One month before the official launch, Schwalbe sent us a set of their new XC tires: Racing Ray + Racing Ralph = Love. The Germans created a set of tires with different threads and different compounds, the first time we read the press release I must admit I was not that excited. The build made sense and seemed realistic but I had to test them before having a clear opinion and I had to prove myself, again, that I should keep my mouth shut about things I don’t understand. Anyways, the tires were easy to fit on the rim, Racing Ray goes on the front wheel and Racing Ralph goes on the rear wheel. They both have completely new threads, even Racing ralph that is very different to the tire we already know, even the compounds are different: SpeedGrip for Ray and Speed for Ralph.
Schwalbe wanted to create a set of tires dedicated to XC races, which as we all noted, are very different lately. The tracks are more technical with big rocks, jumps, rock gardens or very rooty areas. As many riders when looking for the perfect mix between grip and speed are opting for different tires front and back, hoping to find the right combination, Schwalbe wanted to make tire choosing easier. We should also mention that Schwalbe developed this tires with top athletes in different racing conditions.
And, as many tracks around our hometown are pretty friendly, we decided to find a more suitable testing ground for this tires, a local mountain peak was the perfect location, with some enduro trails and varied terrain types.
The front tyre, Racing Ray, offers good braking grip, something you need when on rough trails. Even if the thread is only medium sized, the grip was great in almost all cornering situations. Rolling resistance is good and the weight is on par with the competition, 625 gr on a 29 x 2.25 inch tire. Schwalbe offers this tire in all 3 wheel sizes: 26, 27.5 and 29 with a 2.1 inch version available also.
The rear tire, Racing Ralph, is different compared to the older version and has a radically different thread. It has many horizontal knobs in order to offer maximum climbing traction. This design worked on many types of surface, loose, covered with leaves and sandy. Even if the design is different, the weight is similar: 625 gr for 29×2.25. Same as Racing Ray, Racing Ralph sheds mud very fast once you are out of the “sticky” situation.
Testing conditions were not to friendly, because we hardly found any dry terrain, but it’s better when this happens. The only cases where the tires needed some serious position adjustments were on wet roots and in corners with a lot of mud, but in this cases only downhill tires with twice the weight would have worked.
With this tires Schwalbe outdone itself, I never thought that a set of tires of this sizes and this weight can do so good on an enduro trail in wet/damp conditions. The price for a set is around 116 EUR, not to cheap but definitely worth it if you are looking for a great set of tires for XC racing.