The Schwalbe Rocket Ron is a mountain bike tire with slightly wider spaced knobs than most other mountain bike tires I've reviewed up to now. The Rocket Ron is often used on the front with a Racing Ralph on the rear. This combination supposedly gives a great balance between grip on the front and lower rolling resistance on the rear. I always wondered how much would be lost by just mounting Rocket Rons front and rear.
The Rocket Ron is available in 3 different versions: LiteSkin, SnakeSkin, and Performance. The LiteSkin is the fastest, lightest and thinnest version. The SnakeSkin is slightly heavier, but has reinforced sidewalls and will be much easier to seal when used in a tubeless setup. The Performance version of the Rocket Ron uses a cheaper construction and a dual compound instead of the PaceStar triple compound used on the evolution tires.
I'm reviewing the 29 x 2.25 LiteSkin version of the Rocket Ron. I've already reviewed a 2014 Racing Ralph Tubeless-Ready (review) and a 2015 Racing Ralph SnakeSkin (review). We can't compare the 2015 LiteSkin Rocket Ron to the 2015 LiteSkin Racing Ralph directly, but the SnakeSkin and Tubeless-Ready should give us a good indication. The 2015 LiteSkins are the same as the 2014 Tubeless-Ready tires, only the name has changed, and maybe some small improvements to the compound have been made.
|Model||Rocket Ron LiteSkin PaceStar|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||520 grams|
29 x 2.25
29 x 2.10
27.5 x 3.00
27.5 x 2.80
27.5 x 2.60
27.5 x 2.25
27.5 x 2.10
26 x 2.25
26 x 2.10
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)|
|Specified Weight||520 grams|
|Measured Weight||540 grams|
|Measured Width Carcass||54 mm|
|Measured Width Tread||55 mm|
|Measured Height||53 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Center||2.5 mm|
|Measured Knob Height Edge||4.4 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Sidewall||0.45 mm|
|Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs)||1.70 mm|
With a specified weight of 520 grams, the Rocket Ron is specified as being a bit lighter than the Racing Ralph of the same size (535 gr). I've measured my sample of the Rocket Ron at 540 grams, which is 20 grams more than specified. The width of the casing is 54 mm; the tread is slightly wider at 55 mm. Height is 53 mm. Size wise, the Rocket Ron comes very close to the Racing Ralph Tubeless-Ready/LiteSkin.
Knob height at the center of the tread is 2.5 mm. Knob height at the edge of the tread is 4.4 mm. This is all very close to the Racing Ralph, which has almost the same knob height. I expected the Rocket Ron to have slightly higher knobs than the Racing Ralph.
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 the very high air pressure of 55 psi is 19.7 watts. At this higher pressure, rolling resistance is a bit higher when compared to the Racing Ralph. Dropping air pressure to 45 psi results in a rolling resistance of 20.2 watts. At an air pressure of 35 psi, rolling resistance is 21.0 watts. At the low air pressure of 25 psi, rolling resistance is 22.7 watts. At this lower air pressure, rolling resistance is lower when compared to the Racing Ralph.
It's interesting that when lowering air pressure, the Rocket Ron starts gaining on the Racing Ralph. The tip-over point seems to be 35 psi. At this pressure, rolling resistance of the Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph is within 0.3 watts. Dropping air pressure even lower results in a rolling resistance advantage of 1.2 watts for the Rocket Ron.
This behavior is probably because of the wider spaced knobs which are less of a problem at lower air pressures. There will be more tire deformation, and the lower overall knob count of the Rocket Ron allows for easier flexing of the tread. At the higher air pressures, the Racing Ralph has the advantage of a closer spacing of the center knobs which makes the tire rounder and results in a lower rolling resistance.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||8|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||5|
With a score of 8 points in the puncture resistance test, the Rocket Ron scores slightly better than the Racing Ralph Tubeless Ready (7 points). This is the margin of error of the test as tire construction is almost the same.
At very high air pressures, the Rocket Ron has a slightly higher rolling resistance than the Racing Ralph. At lower air pressures, the tables turn in favor of the Rocket Ron and rolling resistance is slightly lower. The rolling resistance curve of the Rocket Ron is very flat with rolling resistance increasing just 3 watts when dropping air pressure from 55 to 25 psi. Never go over 35 psi with the Ron as it doesn't help you go faster.
The classic Rocket Ron/Racing Ralph front/rear combo doesn't seem to make sense. At a realistic off-road air pressure of 25 psi, the Rocket Ron has less rolling resistance than the Racing Ralph. A Racing Ralph only makes sense when you ride lots of asphalt roads; it probably wears less on asphalt as well.
VERDICT: Highly Recommended