We'll be featuring Continental a fair bit over the next few months with some feature length reviews as we’ve had some of their tyres on long term test. For now here is a preview of some of their newer tyres
Der Kaiser. This is one of the super soft compound downhill tyres that's been around for a little while now and is finally beginning to find its way onto the bikes of more and more riders. Aimed at the drier trails the Kaiser features stiff six-ply sidewalls and a constant band of edge knobs to hold you steady in the turns. Claimed weight is 1200g and they don't come in far off this at 1268g on our scales. We've been running these all season on trails throughout Europe and will be covering them in more detail soon, but it's safe to say that their increasing popularity is deserved. It's worth pointing out that these are the 'full fat, top of the tree' versions which are definitely pricey. But alongside this model Continental also had another line of tyres using a more traditional rubber compound to bring the cost more in line with the likes of Maxxis.
Der Baron. We've been racing on these too this season under the old name of Rain King and have been impressed. The change has come about for the simple reason that the new Mud King is waiting in the wings for a mid-winter release. And will be the true mud tyre, this being more suitable for damp and greasy, yet still relatively solid ground. Using a Black Chili compound these stick to wet roots and rocks like a leach. More on the rubber in a moment. Both the Der Kaiser and Der Baron are 2.5" tyres with new, lighter 2.3" width tyres are coming in at 850g (claimed) and should be good for all mountain use.
Black Chili. Like many other manufacturers, this is a name given to their best rubber. Usually these are considered to be race only, especially in downhill guise, thanks to their soft nature that means they can last just a few races. There are some exceptions, and it appears that Black Chili is one of them. Despite being possibly the softest of the lot which would ordinarily lead you to expect the greatest wear levels, the opposite appears to be true. On the Kaiser and Baron, the rubber is super soft and sticky, as well as being very slow to rebound when you twist it in your fingers. This means that it doesn't fight against the trail features, helping keep you tracking straight and true. It's also tough, and could be described as structurally solid rubber - it resists tearing well and it is this resistance to abrasion and tearing that seems to keep them lasting so much longer than expected. It's worth noting that Black Chili is more than one compound, instead being tailored to the intended use of the tyre, but with the same idea of balancing wear with maximum grip. We'll be sure to provide further information and findings in the full review. All Black Chili tyres are also sold as being handmade in the Korbach Continental factory in Germany.
The Rubber Queen. Not as soft as the downhill specific tyres, these are aimed at the long travel, all mountain and trail market and look as though they would be great in the soft winter conditions of the UK and other parts of the world. We've just opened a box of these, so expect a report on them to come this winter. Available in both 2.2" and 2.4" sizes, UST is an option as are several casings depending on the type of riding you're doing. Weight varies from 650g for the lightest 2.2" up to 1050g for some of the bigger 2.4" options.
This Mountain King features more blocks than the Rubber Queen and should be good on the harder packed trails as well as being faster rolling. Available in 2.4", the two casings of most interest are the UST option (880grams) and the one called Protection (650grams).
X-King. Pretty much as light as a hard and aggressive rider will want to go with a trail tyre in terms of tread (or lack of it). These are, like the Mountain King, a 2.4" tyre with a greater priority on rolling resistance. The large casing though should still ride the rocks and rough trails well - the ideal rear tyre for a trail center? Perhaps. A UK Expert and Continental team rider was really raving about how good this tyre is when paired with a Mountain King on the front for this sort of riding. Black Chili compound and protection casing should help prevent punctures and keep the grip up despite the minimalist design.