Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Best of 2009: Schwalbe Tires

Over a couple of posts, I'm going to go through the best things, MTB related, that Mel and I have used over this years season. Due to us being independent racers, we have had the flexibility to go after sponsors that we really like. We do test lots of different gear and are selective over the sponsors we go after - racing costs a hell of a lot more than a set of tires,and I would happily pay for a product that I felt was better (I would pay triple if I knew it was better!).

Last year I ran Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1s on the front and rear for almost every race. This year, the setup was modified slightly - both Mel and I rode a 2.1 Rocket Ron on the front and 2.1 Racing Ralph on the rear for almost every off-road race. The setup really is that flexible.

First off, the Rocket Ron on the front. Like the rear, it is a standard tubed version that we run tubeless with Stan's NoTubes sealant inside. At a little over 400 grams it is one of the lightest tires around with proper thread patterns (Ireland/UK races + semi slicks don't work so well). Next, various tests on the power required to keep the tire rolling at a certain speed have this as an extremely fast rolling tire - the profile of the tire itself was also nobbly enough for almost all trail conditions, from fast Italian fireroad to the highest quality Irish deep mud. It just loves shredding singletrack, especially muddy, rocky trails.


The only thing I can say against the tire is that it can be a little skittish on lose small rocks over a hard surface (say, a recently resurfaced fireroad) when cornering.

On the rear, the Racing Ralph stayed - it is the fastest nobly rolling tire out there on most terrains (perfect for the rear as most of the weight on a bike and thus, rolling resistance goes through the rear) and the side knobs meant railing corners. Like the Rocket Ron, the only downside is on loose corners over hardpack. Next time you are at a big International race, have a look what tiers people are running - you'll see Schwalbe a lot - see if you can spot the ones with blacked out Schwalbe logos...

Racing Ralph

I'm around 73-74kg and I run about 26psi on the front and 28psi on the rear with Stans ZTR 7000 wheels, Mel, with her Roval Controle SL wheels, runs about the same. If the course is soft with a lot of roots etc, I would run a little less while if it is high speed with pointy rocks, maybe a little more. We make sure to check the sealent every couple of weeks and not leave tires beside a heat source.

5 comments:

Darragh said...

How are those tires for cornering in trail centres?

Darragh

Ryan Sherlock said...

The Rocket Rons, and Racing Ralphs I find grand - not so much with the Nobby Nics though a little skitish.

A couple of races last year were on trail centers and I used Racing Ralph front and read and found them really nice. Trail Center courses tend to be very fast so low rolling resistance is really important... Lots of pointy rocks so high volumn too - the Ron and Ralph are both, although the Ron is a little narrower so I would possibly go with a 2.25 on the front.

Ryan Sherlock said...

I mean Racing Ralph front and *rear* above :)

paolo layug said...

Hi Ryan, thank you for the review. I'm using the same set-up (2.1 RoRo front and 2.1 RaRa rear) with my hard tail. I'm planning on moving to 2.25 RoRo front and 2.25 RaRa rear, will this provide better grip? I'll have this ship from one of online stores in Northern Ireland to the Philippines. We only have 2.1 here. Will it be worth-it to pay twice the amount?

Ryan Sherlock said...

It really depends on the type of trails/riding you do...

For me on the training hardtail (although it is the same as I would use in a race on the hardtail) I would use a 2.1 or 2.25 Rocket Ron on front, but almost certainly a 2.25 Racing Ralph (Snakeskin if hardtail, no snakeskin if fully) on the rear. Double the price is a lot though. For a hardtail, I would take the upgraded comfort/grip and rolling resistance on the rear with the 2.25 though.