Tyre choice for a 650b hard tail


Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 7, 2015
I currently use Specialized Crossroads Armadillo 650B 27.6” Wired Clincher Tyres in 1.9” width that have covered 5278 commuting miles to work and back. I do a 12 to 14 mile off road route to work and 10 miles back on the road so roughly two thirds of the miles covered are off road. I have never had a puncture with these tyres and for a compromise tyre they work well enough off road and well on the road.

The first 5600 miles of the bikes life were spent on Schwalbe Smart Sam plus tyres but after one side wall failure rear puncture and another side wall rear tyre failure starting to happen I changed to the Crossroads Armadillo tyres.

When washing the bike yesterday and inspecting the rear wheel I found some damage that will require either a new rim laced in or a ready built replacement wheel. This wheel has managed over 10,000 miles. This was the second rear wheel built for me on a Mavic rim after I destroyed the first one when a tree branch got jammed in it.

The bike I ride is a 2015 Haibike sDuro Yamaha SL hard tail.

Marvic Wheel Problem 002.JPG
Marvic Wheel Problem 001.JPG

Now to the advise I am seeking.

The Specialized Crossroads Armadillo tyres are narrower at 1.9" than the previous Smart Sam Plus tyres at 2.25".

I am wondering if the lower volume of air cushioning the shock from off road hits to the rear wheel by the Armadillo tyres compared with the SmartSam plus tyres has in any way contributed to the rim failure. I am a heavy 100kg+ rider carrying two well filled Ortleib rear panniers on a rear rack and I ride the downhill single track sections of my route aggressively (having fun).

I was put off Schwalbe by my Smart Sam experience but should I be biting the bullet and looking hard at the obvious alternative of a pair of Schwalbe Marathon plus mountain bike tyres in 2.25" that everyone raves about with some reservations about their grip in the wet and cold.

Could I get away with just putting one on the back and keeping the Armadillo on the front as the grip of the Armadillo through the Winter on the road has been good with no slipping in the corners or under braking.

Or is there something else.

Schwalbe Big Ben MTB tyres with either greenguard or raceguard are supposed to offer a cushioned ride. Greenguard is what I am used to and had no punctures with on the Smart Sam Plus tyres. Is Greenguard superior protection to Raceguard?

What about a Schwalbe Super Moto X tyre in greenguard if it will fit for even more cushioning. Will it fit?

My rear Armadillo is quite worn now so it is a good time to consider either staying with them as they have been excellent or to consider a change. They are quite a lot lighter than the Schwalbe tyres but on an ebike this probably does not matter too much.

Let me know what you all think.
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Esteemed Pedelecer
May 23, 2015

you wont get better puncture protection than super gravity not 1 thorn ect has ever made it through.

down side is
there heavy
can be a pita to fit


Esteemed Pedelecer
Jul 7, 2013
Crowborough, East Sussex
With the mileage that you do, it is us that should be looking to you for advice. :)

Sadly I wouldn't know what to suggest, but what I would say is that several years ago KTM sent me an ebike to review, and it can fitted with Marathon Plus (non mountain bike) tyres. I have to say that I couldn't fault them and even took them through conditions that they really weren't suited to mud and grip wise, but I was still left impressed by them.

That isn't to say that I am recommending them for your use, but merely offering another thought, in that if they do make an off road version, then they are likely to be very good. :)


Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 8, 2017
My Marathon Plus MTB tyres were advertised as "flatless" whatever that means but mine have been flat loads of times due to thorns and they are a real PITA to get off. Sometimes have to break the rim seal with a rounded off screwdriver that I now carry around. The rims don't like this.


Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 7, 2015
Thanks Eddie, I think Schwalbe Marathon plus mountain bike tyres in 2.25" are the obvious alternative to what I am using.

Also thanks BazP, I have heard they can be difficult to put on or indeed take off.

I am very happy with the tyres I am using as they are extremely tough with none of the side wall issues I had with the smart sam plus tyres and great on the road.

The highest rear tyre mileage I achieved with the smart sams was around 2500 miles and the armadillo is at 5600 miles now although looking quite worn in the centre.

It was more the idea of a mtb tyre that could also provide as much cushioning for the rear wheel as possible to give some protection to the rear wheel in my hard tail rear rack pannier carrying heavy rider bouncing around off road environment.


Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 22, 2012
A rim life of 10,000 miles on a heavy and well-used ebike doesn't sound too bad to me.

I doubt tyre choice has played any part in the wear rate and failure.

I have Schwalbe Moto X on my Charger.

They are not the most puncture resistant, but I've largely sorted that by going tubeless.

The 2.4" are not much bulkier than a similar width MTB tyre, so I reckon they would fit on your bike.

Grip is fine for my use which is no more extreme than gravel paths.

I would suggest you might want something with a bit more tread.


Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 7, 2015
Hi Rob, I tend to agree that 10,000 miles is not bad for a rear wheel on a hard tail mountain bike with a heavy rider, rear rack and panniers, used at least 50% off road including stony tracks and small drop offs.

My new wheel with the old tyre did its first trip yesterday that in the end was around 80% off road and 28 miles. It would have been a 10 mile road trip home but a road closure diverted me back onto tracks.

Interestingly reversing one of the tracks I use necessitated climbing a really steep section that I was not sure I would be able to get up, but I was amazed how in standard middle power mode and bottom gear I managed to overcome the steepest most technical bits to crest the top just about keeping the front wheel from looping up in places. That put a smile on my face. Crank drives are really amazing bits of kit for climbing.

It is interesting what you say about punctures as for me not wanting to be let down getting to work this is probably a priority that I place above everything else. My current tyres have been superb in this respect with no punctures. They are also extremely tough and capable of very high mileages.

So it looks like after reviewing the advice and comments I am likely to stay with the tyres I am using or possibly a change to the ubiquitous Schwalbe Marathon plus mountain bike tyres in 2.25". Though their reported grip issues in cold temperatures are off putting.

Another possibility is that the new rear wheel rim is tubeless ready opening the scope to a tubeless set up and any number of off road specific mountain bike tyres including soundwaves super gravity options.

However this would be another compromise like all others as they would be unlikely to cope well with the 10 mile road trip home.

This has been an interesting exercise but I am probably minded to a "if it isn't broken don't fix it mindset" and will stick with what I have got.