Schwalbe Racing Ralph TL-Ready, Snakeskin
MSRP: $90 per tire
Size Tested: 29x2.25
Weight as tested: 605 grams per tire
Schwalbe has quickly gained a reputation as a high-end tire manufacturer that creates highly functional bicycle tires. Although they also sport a high-end price tag, Schwalbe has shown time and again just how great its tires are.
Our latest pair of Schwalbes is the cross-country oriented Racing Ralph in a 29x2.25, sporting low-profile knobs paired with a tubeless-ready casing with Snakeskin sidewalls. But tires are only as good as the traction and durability they provide, so how are they?
To start, Schwalbes have always been one of the easiest tires to set up tubeless. This is a huge benefit. Mounted up on an Easton Haven UST wheelset, the Racing Ralphs were easily inflated with a floor pump. Two scoops of Stans sealant and the tires are ready for the dirt.
On the trail, it was obvious Schwalbe understands tire tread compound. The Pacestar compound is the company’s longer-wearing option, which features different tread compounds throughout the tire profile for improved longevity. Softer side knobs with a bit harder compound toward the middle of the tread, this combination of compounds provided a much longer-wearing tire than other Schwalbe tires we have used, which contained the softer and grippier Trailstar compound.
After a few weeks of riding the Racing Ralph, it was obvious just how durable the tires were. So I decided to put them to the ultimate test, carrying me from Denver to Durango along the rocky and destructive Colorado Trail. After 480 miles of epic singletrack and gravel roads, the Racing Ralphs showed surprisingly little wear and gave me no trouble during the whole ride, not even a flat. Needless to say, I am a believer in both the durability and overall quality of Schwalbe’s tires.
As a cross country specific tire the Racing Ralph provides ample traction on a variety of surfaces. Its rounded profile is predictable through loose corners with consistent traction throughout turns. The 29x2.25 offers a fair amount of volume allowing riders to experiment with tire pressures to find a nice balance between efficient and capable.
The Racing Ralph TL-Ready Snakeskin pairs a versatile, fast tread pattern with a bomber casing. Though the tires are on the heavier side of the race tire spectrum, at 605 grams each, the durability factor makes them a great choice for riders looking for a fast-rolling, tough tire that is easily set up at home. If a lighter option is what you’re after, the Racing Ralph is available in a variety of sizes and casing options with weights starting at 450 grams. At $90 a piece the Racing Ralph is a bit pricey, but after spending a significant amount of time on them, the quality is apparent and they are worth every penny. -J. Carr