It has a blocky tread that’s fairly closely packed, in order to offer both fast-rolling speeds and low rolling resistance.
Schwalbe Wicked Will Super Race construction
Schwalbe offers the Wicked Will in numerous, but not extensive constructions. At the cheaper end, there are two Performance-level tyres, which receive an Addix compound in either a tubeless-ready ‘TLR’ construction, or one suited to use with inner tubes.
There are currently three tyres offered in the Evolution Line range, with all three receiving the hard-ish compound, fast-rolling Addix Speedgrip rubber.
The difference comes in their carcass construction, being either Super Trail, Super Ground or Super Race, each getting lighter though more puncture prone.
The Super Race, as tested here, gets the skinwall colour Transparent Sidewall, which is a touch lighter than the standard black sidewall on a regular tyre.
Our test tyres average out at 816 grams, a touch lighter than their claimed 820g weight. For reference, a Super Ground tyre (29×2.4″) weighs 884g on our scales. This is higher than the 830g claimed weight, though individual tyre weights always vary a little.
The Super Ground tyre has a claimed weight of 910 grams.
The Super Race tyre is the lightest offered, and is designed for XC and marathon applications – the heavier Wicked Wills might be suitable for downcountry and trail use.
It has a triple-layer carcass, made from a 127 TPI (thread per inch) polyamide material. Higher TPIs (as we have here) aid a lighter construction and a more supple feel, which aids comfort and grip.
At the top of the tyre is a Raceguard strip – a tougher section of material designed to prevent punctures through the top of the tread. There’s also a strip of material close to the tyre bead, offering a little extra protection.
The Super Trail and Super Ground receive additional layers of material in their construction (Apex and Snakeskin/Snakeskin respectively) to further boost puncture protection, at the cost of extra weight.
The tread of the Wicked Will is formed from a series of square blocks, relatively closely packed, and not too deep in construction.
The central blocks are ramped, to help reduce rolling resistance, with the central blocks closer packed to further aid this.
The position of the tread blocks leaves little gap between central and shoulder, for a smooth transition as the bike is leant over.
The shoulder blocks are a little longer in their design, front to back, and have additional support to resist squirming when the bike is leant.
Schwalbe Wicked Will Super Race performance
I found it popped into a range of rims nice and easily, with no sealant weeping from the sidewalls. Rims have varied between 25mm and 30mm internally. A high-volume track pump was used, rather than requiring a compressed tubeless inflator.
The low tread rolls fast on pretty much every surface I’ve tested it on, from trail centre hardpack through to muddy forest tracks, yet its blocky nature means cornering and braking traction is surprisingly good in all but the loosest, muddy conditions.
There’s little noticeable tyre hum when riding on tarmac, suggesting that the ramping of the knobs is doing its job. Yet, when you haul on the brakes, there’s plenty of bite, bringing you to a stop.
The Wicked Will shines on trail centre grit-over-hardpack surfaces, as well as groomed dirt, where they give a bike real zip and control. Acceleration and braking is excellent, and the supple carcass really helps smooth the way. In less buff conditions, it’s better paired with a more aggressive front tyre if you’re on a downcountry bike.
The Speed Grip rubber isn’t the stickiest, but only slimy rocks and roots caused it to slip up.
I’ve ridden it with an Addix Soft rubber – currently only available as an OEM product for bike manufacturers. Here, the softer rubber boosted grip no end on slippery surfaces.
Mud shedding isn’t amazing, thanks to the fairly densely packed tread, and the relatively rounded profile means front-end cornering traction isn’t great in the slop. A deeper, or more defined shoulder tread would help here.
Hero dirt hero
Heavier or harder riders will find this lightest-weight version prone to pinching, unless well inflated. In this case, I’d look at the Super Ground or Super Trail versions, which Schwalbe claims have a 10g and 100g penalty respectively.
The carcass does mould capably over rocks and roots, though it’s not quite as damped as equivalent tyres from Maxxis, such as the 2.4″ EXO Rekon Race, giving a slightly pingy feel over dry rocks.
Schwalbe Wicked Will Super Race bottom line
In this Super Race construction, I reckon the Wicked Will is one of the best winter-ready XC tyres around. It won’t roll as fast as a truly skinny tread on hard-packed trails, but if you’re going to encounter loose or muddy sections, you’ll make up more time with the control afforded, than you’ll have lost to rolling resistance.
We’d also be tempted to try it on the front in the summer, when conditions are likely to be friendlier, but you may still want some assurance of grip on dusty, or trail centre grit-over-hard tracks.
On a downcountry bike, I’d fit the tougher Super Trail version at the rear year-round, and perhaps in the summer too, or pair with a more aggressive tyre at the front.
When the Addix Soft version becomes available, I think this could be one of the best downcountry tyres around, front or rear.