[Tested] Schwalbe Tread Cutter


A few weeks back Schwalbe sent us a handful of their tires in the new Addix compounds so we could make some comparisons between them. We attended a press launch back in the Spring, just before Sea Otter. No new tire patterns were launched, instead it was a full overhaul specifically of the compounds. We’ll follow up with reviews on the new compounds in the future.

Schwalbe collaborated with Unior tools to bring you the tire cutters. They can be purchased for $45.30 US.

Our contact at Schwalbe was kind enough to include a set of tire cutters for us to dabble with, so we’ve been having a bit of fun. Our tester used to do some race support work for Michelin way back in the early 2000’s when NORBA races were still a thing. In those days he used a much bulkier and pricier tire cutter that operates with a hot, electric blade. Needless to say, we were really stoked to check these pliers out. Here’s how they treated us and a bit of a tutorial on how to use them…

The depth of the cut is adjusted with a thumbscrew and then secured by a flathead screwdriver. A gauge is etched in with the measurement in millimeters.


When we finally started to get some heavy winter rain in California, the Dirty Dan’s went on our bike almost immediately. If you aren’t familiar, they are a full mud spike and therefore as you could imagine, the rolling resistance is less than rapid. That said, in mud and slop typically riders just worry about getting down the hill. A while back, our ol’ buddy Brendan Fairclough insisted that we try a cut down Dirty Dan as a front tire and claimed it was his favorite front tire. This was our chance to finally check it out, below we’ll walk you through how the actual tire cutting process works.

A stock, uncut Schwalbe Dirty Dan.

In Use

In stock form, the center lugs are quite tall and tapered so that they’re wider where they join the tire’s carcass and narrower at the tips. This shape allows them to not only bite, but to squirm quite a bit. We decided to knock the center lugs down by a few millimeters to improve rolling resistance.

The center knob featured 3 horizontal sipes in stock form. We decided to use our trusty old Fiskars snips to cut one new horizontal sipe per knob just for kicks. Before we landed the Schwalbe cutters, these little $16 specials served as our tire cutters. Although they’re definitely worth owning for general household use and for siping, compared to the Schwalbe pliers, they are more difficult to consistently remove the same amount of material with each cut.

How to cut sipes in your tires. You can go vertically (pictured) horizontally, or diagonally in either direction. The snips shown above are Fiskars Titanium Nitride No. 8 Shop Snips. They can be found for under $20.
The center knobs after we cut a couple millimeters off, but before we put a horizontal sipe in. Note the consistency of the cuts.
The center knobs after we cut sipes in them. These sipes should improve braking a little bit.

Unless you’re ambidextrous, one tip we’d pass on would be to flip your wheels in your frame when cutting your tires. This will improve the consistency in the angle of your knobs and makes things a little easier on your hands because you end up using your dominant hand the whole time.

Our front wheel flipped for more accurate cuts from side to side.You can do the same out back but it may require temporary removal of parts like rotors or derailleurs.


While we haven’t exactly beaten these cutters to death or run them through the ringer too heavily, we can say that they are plenty sharp, offer loads of adjustment and have great ergonomics. If they dull over time, you can definitely have them sharpened by a professional knife sharpener for a small fee. The overall quality is very nice and we expect it to be a product that we’ll keep around for years to come.

While they’ll mainly have the biggest appeal with the privateer DH racing crowd, if you live in the UK or somewhere with nasty weather, they might also be for you. If you don’t have the luxury of your own mechanic, don’t want to deal with a pricey electric cutter or just flat out like to tinker, these are a great addition to your toolbox.


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