Some riders will go to great lengths to
shed a few ounces here and there on
their bikes but neglect to take a second
look at their tire selection. Wheels and
tires make up about 30 percent of your
bike’s weight, and that weight is further
exaggerated because it is rolling mass.
As the name would imply, Schwalbe’s
new $91.65 Rocket Ron tires are
designed not only to reduce weight, but
to turn your steed into a rocket ship.
The Rocket Ron is all
new for 2013. Schwalbe claims that the
new version rolls 15 percent better and
has a revised tread pattern that grips
better as well. As part of Schwalbe’s Evolution line, Rocket Rons are constructed from top-of-the-line materials
including Schwalbe’s triple-compound
PaceStar blend, which is aimed at riders
looking for low rolling resistance without sacrificing cornering ability. Our
test pair of Rocket Rons were 29x2.25-inchers, but the tire is also available in
26- and 27-inch options in a variety of
widths. Our Rocket Rons weighed 1
pound, 2 ounces per tire (the company’s
exact claimed weight). Remember, this a
29er tire. That’s light.
Field test results:
The Rocket Ron’s
sibling, the Racing Ralph, is one of our
favorite cross-country racing tires for
Southern California; the Rocket Rons
come in a hair lighter. Where is the weight shaved? The sidewalls feel
The tread pattern features more
widely spaced knobs than the Racing
Ralph, though the knob height is similarly shallow. This wider spacing made
the tires feel super fast on the road to
the trailhead or on smooth fire roads.
The low weight and low rolling resistance make this an incredibly fast tire
on the trail.
The widely spaced knobs and mid-volume casing work well in a variety
of conditions. In loose and wet conditions, the knobs bite into the trail
while the open spaces between the
knobs fling mud, not allowing the
stuff to pack into the tread (and add
In bone-dry conditions, the Rons
grip well but have their limits. They
don’t instill the confidence of a meatier tire on loose terrain or while cornering. However, if you want a tire
this light, you have to compromise
somewhere. The good news is that the
transition from centerline to side
knob is a smooth, predictable transition, and the breaking point of traction doesn’t sneak up on you.
We had no reliability issues despite
hours of testing, but Schwalbe doesn’t
recommend this tire for riders looking
for durability. The Nobby Nic or the
impressive Hans Dampf are longer-lasting and more durable tires, but they don’t offer the ridiculously low
weight of the Rocket Rons.
So, who should be riding the
Rocket Rons? Cross-country racers
who sweat every gram will take to the
Rocket Rons—even if their price per
pound is $81.47. Trail riders who
stick to trails free of goat-head thorns
and sidewall-slicing rocks and who
are not afraid to drop some serious
change on their tires will be treated to
a performance boost that is amplified
on a 29er wheel.
This review originally appeared in the April '13 issue of Mountain Bike Action. Want to see more? Subscribe to Mountain Bike Action here.