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Verdict: 
Great levels of grip in intermediate conditions, but start to struggle in any real mud
Weight: 
309g
Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo 33-622
6 10

The cyclo-cross-friendly 33mm width Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo tyres are great in the right conditions, but those conditions are quite a narrow range – not too dry, not too wet – which makes their £50 price tag (each) seem rather expensive.

With the summer cyclo-cross season in full swing, many of us are out there trying to channel our inner Sven while painfully waiting for the winter to come back around for some mud-based riding. With Mother Nature having not made up her mind, the changing weather has meant some tough tyre choices, with many forgetting there are options between their trusty mud tyres and drastic file treads. These intermediate conditions are where the Racing Ralphs are designed to sit snuggly.

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The Racing Ralphs are no new concept. Now in their third generation, they've been about in mountain bike and cyclo-cross worlds for a number of years. More recently, the range has been adjusted to include a 33mm width to conform to UCI rules (the sport's governing body); not that your local league would have cared much about the extra 2mm of the previous 35mm versions. This folding tyre weighs in at 320g, which is about average for 32mm CX tyres at the moment.

With only the LiteSkin variant of the tyre at this size, you don't get the benefits of Schwalbe's SnakeSkin technology for easy tubeless use. Having said that, the LiteSkin combined with a reinforced bead core still allows for a conversion to tubeless, so do not fear. Bar the odd burp at really low pressure, there were no noticeable issues with not having the SnakeSkin option. My only issue was getting a pinch flat on my first use due to pure laziness and running them with tubes rather than tubeless.

> All you need to know about going tubeless

On to grip, the stuff we really care about with tyres. First impressions were of high amounts of grip, especially in dry conditions. The small, square central tread makes for plenty of traction when upright, and equally the narrower and taller Schwalbe 'U-Blocks' on the edge provide excellent grip in the corners.

When run at low pressure, they feel a little sluggish, especially compared with the Schwalbe G-Ones I've been riding for a while. The size of the tread blocks certainly make for a lot of drag on the straights. Equally, when the going gets wet, the tread struggles to shift the mud, making for a tricky ride and plenty of dangling of the legs to keep you upright.

> How to get better at cyclo-cross

Conditions are going to be vital for these tyres. Too dry and the extra grip, compared with file treads, will be a drag; too wet, and the tyres won't be able to deal with 'proper' mud. Early or late winter season might be the perfect time – when the rains haven't fully set in yet and course conditions remain a little more uncertain. They're potentially an option when the ground starts to harden from the cold nights too, but I'm speculating there.

Personally, for summer cross I'm sticking to my G-Ones, but the Racing Ralphs may get some use early doors this winter, before my set of Challenge Limus take reign in the mud.

At £49.99 a pop, the Racing Ralphs aren't cheap either. For a tyre that doesn't really suit full winter or a dry summer it's expensive, and I can't say I'd be dropping that kind of money for them. If you live in a climate where it tends to be somewhere in between, these may well be your perfect tyre. Have a think about what kind of riding you tend to do, as the tyres ride and race well when conditions suit them. Don't rule them out just because of the price tag.

Verdict

Great levels of grip in intermediate conditions, but start to struggle in any real mud

road.cc test report

Make and model: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo 33-622

Size tested: 33-622

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo cyclo-cross tyre is classed as for use on hardpack and mixed terrain, but not soft, muddy conditions – which is exactly what I found. The tread would struggle to shift mud. Despite being designed for speed, it seemed a little slow and draggy when on the straights, which might have been down to tread sizes.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Size:ETRTO 33-622 (28 x 1.30 Inch)

Typ:Folding

Compound:PaceStar

Execution:LiteSkin

Color:Black

Skin:Lite

Weight:320 g (11 oz)

Pressure:3.50 - 6.00 Bar (50 - 85 psi)

Maximum load:70 kg

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Well made, no blemishes to mention. The reinforced bead was tough despite the folding ability.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Performance is a tough one to call. The tyres were great, but only when the conditions suited them. If things were too dry they felt slow, but too wet and they were all over the place. Being able to run them tubeless was a big plus, so in intermediate conditions they were great!

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Having ridden them at the tail end of the last winter season and beginning of the summer, there is only minimal wear, which is impressive. I haven't been riding them on the tarmac, mainly because I found them a bit slow, but using them just for cross riding they've survived well.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
5/10

Average weight compared with the competition.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

Good to ride, especially at low pressure.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

Tough to justify that price – £50 for a tyre that is only good in certain conditions seems fairly excessive.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Great when used in the correct conditions, but I was often left wishing I was using other tyres.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Being able to run them tubeless was key. The high grip in the corners when things got damp was great.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Struggle to clear mud and too much drag in dry conditions.

Did you enjoy using the product? Sometimes...

Would you consider buying the product? No, I would stick to my G-Ones.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, depending on what they will be riding in.

Use this box to explain your score

The tyres are good but expensive, and the range of use is fairly narrow.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 5ft8  Weight: 62kg

I usually ride: Cannondale CAADX  My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives

4 comments

Avatar
DaveE128 [996 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Interesting that you find the CX Ralphs not much good in the dry - I use the MTB version and find them excellent in dry conditions. Fast rolling and grippy.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1520 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It's been very dry really despite the torrential downpours. So it's still a dustbowl round my way. I've been hammering the X-One and they seem to do everything well. Obviously you can't corner on tarmac on them at 30 mph. But they are brilliant and I can't wait to see what they're like on the really gloopy days. 

But, for most off road expeditions at the moment, the G-One are amazing. Because of the volume of them they rarely lose traction if you run them at the right PSI. 

I'm lucky enough to have two sets of identical wheels so can just swap out one for the other as conditions dictate. I've no need for any other tyres now because I'm not Sven level. 

Can't wait for my S-One to come mind....................

Avatar
paulrattew [263 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I've got a set of X-One's and G-One's. X-one's get overwhelmed quickly if the mud is gloopy, but that's not a surpise given the knobbles are so small - they tend to hold onto thicker mud rather than shedding it. Most other conditions they seem great, especially as you can run them tubeless at really low pressures (I've comfortably run them at 25PSI which is almost as low as I would go with tubs given that I'm 90+kilos).
I'm not sure I really see the point of the CX Racing Ralph Evos unless they are genuinely tubeless. No one wants their ride ruined by the tyre burping out all the air (something I've not had happen with the x-ones).

Avatar
rogermerriman [146 posts] 1 year ago
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My hunch is that the racing Ralph will get replaced by the X-ones.

 

I think this review is way to focused on CX the race, rather than what CX bikes get used for, hence the adventure bike terms now being used.

 

I have Racing Ralph's on my CX bike I use it on bridleways/roads and some times MTB trails, which tend to require higher pressures. Clogs if very muddy but is fast and grippy on most surfaces though on the fragile side. 

 

Fast enough to be within a few seconds on long road segments to myself on a road bike.