Schwalbe Tires Explained | Addix Compounds

Schwalbe Addix tire compounds speed speedgrip soft and ultrasoft on a black background

Addix Compounds:
Speed vs Speedgrip vs Soft vs Ultra Soft

Which is best for you?


    With all kinds of unique words describing mountain bike tires, deciphering the different types of compounds, sidewalls, and treads. Deciding which is best for you can be challenging, to say the least. In this blog, we are going to describe the different rubber compounds found on Schwalbe MTB tires to help you decide which is best for you.

Schwalbe magic mary addix soft compound and big betty laced to stans wheels leaning against a work bench

    Here at The Lost Co, we tend to focus on trail, enduro, and downhill applications for components and tires. With that, we primarily stock and sell Addix Soft and Ultrasoft compounds. In order to help you decide what you need for your riding applications, we will cover all compounds provided by Schwalbe.

    When looking and comparing tires, there are a few things worth considering to help you decide. Rolling resistance will affect how much effort it takes to get the tire rolling as well as keeping it rolling. Damping will affect the tires ability to absorb bumps and effectively act as additional suspension on your bike. Grip will determine how slick or attached your tires are to the ground. Finally, durability will let you know how long the tire lasts.

    Typically, you will need to figure out which attribute takes the most precedent. For example, most trails around the Northwest are wet and full of roots and rocks. In order to maximize smiles per miles, we tend to place more weight on tires that provide grip. Conversely, if you are racing XC and need to maximize speed, you may prioritize less rolling resistance.

    Now that we know why you might choose what, lets dive into the Addix compounds from Schwalbe!

Schwalbe Addix tire compounds speed speedgrip soft and ultrasoft on a black background

Addix Speed (Cross Country)

    Designed specifically for XC riders and racers, Addix Speed is Schwalbe's firm, long lasting compound to maximize rolling resistance. You will sacrifice some grip compared to the other compounds, but that will likely be less of a concern on XC trails.

Tires with the Speed compound will have a Red line on them.

Schwalbe racing ralph with the addix speed tire compound

Addix Speedgrip (XC, AM, Trail)

schwalbe nobby nic with a addix speedgrip tire compound

    The Speedgrip is Schwalbe's most universal compound found on an abundance of tread patterns. This tire compound is a little softer than Addix Speed which allows for more grip, but slightly more rolling resistance.

Tires with the Speedgrip compound will have a Blue line on them.

Addix Soft (Enduro, Downhill)

      Addix Soft is the compound most commonly found on bikes with Schwalbe tires around the shop. The extra grip stemming from a softer compound is a highlight around the rocky, rooty, and sloppy descents around the Northwest. The sacrifice of a tire that wears faster is worth the additional grip.

Tires with the Soft compound will have an Orange line on them.

schwalbe eddy current with addix soft tire compound

Addix Ultra Soft (Enduro, Downhill)

schwalbe magic mary with addix ultra soft tire compound

    Designed for the most aggressive downhill and enduro applications, the Ultrasoft provides maximum grip and damping. You will be astonished when you skip over a root or a rock and your wheels don't end up skipping all over the trail and throwing you off.

Tires with the Ultra Soft compound will have a Purple line on them.

Finding The Ideal Tire Compound Combo

      Now that we know a little about each rubber compound, it's time to decide which compound, or more likely, which compounds, are best for you.

    Since you have two tires on your bike, each with a different job, you can get a little creative. Your front tire is your primary tool for steering, grip, and braking traction. Your rear tire is your primary propeller, and tends to take more of a beating. With that, we generally recommend a softer compound in the front, and a firmer compound in the rear.

    A softer compound (such as Soft or Ultrasoft) on the front of your bike, perhaps on a Magic Mary, will not only help keep your bike glued to the ground when things get slick, but also help you slow down when things get fast. Going with a firmer compound in the rear (such as the Speedgrip or Soft), possibly on a Big Betty, while increasing durability, it will also decreasing rolling resistance. This will help you carry speed on the trail and help with efficiency while pedaling uphill. Even though we spend more time pedaling up, we generally prioritize the downhill, so we are willing to sacrifice rolling speed for more grip on the front.

    What combo will work best for you comes down to personal preference. But if you know what you want out of a tire combo, it should be a fairly easy decision... until conditions change.

    In the wetter, winter months, we tend to pick softer compounds to maximize grip. Running an Ultrasoft on the front and a Soft on the rear is common. Sometimes we might even consider an Ultrasoft on the rear. In the summer, Speedgrip on the rear with a Soft on the front is a favorite. Speedgrip on both front and rear might make sense in some applications around the Northwest in the Summer.

    Further, your setting may influence your combination as well. When riding the bike park and rocky terrain, durability will start to take more weight. In that case, the Speedgrip will be common place. Conversely, when riding local trails that are less packed down, are more raw, and have lots of nice loamy dirt, we prefer Soft or Ultrasoft.

Rolling Away

    While we could have taken a deeper dive in comparing and contrasting the compounds Schwalbe offers, we figured we'd keep it to a minimum to confuse you even further. If you want to go fast, trend towards Addix Speed. If you want more grip, trend towards Ultra Soft. Beyond that, considering what you place more value on (grip, rolling resistance, durability, and damping) will help you decide exactly what compound you need!

If you do need further help deciding, please reach out to our bike nerds!

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Mike Randol



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Mullet Devinci Spartan 27.5 Custom Build

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Dirt Merchant in Whistler, Chuckanut Mountain Trails in Bellingham

About Me: I grew up hucking my bike off curbs in the suburbs of Chicago. I moved out to the PNW in 2014 and opened The Lost Co in 2016. I freaking love riding long rough descents and really pushing my body to the limit. I'll straight up ride any type of bike but really prefer long travel 27.5" bikes. However, mid-travel 29r's are growing on me...