Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29"er: First Impressions

Editors Note: This is a first impression of the ride on a Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4″ tire that was mounted on the rear of a single speed. Due to current weather conditions in the test area, this impression is limited. We fully intend to bring back another “First Impression” once proper off road riding conditions are restored in the area.

With things the way they are around these parts, I was limited in what I could do with the Racing Ralph. What I could do, I did and I think I found out a few relevant things about what to expect from these new treads.

I took the air pressure way down on the tire. Down to 20psi, the thinking being that I would need the grip for the snowy conditions I was going to put these tires in. I knew from previous experiences with the Weir Wolf LT, (which was mounted on the front of my Pofahl SS) that I could easily get away with this pressure. Well, the Schwalbe was not going to be this way. I tested the pressure before going out by sitting in the saddle in the house and I could readily see that the Ralph was under pressured already. I got off and aired it up to 25psi and headed out the door. (The WTB tire was at about 18 psi, in case you were wondering.)

The ride went well. I had excellent traction and the snow was packed down and frozen pretty solid, so it was a good type of snow to test on. The Racing Ralph at 25 psi still felt too soft and gave the impression that it was wanting to wallow a bit on the DT Swiss rim. I got off and huffed up the rear a bit with my frame pump and remounted. It was better and felt more matched to the feeling of the front tire. When I arrived at my destination, I checked the pressure and it was at about 27psi. That was a bit more than I had expected I would have to run in the rear tire on this ride.

I took the opportunity to go back and retrace the route a bit to observe my tracks in the snow. What I found was that the Schwalbe seemed to contour itself to the terrain amazingly well. Frozen footprints had the same tread block marks in the bottom of their impressions as the smooth surfaces did. The tire conformed to and wrapped itself around terrain features as if the tire were made of putty. Kind of neat and something I haven’t observed before. This sort of thing was evidenced all three times I was able to ride the tire in the snowy conditions here.

The overall impression I am getting is that the casing of the Racing Ralph is super flexible. It seems to want to be at a bit higher pressure than an average 29″er tire to achieve the same feel on the terrain. It should be noted that even at the 25psi setting, where the casing felt as if it might roll off the rim, the tire didn’t feel overly resistant to my pedaling input. It seems to have a great rolling feel.

A few things I expect to see with the Ralph in the future are these: The pressure might be able to be a bit lower with a wider, more supportive rim, but I still expect that I will be using a higher pressure than some of my other 29″er treads use to give me a confident feeling on the trail. I think the Ralph will be a great lower rolling resistance tire from what I can tell so far. The conformity of the casing indicates to me that I might expect some awesome grip on the trail, once the snow is gone. These are the initial things I am excited about concerning the Racing Ralph.

Stay tuned for an update once conditions here return to normal.

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No Responses to “Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29"er: First Impressions”

  1. RC Says:

    So I gather it’s a great snow tire? Have you done a comparison I’ve missed on the different tires and their good/bad application for snow? There are those of us who like you have to put up with the white stuff and would enjoy reading about which tire works the best in those conditions. Sounds like the Ralph may be one we can use year round. Thanks GT!!

  2. Guitar Ted Says:

    RC: Yep! The Ralph is a great snow tire. I would also recommend the WeirWolf LT. I am going out tomorrow on the WTB Stout. We’ll see how it stacks up against those two later. It should be good though, as it’s a huge casing like the Ralph and WeirWolf.

  3. Wilhelm Says:

    Interesting to hear that the RR is a great snow tire. So did you made some experiences about the performance (especially grip) on blank winterly asphalt roads as well as on icy road passages (city biking), too?

    Best regards, Wilhelm

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    Wilhelm: The Racing Ralph is a tire that rolls very well. Not much resistance to speak of in a tire that is so wide. Again though, you may find you will need a higher air pressure than you might think. It gives very good grip, confidence, and a nice ride quality on commutes.

  5. Wilhelm Says:

    Thanks, Guitar Ted. If the grip on icy roads is acceptable, I´ll give them a try. What do you think?

  6. Guitar Ted Says:

    Wilhelm: I run mine down pretty low on air pressure and seem to get along okay. Your mileage may vary.

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