Thursday, December 20, 2007

29er Racing Ralph observations

While at Santa's Village in Bracebridge this summer (Porcupine Ridge trailhead is in their parking lot BTW) Riley asked Santa for MTB racing tires and videos.

Unfortunately there are very few fat & light 24" offerings. Thankfully, Schwalbe does make their awesome Racing Ralph in a 2.4 24" tire. So on behalf of Santa I ordered a set. Somehow I accidentally added a pair of their 2.4 29er offerings as well.

As per the online reviews, these tires are indeed quite light for their size. I recorded 617 and 670 gr which is not bad considering how thick the sidewalls felt. I was a little surprised by the variance in weight though. Still, beggars can't be choosers as there were only like 100 examples of this tire shipped to USA and I got WebCyclery's last pair. Riley's tires were in the 525 gr range which will be a huge improvement to his current 850gr DH tires.

Once I mounted my tires, they stretched to 57mm casing which is a good 2-3 mm wider than the Geax Saguaro. Stan's whole marketing spiel about their shorter rim sidewall (quite visible BTW) which allows for a larger tire volume is in fact true. The Schwalbes mounted on my Velocity Blunts were 56mm, yet on the 1mm narrower Stan's Flow rims the tire casing was 1mm wider. The Stan's rims also get a real loud popping noise as the tire's bead is forced into their unique 'hook'. Even after deflating the tires to 0 psi I still had to explicitly pop the bead off the rim - pretty cool!

So I did a ride Tuesday night with the new tires and wheelset. At 25psi the tires were still quite firm so I deflated to about 22 psi. On the road, these tires quickly proved to me that they really do like to roll. Float and control was excellent on the loose stuff. Grip was exceptional as well, no doubt due to Schwalbe's 'Triple Compound' setup (think Kenda stick-e). There's a reason why these tires MSRP for $65 USD...

Despite the Ralph's volume, there was lots of clearance on the Niner EMD frame. Niner frames are pretty amazing. There's a LOT of flare in those seat and chain stays. I'm even able to comfortably run roadie cranks which makes for a nice narrow Q-factor.

Even Strider was impressed with the EMD's capabilities.

I'll be able to give this setup a good rip end of January when I spend a few days in Austin Texas. I might even do a naked review from Texas... For now I'll stick to snowy roads.

BTW, despite not riding or spinning for over a full month, my legs felt great during the ride, and most importantly, the next day. I credit snowshoeing for keeping the proper muscles in shape.

1 comment:

the original big ring said...

atta boy - bring on the nakedness!