The Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 has been a great summer tire. Fast and light, a perfect match for the 29’er and Wombat Forest trails. With wetter late Autumn/Winter weather setting in and my Rampage 2.35 from last Winter missing in action on my 29’er loaner uni, it was time to try a new tire. Kris Holm favors the WTB Stout 2.3 on his new wider Freeride 29’er rim and Unicycle NZ had one in stock, so why not give it a whirl!
Here’s what WTB have to say about the Stout:
The Stout thrives in adverse conditions. The staggered square blocks provide an efficient centerline while the wide-open spacing allows the tread to pierce the trail when carving turns or braking. The softer, looser and rougher the terrain, the better the Stout performs with its exceptional stability and easy-lean transitions. The well-supported blocks stay firm on hardpack and asphalt too, but this tire performs best on rugged All Mountain terrain.
Swapping from the Racing Ralph to the WTB Stout 2.3 29’er tire you immediately notice the additional weight – an extra +200 grams – and more aggressive, open tread pattern of the Stout. Initially it’s not a fun thing – the Stout feels heavy and slow to spin out on the trails compared to the Racing Ralph.
Physically the Stout 2.3 isn’t significantly narrower or wider than the Racing Ralph 2.4 – you’d need to measure it to determine the exact width difference i.e. not much! What is obvious though is how much larger and deeper the knobbies are on the Stout, giving the tire a far more aggressive appearance. The sidewalls of the Stout appear more robust than the Ralph too.
A few minutes into the ride and as is the great thing about unicycling your body and mind adjust to whatever you’re now riding and you can start to enjoy the Stout for what it is – a high grip off road tractor tire that complements the new 47mm rim very well, the overall feel encouraging you to ride the 29’er as if it were a smaller wheel. Get back on sealed road with the Stout though and yeah well… it’s not really made for sealed roads 🙂
After a couple of rides I’m enjoying the Stout. At this stage it’s not a revelation compared to the Racing Ralph 2.4 or PanaRacer Rampage 2.35 for that matter either, and if Summer started tomorrow I’d be reaching for the Racing Ralph – I’d take a hit with durability to drop the weight and gain speed. The Stout is what it is, a big tire built tough, and should turn out to be a good if not great tire for Winter MUni.