Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.4" Tires Review

Mar 7, 2011
by Mike Levy  
Schwalbe's high volume 2.4" wide Rocket Ron claims to offer traction in spades while still weighing in lighter than many smaller tires, but does it live up to its name? Inside you can read up on how the 'Ron performed.


Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.4"



What is it: German tire manufacturer Schwalbe has a massive range of tires that span the gamut of uses, but their Rocket Ron is a very specific kind of tire. While the majority of rubber options are designed to strike a balance between traction, weight, and longevity, the Rocket Ron certainly puts more focus on the first two points. In fact, Schwalbe goes so far as to say that the 'Ron is an "Out and out competition tire! Puncture protection and durability are limited." in their own writeup. Kudos to them for being straight up about the tire's intentions; there are far too many rubber options out there that are being billed as the be all and end all of tires when it's a fact that everything truly is a compromise - it is just a matter of what you are willing to give up in order to gain performance in other aspects. The Rocket Ron is available in a number of different widths, casing options, and rubber compounds, but I tested their high volume 2.4" wide version which is intended for aggressive cross-country or all-mountain riding. Weight for the Rocket Ron is a relatively low (given its size) 530 grams, a favorable figure when compared to equivalent options, and well over 250 grams (that's over half a pound) lighter per tire than some of its competition - a folding Maxxis Ardent has a claimed weight of 815 grams in its 2.4" width, and Kenda's 2.35" wide folding Excavator comes in at a claimed 735 grams. While it may weigh less, there is no denying that the 'Ron's casing is also much thinner than the two tires mentioned above. So the Rocket Ron is lighter than most and bigger than some, but how does it perform? And will its high volume and thin casing have any detrimental effects?

<span style='font-size:18px'>Schwalbe's 2.4 inch wide Rocket Ron is designed to be a high volume cross-country and trail bike tire that is still light enough to be ridden on all day epics</span><br><br><span style='font-size:17px'>Rocket Ron 2.4 details:</span><br><br>- True 2.4 inch wide tire<br>- Open tread design<br>- PaceStar Triple compound<br>- 127 TPI<br>- Tubeless ready<br>- 530 grams<br>- MSRP $69.96 USD
Schwalbe's 2.4 inch wide Rocket Ron is designed to be a high volume cross-country and trail bike tire that is still light enough to be ridden on all day epics

Rocket Ron 2.4 details:

- True 2.4 inch wide tire
- Open tread design
- PaceStar Triple compound
- 127 TPI
- Tubeless ready
- 530 grams
- MSRP $69.96 USD

The details: As with most tires, the Rocket Ron uses a number of different names and acronyms to describe the technology used on it. Probably the most important of the bunch would be its PaceStar Triple Compound rubber layup. This refers to what durometer (the rubber's hardness) is used in which places on the tire. In this case it is a fast rolling base rubber that provides support, followed by low friction compound used in the center tread in the name of speed, and finished off with a softer compound used on the tire's shoulders. As you likely guessed, the goal is to provide a fast rolling tire that supplies good grip and predictable cornering habits. The EVO lettering on the tire's sidewall designates that the Rocket Ron uses the highest grade materials in Schwalbe's lineup, including a light and pliable 127 TPI (threads per inch that make up the shape) casing, while most of its competition sits at 60 TPI. It is generally agreed upon that the higher the TPI, the less rolling resistance and more pliable a tire will be at the expense of casing strength when it comes to damage from trail debris. The 2.4" wide Rocket Ron is also billed as being "TL Ready", which refers to the tire's bead that has been shaped to fit better into tubeless ready rims. This should not only make tubeless conversions a bit easier, but also safer at low pressures.

The Rocket Ron features a very open tread pattern that looks like it would work very well at clearing mud, and in fact it is advertised as having "exceptional self-cleaning properties". Knob height is similar to other tires, but each one has a smaller footprint than what a lot of other options use. This, combined with the impressively soft rubber compound, makes for knobs that are very flexible when felt with your fingers. It is quite common for tire manufacturers to overstate a tire compound's durometer to the soft side of the scale, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the Rocket Ron - soft means soft! Each knob also has both a curved, scooping edge to their sides, as well as an impression in the center to add further climbing, braking, and cornering edges. Each dedicated corning knob also features a lengthwise sipe (a thin slit in the knob) that allows it to flex and conform to the ground better.

<span style='font-size:18px'>The tire's open tread pattern lets it excel in soft and loose conditions, while the high volume casing makes for a forgiving ride
The tire's open tread pattern lets it excel in soft and loose conditions, while the high volume casing makes for a forgiving ride

Performance: I tested the Rocket Ron on Specialized's 2011 Stumperjumper EVO, a 145mm travel trail bike that is a great match for the tire's intentions. Conditions ranged from Southern Utah's rock and sand, to B.C.'s mud and loam. The 2.4" wide Rocket Ron installs easily without much fuss and required pumping to about 50 psi before it managed to fully seat itself correctly on the rim, not uncommon for a lot of tires. Once seated, I chose a cautious 35 psi to begin with, both letting out and adding air as my confidence in them improved in order to see what works best in what conditions. After much experimentation I settled on between 28 and 30 psi, a pressure range that performed well without feeling too vague when pushed hard in corners.

In its wide 2.4" size, the Rocket Ron offers an incredible amount of forgiveness over rough terrain, even when compared to its closely sized 2.35" wide competitors. Enough so that the tire made a noticeable difference when it came to crossing over washboard sections of trail - the bike didn't chatter or, for lack of a better word, shimmy, when passing over high frequency bumps. The correct air pressure would also play a large part in this trait, but having ridden the same sections of trail on more familiar rubber at the same psi, I am convinced of the 'Ron's advantage in this regard. Just like its tread pattern would have you believe, the Rocket Ron excels in soft conditions. Not only does the tire clear mud and loam as well as a true mud option would, it also handles predictably in soft and dry conditions that can trouble even the best tire designs. Climbing was spot on, especially when the pressure was in the mid to high twenties, and it really felt as if I had to pay less attention to weight placement when it came to tricky sections of trail. To put it in simple terms, the 'Ron nearly refused to spin out unless I was doing something terribly wrong. Descending was also a joy in the majority of conditions; excluding hard packed trail, the tires were predictable and controlled, although they tended to let go all at once as opposed to that gentle slide that many riders prefer. I would compare them to Maxxis' Minion in this regard - they stay glued well past the point where others may have lost it, but when they do go, they go all at once. I suffered a number of flats while using the Rocket Ron, with the most being from thorns. A thicker casing may have prevented one or two, but I can't be positive. I was also reminded that no matter how large a tire you are using, a pinch flat can catch up with you at any time, on a few occasions. Again, a thicker casing could have possibly helped, but you'll have to think long and hard if you feel that the 250+ gram weight savings over other more flat resistant options is worth it to you.

<span style='font-size:18px'>The Rocket Ron's soft compound and flexible knobs do not perform well on hard packed trail surfaces, but stick like Velcro in soft dirt
The Rocket Ron's soft compound and flexible knobs do not perform well on hard packed trail surfaces, but stick like Velcro in soft dirt

Where doesn't the Rocket Ron work well? Basically, anywhere where the ground is hard. Hard and fast rolling trails not only highlighted the tire's slow rolling, but also its very pliable knobs, the very same that had me raving about its soft conditions performance. Straight line speed is hindered by the widely spaced lugs, it felt as if I could feel each and every one as the tire rotated, and no amount of air pressure changes could relieve that sensation. Cornering on hard pack did not inspire confidence for the very same reason - the knobs are just too flexible and don't have enough support in these instances. These are not the tires for Moab or any other rock strew trails, Schwalbe's Furious Fred or Racing Ralph tires would be a better bet on those surfaces. As admitted by Schwalbe, wear rate on the Rocket Ron is high. There was noticeable deterioration after just a full week of riding hard packed and dry surfaces, although this would slow down considerably on trails with more dirt than rock. The 2.4" Rocket Ron is not an inexpensive tire, something to keep in mind in relation to where you'd be using it and how fast it is likely to wear.

Check out the Schwalbe website to see their entire range of tires.


As with any tire, the Rocket Ron excels in certain places and falls behind in others. I wouldn't hesitate to make the 'Ron my go-to tire for the Pacific Northwest, but I can think of better performing options if I was calling Moab or Phoenix home. Its forgiving nature and light weight make it a smart choice for those on short travel bikes who are looking to add a little more forgiveness to their ride. Have you had time on the 2.4" Rocket Ron? Let's hear your thoughts below!


32 Comments

  • + 17
 Full points for the review - thorough, detailed, easy to read and most importantly, honest!
  • + 3
 yes!! really awesome to see this, thanks so much for giving your honest opinions that are purely based on a large amount of experience! not to mention well written; props!
  • + 10
 500 grams is pretty friggin' light weight for an XC race tire, let alone a 2.4 trail tire
  • + 1
 I think they would work great for a all mountin type bike like my Norco manik I will be looking for a set of them this season light strong and fast just what I need
  • + 1
 I am thinking about them for my gloopy trails
  • + 1
 I gave these tires a chance the begining of last season and they were perhaps the worst tire i've ever ridden. I knew that these tires probably wouldn't last since i was riding some rough dh and they were so light, but i gave them a try and litteraly ripped the side wall on both front and rear my first run of the day.
  • + 4
 In reply:
1: I would definately carry a tube - or even have someone waiting with another wheelset to switch across in the event of a puncture but the point is that if its a pure bread race tyre, then it has to have reasonable puncture protection, because a puncture will ruin your competitive chances.

2: I wouldn't say that you have to worry about punctures with all light tyres. Even amongst sub 600g, smal profile tyres there are massive differences in my experience and its not always a trade off between grip/weight/ and puncture protection. Some tyres are just better.
  • + 2
 the sidewall looks paper thin, you can see the threads through it, i'd say you better get your PSI's spot on or risk pinch flatting on evrything
  • + 2
 I take issue with the notion that an all out xc tyre can sacrifice puncture protection. There simply is not point training 60 miles a week, doing reps of hills, eating right, sleeping right and generally avoiding excess if when it comes down to it you get a flat in the first technical section, have to walk back to the start, get in your car and drive a hundred miles back home with nothing to show for it. Low weight and puncture protection can go hand in hand.
  • + 3
 I'd tend to agree with you, but you are being a bit melodramatic here. You could allways carry a spare tube and a pump, rather than giving up and going home.
  • + 2
 totaly agree, and that also sucks for amateurs. I'm very fortunate to have local XC trails that are simply fun. Difficult challenging and fun... fun fun fun! When I get a puncture, the last thing i think about is the weight scale. Then when I ride superlight tyres I hate this feeling in the back of my head - I better slowdown in that rockgarden because I might get a puncture with these beauties. You can't improve your skills with that feeling on board. And with such tyres you puncture often, and when you puncture often, then you have it in your brain. Too light stuff is bad for all of us
  • + 1
 I have Rocket Ron EVO 2.1 for rear & Nobby Nick EVO 2.35 for front use on my Blur LT. Size is quite bigger compared to Maxxis.They perform amazingly in the majority of conditions and despite being 2.1 the rear tyre holds well in rocky downhill tracks & offers lots of traction. Get a set of these Schwalbes & you will be drifting "in control" all around the place.
  • + 1
 They are bigger because all Maxxis tires are smaller than the stated size so when u compare maxxis next to other brands they are lighter, I would still prefer Maxxis anyday though
  • + 1
 I have been riding on a set since October. I find they offer great traction in our wet and muddy conditions. They have been the best that I have found, on slippery tree roots and only one flat! They are incredibly thin so you need to keep the air pressure up.
  • + 1
 I lived in California for 6 years and not once got a flat tire, back east I use to get a flat tire almost every ride because the trails are so rocky compared to out west here. So people don't shoot the tire down, just because it wouldn't work for you rock garden trails. I doubt I will be replacing my Maxxis and Conti's though.
  • + 1
 I really like the simplicity of the tread design, reminds me of Dunlop dirt bike tires. There are too many weird tread designs that don't work very well.
  • + 1
 also check the Spesh hill billy tire, very simple, great in loose conditions, but it's only offered in a DH compound...
  • + 1
 amazing tyres! running tubes with them, 23 psi front and 20 psi rear no problems at all. im going to try and lower the pressure a bit more as im sure i can get away with it. i weigh around 83 kilo and my bike weighs around 10 kilo (top end of 9k) with these tyres on.

dont agree with the original poster of 28psi? would like to know what weight bike are you using? and your weight please? and how high are you doing drop offs? jumps etc..?

im using a titanium hard tail with xrc 100 front forks at 160psi fully damped out and i can drop 3-4 feet easily without any rim pinching. no pinch flats at all whilst running these tyres.

excellent tyre for xc / trail / race etc.. gives confidence cornering and down hills, braking and traction is amazing.
  • + 1
 I'm curious, were you running Stan's or some other sealant when you suffered the punctures? I know sometimes very thin-walled tires won't seal properly because there just isn't enough rubber...
  • + 0
 it looks like a good tread for dirt and packed trails, but i will never buy schwalbe tires again, the rubber is just too thin and weak. i went through 4 different types of schwalbes in a matter of months because i was ripping huge holes in the tread, the knobs even tore off because its so rocky where i live.
  • + 5
 Tyres are a lot about LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.

Any tyre above 2,1" below 600g is going to have toilet paper thin sidewalls. First of all they simply cannot be used in terrain full of rocks with sharp edges what is natural for dry areas. it is easy to cut them on rocks and tear holes in them. Then using them in bumpy terrain brings a high risk of puncture, especially with lightweight tubes. Lastly for the compound, in general soft ones are simply wearing out very quickly in dry. It is also easy to tear the soft knobs off such sidewall because it is usually too thin to provide enough support.

Have in mind such lightweight trade offs, the fact you have super light tyres doesn't mean you are going to have better fun and be more effective. It is not necessarily the way to go. Furthermore XC/trail riding you are rolling at lower speeds, all you gain on acceleration with such lighties you might be loosing on every obstacle you approach with unweighed wheel.

So to sum up: such tyres like Schwalbies Evo and Continentals SS are not for everyone, they are actualy for very few Those who live in gloopy areas with smoother trails, or for those who are good enough to be able to use these advantages in technical terrain.
  • + 1
 Good summary,

Also,
I have RRon\ 2.4 on 2 of my trail/xc bikes and love them, no major annoyances with them and unmatched lightness for their width and sidewall height which is nice and tall.
I can't see why a downhiller would spend 130 plus dollars on a set of these when you have gravity on your side and would be ok with a heavy assed 2300 gram pair of minions or something like those.
  • + 1
 POS. Flatted ON THE FIRST RIDE OUT. I LOVE MAXXIS!!
  • + 4
 You had a flat??!! Well, they must really suck :/ I've flatted every tire that I've ever used. I wouldn't hold flatting on the first ride against them, but if there are repeated flats that is another story.
  • + 1
 could that be used for dh? or in the dirt?
  • + 2
 i wouldn't, they seem a bit lightweight to handle the invariable sidewall scuffs and abrasions. it all depends on the track though....
  • + 2
 i agree. these tires would get shredded in a couple of runs but if the trail isn't rocky or rooty, i think this tire could work. but with knobs spaced farther than most DH tires, grip could be a problem this time. but that's just my own opinion. i do have schwalbe's racing ralphs on my XC bike and its the best XC tire i've used to date. good enough for racing coz its light and the knobs are sufficient and spaced fairly close to each other so its good enough for almost everything.
  • + 3
 For DH i have been using the muddy mary 2.5 tires. the front is the lightweight one, the rear with the dh sidewall whatever.
I weigh 93kgs, and never had any problems with any of them.In the very beginning of Schwalbe, they had some really shitty tires (Black Shark), but nowadays they are surely among the best 3 tire manufacturers...
  • + 2
 thanks for the advice averybody
  • + 1
 looks like an intense tire
  • + 1
 or maxxis swampthing

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.037687
Mobile Version of Website