Crazy Fast and Crazy Light

Schwalbe is a German tire producer that has dominated the mountain bike market in the last several years. While many riders are familiar with its trail and burlier all-mountain tires, Schwalbe offers a couple of tires dedicated to cross country racers. The Thunder Burt tires are all about going fast on the XC course.

Tech Info:

The Thunder Burt is a minimalist tire designed with nothing but speed and efficiency in mind. This tread has a smooth center pattern with ramped outside knobs that progress in size but are still very subtle. The shoulder knobs are the tallest to give riders a little extra grip when leaning hard in corners.

These tires are some of the lightest out there, tipping the scales at 430 grams per tire. Our test tires come in 29×2.1″, but Schwalbe does offer these in 26- and 27.5-inch diameters and a 2.25-inch width option. The Thunder Burt uses a Lite Skin sidewall that has minimal protection to keep the weight down but still offers a little reinforcement to keep the tire stiff. Schwalbe also uses its PaceStar compound in the tread to provide more traction and increased durability. This tread is tubeless ready and retails for $91 per tire.

On the Trail:

We mounted our tires to a pair of ENVE M50 carbon wheels. The Thunder Burts mounted up and seated without any issues and held air through-out our entire testing period. Schwalbe produces its tire sealant that works well with its tires. To ensure a good seal, we used Schwalbe’s recommended fluid. Mounted on the carbon rims, the Thunder Burt has a rounded profile that is true to width.

Schwalbe recommends running these tires between 30 and 50 psi, depending on rider weight and conditions. We started our tires at 35 psi but quickly dropped to 30. After a couple rides, we dropped the pressure even further and found a comfortable spot at 25 psi in the front and 26–27 psi in the rear. These pressures gave us good traction but still allowed the tire to keep its shape.

The Thunder Burt is a seriously fast tire with little to no rolling resistance. On our groomed cross-country trails, the tires rolled effortlessly and grabbed ample amounts of dirt with the tacky tread compound. When leaned over in corners, the shoulder knobs hooked up well but did require a little more finesse than beefier XC or trail tires. Even over more technical sections of trail, the Thunder Burts rolled quickly and felt stiff. Up steep climbs, the rear tire hooked up and held traction effectively.

We did some wet-weather riding and were reminded that these tires are aimed at drier, loose-over-hardpack conditions. Considering that these are race tires, the wear was typical. We wouldn’t recommend using these as everyday training or trail tires; instead, save them for your biggest events where every gram and second will count.


• Fast-rolling
• Lightweight
• Good traction


• Pricey


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