Schwalbe Magic Mary Addix Review
Cons: Expensive, slow rolling, harder to install
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Schwalbe makes a wide range of mountain bike tires for specific riding disciplines and styles, and the Magic Mary falls in towards the more aggressive trail and gravity-oriented end of their range. Schwalbe claims its "the favorite of downhill and enduro experts," that provides "maximum braking traction and cornering grip." The typically dry, dusty, loose, and rocky conditions of Lake Tahoe in summer were the perfect place to put the Magic Mary through its paces. Testers found it to be a good and robust tire that excels in certain conditions but lacks the versatility of our top performers.
The Magic Mary excels in corners, especially in loose blown-out dust and chunder and in wet and muddy conditions. The reason for this is the most open tread design of all the tires in our test. If you look closely at the center tread of the Magic Mary, you'll notice the especially wide spacing of the square center tread knobs. All of the knobs are square, with an alternating pattern of 3, 2, 2, 2, 3… The center knobs have lots of space between them, and there is siping on most of them. The side knobs are tall, rectangular, stout, and angled slightly in the rotation direction of the tire. The tops of the side knobs slope slightly towards the outside, and they all have siping on them. The 2 and 3 wide rows of center knobs line up with the gaps in the side knobs, and all of the tread knobs are quite tall. Of all the tires we tested, the Magic Mary is the most reminiscent of a full-on mud-spike. The tall knobs and open spacing make this tire bite into wet and muddy conditions better than other models in our test, and it clears mud easily for the same reasons.
The side to side profile of the Magic Mary is relatively round for how aggressive the tread is, especially when compared to similar tires like the WTC Convict and the Maxxis Assegai which have slightly taller side knobs and squarer profiles. This rounded profile results in a smooth and easy transition between the center tread and side knobs as you tip your bike over into turns. Once on edge, the stout side knobs grab and hold impressively well, and this tire is especially scrappy in loose, dusty, and gravelly corners. While the square knobs are grouped in the center tread in sets of 2 or 3, they all have a little separation between them, which allows for each of them to bite into the ground like its own tooth. This results in more edges grabbing at the same time than a tread with wider rectangular center knobs, especially in soft conditions.
We found this tread design to work ok on hardpack, but other tires with a less open tread pattern, like the Maxxis Assegai, provide better cornering traction on hard dirt and trickier loose over hard conditions. The ADDIX SpeedGrip compound of the tire we tested is the hardest rubber compound that the Magic Mary is made in, but it still offered plenty of grip when cornering. It is also offered in ADDIX Soft and ADDIX Ultra Soft rubber for even more tackiness.
Due to the multitude of tall squared off knobs that make up the center tread of the Magic Mary, it has great pedaling traction. There are lots of edges to grab hold of any surface, and they dig deep into soft dirt for lots of bite in loose conditions. Unlike lower profile treads found on less aggressive tires, it is much harder to get the Magic Mary to break traction and spin out. The tread design results in more rolling resistance, but if you're looking for traction like the Magic Mary provides, that's a sacrifice you're probably willing to make. We tested it primarily as a front tire, but if you choose to use it in the rear, you can be sure that it has traction for days, but with lots of rolling resistance. Other tires in our test with similar levels of pedaling traction but less rolling resistance, like the Maxxis Aggressor or the Maxxis Minion DHR II, might be better options for a rear tire with a Magic Mary up front.
The Magic Mary has incredible amounts of braking traction. Again, the tall knobs and squared-off edges penetrate loose dirt better than most, so slowing and stopping is a quite controlled affair, even in the loose and the mud. All those edges and knobs that bite into the ground and tend to slow you more effectively, as opposed to locking up and sliding, resulting in a feeling of more control. If you ride aggressively and in loose conditions and you put a premium on a controlled braking feel, we think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better braking tire in loose or muddy conditions.
In addition to great bite in loose conditions and excellent braking traction, the large squared off, and widely spaced tread design of the Magic Mary tends to cause quite a bit of rolling resistance, and this comes as no surprise. If you're considering a tire with a meaty and aggressive tread like this, however, you're generally more concerned with braking traction and cornering grip than how fast it rolls. It has among the most rolling resistance in our entire test selection, on par with the other downhill and enduro specific tires like the WTB Convict and the Maxxis Assegai. It is worth noting that the Magic Mary we tested weighs 1059g, over 200g less than the Convict, or the Assegai. This substantial weight difference reduces rotational weight and will result in a feeling of less rolling resistance, especially over extended periods of pedaling.
The Magic Mary appears to be quite durable, especially as Schwalbe tires are concerned. The large, widely-spaced blocky tread knobs are stout and show just the early signs of erosion and pitting on the inside of the stout side knobs. This is thanks to the ADDIX SpeedGrip rubber compound, the hardest durometer that Schwalbe offers for the Magic Mary, and we have tested it primarily as a front tire. By comparison, other Schwalbe tires we tested like the Knobby Nic and the Hans Dampf, both of which are ADDIX SpeedGrip rubber as well, seemed to wear more quickly mostly because we used them as rear tires.
The Magic Mary we tested has the Snakeskin casing with what Schwalbe calls Apex reinforcement. The Apex reinforcement adds two layers of protection to the sidewall, in addition to the Snakeskin laminate on the outside, and it makes it feel much thicker and supportive than their non-Apex reinforced tires. The additional protection of the sidewalls adds a little weight, but it also results in a more durable feeling tire that has more sidewall support. We had no issues with the sidewalls despite plenty of poor line choice abrasion and repeated hits to the rim that could have caused pinch flats. The Apex reinforced version of the Magic Mary felt similar to the EXO casing found on the Maxxis Aggressor and Maxxis Minion DHF, but not quite as robust as those found on the WTB Convict or the Maxxis Assegai.
There's something about the Schwalbe tires we tested that makes them more difficult to install than most other tires in our test. Getting them on the rim is no problem, and can be done by hand without the use of a tire lever. It's once they're on the rim, and you go to seat the bead that they become a challenge. We were unable to seat the bead of the Magic Mary with a floor pump, and even our wimpy compressor didn't do the trick. Instead of going to the bike shop, again, we chose to use a CO2 canister to blast the Magic Mary, and we removed the valve core to make sure the air went in unimpeded. This did the trick, and we topped it off with a floor pump. Once on the rim, it holds air very well, although like most tires, it needs to be topped off every couple days. Subsequent attempts to install the Magic Mary have been difficult, although we were able to seat the bead with a floor pump after squeezing the sidewalls and pulling the bead of the tire towards the bead of the rim around the tire on both sides, an arduous task.
Schwalbe tires are known for their high asking price, and the Magic Mary is no exception. It is the second most expensive model we tested after the Schwalbe Knobby Nic. It's not easy to justify dropping a C-note on a single mountain bike tire; our testers don't like doing it either. It's hard for us to call a tire that costs this much a good value, but if you're looking for an aggressive tire that excels in corners and everything from loose dirt to mud, then perhaps you can justify the expense for the Magic Mary.
The price of admission may be high, but if you're looking for an aggressive tire to handle loose or muddy conditions, we think the Magic Mary is a great option. It's not as light or versatile as many of the other tires in our test; it's more of a niche option for specific conditions. That said, its beefy Apex reinforced sidewalls are supportive and durable while still coming in at a reasonably light weight, for this style of tire, that makes it suitable for use as a trail riding tire and not just a gravity oriented heavyweight. If you're looking for a versatile all-around tire, you'll want to look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a tire to dominate in the loose or the mud, the Magic Mary might be for you.
The Magic Mary comes in several different tread and casing options. It is available for 26" wheels in a 2.35" width in both Snakeskin or Super Gravity casings in either ADDIX Soft or ADDIX Ultra Soft rubber.
For 27.5" wheels, it is available in 2.25", 2.35", 2.6", and 2.8" widths. It can be found in Snakeskin, Snakeskin Apex (tested), and Super Gravity casings, in ADDIX Ultra Soft, ADDIX Soft, and ADDIX Speedgrip (tested) rubber compounds.
For 29" wheels, it is available in 2.25" and 2.35" widths and Snakeskin or Super Gravity casings in the ADDIX Soft compound only.
— Jeremy Benson