Sedona: First Look at Schwalbe Marathon

I recently bought some new rubber for the 2016 Giant Sedona.

Recently, one of the tires on the Giant Sedona received some damage and I decided to replace the tire. Instead of going to my local Walmart and picking up a $15 Bell tire, I decided to look for something a little more hefty and well-built.

I received many recommendations from other cyclists, but I narrowed it down to two tires – the Continental Double Fighter III and the Schwalbe Marathon. Both tires are made by reputable manufacturers and had mostly positive reviews on Amazon.

I ended up buying the Schwalbe Marathon. The Marathon is a slightly wider tire (26×2.0 versus the stock 26×1.95) but that’s barely noticeable. (The Double Fighter III, on the other hand, was slightly narrower than the stock tire at 26×1.9.) The thing that sold me on the Schwalbe is a puncture-protection layer and a more rigid, heavier sidewall. The Schwalbe also has a reflective stripe running around the circumference of the sidewall.

After ordering the tire, I received the tire about a week later. One problem, though: the tire I received was a 700c. Thankfully, I sent it back and less than a week later I received the correctly-sized Marathon.

I instantly mounted the bad boy, and…

The new Schwalbe Marathon mounted on the rim

This tire looks great. But it looks even better on the bike…

The rim with the new tire mounted on the front.

This tire matches the bike really good. The frame has blue stripes, and the white stripes on the tire I feel do a really good job accenting them. But those white stripes are not just aesthetic, but they’re functional, too.

The reflective stripes work

The white stripes also act as a reflector at night, allowing people to better see you. It does a really good job.

As for the tire itself, since it is slightly wider I was worried it would be a tough fit on the rim. Nope – it fit like a glove. The wider size will allow me to run slightly lower pressures, but this tire has a range from 35-70 PSI (stock tire had 40-65 PSI) so I will be well within the range instead of constantly riding the maximum.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to hit the pavement and break them in by running through the paces. I removed the rear wheel (the old front tire went on the rear wheel) and when I went to reinstall it, the chain got all twisted up. This is the exact same thing that put the Pinnacle back into retirement.


After watching a video on how to untangle the chain, I felt confident that I could untangle it and get the Sedona back up and running. But no luck… there are guards on both the front and rear derailleurs that don’t allow you to easily manipulate the chain. I never figured it out. Even worse, the nearest bike shop is over 30 miles away.

But wait, there’s one more thing…

Marathon’s Surprise

For a few years now, I’ve been wanting to run a tubeless setup. The former neighbor who helped me get the Pinnacle up and running swore by tubeless and ran tubeless setups on all of his bikes except his kid’s bikes and a Gary Fisher mountain bike he lent me for a summer while the Pinnacle and my Huffy Superia was out-of-commission. Many cycling YouTubers also swear by tubeless, with many highlighting its excellent capabilities – ability to run lower pressures (no pinch/snakebite flats), lighter weight and improved flat protection (most tubeless setups have sealant that seal punctures – see the below video.)

There are many videos on how to do your own tubeless setup without the need for special tires or rims. This setup is known as “Ghetto tubeless” and has been successful for most people.

I’ve tried the Ghetto tubeless setup many times but have had no luck. The stock tires on this bike wouldn’t hold air long enough for me to get any pressure in the tire. I decided to try it one more time last night to see if it would work with this new tire.

In a Ghetto tubeless setup, you take an undersized inner tube and split it down the middle. In this case I used a 20″ BMX tube, inflating it to stretch it over the rim, then split it right down the middle with a pair of scissors. Then I unfolded both sides over the lip of the rim, carefully mounting the tire over it.

The Marathon installed on the rim using the “Ghetto Tubeless” technique. The excess BMX tube will be removed once I feel the tire is ready to go on the bike and hit the streets.

To my amazement, this time it worked and actually sealed up. Without any help from sealants – and just using a simple floor pump – I got it to work with the Schwalbe Marathon.

I inflated it to 35 PSI. Almost 13 hours later, it dropped to around 30 PSI – which is still functional. The drop may be caused by installing the pump head to check the pressure, as air leaked out then due to a loose fitting. I topped it off at ~42 PSI.

After 13 hours, the tire pressure dropped to about 30 PSI from 35 PSI. Pretty good for a dry tubeless setup involving non-tubeless tires and rims.

Because of the chain issue, I’m not able to hit the pavement and put the Marathon and the Ghetto tubeless setup through their paces. But a couple things before I do a test run.

First, anytime you test a risky “experiment” with your tires – you always want to have the “at-risk” tire on the rear. If a blowout or rapid deflation happens on the rear, you’re more likely to maintain control of the bike. On the front, a blowout can result in loss of control and possibly a bad wreck. So I’m thinking about moving the Ghetto tubeless installation (and the Marathon) to the rear wheel before I actually take it for a spin. The problem is I may need to purchase another BMX tube, as stretching a 20″ tube on a 26″ rim is nearly impossible unless you can inflate it.

Second, there are some issues that I noticed as a result of me not expecting this to work. The valve stem is extremely crooked – so inflating/deflating the tire is bit of a challenge at this point.

This is currently a “dry tubeless” setup. Meaning no sealants or anything else to help seal the tire. It’s literally just the tire and the rim. But if this works and holds air fine I may add to sealant. The nice thing about sealant is that it will seal any punctures that occur, in addition to helping seal the tire bead/rim interface. Unlike Slime, I haven’t heard any horror stories of tubeless sealant gumming up the valve stem.

One of my concerns right now with running tubeless is the pressure. I ran 60 and 65 PSI in my stock tires. While I’ve heard people not having a problem with running higher pressures in Ghetto tubeless setups, I’ve also heard horror stories of them blowing off the rim at higher pressures. I’m hoping that maybe I can run slightly lower pressures with this wider tire, so maybe that will offset my concern. The nice thing about running a tubeless setup is no pinch flats or snakebite flats to worry about.

Either way, I’m going to have to play around with the pressures in the Schwalbe when I put it through its paces to find what is right for me.

I don’t do very harsh riding. Most of my riding is on streets and (from time to time) sidewalks. Ghetto tubeless setups are common on mountain bikes, where the trails are harsh and the tires take a LOT of abuse. There are even BMXers that run Ghetto tubeless setups with minimal issues. So I’m very confident that the tubeless setup will work fine for me.

Despite the Schwalbe Marathon being a tube-type tire (even says so on the sidewall) mounted on a non-tubeless rim, I was able to get the Ghetto Tubeless method to work.

I plan on replacing the stock Kenda that is now on the rear with another Marathon, to have a matching pair. I just love the way this tire looks on the bike, and being able to potentially run it tubeless is just a plus. If the tubeless setup works fine, I plan on going fully tubeless with the Sedona. The only tubes I’ll be buying is the BMX tubes used for the setup and a spare tube just in case something goes wrong.

EDIT (11/22/2019): I inflated the tire to ~50 PSI. This tire is rock hard at 50 PSI, almost if not as hard as the stock tires were at the maximum 65 PSI. While I couldn’t ride the bike, I sat on it with it on the front and it looked like almost the perfect pressure. But looks can be deceiving, so the true test is to get the chain back on and take it for a test spin around the block.

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