6k Schwalbe Mondial review: The ultimate bike touring tires, except…

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Finding the ideal tire is something that two-wheeled nomads seem to spend a lot of time thinking about prior to, and during a trip. I have talked with folks who have blown out a couple of sidewalls, been plagued with flats or just went through several inferior sets of rubber. They all come full circle to the Mondial after a while. Or at the very least, they want a pair.

I have been tweaking Gin’s Troll and piecing together my next dirt-friendly touring build and have been obsessing with bike touring tires… again. She’ll be running her existing set that consists of one lone XR (the Mondial’s predecessor) and a one Mondial. Both 2″ wide. But I have to acquire some new rubber in the 29″ variety. In the process I started studying my Mondials, how they held up and reflecting on how they performed on dirt and gravel. Here are my thoughts:

The ride on Pavement

I can hark back to my first ride impressions of the tire. Before I bought them I was running classic Schwalbe Marathons (1.75″) and I was fairly certain that putting 2.15″ wide and more heavily lugged Mondials on my Troll would make it feel, well, more trollish.

I was wrong.

The Mondials impressed me immediately at how well they rolled. The rubber on the Mondials feels slightly softer than that of the Marathons, and the XRs, but that doesn’t seem to affect the rolling speed. The Dureme is the other offering from Schwalbe that is popular with touring cyclists. Mike took a pair on his recent Europe excursion. In a nutshell, he preferred them for how well they rolled on a road-oriented tour, but they also seem to wear faster. In his words, “I liked everything about the Duremes but was surprised how quickly the rear wore.”

The ride offroad

The now defunct, but legendary, XRs were known to be slightly skidish on dirt and gravel. The Mondials have improved on their weakness with a tweaked rubber compound and about the same amount of tooth on the outer tread. For the most part the outer tread is what counts on off-road tires. It’s what grips on turns and catches the right places amongst loose terrain. Although most of the dirt and gravel riding I have done with Mondials has been fully loaded, there have been a few occasions where I pushed it a little. The Mondial rubber seems to grip surprisingly well. One thing I noticed on several occasions is that when riding on uneven slippery dirt or gravel, they seem to hold a line instead of sliding or shifting down. Even in sand they were able to plow through unless it got too deep. They certainly don’t have the balls-to-the-wall cornering capability of a Nevegal, but if you are mixing it up with dirt and gravel, they are a great option. Especially when durability and wear is important.

Wear

OK, this is the tire’s Magnum Opus. I met a German fellow who had over 12,000 kms on his and they were still in great condition. I have somewhere around 6k on mine and they are alive and well. The amount of tread wear on the tires is barely noticeable… even on the rear. I had intended on rotating them halfway in the trip but didn’t see a reason too upon further inspection at the time. I would guess that unless a shard of glass took them out, I could pull another 12-16k, easily.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a set of tires for your next tour, especially if it’s a long one, these are your tires. If you are looking for a set to perform well on a tour of mixed terrain, with gravel, some dirt and pavement, I think the Mondials are perfect. If you have a 29er and need a larger width tire… sorry, they don’t have them in sizes other than 26″ and 700c x 40c or 35c. That is the one problem with the almost perfect Mondial. Dear Schwalbe, please make a 29 x 2.25″ version…

EDIT: from the comment below, ‘phlatphrog’ brought to light that they do make a 29er version of the Mondial in a 2″ width (50-622), and there is a 1.75″ width version as well (47-622). I was ignorant to the fact that 29er/700c tires are called 28″ when referring to them in the good ole Imperial system.

Pros:

  • Unbelievable durability
  • Very little wear even after hard riding through Mexico and Central American gravel
  • Very flat resistant

Cons:

  • Heavy: 26 x 2.15″ weigh in at 865 grams
  • No offerings in larger 29″ models (larger than 2″ width)

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

Side View of my front tire after 6,000 kms.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

Hardly showing that much tread wear on the rear tire.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

And, barely noticeable tread wear on the front tire.
Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial
There is a seam on the rear that is peeling a little, but it doesn’t look like it will be a problem. Just cosmetic.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

Gin’s 2″ wide Mondial.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon XR

Her front XR.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon XR

Barely any wear on the front XR.

Bike Touring Tires - Schwalbe Marathon XR

Another shot of the XR side tread.

Surly Troll - Bike Touring - Schwalbe Mondial

Her Surly Troll build for a lightweight bikepacking-style expedition

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  • Pete McGuire

    What racks are they folks??? Available in the UK?
    Cheers
    Pete

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Pete. On Gin’s bike I have the Salsa Minimalist rack and the Carradice Bagman Expedition for a large saddlebag. Not sure about UK availability. Try SJS Cycles… they have one hell of a selection.

  • phlatphrog

    Good/bad news: you’re wrong. There are 29er mondials. The fattest is only to 2″ (50-622), and there is a 1.75″ (47-622) size. http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/marathon_mondial But, it’s true that there are no larger than 2″ for 700c.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Well, I guess that is good/bad news! Thanks for the clarification. I have never heard them referred to as 28. But it is a shame that they do not come in 2.25″ width…

  • Pete McGuire

    That’s for the info fella, the bag manufactures are here in the UK which is cool and the Salsa rack has had a recall so I’m us some of there ideas and build it myself.
    Do you remember meeting up in a hostel (Mexico?) that had a large lake at the bottom of the garden, me and Caf, my wife were riding motorcycles.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, definitely! I kept up with the rest of your trip on Facebook. Are you planning a bicycle adventure now? Also, the Salsa recall was actually for an earlier generation version of the rack. They are slightly hard to find at the moment, but they are out there… maybe not in the UK though. I think I saw that UniversalCycles.com has a couple in Silver. Also, check out Tubus racks and Old Man Mountain if you are looking for other options…

  • Pete McGuire

    Well sort of! I’m doing a bicycle building course and am in the process of equipping my shop :) We’ll be riding from Lands End to John O Groats in the spring on bikes i’ve built (hopefully), so not the big stuff as yet but maybe in the future.

  • Thomas Mrotek

    Yup, I put about 10,000 miles on a pair of 700x35s. That’s when I started to see enough tread wear to consider replacing them. Besides that same cosmetic peeling around the sidewall and three eventual punctures from some glass or wire, I never had an issue with them. Now I picked up a pair of the 700x42s to ride in cushy luxury.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Nice. I wish they made them in 55mm for 700c (29er). I love a bigger tire, especially for off-road riding… ultra-cushy!

  • Jose

    Another “con” I would add for the Mondial is that they don’t include anymore the side strip for bottle dynamos, unlike the XR. This has been the reason I have not bought them on my “do it all” 26″ mtb. Good review!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Jose. I have never used a bottle dynamo, but it is a shame they did away with the XR…

  • Bill

    Hello, I have 2K miles(3.2K KM)+ on my set of 2.0X26″. They have been perfect and I have been using them on mountain bike trails as well as road and gravel.
    Mountain biking w/o gear I run 30psi, I weigh 135 lbs.
    I get very little slippage but I am a flatland amateur. I just get up and down safely and walk the worst stuff on the trails around Prescott, AZ.
    I also use a B&M bottle generator without a any problems and done plenty of night riding, but use this rubbing wheel sold by Peter White Cycles, the rubber one at the bottom of the page, it works really well with the Mondials.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/dymotec.asp
    I’d order two.
    Have had no problems in wet weather with this wheel, the one Bush & Mueller supplies doesn’t work well at all, slips and wears the sidewall. I have not used it in heavy mud.
    Bill

  • Scott

    Did she run traditional rear racks on her Troll? I noticed your cable routing for the Rohloff was back and up vs down and forward. Did that ever interfere if she had a traditional rear rack? I like that routing despite the severe amount of unprotected slack in the cables. Building a Troll now and would love your reasoning and/or experience with the cable routing. Thanks –

    Scott

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Scott, Yes, she had a Tubus Logo prior to this setup and she is currently running a Cargo. Both work fine with that routing. I have the same routing on my ECR with a Tubus Vega. I chose to do so to avoid having the cable and the Rohloff shifter closer to the ground for potential rock bashes and such off road. She’s got about 10k KMs on those cables in that configuration with no problems so far… Cheers.

  • Dominic

    Sorry to dig up an old post, but I was curious how accurate their widths are? I have some fenders on my bike that I’m trying to fit these under and debating whether I want to go with the 45s (1.75″) or the 40s.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Dominic. Sorry for the delay, I was out on a bikepacking trip. I am honestly not sure. I would look at the Schwalbe site and see if they have a detailed spec sheet hiding somewhere…

  • Michael Viglianco

    Despite just getting some 2″ Mondials and some 2.15″ Almotions shipped from Germany I am now intrigued by these. http://www.halowheels.com/products/part/TYHAT92. People seem to love them.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    The bigger the better, IMO.

  • jose

    can you use the 28×2,00 on a 29 wheel?

  • Steve

    Yes, from my research, the 28″ Schwalbe Mondial is a 622mm which is for the 29″ (29er) wheel, also called 700c. I am just about to order a set of 622-50 tires, which are the 29×2 tires.

  • Mark Lavis

    Got a set of 26×2 mondials before an overland Asia bike tour a few years ago. Since then has survived about 18000kms…without a single puncture. Handled all the roads, trails, goat tracks between Vietnam and Kashmir with aplomb.Theses tyres are amazing, still have about 1/3rd of the tread on them. They have actually outlasted my sun rhynolite rims which need to be replaced due to brake wear. And to think everyone was mourning the death of the XR…

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, I think the death of the XR has been avenged…

  • Ty

    Quick couple questions, is there a noticeable size difference between the 2.0 and 2.15 Mondial in 26″? I’m curious to know why the 2.15 is ~120 grams more heavy than the 2.0… Is it that much bigger? Trying to decide between a 2.0 and 2.15 for my new World Troller frame bike build.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    They are significantly bigger. I personally think the bigger the better; takes the edge off. Have you seen the new Extraterrestrials? http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/surly-extraterrestrial-tires/

  • Bethany

    Hello! What 26 inch tubes are y’all running?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I’ve been going tubless for a couple years now, but I think these were schwalbe tubes… not the superlight ones though.

  • Paul vanPeenen

    I’ve had a 2.15″ mondial on the rear of one of my touring bikes (26″) for 3 years, 20,000 km and not a single puncture riding everything from smooth, hot asphalt in Oman to gnarly rock in Peru. I swear by these tires.

  • http://www.brianmcgloin.com/ Brian McGloin

    I have a pair of Mondial 2.15 on Surly Rabbit Hole rims, on a small Troll. I’m thinking of selling my almost-new Dirt Wizards. One of the Mondials is a year older than the other, but they look almost the same.

    I’ve been hemming and hawing over tire choice for Burning Man (I bring a “real bike,” and … plan it like any other bike adventure) and the Great Divide, which I plan to do immediately after.

    I ride the bike everywhere: class, errands, off-road adventures, on decomposed granite hike-bike trails. The tires shred everywhere, except for mud (Lots of sticky mud here, often with gravel in it) or deep sand.

    I only wish Schwalbe made the Mondials in 2.5.

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