Schwalbe studded Winter Marathon tires set up tubeless

Studded Schwalbe Winter Marathon HS 396 set up tubeless.

Last winter I switched to using studded Schwalbe Marathon (HS 396) tires for winter commuting, and I have been wondering whether I can set them up tubeless. My reasoning is that I really don’t want to deal with a puncture in the winter. For one, road side repair is pretty much out of the question because my fingers would freeze off and the patch would probably not adhere in sub-freezing temperature. Considering that I usually dress fairly lightly when I cycle in the winter, the prospect of pushing my bike home is not very appealing.

Web search for setting up Schwalbe studded tires tubeless returns mixed results. Schwalbe’s official position – don’t do it. But I have been thinking this over. The Marathons have the toughest wire bead I have ever encountered, with equally tough sidewalls. Unlike with many other tires, I usually need to use tire levers to force the tire onto the rim. I just don’t see this tire blowing off the rim, it’s tough as nails.

So, to me it was coming down to the question whether it’s possible to achieve a good seal with this tire. The short answer is – yes.

My front wheel is the stock wheel from Specialized AWOL (the rim is branded AWOL). The rear wheel is Alex Rims SX-44. The tires I’m using are 622-35. I used the normal procedure of sealing the rims with Gorilla tape. I used Joe’s No Flats Schraeder tubeless valves. I then used 80ml of Stan’s Race sealant (I could definitely use less, but I decided to go extra cautious).

It took several attempts to seat the bead on the Specialized rim, but eventually it seated and sealed. On the Alex rim I achieved a good seal from the first try. The set-up seems very stable, and has been holding pressure for a week already, with no leaks.

I’ll update this post after I will have used the set up for a month or two, but it is looking very promising at this point.



  1. It’s an interesting test, but I am not exactly seeing why you would bother with this. I’ve had these tires for 4 winters now in both 1.75″ and narrow 30cm in daily Minneapolis commuting. I’ve never gotten a flat riding daily. Those casings are so thick and hard it’s tough to imagine anything puncturing those things. You’re also not going to get much low pressure riding benefits given these things are the opposite of ‘supple’. They are so hard, I’ve mistakenly ran them down to 5 PSI due to the casing holding its shape so well. My clue is how I become a wet sweaty mess due to the commensurate increase in rolling resistance.

    Many sealants are likely to freeze and be of no use and the dryness is likely to dry them out quickly.

    1. Stan’s Race sealant is rated to -29°C (-20°F), which is good enough for where I live (Toronto, Canada).

      I’ve had my share of flats with Shwalbe Marathons (both the winter and normal variants), so they are not 100% puncture proof. Another concern is that I’ve seen many reports of studs abrading the tube, creating weak spots that eventually turn into leaks. This happened to a friend of mine and to a member of a Facebook group that I follow. Here is an example with pictures:

      I absolutely agree about the ride quality. The tires ride just as harsh tubeless as with tubes, so no improvement there.

      Thanks for your comment.

    1. It went really well, absolutely no regrets. The only problem is that I wanted to remove the studded tires from the wheels for the summer, and it was a bit of a pain to clean off the cured sealant from them.

  2. I just had a flat last night here in Montreal. Pushing my bike (really carrying, didn’t want to damage the tire/rim) was just as bad as you described/expected above.

    How did your tubeless experiment go in the long term? Are you still running tubeless in the winter?

    1. Hi, John,

      The tubeless set-up worked really well through the winter. I had absolutely zero issues. However, in the summer I replaced the winter tires with summer tires, and was too lazy to convert again.

      If I had a dedicated winter bike, or at least dedicated winter wheels, so that the tires could stay on the wheels for their entire lifetime, I would definitely set up the winter tires tubeless. Switching the tubeless tires twice a year is a bit too much hassle for me, mostly because I feel compelled to clean off the sealant from the tire beads.

  3. I just set up some wire bead 26″ x 2.0 Schwalbe Marathon Winter plus (p/n 11100598.01) on some old Stan’s Olympic ZTR rims no problem. It’s for a town bike. Using Orange Seal cold temp. sealant because I live in Crested Butte, CO, and it’s real cold here in the winter. I wanted to try tubeless just because I use tubeless tires on the bike in the summer, and didn’t want to deal w/ removing the tubeless valve stem if I didn’t have to. Holding air fine. Running them at 20 psi.

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