Is it magic? We’re all looking for the one tire that does it all and never lets us down. Schwalbe claims its Magic Mary is your dream tire. Is she?
Introduced in 2013, Magic Mary was an instant hit. She’s the successor of the manufacturer’s long-time favorite, Muddy Mary. In the Schwalbe mountain bike tire lineup, she’s probably the aggressive tire with the widest range of use. The German brand recently introduced a redesign of its Fat Albert tire, which is a bit more at home on hardpack and less on soft ground. If you’re looking for an aggressive, all-terrain tire from Schwalbe, the Magic Mary is likely to be your first choice.
Available in two compounds and three wheel sizes, the Magic Mary Evolution Line comes in 2.35 as a folding tire, and both 2.35 and 2.5 as a wired tire. I tested the 2.35 in 650B as a folding tire in Schwalbe’s sticky TrailStar triple compound. The tire was mounted on a DT Swiss 1501 Spline One front wheel. Tubeless set-up was easy, and the tire seats properly, with no sealant or air leaking after the initial bedding in.
Ride Report: Did she put a spell on me?
Just like Continental’s Der Baron and the Maxxis Shorty, Schwalbe’s Magic Mary is an aggressive multi-terrain tire that excels in soft, wet ground – but not a true mud tire. And that’s exactly why she appeals to so many riders who are looking for an all-round tire that handles everything well. My trails include mixed terrain ranging from deciduous forest that stays muddy until late spring to conifer forest that dries faster. There are rocky sections where big knobs will squirm, and loamy sections that seem soapy after even a light rain. A dedicated mud tire means overdoing it most of the time, but I need serious rubber – plus I like wide tires.
I was curious if the Magic Mary would perform under these conditions. The requirements combine about everything you can ask of a tire. Just a few pedal strokes into the trail, and I was all smiles – and the smile never vanished.
It’s magic. Mary claws into the ground with verve, and never lets you go. She’s simply amazing, and so agreeable. In fact, her powerful performance comes as a surprise, because she’s such a gentle tire at first. But don’t let yourself be mistaken: This tire is among the very best in all-round control in almost all terrain. The Hans Dampf in the rear was a good match, offering good grip in general, but it cannot compete with the Mary, especially in the wet – just like a lot of other tires who simply fold when compared to the Magic Mary.
Mary is a caretaker, and you can close your eyes and let her guide you through. Not once did she let me slip – in fact, she is surprisingly predictable. Even when she eventually loses her grip in deep mud, she does so in slow motion, giving you a lot of time to react. When you lean her over, her limit is less pronounced in comparison to other tires. That is excellent if you are looking for a well-mannered tire with a gentle limit. If you’re looking for that digital feel, a defined threshold for a razor-like ride on the edge, then you might prefer a different tire.
Magic, again. In fact, Magic Mary’s braking is awesome. Even though she does not have dedicated brake knobs, every fourth horizontal row comes with three knobs. In addition, the knob pattern in general is a bit less spaced out compared to other tires in her class. While this design slightly limits her use as a mud tire, it further enhances her all-round capabilities. It also showed on the trail, when I was braking later and still maintaining control.
With the cozy comfort she offers, Magic Mary would seem to be a bit softer than other tires. But she’s sturdy enough to hold a line under rough cornering, so her comfort means no control is lost. I’ve not experienced any burping or tire squirm either. On the wear & tear side, the only issue I have is that it seems that Schwalbe’s amazing compound slightly loses its edge after a few rides. Grip is still amazing, though. Some reviews have reported a tendency towards tearing of side knobs, but I cannot report any torn knobs.
It is simply amazing how well Mary rolls. While it certainly is no adequate tool for a marathon, this tire can keep up with less aggressive rubber. I used it front-only, but I’d not hesitate to try it on the rear, too – if I ever needed to go all-out in the back. While you can feel and hear her big knobs moving on, Mary offers comfort and a much gentler ride than a few other tires I’ve tried. I’d not consider this a test-winning trait, but it is nice to have: Why have a rough ride when you can have a comfortable one?
At 835 grams, she cannot compete with the zero size models on the XC catwalk. But Magic Mary isn’t a plus size model and for the weight, she is so capable that you quickly forget this tire can be handful on longer rides. It might make a fine rear tire, too, but I admit pedaling would take a bit of a hit.
Terrain & Conditions
Her magic works in almost any terrain. As a true witch, she calls the deep forest her home. She happily roams the soft grounds and does not fear roots and rocks either. Occasionally, she likes to get dirty and play mud wrestling, too. All good-natured and in a playful style, and she is not afraid to venture into hardpack. Unless your trails are super soaking wet and more than just a bit muddy, her magic will be powerful enough to protect you – and if they are, you’re better off with a true mud tire anyway. I’d consider her an all-year tire unless your summers regularly include a long heat spell or you’re predominantly riding on hardpack. For all mountain and enduro riding, this tire could be your magic solution.
Tim’s Take: Mary’s magic puts a spell on every rider who is looking for an aggressive trail tire. A great all-round rubber that will stand by your side throughout the seasons, she seems without weakness. Unless your winters are a long, deep mudfest, and your summers dry as Interbike trails, she’ll work all-year round. She offers amazing levels of grip, control and confidence, all in a gentle and reliable package. She’s a keeper.
Model: Magic Mary
Wheel sizes: 26×2.35 – 27.5×2.35 (tested) – 29×2.35
Weight: 795g (26) – 835 (27.5) – 885 (29) (weights according to manufacturer, Snakeskin, TrailStar compound)
Price: 57.90 € – $92.35