26 January 2012 - 7:34Speaking of Tires
I have recently received a whole bunch of new rubber from our friends over at Schwalbe. They seem to be the only European tire company that can deliver a tire these days. The bad news, is that they can be quite pricey. The good news is, they make one heck of a tire. For my money, if I were buying my own tires (as a consumer) I would not bat an eye at the price on them. They are really really good tires.
Having undergone a rubber compound update early 2011, the once “so so” tires gained superstar status, at least as far as our local Waterbury crew is concerned. I’m sure the sentiment is echoed throughout the entire cycling community as well. The tread patterns have always been pretty dialed, but since riders are more commonly accepting the tubeless concept, ghetto or otherwise, the rubber compound can either make or break the tire. Schwalbe is a company that gives me the impression that they are paying attention to the needs of the market.
I’ll give you a snapshot of what I’m talking about (29er tires only):
- Their first real MTN 29er tire in 2008(esque) is the Albert, a narrow but blocky tire, kinda heavy but durable. Hardish rubber.
- Racing Ralph, 2 sizes, big and bigger. Light, but also flimsy sidewalls left them prone to tearing.
- Snakeskin casing introduced to combat delicate sidewalls on the smaller Ralphs. Rubber is still kind of hard.
- Furious Fred makes an appearance. Pissing war for lightest 29er tire in full effect. Sadly, the tire is both fragile and completely impractical for most applications.
- Rocket Ron and Nobby Nic appear. Grr baby, very grr.
- Schwalbe runs out of tires late 2010, revamps rubber compound to triple durometer, AND classifies tires as “tubleless ready” which basically means approved for use with sealant.
- New tires show up, Ralphs in Snakeskin, the 2.4s, but the best selling 2.25s are nowhere to be found.
- Rons follow next.
- Nics available in 2.25 and 2.35. Can be run at redonkulously low pressures (16psi).
- Ice Spiker Pro comes out late 2011, 850g studded, tubeless ready, and high volume tires. Yes please.
- Finally my best selling tire to date, the 2.25 Racing Ralph shows up with a modified tread pattern and new Pace Star rubber, and tubeless ready of course.
In the dead of winter, I can only imagine what the Dampf rides like, but having spent some quality time over the years on their offerings, I can safely say this might be my go to tire on my fun bikes. The new Nic was a sure favorite of mine. I’ve run every single one of these tires tubeless with Stan’s with no problems, except that some of the lighter Rons and Ralphs require a bit more sealant than their bigger brothers.
You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop a tubeless ready 1200g fat bike tire on us at Interbike this year… just saying…