07 June 2010

bikefix Exclusive Review: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 26x2.25 UST tires

Schwalbe considers the Rocket Ron a cross-country race tire, along with the Racing Ralph and the obscenely light Furious Fred (a tire I’m actually afraid to try). The Rocket Ron seems to be their wet conditions race tire, with decent size “poky” knobs separated by enough space to shed mud. Even though I don’t get to ride too many muddy trails each year, I thought I’d try it anyway because its size and weight were impressive- 2.25 and 650 grams respectively, all while being UST.

I am very pleased by these tires. I guess it’s partly because I had few expectations, but they perform very well in every condition I’ve been in. I have mostly used them in dry loose-over-hard situations, but they saw their fair share of wet and muddy over the winter, not to mention snow. I just finished a four hour ride during spring melt season in the southern Rockies with the Ron’s (Windsor/Chamisa/Sidewinder loop for you locals). We rode more than 10 cold stream crossings, encountered mud, hardpack, rock, and loose-over-hard trail surfaces, and not once did I feel that these tires let me down (my legs did though).

The lack of a center line of tread blocks would imply that this tire would be slower than a similar version with a more continuous center line, like for instance Schwalbe’s own Racing Ralph. [or Smart Sam] The Ron’s absolutely fly over the trail though. I don’t think they are slower than the Ralph’s and if I had to guess, I’d say they were faster. I don’t know how this is possible- it just feels like it. Maybe it’s all in my head. You certainly aren’t getting a penalty with this tread pattern though. If they have a weakness, I would say it is that they squirm a bit at speed- not so much that it’s disconcerting, but it’s noticeable. That is nitpicking a bit because most tires squirm some, particularly lighter xc race tires.

I kind of expected to damage these tires. The light weight and xc orientation made me aware that there was less rubber protecting me from the ground and that it might get shredded on some rocks. So far so good though. They have been through quite a few miles over some very nasty terrain and they are still kicking. I am generally nice to tires and don’t seem to tear them up like some folks. If you are hard on tires, or are a big-boy, be aware that these are XC type tires, despite the 2.25in casing.

If you want to give the Rocket Ron’s a go, Schwalbe makes a large number of versions, including 2 UST sizes. Those of you who ride in muddier parts of the country should really consider this tire. Schwalbe’s aren’t cheap, and they don’t tend to last as long as many other brands (the Ron’s are doing ok- lasting longer than the Ralph’s), but boy do they make good tires. A value they aren’t though at $ 85.00 per tire.



1 comment:

Marek said...

I have the 2.1" "performance" tubed version (ie non EVO) of these on my Scott Spark. With the 460g weight and race only description wasn't expecting much in terms of grip & durability. They've been outstanding. Much better grip than RaRa and in >1000km haven't punctured yet. In tight turns they squirm a little but as the side knobs bite grip comes back. The performance version isn't much heavier than the EVO and is very light compared to the market. Another solid product by Schwalbe.