Review: Schwalbe Marathon Efficiency

Cycle magazine’s editor Dan Joyce tests a new touring tyre from the high-quality German manufacturer – will it live up to its name?

Schwalbe’s Marathon Supreme was one of my favourite touring tyres: fast rolling, fairly tough and available in a tubeless version. It was the on-road tyre I picked for the one-bike-for-everything feature I wrote some years ago. But now the Supreme is no more. Its replacement is the Marathon Efficiency.

The new tyre is described as “Schwalbe’s fastest touring tyre to date with the lowest rolling resistance”. I was sceptical. The Supreme was practically a slick, whereas the Efficiency has a defined tread pattern, especially on the shoulders of the tyre. And there’s no tubeless version of Efficiency; tubed tyres tend to roll slower, other things being equal.

Since I had a pair of Marathon Supremes, I was able to do back-to-back rides and roll-down tests. Some caveats first. My Supremes were somewhat worn, which might actually improve their rolling performance. The Supremes were the TLE version and were run with sealant, whereas the Efficiencies were, perforce, used with tubes. The sizes were nominally different: 42-622 for the Supremes and 40-622 for the Efficiencies.

In fact, the Marathon Efficiency measured wider on the same rim: 39mm versus 38mm for the Supreme. Despite this it was lighter on the scales, at 548g versus 672g for the Supreme. Those weights don’t include an innertube (approx 150g) or sealant (approx 60g) – apart from any dried up latex coating the inside of the Supreme.

The Marathon Efficiency uses Schwalbe’s Addix Race compound, which is the same rubber used on the Pro Race TLE tyres on my time trial bike. The 67tpi casing is heavier duty, of course, and the Marathon Efficiency has a synthetic, V-Guard puncture protection layer under the tread. Nevertheless, the sidewalls are nicely pliable – a sign of a supple, faster-rolling tyre.

And so it proved. Getting the tyres onto the (tubeless) rims was… challenging. Riding on them was great. It was hard to discern much difference between the Supreme and the Efficiency during general riding so I did repeated roll-down tests of the tyres, using the same pressure (4bar/58psi). The Marathon Efficiency was about 2% quicker, on average. Aside from the super-supple Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass, it’s the fastest touring tyre I’ve ridden.


I was pleasantly surprised: the Marathon Efficiency rolls slightly better than the already excellent Supreme, making it one of the most efficient tarmac-going touring tyres available. Unsealed roads will be fine, damp earth or grass not so much; this isn’t a gravel bike tyre.

Other options

René Herse Snoqualmie Pass TC £82

Expensive and relatively puncture prone but very light (<400g for a 44-622 tyre), tubeless compatible and so nice to ride on.

Continental Contact Urban £39.95

Fast-rolling commuting/touring tyre that’s available in a wide range of sizes – as big as 55-622 and as small as 35-349.

First published in Cycle magazine, April/May 2023 issue. All information correct at time of publishing.

Our test promise

At Cycling UK and Cycle magazine, we are proudly independent. There’s no pressure to please advertisers as we’re funded by our members. Our product reviews aren’t press releases; they’re written by experienced cyclists after thorough testing.

Tech spec

Schwalbe Marathon Efficiency

Price: £60.99

Sizes available: 55-584, 60-584, 40-622, 50-622, 55-622. Folding bead, for tubes only

Pros & cons:

+ Fast rolling

+ Comfortably wide

– Quite expensive