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 TL-Easy Addix Speed
This is a review of the TL-Easy (SnakeSkin) 29 x 2.25 version of the Racing Ralph with Addix Speed compound. I've also tested the other versions of the new Racing Ralphs. You can find a review of the LiteSkin 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.
When compared to the LiteSkin version, the TL-Easy comes with a stronger 67 TPI casing and slightly thicker sidewalls that help seal the tire when used in a tubeless set up. The Racing Ralph with TL-Easy casing and Addix Speed compound appears to be the "base" tire in the new Racing Ralph lineup as it's available in most sizes while the LiteSkin with Speed compound and TL-Easy with SpeedGrip compound come in limited sizes only. If you're still running a 26 inches MTB, the TL-Easy with Addix Speed compound will be your only choice.
|Model||Racing Ralph TL-E Addix Speed|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||630 grams|
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||630 grams|
|Measured Weight||711 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||4.3 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall||1.05 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)||1.75 mm|
Weight. Specified weight of the 29 x 2.25 Racing Ralph TL-Easy is 630 grams; my sample (bought in store) comes in at a whopping 711 grams. I definitely would have returned this tire if it wasn't for this test!
Size. Just like pretty much all other 29 x 2.25 Racing Ralphs that I've tested, this one has a casing width of 54 mm and a tread width of 55 mm on a 17C rim and inflated to an air pressure of 35 psi / 2.4 bars.
Knob Height. Again, Knob height is the same as the other Racing Ralphs; Knob height of the center knobs is 2.5 mm, the edge knobs have a height of 4.3 mm.
Tire Thickness. As expected from a TL-Easy rated tire, both the thickness at the center of the tire and the thickness of the sidewalls has increased. When compared to the LiteSkin version (read review), the thickness at the center of the tire has increased from 1.50 mm to 1.75 mm. The sidewalls are much thicker and have increased from 0.50 mm for the LiteSkin to 1.05 mm for the TL-Easy version.
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|
Just like the new Racing Ralph LiteSkin with Addix Speed compound, rolling resistance has NOT gone down by the 10% that was promised by Schwalbe. When we compare the Racing Ralph TL-Easy with Addix Speed compound directly with the Racing Ralph TL-Easy with PaceStar compound that I've tested back in 2015, rolling resistance has INCREASED by 18% at the high air pressure of 55 psi / 3.8 bars. At the lower air pressure of 25 psi / 1.7 bars, rolling resistance has increased by 10% which is a bit less but still too much.
You can compare the 2017 Racing Ralph TL-Easy with Addix Speed compound side by side with the 2015 Racing Ralph TL-Easy with PaceStar compound on our site here.
I'm really disappointed by the performance of the new Addix Speed tires, it's a shame rolling resistance hasn't gone down another 10% as I'm sure a lot of people would have really liked that. Although these tires are a bit disappointing, when we compare the new Schwalbe tires directly with tires from other brands, they're still some of the fastest rolling tires.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||6|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||5|
In the puncture tests, the new TL-Easy scores within one point of the older TL-Easy with PaceStar compound in both the tread and sidewall tests. I attribute the one point lower score to the margin of error of this test; I don't see a reason why these should perform less than the older version as the casing is pretty much unchanged.
I'm sure a lot of people got really excited about a possible 10% reduction in rolling resistance while at the same time grip and durability would increase as well. Unfortunately, our tests show that Schwalbe's new Addix Speed compound has a higher rolling resistance than the good old PaceStar that has been around for a long time. Compared to the LiteSkin version of the Racing Ralph (read review), the TL-Easy adds about 6% of rolling resistance and some weight but you get sidewalls that are twice as thick/strong.
I rate this tire a 4 out of 5 because when compared to similar tires from other brands, the Schwalbe MTB tires with Addix Speed compound still perform very strong in our tests.