbes and also, I guess I just wanna try something different.
I settled on the Marathon Racer.
The description says it all:
"The fastest Marathon ever. Again! Now even lighter. Now even faster. Pure skin side walls and the new Speedgrip compound have further reduced weight and rolling resistance. Everything is optimized for speed. Pure dynamics: the low weight is noticeable every time you pull away. A RaceGuard belt protects against punctures."
Weight a minute. So wait does matter? I'm confused. No matter, though, it's obviously a super great tire. 330 grams for a 700 x 35c.
When I finally got my hands on it, the tire was nice and flimsy as I hoped it would be. The last thing I want out of this particular tire is a stiff-as-a-brick construction. A side-by-side "feel" test with a Pasela revealed that it's not quite as supple, but in the same neighborhood.
My bike's in a million pieces right now, so it'll be a while before I can test these tires out, but I'm guessing they'll ride like one of Schwalbe's greatest tires.