Alongside a few yellow-label tread patterns, the Magic Mary rubber from Schwalbe is one of the most common tires I see at gravity trailheads between the Alps and Finale Ligure. The brand has drastically improved its sidewall strength over the years while maintaining a supple traction patch and effective mud shedding pattern. Knowing that many of our readers have already tested a set of these tires, I wanted to share some comparative thoughts and spread the word to anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the Magic grip.
I tested the Super Gravity Addix Soft (orange) compound, in a 29×2.35″ size. With eight versions of this tire designed for 29″ rims, I chose a pair with the heaviest casing and second softest tread compound to best suit my local trails. Check out the Schwalbe website for more info on the rainbow of tread, carcass, and bead alternatives.
Setup with these tubeless tires was a comically quick and simple process. They popped tight on my 30mm-wide, e*thirteen rims without the slightest squabble, and haven’t burped or leaked sealant since. I am continually impressed with how well modern tubeless setups work.
The fully siped tread that evenly dots an armored Magic Mary carcass resembles traditional motocross traction more than most mountain bike tires. There is ample space between the lugs to shed mud and loam, and the narrower 2.35-inch-wide version digs into softer soils admirably. The taller shoulder tread is well supported, maintaining a squirm-free feeling on harder soils and stones. Schwalbe offers the tire in 2.35″ and 2.6″ widths, and I found the narrower option provides all of the traction and damping I have come to expect from a well-designed tire. For reference, I prefer slightly narrower tires for their faster rolling characteristics and ability to better fit between rock and root puzzles.
The Super Gravity casing includes an Apex layer to increase stiffness and protection near the bead, with four-ply construction along the sidewalls and two-ply under the tread, all wrapped in the brand’s Snakeskin protective layer for extra cut resistance. I haven’t managed to puncture the casing despite a few rim strikes on every ride, and the brand does make two heavier casings for riders who are pushing harder or riding rougher trails. I did recently triple-puncture a Maxxis Aggressor with their EXO casing on the same trails, so I’d say the Magic Mary is quite a brute.
I would deem the Magic Mary a household name given its overall popularity and its predilection for year-round use. Like the prolific Minion DHF/DHR combo, it pedals reasonably well on all surfaces, offers fantastic cornering grip on rocks and in deep soil, has surprisingly powerful braking traction, and bolsters ample shoulder tread for off-camber fun.
The Magic Mary diverges significantly from a Minion in its ability to shed mud and find grip in deeper, looser soils. The intermediate height lugs grip in the wet stuff like a much heavier and taller-tread tire, and the tread clears far faster than most other all-season tires. When it comes to slop and deep dirt the Mary performance is more closely compared to a Maxxis Shorty, though I wouldn’t want the slow drag of a Shorty while riding dry hardpack in the summer. Though the Shorty excels alongside the Magic Mary in the loose stuff, the Magic Mary leaves it in the dust once the ground hardens up. For riders who want an even faster rolling setup, pair the Mary with a Schwalbe Hans Damph or Rock Razor out back.
The tire’s somewhat rounder profile means that there is more of it on the ground on off camber trails and flat turns before the rider leans the bike over. The form isn’t so drastically different from other tires that it requires a different riding style, but it is noticeable. We have a lot of natural, off-camber singletrack here in Europe, and I have come to appreciate the way this tread digs into off-kilter trails where I need assurance that my tire will clutch the soil after bunny hopping roots or other trail features. The Magic Mary is one of the best tires I have tested for off-camber segments, stacking up right alongside the Continental Der Baron with speed-inspiring grip.
ADDIX Soft tread compound gives the tire pair ample braking traction that works well with its consistent tread pattern to provide a powerful slowing grip without any odd or unexpected slips. Though the durability of the soft tread suffers a bit, it’s worth every millimeter of burnt rubber to have a predictable connection with the ground. Having amazing traction that allows me to ride faster and take sketchier lines is worth replacing one more rear tire per year.
At $92 (compare options and prices), the Magic Mary won’t fit into everyone’s sports budget. If these tires sound like your flavor, but you need to cut the cost, mounting just one of them up front will yield many of the benefits mentioned above for half the cost. For riders who enjoy rough gravity trails, where flow is found rather than built, these tires are a great way to connect with the ground.