The Schwalbe Racing Ralph is one of the most popular mountain bike tires of the moment. Today, I'm reviewing the SnakeSkin / Tubeless-Easy version of the Racing Ralph. The SnakeSkin / Tubeless-Easy part means this tire has stronger sidewalls that are not only more resistant to cuts, but also easier to seal when using the tire in a tubeless set up. I must add that this review is funded by donations, I want to thank everyone that made a donation to make this test possible!
One of the first tires I tested was the Racing Ralph Tubeless-Ready. This was in 2014 and the Tubeless-Ready version was the fastest Racing Ralph available from Schwalbe. This year (2015), Schwalbe discontinued the Tubeless-Ready tires and introduced the new LiteSkin tires. Although Schwalbe claims the LiteSkin to be a new version, I'm 99% sure the LiteSkins are the same tires as the older Tubeless-Ready tires. I do think it's possible they tweaked the compound a bit year over year, a 2015 LiteSkin might be a bit better than a 2014 TL-R
Although we can't compare the Racing Ralph SnakeSkin directly with the Racing Ralph LiteSkin, we can compare it with the 2014 Racing Ralph Tubeless-Ready. This should give some very interesting information about the differences between the 127 TPI LiteSkin / Tubeless-Ready and 67 TPI SnakeSkin carcasses. I think most people expect there to be a big difference in rolling resistance because of the lower TPI carcass of the SnakeSkin tires.
|Model||Racing Ralph TL-E PaceStar|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||605 grams|
29 x 2.35
29 x 2.25
29 x 2.10
27.5 x 2.25
27.5 x 2.10
26 x 2.25
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||605 grams|
|Measured Weight||602 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||4.0 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)|
The SnakeSkin version of the Racing Ralph is slightly heavier with a specified weight of 605 grams versus 535 grams for the LiteSkin version. The measured weight of this SnakeSkin Racing Ralph is 602 grams. Getting a tire in that is slightly below the advertised weight is always a nice bonus. Knob height and the size of the tire seems to be pretty much the same as the 2014 Tubeless-Ready.
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|
Rolling resistance at 25 psi is only 0.1 watts higher than the 2014 Tubeless-Ready! What is even more surprising is that at higher air pressures, the SnakeSkin version has a lower rolling resistance than the 2014 Tubeless-Ready. At an air pressure of 35 psi, rolling resistance is 0.4 watts lower. At the very high air pressure of 55 psi, the advantage of the SnakeSkin grows to 0.7 watts. It seems that only at very low pressure, the 127 TPI carcass is able to outperform the heavier 67 TPI carcass.
Worth noting is the small difference between the Racing Ralph SnakeSkin and Thunder Burt SnakeSkin. At the very high air pressure of 55 psi, rolling resistance of the racing ralph is only 0.1 watts higher. At the more usable air pressure of 25 psi, the difference does grow to 1.7 watts (22.3 watts Thunder Burt Vs 24.0 watts Racing Ralph).
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||7|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||6|
Just like the Racing Ralph Tubeless-Ready, the SnakeSkin version scores 7 points in the puncture resistance test. As of this writing, I'm only able to test the puncture resistance of the tread area of the tire and not the sidewall. The sidewall of the SnakeSkin should have a better puncture resistance than the Tubeless-Ready version. I'm currently working on building a sidewall puncture resistance test as well. Check back soon!
Comparing a 2015 SnakeSkin / Tubeless-Easy to a 2014 Tubeless-Ready might not be ideal, but it does give some insight into the differences between the different versions of Schwalbe mountain bikes tires. The 2015 LiteSkin might have some improvements over the 2014 Tubeless-Ready, but those differences will be very small. I think we can safely conclude that rolling resistance of the SnakeSkin tires will be very close to that of the LiteSkin tires.
The biggest advantage of the new SnakeSkin / Tubeless-Easy will be easier tubeless set up. Schwalbe probably dropped the Tubeless-Ready tires because, in reality, they weren't really tubeless ready. From personal usage, I know they could take days to seal. The Tubeless-Easy tires should seal right away or within hours. As a bonus, less tubeless sealant will be required, which makes the weight disadvantage a bit smaller.
VERDICT: Highly Recommended