Schwalbe Marathon Greenguard vs Marathon Plus: A Comparison for Commuters


As a team at Commuter Bikes, we understand the role tyres play in urban cycling. Tyres not only dictate the comfort of your ride but also influence safety and performance. Schwalbe, known for its high-quality bicycle tyres, offers two popular models for city riders: the Marathon Greenguard and the Marathon Plus.

In this article, we delve into a detailed comparison of these two models, helping urban cyclists choose the best tyre option for their commuting needs.

Key Features of Schwalbe Marathon Greenguard

The Marathon Greenguard is a favourite among urban cyclists for its robust construction and reliable performance. Key features include:

  • Greenguard 3mm Layer: This tyre is equipped with a 3mm Greenguard layer made from recycled latex products, providing excellent protection against punctures.
  • Durability and Lifespan: Known for its long-lasting tread life, the Marathon Greenguard ensures a lasting performance, ideal for daily commuting.
  • Road Performance and Grip: It offers a balanced grip on wet and dry surfaces, making it a versatile choice for diverse urban road conditions.

Key Features of Schwalbe Marathon Plus

The Marathon Plus stands out for its exceptional puncture resistance and is often dubbed the “flat-less” tyre. Its standout features include:

  • SmartGuard Layer: The tyre boasts a 5mm thick SmartGuard layer, making it almost impervious to punctures, a significant advantage for city roads littered with debris.
  • Rolling Resistance: While offering unparalleled puncture protection, it also maintains a low rolling resistance for efficient riding.
  • Weather Suitability: Its tread design and rubber compound are optimised for varied weather, providing reliable performance rain or shine.

Puncture Protection and Durability

When it comes to puncture protection, both tyres offer impressive features, but with different approaches. The Greenguard’s 3mm layer offers substantial protection, suitable for most urban terrains. However, the Marathon Plus goes a step further with its 5mm SmartGuard layer, offering near impenetrability, which is ideal for roads where the risk of punctures is high.

In terms of durability, both tyres are long-lasting, but the Marathon Plus generally has a longer lifespan due to its thicker tread and robust build. This makes it a more economical choice in the long run, despite its higher upfront cost.

Rolling Resistance and Efficiency

  • Marathon Greenguard: This tyre offers a balance between puncture protection and rolling efficiency. Its slightly thinner protective layer compared to the Marathon Plus allows for a more responsive and nimble ride, which can be advantageous in stop-and-go city traffic.
  • Marathon Plus: Known for its low rolling resistance despite the thick SmartGuard layer, the Marathon Plus ensures a smooth and effortless ride. However, it may feel slightly less agile than the Greenguard, especially during quick maneuvers.

Grip and Handling

  • Marathon Greenguard: It provides a reliable grip on both wet and dry surfaces, ensuring safe and stable handling in various weather conditions.
  • Marathon Plus: Its tread pattern and rubber composition are designed to offer superior traction, giving cyclists confidence on slippery urban roads.

Comfort and Ride Quality

Both the Marathon Greenguard and the Marathon Plus excel in providing a comfortable ride, but there are subtle differences to consider:

  • Marathon Greenguard: The tyre’s construction allows for a bit more flexibility, which can translate to a smoother ride over urban obstacles like potholes and curbs.
  • Marathon Plus: The thicker protective layer may slightly harden the ride, but it also contributes to a sense of security and stability, especially on rough city streets.

Installation and Maintenance

Ease of installation and maintenance are crucial for urban cyclists who often handle their bike repairs:

  • Marathon Greenguard: Generally easier to fit onto a wheel rim due to its more pliable nature. Regular maintenance checks are advisable to ensure optimal performance.
  • Marathon Plus: Known for being a bit more challenging to install because of its rigid SmartGuard layer. However, its “fit-and-forget” nature means it requires less frequent maintenance.

Wear and Tear Over Time

  • Marathon Greenguard: This tyre, while durable, may show signs of wear a bit sooner than the Marathon Plus, particularly if frequently ridden on rough urban surfaces.
  • Marathon Plus: Renowned for its longevity, this tyre can endure many miles without significant wear, making it a top choice for heavy usage.

Resistance to Damage

  • Marathon Greenguard: Offers good resistance to common road hazards but might be more susceptible to cuts and abrasions than the Marathon Plus.
  • Marathon Plus: Its robust construction provides excellent resistance to cuts, tears, and other forms of damage, ideal for navigating through debris-strewn city streets.

Overall Value for Commuters

When considering overall value, it’s essential to weigh the benefits of each tyre against its cost:

  • Marathon Greenguard: Provides a balanced mix of performance and protection at a slightly lower price point, offering good value for daily commuting.
  • Marathon Plus: While more expensive, its extended lifespan and reduced maintenance needs can make it a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Conclusion and Final Recommendations

For the urban commuter, choosing between the Schwalbe Marathon Greenguard and Marathon Plus comes down to prioritizing agility and comfort (Greenguard) versus ultimate puncture protection and longevity (Marathon Plus). Both tyres offer excellent quality and performance, but their differences cater to distinct needs and preferences.

Final Scores Table:

FeatureMarathon GreenguardMarathon Plus
Puncture Protection8/1010/10
Rolling Resistance9/108/10
Grip and Handling8/109/10
Comfort and Ride Quality9/108/10
Installation and Maintenance9/107/10
Overall Value8/109/10

Both the Marathon Greenguard and Marathon Plus score highly in most categories, but the Marathon Plus edges ahead in puncture protection and durability, making it an ideal choice for the demanding urban environment.

However, for commuters seeking a more balanced and cost-effective option, the Marathon Greenguard remains an excellent choice.

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