Schwalbe Magic Mary and Rock Razor Review

by Brian Mullin on February 5, 2014

Enduro
racing has taken the world by storm, and many tire manufacturers are
coming up with designs oriented towards this endeavor. Schwalbe
introduced their Super Gravity protection system last year, which gives
the toughness of a downhill tire, with the lighter weight and feel of
their SnakeSkin system. Schwalbe has now introduced two new gravity
oriented tires, the aggressive Magic Mary and semi-slick Rock Razor. The
Magic Mary with its big beefy knobs is a descendent of the Muddy Mary,
but shares some design characteristics right between the Muddy Mary and
Dirty Dan, helping it thrive in loose conditions. The Rock Razor has a
semi-slick section along the middle of the tire for low rolling
resistance, along with large side knobs for cornering.

Magic Mary

The
new Magic Mary is the successor to the Muddy Mary, and the big chunky
knobs and open tread design provide excellent control and traction in a
wide variety of conditions. The tubeless ready 2.35″ width tire comes in
26″, 27.5″ and 29″ sizes, in their VertStar and TrailStar compounds,
and Super Gravity and SnakeSkin sidewall protection systems. The Super
Gravity versions weigh around 1050 grams each and retail for $94, while
the SnakeSkin comes in at 800 grams and costs $82.

  • 26 x 2.35 – Super Gravity VertStar, Super Gravity TrailStar, SnakeSkin TrailStar
  • 27.5 x 2.35 – Super Gravity VertStar, Super Gravity TrailStar, SnakeSkin TrailStar
  • 29 x 2.35 – Super Gravity TrailStar, SnakeSkin TrailStar

The
tire is meant for loose or wet conditions, where traction, cornering
and braking in less than optimal conditions is paramount. The knobs are
monstrous, blocky and aggressive, and they have lots have siping for an
additional bite into the terrain. The open tread design has a two-three
center line-up design (the three are ramped), along with big beefy
angled shoulder knobs. All the large siped knobs, tread pattern and
design provided increased grip in corners, better braking and tractor
pulling traction in soft, loose and muddy conditions. Of course, the
large knobs and heavy weight come with poorer acceleration and rolling
resistance, which is to be expected with a tire that isn’t meant for
cross-country racing or use on hardpack.
Measured specs:

  • Weight – 1058 grams (27.5″ Super Gravity TrailStar)
  • Width – 2.28″ carcass and 2.31″ knobs
Rock Razor

The
new Rock Razor is a semi-slick tire meant for the Gravity and Enduro
world, with low center knobs for fast-rolling and acceleration, and is
optimized for the rear wheel. The tubeless ready 2.35″ width tire comes
in 26″ and 27.5″ sizes (no 29″ as yet), in their TrailStar compound and
Super Gravity protection system, or their PaceStar compound and
SnakeSkin sidewalls. The Super Gravity weighs around 950 grams each and
retail for $93, while the SnakeSkin comes in at 680 grams and costs $89.

  • 26 x 2.35 – Super Gravity TrailStar, SnakeSkin PaceStar
  • 27.5 x 2.35 – Super Gravity TrailStar, SnakeSkin PaceStar

The
tire tread has a very low height along the center in a four-three
line-up design, and has large, tall and beefy shoulder knobs just like
the Magic Mary. The center tread pattern makes for a quick roller, and
once rolled over for cornering; the monstrous side knobs take over for
traction and control purposes. The low tread height mimics what many
mechanics alter on racer’s tires at many Enduro events; they cut down
the knobs to gain extra speed from the tire.

Measured specs:

  • Weight 940 grams (27.5″ Super Gravity TrailStar)
  • Wdth – 2.25″ carcass and 2.3″ knobs

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.

Impressions

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.

Bottom Line

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).

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Expensive
  • 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

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