The road nicer travelled: Schwalbe S-One

Note: the S-One will continue in Schwalbe’s 2017 range but will become known as the G-One Speed instead. Same tyre, same spec, same 30c width. The G-One Allround continues the old G-One (35c) range. Both tyres will gain some other stablemates though such as 650b versions and non tubeless. There’s also a new X-One called the “bite” for when you really need to cut through that mud. In the writer’s view Schwalbe are really innovating and creating something for everyone. The others really are playing catch up. Some of them aren’t even playing.

These S-One have been a while coming. Not quite the proverbial hen’s teeth I am glad to confirm but certainly gold dust. And I have to say, on the evidence of my first few rides on them, with good reason.

You’ll recall in my previous piece that I was an enormous fan of Schwalbe’s X and G one tyres. The former are still my off road tyre of choice and have been utterly superb. Indeed, since I wrote the initial review I’ve not suffered a visit from you know who and haven’t even needed to top up the tubeless fluid. The latter are smooth and cosseting but tough where they need to be. They’ll get you most places but, as fast as they are, they might be considered a little OTT for everyday riding. Might, there’s not a lot in it and I’ve done club runs where I held the front on them. For a 35c tyre they’re very quick indeed.

So are the 30c width S-One the ultimate all weather, do everything, keep up with everyone tyre? You know what, if you can fit them, they might just be.

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For a long time the choice of tyres has been relatively simple. You stick some nice ones on in the summer then something like the Gatorskin (shudder), 4 Seasons (better) etc in the winter. In the summer you go narrower. In the winter you go wider. Those are the rules, in general terms. But I get the sense that Schwalbe don’t really care about the rules anymore. There are still performance tyres such as the Pro One and if you’re off up the Alps or if you just don’t have the clearance then those are your better bet. But if you just want to ride and ride and ride then there’s something in Schwalbe’s range for everyone.

It’s fair to say that bike makers are getting a bit more cynical but also a bit more practical. So if we ignore what is a gravel/adventure/cyclocross/road disc/whatever we’re calling them this week bike in terms of marketing there does seem to be some recognition that in some countries summer never really arrives, roads are never really maintained and riding is a bit more fun if you don’t have to worry about what tyres you have. I’m firmly of the view that Schwalbe have taken a quite substantial lead in that respect. A lot of other manufacturers distinguish between performance and commuting/leisure. But not Schwalbe. Yes, there are still the commuting classics such as the Marathon, but even those are getting a significant makeover. But click on “road” tyres and the choice is extensive. It reflects the fact that what one person might call a road is not necessarily what another person might do. And the things we can do, from the Cardiff Roubaix to the Valley Cat. The road less travelled is en vogue now and we need the kit to do it.

Like the G and X One, the S-One are  designed to be run as tubeless tyres (though the range now has non tubeless versions as well). Tubeless means tougher beads at the side and a bit more of a robust construction. You can still run them with tubes and, for the first few rides, I did just that. Why? It shapes the tyres and gets them ready to sit on a wheel, gives them a bit of a stretch, sorts them out. After I’d done that I whipped out the tubes and did the usual tubeless setup. As Schwalbe promise on their packaging they really are easy on. Not piece of cake on, the Pro Lite Revo continue to be a little frustrating with their difficulty level, but not awfully troubling. When fitted to a traditional rim (the Fulcrum Racing 5 LG with tubes) they went on with hands only and didn’t even need levers. On both the Fulcrum and Pro Lite the tyres came up marginally wider than 30mm but not significantly so. That’s to be expected given the nature of those wheels wider rims.

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In terms of the range the X-One might be described as knobbly. The G-One pimply and the S-One a bit like those raised patterns that you get on some table tennis paddles. There is little height and little space so the grip is really determined by the tyre as a whole (and its width) rather than the nature of the tread pattern. If you want to do serious green laning then get the X-One, if you want to go far off the beaten path get the G-One. But the S-One will do a great job of being off road, it just depends how far off it. And because the tread pattern is not too extreme, the real talent of the S-One is just how good they are on the road. Not just good for a wide, treaded tyre, as good as any road tyre I’ve used full stop. And that’s where the physics comes in again. You don’t expect it. You know, because it’s been tested to destruction, that wider tyres are coming in as better. But once they get beyond 28c you tend to think of them as becoming less aero and less quick. It actually doesn’t seem to hold though. Something like the 37c Vittoria Hyper Voyager are rapid and these S-One follow suit.

It’s not a light tyre coming in at 320-330g. But chuck away your tube, add 50ml of sealant and you’re looking at something that weighs not a dissimilar weight to a race tyre plus standard tube. And that’s a 30c tyre remember so these are actually pretty lightweight indeed. When Chavanel came 5th in the Paris Roubaix he was riding the S-One.

In terms of price they’re not cheap. £56.99 RRp and even hunting down discount is pretty difficult because they’re so hard to find. They need to be good because that’s some investment.

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The S-One are equipped with Schwalbe’s V-One protection so should offer much better than average protection from the puncture fairy. Not up there with the Marathon, clearly, but a very durable tyre. I haven’t had any issues with the S-One in the time that they’ve been on so far and I’m also happy to report that I’ve never had a visit from the fairy in relation to the X-One or G-One either and both have been quite significantly mistreated off road in some pretty harsh terrain. There’s no reason to suggest that these won’t be a hardy and durable tyre. It’s quite clear that eventually there will be some central channel wear and that those knobbles will flatten down a little but you should get thousands of miles from them if their stable mates are anything to go by.

In terms of rolling resistance and grip Schwalbe claim that these are 5 1/2 out of 6(!) for rolling resistance, 5 for on road grip and 2 1/2 for off road grip. I think that’s about right. In terms of rolling resistance they are simply incredible. In the entire range of tyres they’re beaten on road only by the Pro One. Without actual testing it’s impossible to say how they do in terms of wattage but I’d imagine they’d fall quite happily in the 11-13 watt category. On road they feel not just fast but as fast as any road tyre I’ve ever used with the exception of the Michelin Power but those are true race day tyres and not really for riding every day because they’re a bit fragile.

And that sheer speed, of course, feels hugely counterintuitive. These are 30mm wide tyres with some knobs on, you lose some aero (allegedly) and you run them at lower squidgy PSI (though you can run them a bit harder if you want). And they absolutely fly. Coming back from 2 weeks off the bike following my holiday I managed to average 20.5mph on a route where such speeds would put me in the top 10 of all attempts (and I’ve done that route hundreds of times). There’s no sensation at all of needing to get up to speed or of the tyres holding you back. And when you coast along they sing.

The grip in the corners is incredible. Indeed that’s where the wider tyre has some advantage. On a downhill section involving some serious leaning through the roundabouts I was practically getting a knee down such was my angle of attack. I’ve not yet tried them in monsoon conditions but in the damp they are utterly predictable and continue to grip the road tenaciously. The ride, at suitable PSI, is just cosseting. Crap road surfaces are smoothed out and road buzz lessened.

They’re not for everyone or everything. They won’t fit my Supersix and, to be honest, they’d look a little incongruous in that setting. But if you have the right setup, your endurance bike, your gravel bike, your do it all bike, then have a go. Look beyond the knobbles and the width, look beyond that slight bit of extra weight and fit them. They are utterly worth it. In terms of longevity so far so good. There are no cuts, no marks. I’ll report back on how long they last because this is going to be the winter tyre of choice for me now. Yep, winter. Winter is coming apparently. Sigh.

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23 thoughts on “The road nicer travelled: Schwalbe S-One

  1. Nice review. Since getting back into riding a few years ago my first “proper” bike came with Kenda small blocks tube tyres. I found they seemed to puncture all the time. Eventually swapped them out for GP 4 seasons which seemed great but I think I was unlucky with them as the first set I rode over something that completely tour them apart in seconds, completely written off both front and back. They were practically new as well.

    Then managed to do a similar albeit less dramatic with side wall cuts on both front and rear. Managed to bodge repair them by using a large tube patch on them for a while but by this point I had decided to go tubeless. The wheels that came with the bike were tubeless ready but decided to treat myself to a wheel upgrade and decided on a set of Hunt 4 season gravel. They offer to provide them with tyres fitted and a set of Schwalbe Pro-One was only £100 which I thought was a good price at the time.

    The Pro-One would not have been my choice if the G-One or S-One had been available at the time but I have been riding them for some time now and they seem great. I think the S-One will be my next tyre of choice. Don’t imagine going back to tubes either.

    Good review again!

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    1. I’m running some GP4’s on the other bike at the moment and they seem nice, decent tyres. Thing is, I don’t know if I can actually be bothered to review them because, to me, they don’t really offer anything other than being good, decent tyres. Whereas the One range are just exceptionally special tyres with no apparent drawbacks apart from the initial cost and finding some!

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  2. Just bought a pair of Chain Reaction for £80;will go on the Archetypes on the XLS,will be replacing some Hutchinson Sector 28’s which have been pretty good.

    Will be used for mostly road commutes with the odd loose surfaced cycle paths so sound ideal;just hope the Axiom ‘guards will fit over them for winter.

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    1. Well two days of commuting in and I’m smitten,smooth over the black stuff and grippy over this mornings river path.
      Fitted ok on the Archetypes although I needed to use one of those beefy levers to get them on but they’ve sealed ok and holding pressure nicely.Weirdly the rear popped but the front didn’t when inflating,maybe something to do with my taping of the rims maybe/

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  3. Nice to know I’m in good company, I’ve just bought a pair of these, along with a pair of the Hunt 4 Seasons which will transform the winter bike. Grabbed the S-Ones as soon as they came back in stock at CRC – the British Cycling 10% discount made the high price a tiny bit easier to swallow! Great tip re. using them with tubes for a bit first. I think I will do that, as I’m a tubeless virgin.

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  4. Awesome review and I have just laced up a pair to my Open U.P. rig. I absolutely love Schwalbe and can attest to their durability having run two sets of Ones (25mm) tubeless for 15,000km with only one flat. To be fair that flat came at the end of the tires useful service life and I still got home as the sealant managed to block the puncture just enough. That said, I find it peculiar that Schwalbe decided to give the S-One it V-guard puncture protection but omitted any additional protection in its X- and G-One series which you could argue are being ridden more aggressively in worse conditions. Ted King and Amanda both ran the G-One’s in their Dirty Kanza 200 winning rides, but from what I heard the tires were ripped to shreds by the razor sharp flint gravel.

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    1. Yeah, it’s an interesting one. So far the S-One are bombproof. But, although I’ve not done a ride the length of the Kanza, I’ve properly abused the X-One and mine seem absolutely fine. First CX race on them Sunday!

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    1. Hi Fritz, it’s a Cannondale SuperX so clearance for at least 35c on there. I’ve no experience of the CAAD 12 but I suspect you will struggle with anything above 28c. Schwalbe do do a One in 28c though!

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  5. Interesting.

    I’ve been looking for some tubeless tyres to try for this year’s Paris Roubaix and after some issues with Compass tyres not being as tubeless compatible as they suggest it looks like the Schwalbe tyres could be the way forward.
    I’ve switched over to Schwalbe tubeless tyres on my MTB’s last year and so far I have to say that they’ve been fantastic. Hopefully these will be just as good.

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      1. Thanks for the reply. I’m currently riding 700 x 23/25r at 90 psi … but want to go wider/lower psi … So with a 30mm tyre like the S One I can drop pressure to 30 psi? (!!!!) (I’m 65kg + gear.) Sorry to double ask, it’s just such a big drop from my current 90 psi … your review of the S One was at 30 psi and this is fine for a road bike?

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      2. Sorry David, typo from me last night there. I generally run them at about 80psi (85kg). I’d expect you can drop them a bit further. Funnily enough though, I’d left the bike for a few weeks and rode it without checking the tyres. Got back, feeling they were quite soft, and found they were on 30 psi! I’d done 30 miles and it had no effect on speed, stability but was even more comfortable. I wouldn’t make a habit of it but you can certainly go that bit lower.

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  6. Just wondering if you had any updates regarding wear with these tyres (and any visits from the fairy). I’ve just had some Conti GP4 Seasons get 5 visits from the fairy in three weeks covering only about 150 miles commuting (and the tyres were only 500 miles old). Thinking about giving these a try as all my flats were tiny (~1mm) flints that I think the tubeless system would gobble up.

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