For mountain bikes, Schwalbe is bringing a ton of options for both sizes of bigger wheels for 2013. Their complete range will be available in 29er sizes, and 650B fans, new or old, will get to choose from Racing Ralph, Rocket Ron, Knobby Nic, Hans Dampf and Rapid Rob (all shown above). The only one missing is Furious Fred.
Schwalbe’s MTB lineup falls into three categories: Active, Performance and Evolution. The budget Active line gets a new KevlarGuard standard protection belt. The Performance line gets a new dual compound tread as standard feature and is designed for the average enthusiast rider. The Evolution line remains unchanged as their premium offering.
The Rocket Ron is a great all-around tire (we’re testing a set now), hooking up well in both wet and dry conditions. But there were a few complaints Schwalbe heard: It was hard to get the bead to seat, and wet root performance could be improved. The new Rocket Ron gets a 15% reduction in rolling resistance, stronger tread blocks with a new V-Groove and a new textured sidewall. The latter is said to make tubeless mounting super easy and reduces sealant bleeding through the sidewall by adding a bit more rubber to the outside. Click through for pics and more…
The new Rocket Ron, above and below, will be available in all three mountain bike tire sizes. The V-Groove feature is the three slits on each tread block. This has the seemingly disparate benefits of giving the tread blocks more surface area for better grip without degrading the strength of the block. The “V” refers to the shape of the slit.
The subtly textured sidewall also provides a bit more protection for the 127tip casing. The tread pattern is slightly revised, and block height was reduced a bit. Combined, they measured the 15% reduction in rolling resistance. Overall weight remains within 5g of the original. It’ll be available in a 26×1.85 (385g), 26×2.1 (435g), 26×2.25 (470g), 27.5×2.25 (TBD), 700×33 (295g cyclocross), 29×2.1 (TBD, new size) and 29×2.25 (525g).
All sizes and weights are for Evolution, some sizes also available in Active and Performance.
The new Hans Dampf Super Gravity is their “tough as a downhill tire, light as a freeride tire” entry designed for enduro racing. While a 1000g “light” tire may not tickle XC folks’ fancies, Schwalbe says that’s about 800g less than a full on DH tire with tube. For anyone that climbs before their shred session, it’s a good thing, and for actual DH bikes, that’s a 1,600g reduction in unsprung mass. The Hans Dampf gets all-around Snakeskin rubber-on-kevlar production on the folding, tubeless-ready carcass. It’ll be available with their Triple Star Compounds (Pace Star, Trail Star and Vert Star).
At left, the Hans Dampf Super Gravity tread pattern. Red is their standard casing material, yellow is the Snakeskin sidewall. What’s new is that it runs on the sidewall, around the bead and all the way around to the other side. This helps prevent punctures and cuts. The blue is flexible rubber insert that helps stiffen the sidewall, much like a DH tire. Essentially, it’s a dual ply sidewall with a single ply tread body, all sandwiched together for a very tough tire. While things like Megavalanche and enduros aren’t huge in the US, many Europeans racing them tend to run DH tires to deal with the jagged rocks and punishing terrain. This tire is designed to provide the protection and durability for such things without a punitive weight.
Cosmetically, all of their tires get a slightly new font in a slightly darker gray so it won’t stand out quite so much. They’ll also better feature labeling on the sidewall to clearly, quickly illustrate the benefits and nice, graphical boxes.
For the 650B stuff, here’s the sizes that’ll be on offer at launch:
- Hans Dampf – 27.5 x 2.35 (regular and Super Gravity) (TBD g)
- Knobby Nic – 27.5 x 2.35 (TBD g)
- Racing Ralph – 27.5 x 2.25 (530g)
- Rocket Ron – 27.5 x 2.25 (TBD g)
- Rapid Rob – 27.5 x 2.25 (TBD g)
2013 SCHWALBE ROAD TIRES
On the pavement, the Ultremo ZX gets a tubeless option. Schwalbe says developing tubeless road tires is far tougher than for the dirt because of the higher air pressures. Their goals, beyond making them safe, included being able to seal and seat them using only a floor pump, make them mount easy and keep the weight in check. With the Ultremo ZX Tubeless, they claim to have created a very durable, safe tire with extremely low rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is decreased because there’s no longer friction between tube and tire during deformation. Schwalbe says the tubeless tire’s rolling resistance is the lowest of any tire they’ve ever made, including their ultralight Ultremo ZLX and tubulars.
The safety part comes from a) the tire staying on the rim, pretty important, but also b) not allowing sudden air loss. Particularly on the front, a blown tube can drop psi quickly enough to cause a loss of control. Like on a mountain bike tire, the use of a little sealant will slow air’s escape, letting you roll to a stop under control. It also eliminates any chance of a snake bite puncture, and (again, like mountain bike tubeless) reduces the likelihood of cut and puncture flats when used with sealant.
Perhaps most significantly, these road tubeless tires are designed with racing in mind. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek’s Cancellara has been racing it in several prologues. The Ultremo ZX Tubeless is a true tubeless tire, meaning you don’t need sealant because it has a full butyl liner. It’s still recommended, but not necessary. This is in contrast to “tubeless ready” which doesn’t have the butyl liner and requires sealant.
Part of making it race ready is the weight. Their goal was sub-300g, and claimed weight is 295g for the 700×23. Other sizes may be added in the future depending on demand, and tubeless may make its way to some of their other tires, too.
If you’re not quite sold on Road Tubeless yet, the Ultremo ZX gets a new with V-Guard. The “V” stands for both Velocity and Vectran. The Vectran is a 2-layer puncture resistant belt and replaces the woven aramid fabric. They claim it improves cut resistance by 35% and reduces rolling resistance a whopping 25%.
If you’re more concerned with aesthetics than performance, there’s also a new white Ultremo road tire. Even Schwalbe admits their black/black compound combo is the grippiest and most durable, but daaaang do these look tight. If white’s not your thing, they still offer their full rainbow of colors.
OTHER COOL STUFF
Schwalbe’s been making bike tires since 1973, and that’s all they make. Unlike Kenda, Maxxis, etc., they don’t make tires for cars, ATV’s or anything else. Just bikes. They own their own factory in Jakarta and make all of their tubulars in house. The location puts their factory in close proximity to the rubber plantations, which reduces shipping (fuel, pollution, etc. – yay!).
They sent along a full presentation on their handmade tubulars, here’s some pics:
Threads are spooled on the silver drum into a sheet, then latex is poured on and smoothed to create the base carcass.
Two sheets of carcass are connected.
The tread is laid upside down/inside out on a form (light gray), a puncture protection belt is glued into the center of it (black with red laser guide) then the carcass is glued onto it.
An extruded latex tube inside the tire gives them an even sidewall thickness and better air retention. They use a removable valve core to let you use their Doc Blue or any other sealant to help prevent flats. Every tube is filled and tested for 24 hours before being sewn into the tubular
The edges are folded and sewn over each other, then the tube is inserted under a fabric cover.
The carcass is sewn shut around the tube, then the base tape (center) is glued over the seam. Voila, a tubular tire.
Each tire is mounted, inflated and checked for “run out” to test for any bulges and make sure it’s round.