Bike tire manufacturers like Schwalbe are always improving their mountain bike tire designs, from compounds to casings. It’s sometimes hard to keep up-to-date as a consumer so Schwalbe narrowed the current lineup of tire casing options down to five. Each with its own confusing made-up name. But it’s actually easy to pick the one you need once you know what each of Schwalbe “Super” line of tire casings is best used for.
Schwalbe MTB tires come in the 5 casings Super Race, Super Ground, Super Trail, Super Gravity and Super Downhill (from light to heavy-duty). Those are each a combination of the actual polyamide cloth casing and the puncture protection inserts like Snakeskin, Apex, Chafer and Raceguard.
Schwalbe’s Super line of casing options is designed to provide the best match for each type of MTB riding, from Cross Country to Downhill and everything in between. So, depending on the type of riding you do, it’s fairly easy to pick the right Schwalbe MTB tire (here’s how to do it).
For the fundamentals of what a bike tire casing even is, I wrote an entire article about MTB tire casings.
Don’t confuse these casing names with the Addix line of rubber compounds. The branding “Super” always refers to tire casings, while “Addix” refers to rubber compounds. Here’s my article explaining all of those Addix tire compounds.
Not all tires are available in all casings since they have a specific type of riding they are designed for. Find a complete table of all Schwalbe tires and their casing and compound options below.
They differ in the number of layers used in the casing and in their inserts for flat resistance. Here they are from the lightest for Cross Country to the stiffest for Downhill.
Super Race (XC Racing)
- 2 carcass layers in the middle & 3 layers in the sidewalls
- Puncture protection: Almost none
- Intended use: Cross Country racing
Super Race sits on one end of the extremes: as light and as little rolling resistance as possible. This casing is supple and compliant for acceleration traction. Combined with Addix Speed, the hardest and fastest-rolling compound, this tire is built for racing.
Super Ground (XC)
- 3 carcass layers
- Puncture protection: Minimal
- Intended use: Cross Country, All Mountain Trail
For training rides, Super Ground provides more stability and puncture protection due to 3 layers and added snake Skin all around the casing bead to bead. Combine with Addix Speedgrip, a hard and fast-rolling XC compound for more comfort on longer rides.
Super Trail (All Mountain)
- 3 carcass layers
- Puncture protection: Medium
- Intended use: All Mountain, Enduro
Still with 3 layers of cloth, Super Trail strikes the middle ground between lightweight and stability. Added sidewall protection will ease your mind on long and intense trail rides. The added protection also makes it an excellent option for rear XC tires.
These casings are often available in Speedgrip, Soft and Ultrasoft rubber compounds for a variety of applications.
Super Gravity (Enduro & DH)
- 4 carcass layers
- Puncture protection: Minimal
- Intended use: Enduro, Downhill
The one key difference between Super Gravity and Super Trail is an additional carcass layer for more stability and durability. The added flat protection is the same. Overall it stands up to rough tracks and big hits. Still flexible, it’s a great front tire on long travel bikes.
Combine with Soft or Ultrasoft compounds.
Super Downhill (DH Racing)
- 6 carcass layers
- Puncture protection: Maximum
- Intended use: Downhill Racing
For aggressive riding on harsh terrain. Ideal for racing, where speeds are high, impacts are big and flat tires can ruin an entire weekend. Thanks to no less than three layers of sidewall protection on top of the 6 cloth layers in the casing. The robust casing provides maximal stability, so lower tire pressures are possible for more traction.
Combine with the Ultrasoft compound for the best performance Schwalbe has on offer.
Schwalbe Puncture Protection
Up until this point, we listed the various additional inserts for flat tire prevention. But not really explained in detail what they are and what they do since they are defined by one of the five “Super Casing” options and can’t be selected individually (like with other brands like Maxxis).
Schwalbe makes the choice easier by combining the performance characteristics of the number of casing layers used with the flat protection they provide and add the necessary armor on top.
Raceguard, Snakeskin, Apex and Chafer are extra inserts woven in between tire casing layers where they’re needed.
- The number of Carcass Layers is the basis for stability and durability. More layers are needed the more intense the riding is. More additional tire armor goes hand in hand.
- Raceguard is a light and narrow insert beneath the center tread pattern and only used on thin-layered XC race tires.
- Chafer is a little insert at the beads, used on all tubeless easy tires to keep them sealed.
- Snakeskin is a layer that runs from bead to bead across the entire tire.
- Apex is a strong sidewall insert that helps with cuts and pinch flats. It also adds lateral stability for cornering.
As you can see, casing construction and puncture protection are closely interwoven (pun intended).
Schwalbe Performance vs EVO Line
Other made-up names we haven’t talked about until now is the EVO Line and the Performance line by Schwalbe. So, let’s quickly address any confusion as this is rather trivial. Despite the name, Performance tires aren’t actually the best-performing ones.
The Schwalbe Performance Line is a cheaper, simpler build of tires. They’re available in only one casing, one compound and with wire beads, as opposed to folding kevlar beads. The EVO Line is the standard with a variety of Super casings and ADDIX compounds to select from to tailor the tire to the riding.
Tubeless Easy (TLE)
Now beads don’t make a tire fit for tubeless use or not, despite being the part actually connecting to the rim. The tubeless airtightness actually comes from a latex layer on the inside of the casing. These tires are marked with Schwalbe’s tubeless label “TLE”. Even some Performance tires are TLE.
You may have noticed that all of the five casings discussed above are labeled TLE. It’s another label that doesn’t hold much information anymore, since all modern Schwalbe tires of the EVO Line are tubeless.
Now we can toss those two labels EVO and TLE aside when reading and understanding bike tires. This is a welcome relief and makes tire choices a tad bit easier for us riders. Speaking of which …
How to pick a Schwalbe MTB tire casing
In terms of casings, Schwalbe makes tire choice as easy as it can be with five variants tailored for specific riding scenarios. This means you can focus on selecting the best combination of Schwalbe Addix rubber compounds and tread patterns to fit the riding you’re doing.
Schwalbe tires are only available in the combinations of casings and compounds, that actually make sense. So, Cross Country and Trail tires always have lighter, softer casings with harder, better rolling compounds. And gravity tires for Downhill and Enduro come in stiffer, heavier casings with softer compounds for grip.
Some of their flagship allrounder trail tires, come in the most combinations of treads, casings, and compounds.
This is where you need to know what all those numbers and names mean and also what of those you need.
To give an overview, I put all of Schwalbe’s current MTB tires into one single table for you to help navigate based on the type of riding you do. Besides tire names and MTB discipline, it also lists casings, puncture protection and rubber compounds.
Here are all current Schwalbe mountain bike tires sorted by riding discipline:
|Schwalbe Tire||Mountain Bike Disciplines||Addix Compounds||Tire Casings||Trail Recommendations|
|Hurricane||XC, Urban||Addix Performance||DD, Raceguard, Greenguard||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Johnny Watts||XC, Urban||Addix Performance||DD, Raceguard||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Rock Razor||XC, Trail, Urban||Speedgrip, Soft||Super Trail, Super Gravity||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Nobby Nic||XC, Trail, Enduro, Dowhill||Speedgrip, Soft||Super Ground, Super Trail||Allrounder|
|Tough Tom||XC, Trail||K-Guard||Active Line||Rocky Alpine|
|Rocket Ron||XC Race, Trail||Speed, Speedgrip||Super Ground, Super Race||Allrounder|
|Racing Ray||XC Race, Trail||Speed, Speedgrip||Super Ground, Super Race||Hard-Pack (Front Tire)|
|Wicked Will||XC Race, Trail||Speedgrip||Super Ground, Super Trail, Super Race||Allrounder|
|Racing Ralph||XC Race||Speed||Super Ground, Super Race||Hard-Pack (Rear Tire)|
|Thunder Burt||XC Race||Speed||Super Ground, Super Race||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Rapid Rob||XC (Cross Country)||K-Guard||Active Line||Allrounder (Rear Tire)|
|Black Jack||Kids, XC, Urban||K-Guard||Active Line||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Little Joe||Kids, XC, Trail||K-Guard||Performance Line||Allrounder|
|CX Comp||Gravel||K-Guard||Active Line||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Jumbo Jim||Fatbike||Speedgrip||Super Ground||Allrounder|
|Al Mighty||Fatbike||Speedgrip||Super Ground||Mud, Snow, Ice|
|Magic Mary||Enduro, Downhill||Soft, Ultrasoft||Super Trail, Super Gravity, Super Downhill||Soft Dirt, Mud|
|Big Betty||Enduro, Downhill||Soft, Ultrasoft||Super Trail, Super Gravity, Super Downhill||Hard-Pack, Soft Dirt (Rear Tire)|
|Dirty Dan||Enduro, Downhill||Ultrasoft||Super Gravity, Super Downhill||Mud|
|Hans Dampf||Enduro, Downhill||Speedgrip, Soft||Super Trail, Super Gravity||Allrounder|
|Johnny Watts 365||E-MTB, Urban||Addix Performance||DD, Raceguard, Greenguard||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Smart Sam||E-MTB, Urban||Addix Performance||DD, Raceguard||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Smart Sam Plus||E-MTB, Urban||Addix Performance||DD, Greenguard||Hard-pack, Roads|
|Eddy Current Front||E-MTB, Enduro, Downhill||Soft||Super Trail||Allrounder (Front Tire)|
|Eddy Current Rear||E-MTB, Enduro, Downhill||Soft||Super Gravity||Allrounder (Rear Tire)|
|Billy Bonkers||Dirtjump, Pumptrack, Slopestyle||Addix Performance||Performance Line||Hard-pack, Roads|
Find out the actual tires suitable for your riding discipline first before getting into the details like available casings. Those will be dependent on the type of riding.
How to pick the ideal tire for you
There is no do-it-all perfect tire for anyone, and neither is there a compound to do it all. Weight and comfort of softer casings are directly opposed to the durability and stiffness of harder ones. In any case, it’s best to start with the choice of tire tread, then on to compounds and then casings.
- Combine front and rear tires optimally.
- Front tires require more compliance and have to endure fewer impact forces.
- Rear tires bear most of the weight and take huge impacts.
- Select for the most important characteristic first.
- Traction and rolling resistance of the tread pattern
- Grip and durability
- Choose the appropriate combination of casing and puncture protection from the limited options available at this point.
- Super Race: Cross Country racing
- Super Ground: Light-duty trail and Cross Country riding
- Super Trail: All-around trail riding
- Super Gravity: Enduro, DH, and e-bikes
- Super Downhill: Downhill racing and long-travel e-bikes
The rougher and more aggressive the riding, the stiffer the casing should be.