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.
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.
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.
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.