Schwalbe held a low key barbecue and product launch at the recent Fort William World Cup. The German tire company has been quietly going about making some very impressive tires over the last few years and the launch was to announce a few new additions to the range.
The launch was more orientated around Schwalbe’s Super Gravity tires – a range of tires claimed to be as “Strong as downhill tires, light as freeride tires.” They have sturdy sidewalls and they are nigh puncture-proof, like a downhill tire, but at the same time they deliver “much surer and responsive handling” according to Stevie Smith, who won the World Cup in Hafjell (Norway) on the Magic Mary tire. “Many of the top teams in the Downhill World Cup and in the Enduro World Series are already using Super Gravity tires,” said Michael Kull from Schwalbe Marketing.
The Super Gravity versions represent an impressive 700-gram saving for the bike when compared with the equivalent downhill tires. All Super Gravity models are Tubeless Ready. They are also all available in 26-inch and 27.5-inch, and some models in 29-inch as well.
In the Super Gravity range there are four tires – the venerable Hans Dampf, the über extreme mud tire Dirty Dan, as well as the fast-rolling Rock Razor and all-round intermediate Magic Mary.
The allrounders: Magic Mary and Hans Dampf
Magic Mary, the successor to the popular Muddy Mary, has an intermediate profile specifically designed for competitions, with chunky shoulder knobs for increased braking traction and cornering grip, even in soft, muddy terrain. Says Kull, “Magic Mary is the best choice for about 80 percent of all routes, that’s how versatile it is in its applications. These range from enduro tours to bike-park riding and the Downhill World Cup.”
Hans Dampf is similarly versatile. “Although not quite so extreme. It is generally more docile with regards to handling and is suitable above all for all-mountain riding,” Kull said.
Dirty Dan and Rock Razor – the Specialist Tires
Dirty Dan, the mud specialist tire that helped Danny Hart become Downhill World Champion in 2011, is now lighter and faster with the Super Gravity carcass. The semi-slick Rock Razor tire is the fastest in the Super Gravity series. When fitted to the rear wheel it helps riders eat up any dry and fast route. With Hans Dampf or Magic Mary on the front wheel it is the best combination for enduro races on dry ground.
Super Gravity Carcass –-with Completely New Wrapping
Super Gravity is an innovative carcass technology. Until 2012, Schwalbe used only dual casing, i.e. a double carcass construction, for its downhill tires. This effectively consists of four layers that overlap on the cap where they form a total of six layers. The Super Gravity carcass, on the other hand, is produced by Schwalbe like the carcass of a motorcycle tire. Again this involves two layers of carcass. But this time they overlap across the sidewalls rather than under the cap (this is called the “turn-up method”). The result is still four rugged layers at the side, but only two under the cap, which means four layers fewer than you get with a tire designed purely for downhill.
To make the outer cover even more cut-resistant, the technicians at Schwalbe gave it a robust, flexible SnakeSkin layer. The developers also turned their attention to the apex. This small wedge, which is also used to strengthen automobile and motorcycle tires, plays a key role in determining the tire’s sturdiness in the bead area, where the forces that can penetrate the tire have the greatest impact. The new apex, now with its optimized shape and its harder rubber mix, counteracts these forces.
First Ride Development Program
By borrowing technology from motorcycle production, Schwalbe has managed to create a synthesis of downhill and freeride tires that has given rise to a new tire category. Super Gravity embodies the desired properties to such an extent that the tire is the best choice not only for downhill and enduro races, but also for freeriding. “Solid at the sides, but flexible in the middle – that way it can adapt itself dynamically to any ground conditions,” Kull said.
The requirements for this tire have come from various sources, including the teams and riders that Schwalbe has been working with closely as part of the company’s “First Ride Development Program” – MS-Mondraker, Scott11, Giant, Devinci and others. Well-known Schwalbe riders include Danny Hart, Emmeline Ragot, Stevie Smith and Sam Hill, who are all world leaders in downhill racing.