I got a recommendation from an experienced tourer to switch to Schwalbe Marathon Plus endurance tires during summer and Schwalbe Spike something during winter. I like the Marathon Plus tires, despite them being a bit slow, because I don't want to get a flat in locations called no-where. I am not interested about product recommendations but rather how can I know a good endurance tire for a certain touring location? If you know that a road is poor for the next 1000 kms, is it a good idea to switch to wider tires with greater volume? Is there any objective way to test a tire in a random shop? I have noticed that sometimes some LBSs have old tires but time-to-time it is hard to say. So how can I detect a good endurance tires if my favorite tires cannot be found? By it I mean that I want more objective ways to select tires rather than just brand.

  • found a start-up company Wheelenergy [1] that tests puncture-resistance. It is an independent laboratory, really uncommon in this area! If I have understood right, the company puncture the tires, not just pieces of tires traditionally. Certain firms such as Trek and Specialized use their services, have to investigate whether they have tested touring tires. [1] wheelenergy.webs.com/puncturecutresistance.htm
    – user652
    Mar 25, 2011 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


It's difficult to judge the quality of a tire hanging on a rack in a bike shop. Experience (including recommendations) is an important factor, since it takes 1000's of kms to put a tire to the test. When deciding on a touring tire, buy a set to try out pre-tour. You'll get an idea how they handle, how fast they wear, how puncture-resistant might be just by using them for everyday riding. Then when you're ready for the big trip, put a fresh set on the bike and save the worn ones for when you get back.

Certainly wider tires will help on rough roads. Thicker tires may last longer. For puncture resistance, stay away from racing tires and look for ones with a kevlar belt (or similar puncture protection layer).

If you know the roads may be bad, plan ahead and get a wider set for the entire tour. Don't plan to buy wider ones during the trip -- you never know what will be available when you get there. Conversely, if you find yourself having to replace a tire while on tour, your options will likely be limited. You'll just have to settle for what you can find. (I once had to replace a split road bike tire in a small mountain biking town but only one shop carried my size -- an off-road knobby tire. Still better than a split one!)

  • can you give a picture with kevlar belt? Google tells me that kevlar is some sort of strong polymer but no idea what it means with tires.
    – user652
    Mar 25, 2011 at 13:15
  • @hhh: added a link to an image on wikipedia. The blue layer in the cross-section is made of kevlar (this may be a Schwalbe, hard to tell). Different manufacturers may use other materials, but it's basically an extra layer to keep glass and other debris from working through. Not 100% effective, but can often slow down the onset of a puncture. You won't see this from just looking at the tire, but it may make the casing feel stiffer.
    – darkcanuck
    Mar 25, 2011 at 15:32

Two points to note when choosing an endurance tire are firstly the thickness of the side wall, since while touring you can easily get rock, sticks, nails, whatever hitting the side while you are riding. Secondly, you can "age" a tire a little bit by buying it before time, and placing it onto a rim with a tube pumped up to low pressure to help fill out the shape. After a month or so you will find that the tire has actually hardened a little, and will be slightly more puncture resistant.

  • can you clarify "pumped up to low pressure to help fill out the shape"? So even if I have 4.5-6 bar Marathon tires, it is initially better to fill them to low pressure? Any idea when to know when it is safe to use the maximum recommended pressure for "ag[ing]"? Yes, I have noticed that the new tires are not totally in shape so the idea sounds tempting to try -- did not even thought about using low-pressure for new tires! But yes the new tires can be fragile particularly as they haven't yet molded to the rim. Good tip to avoid flats. +1
    – user652
    Apr 7, 2011 at 13:35
  • I just pump them up so that when I give them a squeeze I can push my thumb to the rim, but there is a some resistance to this. I think it works out to be about 60 psi for tires that have a maximum rating of 130 psi. In terms of keeping them at maximum pressure, I think that this has a big drawback in that the strain on the threads will lead to splitting of the tire earlier then would otherwise be the case. I actually let the pressure out of my tires if I know I won't be riding in the next week.
    – Anthony K
    Apr 12, 2011 at 13:46

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