Note: The local Colorado testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. If you have ever ridden in Colorado Springs area, you’d meet the most humbling trail conditions, the Pikes Peak gravel. Imagine long swaths of trails covered with pea gravel (sort of like the side of a fire road). Although the tires have been ridden in the dry, we have had a lot of snow with melt conditions between storms, so wet and mud interspersed with snow, making for an ideal spectrum of testing.
I tested a 27.5″ Magic Mary in front and a 27.5″ Rock Razor in the rear, and both were the Super Gravity TrailStar versions. I installed the tires on my Ibis Mojo HD and Mojo HDR, and mounted them tubeless on a set of Pacenti DL31 rims. The installation was straight forward, and they both popped up into a tubeless mode quite easily. I weigh around 165 lbs and ran the front around 22 psi, and the rear at 25 psi.
The Magic Mary is great in loose, soft, muddy, and snowy conditions, and excels when traction is uncertain and poor; it just digs into the terrain like it has big fangs. The MM aggressive knobs offer great braking and control, letting you rip down anything, especially technical and gnarly terrain. I found that if the terrain was full-on continual rock gardens, the MM knobs gave a harsh ride, but if things were mixed up, it wasn’t an issue. Surprisingly, it does alright in smooth hardpacked conditions, but they feel ponderous trying to spin and roll. Cornering was brilliant with those massive side knobs, and it was easy to hook them up at just about any angle without any rollover issues. The big meaty MM came to life with a drop in pressure, gaining some much-needed pliableness and a softer ride feel. Once the MM is up to speed and are tossed into loose and unforgiving terrain or just plain roughly handled, they shined. Slow slogs up long smoother single track could really suck some energy out of you, since the tread design, knob height and weight were out of their gravity oriented realm.
The Rock Razor is an interesting beast. They actually have pretty decent traction in loose terrain, and when you roll them over and push in with the big knobs, they really hold a line in corners. The RR has a great response with laser-like control, and their acceleration and great rolling facilitate quick snaps of power through the drivetrain. The short middle tread would occasionally spin out when climbing loose conditions and slip when braking, but it was easy to control, predictable and could be countered with some extra finesse, and I did like how they drifted if used properly. With the large side knobs, cornering was great once they were rolled over and hooked up, and those tall side knobs helped somewhat in sloppy wet and loose conditions, offering a larger footprint, though the knob height still kept them from digging in with any authority. The RR felt more at home in dry conditions then wet. The MM and RR work in harmony, with a super meaty and grabby one up front, and a faster one in back, though if the trail was going to a full on loose fest, a set of MM front and rear would be best or perhaps a Hans Dampf in the rear. Using a full set of the MM felt like riding around with a monster truck, giving one a huge amount of traction, braking and cornering, with a big loss of quickness and precision in the rear.
The beefy Super Gravity protection system makes for an overall tough and robust tire. The inner construction of the Super Gravity is interesting and unique, and combines their casing, sidewall protection, Kevlar bead and stiffening inserts in a synergistic manner for extreme toughness, strength and flexibility, yet still remain moderately lightweight. I must admit its nice to have a seemingly indestructible tire, albeit with a slight loss to a livelier feeling tire. The MM and RR are both been pretty tough and durable, and whether it’s the tire in general or the SG system, I haven’t suffered any sidewalls problems or prematurely knob tears.
The Schwalbe Magic Mary is an excellent tire for loose, wet and muddy conditions, and excels as a front tire. The knobs are big and blocky, and the aggressive design means they dig deeply into loose rocks, loam and dirt, offering great braking and control. The large angled side knobs make for superb cornering, no matter how deep they’re rolled over. All this aggressive design means the tire aren’t the best rolling, and they can feel heavy and ponderous on long slow climbs. The Rock Razor is a rear only specific tire, and excels in dry conditions, and the semi-slick center knob design offers a quick acceleration, response and control. The low height of the middle tread meant an occasional slip on a climb or when braking, but it was predictable when it happened, and was easy to control. The Magic Mary and Rock Razor worked in harmony, providing an aggressive tire up front for steering, traction and braking, and a fast one in the rear, which offered precision, quick drivetrain adjustments and control. The Super Gravity sidewalls are very stout, and I never felt any sort of issues banging into anything, and I think it should improve longevity of the sidewalls and tread. For the ultimate control in loose conditions, a full set of Magic Mary’s would be nice, or maybe a combination of a Magic Mary and a Hans Dampf (front and rear respectively).
- Magic Mary – aggressive knobs and tread design provides excellent braking/traction in loose conditions
- Magic Mary – superb cornering
- Rock Razor – fast and quick
- Super Gravity system is tough and durable
- Magic Mary and Rock Razor make a nice harmonious pair for most conditions
- Super Gravity system is heavy
- Magic Mary – poor rolling
- Rock Razor – occasional slip on a climb or when braking
For more information visit: www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/off-road_tires