The Schwalbe Racing Ralph has been one of the most popular XC mountain bike tires for at least the last ten years. Because of its popularity and performance, I even consider the Racing Ralph to be the "gold standard" MTB tire. Big news came a couple of months back when Schwalbe retired their trusty PaceStar, TrailStar, and VertStar compounds and replaced these with four new color-coded compounds: Addix Speed (red), Addix SpeedGrip (blue), Addix Soft (orange), and Addix Ultra Soft (purple).
The new Racing Ralph only comes with the Addix Speed and Addix SpeedGrip compounds so I'll focus on these for now. The Addix Soft and Ultra Soft compounds are meant for trail and downhill tires and will be covered in another review. I'll summarize the biggest differences between the new and old compounds below. Check Schwalbe's Addix page for more information: Addix explained by Schwalbe.
After examining most of the new tires, the changes seem to be limited to the compounds only. The casing and tread patterns are all unchanged. Schwalbe did take the opportunity to increase the number of available sizes in 27.5 and 29 inches at the expense of 26 inches. It looks like 26 inches will be axed soon as the available sizes in 26 inch have been reduced dramatically.
Compounds: Addix Speed and Addix SpeedGrip
Addix Speed (Red). This is now the fastest compound available from Schwalbe. When compared to the old PaceStar compound, Schwalbe claims rolling resistance has been reduced by 10%. The remarkable part of the Addix Speed compound is that even though Schwalbe claims a lower rolling resistance, grip (+15%), durability (+25%), and damping (+5%) have all improved as well. The Racing Ralph is available with the Addix Speed compound with a LiteSkin or SnakeSkin (TL-Easy) casing.
Addix SpeedGrip (blue). The SpeedGrip compound seems to fit in between the old PaceStar and TrailStar compounds. When compared to the PaceStar compound, Schwalbe claims that rolling resistance is slightly worse (-6%) while grip (+35%), durability (+62%), and damping (+35%) have all increased dramatically. Be aware that the Racing Ralph is only available with the SpeedGrip compound on a SnakeSkin (TL-Easy) casing. At the moment a LiteSkin version with SpeedGrip compound isn't available.
Schwalbe Racing Ralph LiteSkin Addix Speed
This is a review of the LiteSkin 29x2.25 version with Addix Speed compound which is the fastest and lightest Racing Ralph available from Schwalbe. I've also tested the other versions of the new Racing Ralphs. You can find a review of the TL-Easy Addix Speed here and a review of the TL-Easy with Addix SpeedGrip here. You can also compare these 3 new Racing Ralphs side by side on the comparison section of this website here.
For now, the LiteSkin with Addix Speed is only available in the 29x2.10 and 29x2.25 sizes. Schwalbe claims this tire to be 10% faster than the older Racing Ralph with PaceStar compound. We've tested this tire on our rolling resistance machine so read on to find out if Schwalbe's claims are true...
|Model||Racing Ralph LiteSkin Addix Speed|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||560 grams|
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||560 grams|
|Measured Weight||587 grams|
|Measured Width Carcass||54 mm|
|Measured Width Tread||55 mm|
|Measured Height||52 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Center||2.5 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Edge||4.2 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall||0.50 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)||1.50 mm|
Weight. The specified weight of the Racing Ralph LiteSkin in the 29x2.25 size is 560 grams; our sample is a bit heavier at 587 grams. 587 grams seems to be acceptable as it's within 5% of the specified weight.
Size. On a 17C rim, at an air pressure of 35 psi / 2.4 bars, the maximum width of the casing is 54 mm. The edge knobs stick out a bit further making the total tire width 55 mm. The maximum height of the tire is 52 mm. Both these measurements are pretty good for a 29x2.25 rated tire on a 17C rim.
Knob Height. The center knobs of the Racing Ralph have a height of 2.5 mm. The edge knobs are quite a bit bigger and have a height of 4.2 mm.
Tire Thickness. The maximum thickness of the tire at the center of the tread is 1.5 mm. The sidewalls are about as thin as they can be at 0.50 mm. Both these measurements are similar to other tires optimized for the lowest possible weight and rolling resistance.
Rolling Resistance Test Results
|Rolling Resistance Test Results (Speed: 29 kmh / 18 mph / 8 m/s, Load: 42.5 kg / 417 N)|
|Inner Tube||Conti MTB 29 (225 gr butyl)|
|Rolling Resistance 55 psi / 3,8 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 45 psi / 3,1 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 35 psi / 2,4 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 25 psi / 1,7 Bar||
|Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load|
Auch! Unlike Schwalbe's claim of a 10% lower rolling resistance, rolling resistance has gone up when compared to the older Racing Ralph with PaceStar compound (read review) that I've tested back in 2014. At the high air pressure of 55 psi / 3.8 bars, rolling resistance has increased from 19.1 watts to 21.2 watts. At the low air pressure of 25 psi / 1.7 bars, rolling resistance has gone up from 23.9 watts to 25.0 watts.
You can compare the old PaceStar Racing Ralph with the new Addix Speed Racing Ralph on our comparison section here.
This test puts me in a hard position as I always recommended the Schwalbe MTB tires the most. Now that it looks like Schwalbe has gone backward in the rolling resistance department, recommending tires will become harder as the other brands actually come a bit closer now. I'm also disappointed by Schwalbe as they're trying to sell a product claimed to be 10% faster yet it's actually slower than their older product.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||6|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||5|
In the puncture tests, the Addix Speed version of the Racing Ralph comes within 1 point of the PaceStar version. Compared to the other MTB tires, the Racing Ralph Addix Speed performs similarly to other tires that are made to be as light and fast as possible.
When we first heard about the new Addix Speed compound, it got us really excited as shaving off another 10% of rolling resistance and increasing grip at the same time is something we really like. Unfortunately, our tests show that rolling resistance of the new Addix Speed compound is actually WORSE than the older PaceStar compound. As it appears Schwalbe didn't tell the truth about the rolling resistance of the new Addix Speed compound, we question their claims of increased grip and durability as well.
For now, we recommend just buying the older Schwalbe MTB tires with PaceStar compound as they have proven themselves over the years. As a bonus, you'll be able to get the older PaceStar tires at a discount at the moment. If you like to try new things, the new Schwalbe tires are still worth a try as they still perform better than most competing brands in our tests. If you've tried these new Addix tires, feel free to leave a comment as we're curious about your opinion as well.
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