Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph re-established the semi-slick market and this MkII version is impressively fast, grippy and high tech. The price is a little prohibitive though.
The wider spaced, taller tread of the second-generation Ralph gives it a much more predictable hold on loose and loamy terrain, and proper shoulder knobs allow you to rail it pretty hard too.
The hard base triple compound ‘Evolution’ rubber keeps the knobs from squirming about and losing traction, although you’ll have to back off on the aggression slightly if you run one up front.
The speciically engineered superlight carcass rolls smoothly and fluidly over the trail, although you’ll need a lot of juice to seal them if you use Stan’s NoTubes or similar.
Tread life on the Ralph is short too and the superlight sidewalls can tear and cut up very quickly in rocky terrain, which makes the high price even more scary. Tougher ‘Snakeskin’ versions are available if you search for them, though.