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 SpeedGrip
This is a review of the TL-Easy (SnakeSkin) 29 x 2.25 version of the Racing Ralph with Addix SpeedGrip 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 Speed here. You can also compare these 3 new Racing Ralphs side by side on the comparison section of this website here.
The Racing Ralph TL-Easy with Addix SpeedGrip compound has nearly the same specifications as the TL-Easy version with Addix Speed compound. Both these tires come with a reinforced 67 TPI casing and have the same weight. One thing that got my attention is that the Racing Ralph TL-Easy with SpeedGrip compound is only available in 2 sizes: 27.5 x 2.25 and 29 x 2.25.
Let's just put these tires to the test and find out how the grippier Addix SpeedGrip compound compares to the faster Addix Speed compound in our tests.
|Model||Racing Ralph TL-E Addix SpeedGrip|
|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||609 grams|
|Measured Width Carcass||53 mm|
|Measured Width Tread||54 mm|
|Measured Height||51 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Center||2.5 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Edge||4.3 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall||0.90 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)||1.65 mm|
Weight. The 29 x 2.25 Addix SpeedGrip version of the Racing Ralph TL-Easy has a surprisingly low weight of just 609 grams. The Addix Speed version that I've tested was much heavier at 711 grams. Both these tires have a specified weight of 630 grams which shows the large deviation between tires leaving the factory.
Size. The Addix SpeedGrip version of the Racing Ralph measures is a tiny bit smaller (1 mm) when compared to most other Racing Ralphs that have been on the test bench.
Knob Height. Knob height is in line with other Racing Ralphs; center knobs: 2.5 mm, edge knobs: 4.3 mm.
Tire Thickness. When compared to the Racing Ralph Addix Speed that was much heavier at 711 grams, the Addix SpeedGrip is a bit thinner with a total thickness at the center of the tread of 1.65 mm (-0.1 mm). The sidewalls have a thickness of 0.90 mm (-0.15 mm).
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|
Schwalbe claims rolling resistance of the Addix SpeedGrip compound has gone up by just 6% when compared to the older PaceStar compound. Our tests show a much different picture with a 29% higher rolling resistance at the high air pressure of 55 psi / 3.8 bars. At the low air pressure of 25 psi / 1.7 bars, the difference is a bit smaller but rolling resistance is still 20% higher than the much older PaceStar compound.
You can compare the 2017 Racing Ralph TL-Easy with Addix SpeedGrip compound side by side with the 2015 Racing Ralph TL-Easy with PaceStar compound on our site here.
Just like the Racing Ralphs with Addix Speed compounds, the Racing Ralph with Addix SpeedGrip doesn't deliver what's promised by Schwalbe. When rolling resistance doesn't come close to the promised numbers, how seriously can we take Schwalbe's claims of 15% better damping, 35% increased grip and a 62% better durability when compared to the PaceStar compound?
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||6|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||5|
Puncture resistance is average with a score of 6 points in the tread test and a score of 5 points in the sidewall test.
I feel Schwalbe's idea to split the PaceStar compound into a faster, but less grippy compound (Addix Speed) and a slightly slower, but grippier compound (Addix SpeedGrip) was an excellent idea. It's just a shame Schwalbe's execution leaves a lot to be desired. Our tests show that rolling resistance of both the Addix Speed and Addix SpeedGrip compounds is much higher than what's promised by Schwalbe's marketing department.
The good part of these new Addix tires might be in the actual user experiences that will start trickling in in the coming months. If you've tried these new tires in harsh conditions, consider leaving a comment as I'm really curious about your opinion.