Review – Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution Mountain Bike Tires
Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron is the halfway point between their super aggressive Hans Dampf and the lower profile Racing Ralph. In otherwords, it’s a bit of a do-it-all tire, and I found it excelled in a broad range of conditions.
UPDATE: The 2013 version is slightly revised with a bit shallower tread blocks and V-shaped siping on the knobs. It keeps the Pacestar compound and 127tpi casing with an improved sidewall. Claimed weight on the 2013 29×2.25 is just 5g heavier, and there will be a 29×2.1 along with 26″ and 27.5″ sizes, plus a ‘cross model.
I’m embarrassed to admit I held off on installing these tires for far too long. Assuming the Syncros FLavor low profile tires I reviewed previously were lighter, I kept those on through much of the winter (we had a mild winter) before finally, begrudgingly pulling them off to mount the Schwalbes. Imagine my surprise when these full knob treads come in a whopping 130g lighter than the Syncros! Per tire!
Roll past the break for the full review…
My test tires were 29×2.25 and came in at 506g and 510g, both under the claimed 520g weight. Large volume, full knob and darn light…we’re off to a good start.
The Rocket Rons tested are Schwalbe’s Evolution (Evo) series, which is their top of the line series with grippy Pacestar compound and 127tpi casings. They’re tubeless ready, and they held air very well – better than most, actually. I used Orange Seal sealant mounted on Stan’s rims. It did take a small coating of sealant around the bead and some time sitting in the sun to get them to finally seal up (yes, with an air compressor). Since then, though, I’ve had no issues with them holding air. I weigh about 180, maybe 190 with gear and pack, and usually run about 27psi to 31psi in my tires.
My first real ride on them was at Angler’s Ridge in VA, an excellent trail network with a variety of dirt and rock surfaces, plus plenty of roots and stream crossings. The difference in traction was instantly evident. And unbelievable. Basically, I had to relearn my own limits, and it was a real pleasure to be able to drive hard and fast into a corner and have the tires maintain the desired line almost as if they were on rails.
At Angler’s Ridge and other trails, the tires gripped hard and fast on almost all manner of dirt, rocks and roots, wet or dry. Climbing rooty sections was no problem, I don’t recall the tires ever slipping out from under me, even when standing, as long as I kept the cadence in check.
The knobs are spaced widely enough to quickly shed mud, but maintain a consistent knob pattern from center to edge. I’m not a fan of tires that have a stripe of open space between the center knobs and the side knobs (Kenda’s Nevegal comes to mind). I prefer predictable and continuous traction as I lean my bike, and the Rocket Ron delivers exactly that.
About the only condition the Rocket Rons struggled with was very dry, very hard packed trail as shown above. They still gripped well in a straight line and were super fast thanks to their remarkably low weight. But, throw them into a corner or try to rail a flat (ie. non-bermed) turn at full speed and they started skipping loose a bit earlier than I would have liked. Truthfully, though, most tires I’ve tested have had a hard time with this particular type of surface, there’s just not much to grab onto, particularly when it’s really dry and has a fine layer of dirt dust on it.
Braking performance is predictable. They would lock into a skid a bit early on the really dry, hard stuff, but in a controllable manner.
The only other complaint could be the price. At about $85 retail per tire, they ain’t cheap. Actually, they’re pretty darn expensive. The upside is that they’ve held up well. They’re showing minimal wear, haven’t punctured or burped any air, and there are no scuffs on the sidewalls even after running through numerous rocky sections.
With performance that let me push my boundaries and a gram tally that satisfied my weight weenie tendencies, it’s hard not to love Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron tires. I’m gonna have a hard time pulling these off my bike.