Scwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4": Final Review

With our time spent on the Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s, we feel safe in posting this “Final Review” on the tires. We have put them through snow, ice, mud, dry dirt, and gravel throughout our testing period. This will be a combined review from Captain Bob and myself.

Pofahl  with Racing Ralph rear tire

We experienced a long, icy, and snowy winter. Both Captain Bob and myself were using the Racing Ralph in winter riding conditions. I found that the racing Ralph was an incredible tire for ice and snow. The casing seemed to wrap itself around anything it could get a grip on. Traction was phenomenal for me. Captain Bob concurs saying, “I use them most of the winter riding gravel roads that were not gravel very often. The gravel roads were complete ice that was at least one inch think all winter, or completely covered with several inches of snow. What I do know for sure is that these tires will grip to ice better than any non-studded tire than I have ridden. I was amazed at how well that they grip ice. Snow? These treads roll over many inches of snow with ease. Very little washing out was experienced. I am guessing that the width of the tire is adding to their stability. I could ride almost as fast on 4 inches of snow racing down the gravel roads as I could with just gravel.”

Racing Ralph

Moving into the spring and summer saw a lot of wet, muddy, and tacky trail conditions. The Racing ralph’s are no match for true mud, especially sticky dirt or clay conditions. I found that the tread packed up rather quickly and that the tire would continue to collect mud, losing all ability to grip the trail surface until it cleared out its tread. If the trails started to firm up, things got much better. I felt that the Racing Ralph really started to shine on tacky to hardpack trails. Captain Bob thought similar things here. He says, “Hardpack singletrack was another area where the RR’s shine. If the trails were too smooth though, or on any trail that felt like pavement, I noticed some drag from them. Nothing too much. Just more than I expected.”

On really hard trails or on rides to the trail head on pavement, both Captain Bob and I thought that the Racing Ralph showed it’s width and tread compound as higher rolling resistance. Not too surprisingly, we also didn’t find as much to love on hard trails with any loose dirt over the top. Captain Bob explains, “I feel like I am not getting the tires to dig in. They seem to float over everything. Almost too much. I have a little trouble getting the cornering bite that I want, and it’s making it difficult to rail in the turns. I have tried lowering the psi but that just seems to make the bike steer too slow. It feels as though there is too much contact which causes everything to slow down. Straight lines are fine but anything involving turns is where I notice this.”

Conversely we found this “float” to be a great attribute in sandy situations. Captain Bob says, ” I know they float over sand better than other tires I have.” I’d have to agree, and since they did so well in the snow, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Captain Bob calls the Racing Ralphs, “The best sand tire out there.”

Final Thoughts: We like the Racing Ralph as a front tire on a rigid bike because of its volume. The Racing Ralph has an uncanny ability to “float” over trail obstacles and sand/snow as well. Although it is claimed to have a low rolling resistance in hardpack and fast trail conditions, we didn’t notice anything noteworthy there. The casing seems very flexible and it may not hold up to sharp rocks and abusive trail conditions because of this. We have not ridden in these sorts of conditions, but we have heard reports of such instances. The tire comes highly recommended if your trails are buff, tacky to dry with little loose debris over the top. In these conditions the Ralph rails turns and has great stopping abilities. Anything beyond tacky makes the performance fall off dramatically. We do not recommend the Racing Ralph for anything resembling mud.

This ends our look at the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 inch tires. Thanks for reading!


No Responses to “Scwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4": Final Review”

  1. The Monkey Says:

    I’ve had the RRs on my Jet, and pretty much have the same to say about them.
    I wished that the rubber compound was a little stickier for our needs here in VT. The volume is great, but put it on anything hard like a bridge or bare rock and they would slide. I have aquired some cool scars because my front wheel decided it was all done being on a plank bridge and darting off when I was not yet finished .
    I’ve found that on bare rock rollers they could be quite unpredictable too.
    On anything dirt though, they hooked up, and rolled quickly.

  2. GreenLightGo Says:

    I actually prefer the 2.25 over the 2.4 for front duty. I sold off both my 2.4, just didn’t feel the love with it that I did with the 2.25. To that end, I find the 2.25 a pretty solid tire – though it’s not my go to tire anymore – replaced by the new Maxxis Ardent. It’s got some speed and the grip to please.

  3. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Shall we see something more from Schwalbe other than Furious Fred? What about Nobby Nic? and other AM tyres? What take them so long?

  4. Roger Says:

    Does Tim Grahl work for these websites anymore? I never see him post anything and was curious if he is still with this company?

  5. Guitar Ted Says:

    Roger: Yes, Tim is still around. You’ll most often find his musings on Commute By Bike these days. After our J.E.T. 9 is back up and running, Tim will be writing up a post on the bike here. But mainly, he leaves the meanderings here up to me. 🙂

  6. fritZman Says:

    I agree with most of your assessment except the loose over hardpacked performance was still quite acceptable for me (see my pressure comments below).

    I think the key to turning this tire from a good XC setup to an exceptional all-rounder is low pressure. I weigh 195 lbs and run my RR 2.4 tubeless at only 18.5-19 psi. Anything higher than 19psi and the ride gets harsher without any perceivable gains in speed/steering feel.

    Durability has been stellar as well – especially considering the weight. No torn knobs, I’ll get a full year out of them, and zero flats/tears (again likely due to the lower pressures).

    I like these tires so much that I’ve given away all my other used brands (Geax, Panaracer) and have ordered another set of 2.4s for next season.

  7. EuroWheels Says:

    The review is on the money. Haven’t tried in the snow since I use studs. These tires are beyond useless if it’s damp. Danger! I also think a CrossMark rolls better. And for weight, just use at ACX in the front. I would like to try again on a dry condition but it may be just too much work to watch conditions that closely. 2.4 on the front and 2.25 on the rear. The rear tire appears to have better side bite, but I can’t confirm since it was all over the place.

  8. Dirt McGirt Says:

    GT: Have you tried the Big Apple 2.3’s? I need a commuter tire and want to know what you think. They look pretty dope, though…

  9. Guitar Ted Says:

    Dirt: I have not personally used them, but I have bent the ears of a few folks that have. Cushy, pretty fast for the size, and good wearing are what I hear most often. I think that if your commute is rough, and you carry any loads, you can’t go wrong. I probably will get a pair for my fixed Monkey around Fall time.

  10. dosboy Says:

    Ive ridden through the last two winters on weirwolfs. Would you say the rr outperform the weirs in snow?

  11. Guitar Ted Says:

    dosboy: The Weir Wolfs are great in the winter, but yes…….the Ralphs are better. You won’t need to dump as much pressure in the Schwalbes either since the casing is so supple. I would recommend you run about 5-7 psi higher than your settings on the WTB tires.

  12. kathar Says:

    Leaving aside for a moment the tires, can you please provide more details about the handlebar you’re using on the displayed bike ?

  13. Guitar Ted Says:

    kathar: The handlebars on the blue bike are Origin 8 “Gary” bars. They are distributed here in the U.S. by a company called J&B Importers. The manufacturer of the bars is Kalloy. Retail price on Gary bars in the U.S. is about $25.00 and they are sold through most independant bike shops here.

    More specifically, I have put on some Tektro linear pull specific levers and I am using ESI silicone grips on the drop section there with a finishing wrap of Bontrager gel tape.

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