Schwalbe Racing Ralph slicks…

I have used Schwalbe Kojaks on my 26″ “road” bikes for quite a while now and they are great all-round tyres but their rather basic stiff casing limits their performance both in terms of speed and comfort. It’s the same story with almost all high volume 26″ slicks. So I’ve decided to get some top end MTB tyres and shave them!IMG_3659

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Racing Ralphs 2.10 seemed to be the best candidates with their very low rolling resistance but better durability and puncture protection than Furious Freds and Rocket Rons.

Most of people automatically assume that mountain bike tyres are “slow and heavy” but it’s as wrong as assuming that all road tyres are lightweight and fast. It’s the design of the casing not the label that makes a tyre (potentially) fast or slow.
In case of Racing Ralphs once you remove the tread you end up with a thin and flexible 120TPI slick tyre with no puncture protection (lower rolling resistance) that weighs just 400g for a 2.10″ (54mm) version. No other slick on the market offers that. 

My Shaven Ralphs are run tubeless on Stans Flow rims (54mm actual width) at around 20PSI front and 30PSI rear (using the 15% tyre drop method as a starting point http://www.biketinker.com/tire-pressure-calculator, http://www.bikequarterly.com/images/TireDrop.pdf) It may seem low but any more than that only reduces comfort and doesn’t make the bike any faster.

shaven Racing Ralph

shaven Racing Ralph

So how fast can you go on these?

On 1.00-2.30h long routes I consistently clock 18.5-20.0mph on some broken country roads. That’s riding mostly on drops, mostly flat, often with a commuting backpack, baggies and just 1.5″ handlebar drop. I realise that average speeds usually don’t mean a lot but I believe that in this case can demonstrate the potential of the tyres and change some misconceptions about rolling resistance.

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26″ drop bar road bike / commuter / gravel grinder

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26″ drop bar road bike / commuter / gravel grinder

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8 thoughts on “Schwalbe Racing Ralph slicks…

  1. Even before “shaving” they were only about 450g (2.10″ tubeless ready version).
    Supermotos are slightly wider and have thicker 60TPI casing/”tread” hence more weight.

    Furious Freds 2.00″ would be even lighter at 300g… 🙂

  2. Hi.
    This is great!
    I have been looking around for a cheap pair of SuperMoto tyres but couldn’tjustify to spent that much money for an experiment on agravel/touring bike.
    But there are lots of Racing Ralphs on ssecond hand market.
    Would you share your technique for “shaving” tyres?

    • “Shaving” is fairly simple and less scary than it sounds. Simply inflate your tyre(s) to 40-60PSI, grab some medium sized side cutters and cut the knobs off as close as possible to the casing while pressing reasonably firmly against it. Riding will do the rest.
      Other tyres worth considering for road/gravel are Furious Freds (soon to be replaced with Thunder Burts) or 220TPI/295g! Geax AKA Pluma 26×1.80 but many other high end XC tyres could make great candidates, too.
      Good luck 🙂

  3. having read your article, i decided to do the same to an old schwalbe fat albert i had laying around. on that particular tyre in size 26×2.40″ cutting of the knobs saves 184g.

    sanding down the tyre might s(h)ave a few extra gramms. i did that by hand with an angle grinder.

    i uploaded a before / after photo at:

    best regards
    sebastian

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