Described as delivering “road speed with cyclo cross grip”, the tire marries the semi-slick pattern of the Schwalbe X-One Speed cyclocross tire with a more substantial outer knob. It’s billed as Schwalbe’s fastest gravel tire yet, with 20% less rolling resistance than the already quick G-One R and 35g less weight as well.
Naturally, I was tempted. But the flint rocks of Kansas are notorious for slicing tires and the general rule of thumb at Unbound is that “flat protection trumps rolling resistance” and so I politely declined. I would test a set at a later time at home, where the stakes are a bit lower.
I didn’t regret my tire choice — the 42mm Specialized Pathfinder Pros got me to the finish without problems— but several months on, I’ve now grown to really like the Schwalbe G-One RS tire and am confident it would have served me just fine in Kansas back in June as well.
Schwalbe G-One RS: construction
The G-One RS is the sixth addition to Schwalbe’s gravel line, which dates back to G-One Allround launched in 2015 at a time when gravel racing was still a relatively new concept in mainstream cycling. We’ve since since the launch of the G-One Speed, a tire designed for specifically for Paris-Roubaix and later became a beach racing favorite; the G-One Bite, a wider, knobbed tire for rougher terrain; the G-One Ultrabite for muddy conditions; the G-One R claimed to have “mtb grip” and now, the G-One RS.
And while, the G-One R was successful with such notable accolades as powering Amity Rockwell to yet another podium at the 200-mile Unbound in 2021, there was a clear desire for more speed and perhaps also, a response from Schwalbe to the increasingly popular semi-slick approach seen in tires such as Specialized’s Pathfinder, Panaracer’s Gravelking SS, WTB’s Byway, Terravail’s Washburn and Challenge’s Gravel Grinder just to name a few.
The G-One RS is exactly that: a semi slick tire with a scale-like pattern in the center and zig-zagging herring-bone knobs on the shoulders.
The knobs are meant to give riders more braking and steering grip, while the slick center allows the tire to roll speedily. In fact, Schwalbe claims that the G-One RS rolls along 20% faster than the previous G-One R while offering the same grip as Schwalbe’s X-One-Speed cyclocross tire.
Part of Schwalbe’s Evo line, the G-One RS is constructed of the brand’s highest grade materials. The compounds included are Schwalbe’s supple Super Race Carcass, V-Guard puncture protection and Addix Race compound.
And this package doesn’t come cheap. Available globally since August, the G-One RS retails for $88 a pop. The tire is available in three widths: 35, 40 and 45mm with claimed weights of 410g, 445g and 505g respectively.
Schwalbe G-One RS: the ride
Interestingly, the RS’s came with a warning: “Adapting from your current gravel tire to the new Schwalbe G-ONE RS could take you some time…with two pronounced profile sections, transitioning from the semi-slick center tread to the grippy shoulder blocks will result in immediate feedback to the rider. Once you begin to corner with increased speed, you will become addicted to it.”
For me, that ‘feedback’ initially felt like a bit of slippage when cornering at speed but I never truly lost traction and adjusted to the handling quickly. The ‘addiction’ came almost immediately, although that was already there. I’ve always enjoyed going fast on the bike and really wasn’t a fan of some of the early, knobbed gravel tires that came onto the market. They all felt sluggage and dulled my riding experience. To counter this, I initially just rode Panaracer’s knob-free, fully slick Gravelkings even at the expense of losing traction. Luckily, gravel tires have come a long way these past years and there are a lot of really good semi-slicks on the market.
These RS tires would be competing against the Specialized Pathfinder, Panaracer SS and Challenge Gravel Grinder already in my quiver. And boy, did they deliver.
My review set of the G-One RS tires came in 700 x 40, and straight out of the box, the supple tires felt significantly lighter than the Pathfinders and on par with the Gravelking SS tires. The tubeless tire mounting process is among the easiest I have experienced yet. I haven’t even needed to use my large volume pump. A standard floor pump did the trick, regardless of whether I was mounting them on Enve, Specialized or HiFi rims.
Since mounting them, I have spent the majority of my summer riding on these tires and even took them with me on a trip to Finland, where the trail conditions were unknown to me yet I felt confident the RS tires wouldn’t let me down.
The sheer speed of them! When starting off on pavement, you’ll quickly notice just how un-noticeable they are. They’re quiet and aren’t slowing you down by trying to bite into the surface — you don’t need added traction here, after all. Then, when entering the gravel or dirt, they’re there to provide reliable grip around the bends, and traction on the up- and downhills.
I tend to ride my gravel bike on terrain well beyond your average finely crushed rock. And no matter what I threw at the RS’s —be it sharp lava rocks, rooty singletracks, cinder or rough urban streets — the tires handled the terrain capably. Even when put under pressure during a loaded bikepacking weekend, the tires held their own.
It’s only in truly sandy conditions when they struggle a bit. The shallow, short knobs and the total 40mm wide surface simply wasn’t enough to provide me with either the float or bite I needed to keep pace in the sand and was outridden by those on wider, beefier tires. I’d also reckon that with the wet months nearing, I’ll sadly be changing tires soon for a more mud-appropriate rubber like the G-One Ultrabite.
One more positive note is that a few months in, I have yet to experience a puncture and a quick examination of the tires reveals no obvious cuts or scrapes.
Schwalbe G-One RS: value and conclusion
In my time on the G-One RS tire, I feel confident to name it among the best race-ready, speedy all-rounder gravel tires on the market today.
Even if you’ll never line up to race it, you’ll enjoy the fast-rolling, supple quality paired with a reliable grip in most hard-packed or mixed-terrain conditions.
It’s lighter and faster than most of its nearest competitors while at the same time, it appears plenty durable and puncture-resistant. It’s the type of tire you can mount once and forget about for the entire season until the paths turn to mud and slop.
It is, however, a very costly tire. With a retail price of $88 USD, it’s a good $30 more expensive than the fast-rolling Specialized Pathfinder Pro and $28 more than the light and nimble Panaracer Gravelking SS. But if you’re going to be buying just one set of tires, do give these a look.