Review – Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution Mountain Bike Tires

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution 29er mountain bike tire review

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…

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution 29er mountain bike tire 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.

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution 29er mountain bike tire review

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.

Comments

Bob - 08/14/12 - 2:30pm

“The only other complaint could be the price. At about $85 retail per tire, they ain’t cheap. Actually, they’re pretty darn expensive.”

Tires are getting like gas, they are all going up and staying there like it or not. Another year or two and $85 may not seem so bad. My days of keeping two sets around are over. I also wear them a bit longer than I used to but nowhere as far as some people.

Kerry - 08/14/12 - 2:30pm

These tires are a great setup for the XC racing out here on the West Coast. Pair this with a 2.1 Racing Ralph in the back and you have a fast light setup. The new casing is such an improvement in regards to tubeless readiness.

bc - 08/14/12 - 2:45pm

thought these were old news? 2013s look different. didn’t find they turned well either. rubber too soft. only last me a few months.

Justin Walsh - 08/14/12 - 2:53pm

I just did a 24hr race on these in conditions that varied from packed, dry-ish fire roads to deep mud and wet slick rocks and roots. They performed exceptionally and instilled confidence. They shed mud very quickly and rolled very fast. I ran them tubeless around 23psi and they were perfect for my 165lbs on a hardtail.

paulbalegend - 08/14/12 - 4:08pm

These look like an Ignitor-killer! The tread achieves the same goal, but they solve the problem of low volume. (Yes, Ingitor comes in 2.35, but this is too big and heavy for XC racing.) Cool!

Dave - 08/14/12 - 4:31pm

What kind of mileage are you seeing with these? I’m on my first set of Schwalbes (Hans Dampf 2.35 front, Nobby Nic 2.25 rear). I’m in love with the seemingly endless grip, but they wear down alarmingly fast. Every time the rear skids, I imagine dimes and quarters flying off of the tread. I guess it’s a good reminder not to tear up the trails.

burt - 08/14/12 - 5:00pm

$85?!?! Another uber expensive tire from Scwalbe. What, are these things made out of Unicorn horns?

Anders - 08/14/12 - 5:01pm

IMO it’s Best suites as a front tire combined with either a Racing Ralph or a Furious Fred depending on the conditions. Knobby Nick last muciner longer if you really need large knobs.

The 2013 version adress the wear issue as the knobs are spaced closer.

Ben - 08/14/12 - 7:14pm

I thought the Nobby Nic was supposed to be between the Hans Dampf and the Racing Ralph?? I’m so confused…

dave - 08/14/12 - 7:15pm

bike-discount.de has these for $40 per tire.

shipping to the US is a flat $25 per order.

dave - 08/14/12 - 7:23pm

By the way you can blame Schwalbe USA for the high prices.

they are much cheaper in Europe. Conti does this too, I guess Americans are willing to pay more.

Sam - 08/14/12 - 8:10pm

I’m happy with my Racing Ralphs. Bought a new set of the 2011 version for ~$30 with shipping.

devilish_dwarf - 08/15/12 - 4:21am

@dave: i can also recommend bike-discount.de webstore. i use it for years..

Detlef - 08/15/12 - 7:02am

Schwalbe tires with their trible nano whatever compound have a problem with wear. The very good rubber, which gives you grip is only on the surface. Riding 200 km* and you lost most of the good stuff and the grip in wet conditions is gone. Plus the Rocket Ron is claimed as “Race only tire with limited lifetime” and well, the limit is (depending on ground and riding Style) very strict. No Problem to loose some knobs after 100km marathonrace :(

*sorry my brain is metric ;)

Ahlecks - 12/08/14 - 10:53pm

ok! I would like to buy a pair of Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29er 2.1 & would like to experience the kind of Schwalbe Tires, i will start with this Rocket Ron & if I’m satisfied on this, I will push to buy Schwalbe Nobby Nic for me. thanks for the info, negative and positive sides. More power to all Mountain Bikers.!

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