Continental Talks Tires - Interbike 2017

Sep 19, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  
Interbike 2017 Continental
Continental has recently adjusted its tire profiles to adapt to wider rims, with 30-millimeters as the benchmark for trail and all-mountain.

Brett Hahn knows his stuff when it comes to tires and tire design. He's the Brand Manager for Continental, here in the US and based in Durango, Colorado. We spoke about the rapid evolution of Plus sized tires from three inches to the increasingly popular 2.6-inch casing size, and also about the effects that wider rims have had upon tire design. To start the conversation, Brett asked me about my thoughts on the 2.6-inch size.

I challenged him that tire makers were either unwilling or unprepared to develop new manufacturing methods that would result in a lightweight laterally stiff plus-sized rim and tire combination, so the 2.6-inch tire seemed to be the perfect balance between using off-the-shelf technology to make the widest possible tire that would be both lightweight and durable.
Interbike 2017 Continental
Continental Brand Manager Brett Hahn.


Brett Hahn: We can affect tires with dimension or volume. We can affect it with material, and we could concievably affect that in terms with how we lay it up, but that's where we stumble a little bit. This thing ain't broken, but its not serving out current needs.

So, now we have half the psi...

Half the psi, so we've lost a structural component (air pressure). We've lost the inner tube, which was also a structural component - but we're all in that together. We didn't want the inner tube. It did some good things, but it also did a lot of things bad. It pressed the bead into the rim. It was actually a support, even though it was a pneumatic structure, just the same. So, we've come back to material, volume and pressure. We can increase volume and play with air pressure as a structural component, but we don't inherently change the three-two overlap of how a tire is constructed.

How does rim width and the tread profile play into that equation?

If we can actually go to a lower profile and not have to have that "lightbulb" shape anymore. Now, we can actually reduce some weight there, and change how that tire rides, and that does work in that 2.6 volume. It doesn't work in a 2.8 and beyond, and it doesn't really work in the smaller volumes either. Although, we have changed out profiles overall - at Sea Otter, you'll have a slew of things to think about. We revamped the entire range to fix up all the sizing. We had a few that were under size and over size. and on different rim widths, some patterns were not working out. If it says 2.4, it's legitimately a 2.4.

We are also changing that casing shape, recognizing that when we first developed those tires, rim width was 20 millimeters. Now it's a whole new game. We've changed all that collectively throughout the entire range, but we haven't really changed the tire's construction. What we are relying upon, is again, that shape and that volume component. So that's where we are regarding 2.6.

Are these lessons learned from Plus-sized wheels, or an evolution sparked by enduro and all-mountain riders trading up to wider rims and tires?

I don't want to call 2.6 a mistake, but it was an, "Oh, wait a minute minute! Look how well it works on all these regards: with shape, fitment to those wider rims, with the prevailing dimensions that are out there. But, 3,2 died on the vine - it was too much; 3.0 was okay, but that was the infancy of Plus, and we realized that was still too heavy, too vague, and too bouncy. Then it dropped to 2.8 and it started to get way better. It shines for the average Joe who can benefit from that wider footprint and won't get punished for missing a line, and bike packing, even though it's only a sliver of the market, it shines there as well. The last piece was that enduro, that performance rider, who really didn't want that bigger volume and, bingo, 2.6 was the answer.

What did Continental settle upon as the optimal rim width for the foreseeable future?

We went to both sides, We understand that cross country riders are still going to run a narrow rim. The enduro all-mountain guys are going to run that wider, 30 millimeter profile.

Thirty millimeters is not very wide right now, but it was huge when I was first talking about it...

The rims arguably went too wide. Out to a 40? One, you didn't have very many tires that would stay on that profile. And, Maxxis did come around with "Wide Trail" pretty quickly to address that issue, but right about the time they did that, everybody woke up and said, "maybe 40 is a little too much," and we brought it back down to something realistic. So, we're back to 30 and, thankfully, that allows a lot of tires to work just fine.

What do you think an enduro tire should weigh?

Sub nine. If you can get reasonable durability and it works for a broad scope of conditions and for majority of riders, if it's under 900 grams, I think it's okay.

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65 Comments

  • + 32
 I like Conti's compound. Can I have it with Schwalbe patterns and Maxxis casings? I will take two sets.
  • + 2
 Conti casings are already really awesome. Then again, Maxxis has a million combinations, so it depends on which casing you're talking about.
  • - 9
flag ibishreddin (Sep 19, 2017 at 15:15) (Below Threshold)
 Maxxis casings? Bahaha they are garbage!
  • + 2
 @ibishreddin: I'm on my 5th Maxxis tire(3 DHR II, 2 DHF's) with the casing delaminating and a huge wobble, yes the wheels are straight. They only warrantied two.......now they just ignore me.

Hey Maxxis, tighten up the Quality Control will ya and hire an additional person to answer your warranty inbox?
  • + 3
 @MrPulse: make sure your bike rack isnt putting your tires by your car exhaust.
  • + 10
 please make a 26" 2.6 wide tire that doesn't weigh 6 million pounds (ie. a non-wire bead tire)
  • + 9
 Conti has the best rubber, but the current tires are crap. Frequent warranties for beads that go loose, and casings that cut anywhere from down by the rim to across the tread are common. My girlfriend walked into a shop in Grand Junction with a Conti Trail King in her hand and they just shook their heads and gave her a new one (loose bead). Conti dealers know that these tires are frail.

Back when Conti made UST certified tires, they were awesome. Not light, but bombproof. Now, not so much. Especially with a brand manager in Colorado, they should be getting enough feedback to beef those casings back up!! Also, I've NEVER found a 900g "enduro" tire that didn't get slashed on large crystal granite or shale at speed. There's a reason EWC riders run double casing rear tires if they have the choice (and despite those tires coming in around 1100g). I've had zero failures on Maxxis DD and WTB Enduro casing tires on the back.....and everything else has gotten sliced useless within a handful of rides.
  • + 9
 Continental makes some great tires; they make some meh tires. Overall I've been a huge fanboy of the Black Chili but Conti has made some poor runs of their product and didn't stand behind it, I could never get anyone to respond to me, neither the distributor nor the corporate regrading the 3 Trail Kings that separated at the bead. I've lost my trust.
  • + 1
 In Germany their Support is suberb!
  • + 5
 Same here. Purchased a pair of Trail Kings, busted the beads. After three warranty replacement sets, I was done. Maxxis and Bontrager seem to hold up really well for me.
  • + 3
 @MantaHai: I'd prefer the support of the *tire* to be superb. But that's not been my experience. Too bad, as the Trail Kings had awesome grip!
  • + 4
 I had 2 mountain kings and 2 X-kings having the same problem, running maxxis now
  • + 2
 My experience also. Bead separation issues and knobbies peeling off on 3 tires and zero customer support!!
  • + 10
 Sub 900g sounds good, but for Enduro reliability a decent casing is required. I am not convinced.
  • + 30
 I dont even bother with tyres under 1,000g. Nothing kills the stoke like a flat.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: exactly right
  • + 2
 As always... "900g" is irrelevant when not taking into account rider weight (+ riding style, terrain as mentioned).

I guess some EWS racers use DH casing rear (1400-1500g) and double down/supergravity front (1100-1200g), and going below that is risky.
I use that combo for bike park, yet my girlfriend got away with 550g nobby nics...
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: Pretty much this, live in a place where the rocks are like razors, and I have yet to find a tire under 1kg that survives hard riding here.
  • + 9
 I like this guy. He's logical. I like him better than I like conti tires
  • + 2
 I meant to add that I hope he can change my opinion on the tires...
  • + 4
 I'd be happy to buy Contis again if they finally sorted the issue with the bead splitting off the casing. I've given up on them a few years back, just wasn't worth the hassle with trying to get a warranty after a month of riding. Has anyone had issues with them more recently?
  • + 1
 Yes they have not fix the bead issues, they are still crap!
  • + 1
 @in2falling: thanks. I think the bead failure has to do with the compound they use and it not binding properly with the apex inlays. But this issue has been around for so long now, how hard can it be to fix that?? Even Schwalbe seems to have brought in compounds that don't shed side knobs anymore. Trail kings are such rad tyres but not touching them or any other contis for that matter until they sort their shit out
  • + 5
 I'd be happy with a sub 900 'enduro' Conti-wabble... Minus the wabble! I will say their warranty was excellent. 2 different bike shops replaced them without question.
  • + 1
 Like SRAM-great customer service for unreliable stuff.
  • + 6
 " under 900 grams"

Thank you!!
  • + 6
 Wobble has put me off for life Frown
  • + 2
 Me too!
  • + 1
 Conti tires I've run too often ended up with the wobble.

2.6 is the real deal for hard trail/AM riding. Was _not_ a fan of the chubby tires and have run Maxxis in a 2.3" for a long time (2.5" on the DH rig). Gave the new Maxxis 2.6 DHF/Forcaster a try. Wow. It grips and eliminates chatter. Gives a similar feel to riding a DH tire. So far they've been durable. Blows the 2.3 DHF/DHRII out of the water. They roll fast too as they are not too heavy - they are made to pedal, not for lift assist. Can't say enough good about them. Oh, what does that have to do with Conti... well at least they seem to be behind the 2.6" tires. And, I don't think the Maxxis 2.6 are tough enough for Enduro style riding. Stick with the double down flavors.
  • + 1
 the 2.4 der baron projekt on the front of my bike never slips (even in wet, off camber roots), and it rolls fast enough that I can still beat folks on the roads to and from my ride, and it's not that heavy, my XL 140mm alloy remedy still weighs only a half-pound more than a medium sized carbon santa cruz 5010c (I checked). I don't think I'll ever buy a different front tire
  • + 1
 I love my Mountain King 27.5 2.4, but it's always had trouble seating on a DT EX471 rim. (Maxxis tires have seated on the same rim with a floor pump). Once the Conti is seated though, it's happy at 27psi and has great traction on San Diego's dry, dusty / sandy trails. It's less performant in wet conditions - the Black Chili compound is a bit slick in the wet.
  • + 1
 My one and only experience with continental was not a positive one. Trail king casing deformed from railing a berm "too hard".
The compound was piss poor in the wet, didn't want to seal tubeless, and rolled super slow. I don't see myself ever trying another one.
  • + 1
 Interesting how I ride the exact same trails you do (literally the exact same ones) and have the exact opposite opinion and experience. I have been using Conti tires for at least 15 years and have had one deformed casing (pre-Apex) and the Trail King is still to this day the best tire I have ever ridden.

I have seen the casing deformation happen to friends, but that seems to have been fixed with the Apex casing. I haven't seen an Apex tire deform like the old Contis did. I have never seen the bead separation that everyone is talking about.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven: fair enough. I generally ride french creek more often than mt penn fwiw. I much prefer schwalbe, michelin, e13 tires.
  • + 1
 @rollertoaster: I have not tried e13 yet. Haven't had the opportunity.

Also have not ridden French Creek because everyone I know who has has told me "don't bother, you're not missing anything". Started riding at Birdsboro Reservoir this year though. Some pretty unique features there.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven: I ride birdsboro too, I definitely prefer the higher speeds of french creek though. there are some fun dh trails there.
  • + 2
 Why do people talk about the EWS/DH riders as a reference point, I'm sure they never use a set of tyres for more than one round (i.e. a day), whereas, I want to see a tyre combo that lasts at least a few weeks?
  • + 1
 Give me a true 2.4 x 29 Mountain King II ProTection and I'm in. Love that tire but the current 2.4 is ridiculously narrow which they apparently knew. Looking forward to the new sizing.
  • + 4
 What enduro racers are running 2.6 tires? Im very curious...
  • + 4
 I've never seen any, therefore, they don't exist
  • + 1
 I think the Specialized guys did, but √ém not sure they stuck to it.
  • + 7
 The same imaginary ones that can run a sub-900g tire without completely destroying it.
  • + 8
 Graves and Keene do, but the specialized 2.6 is more like a conti 2.4 or schwalbe 2.35. And, they flat every time they race.
  • + 1
 Dear Continental, ur tires has great traction and rolling, but can you make them tbl ready? Yes, i know they are if the stars are in right position etc. They are pain in the ass and still are burping..
  • + 2
 Kaiser is Still they best dh tire I've ever ridden. But after waiting 3 years for them to release it in 27.5 I've given up on continental for good.
  • + 1
 Kaiser Projekt is stupid good for dry conditions, and you can get it in 27,5".
I've been on both regular and Projekt, and for what I ride, the Projekt is a huge upgrade, faster rolling, better cornering and better brake traction.
  • + 1
 @Losvar: I know you can get it now, I didnt say you couldnt get it now. I said i waited 3 years for them to release it and gave up. complete seasons/years of me having a 27.5 DH Bike before they released it in 27.5
  • + 1
 It sounds to me more like they tooled up for 30mm rims and now want to convince everyone that it's better than 35mm.
  • + 2
 Under 900? If my Rock razor SG was that light it would be amazing.
  • + 1
 Isn't it close?
  • + 1
 Hey conti PV=net in case you forgot
  • + 1
 *nrT damn auto correct
  • + 1
 I just changed my rubber brand to Conti, no more Trojans for me!!!!
  • + 0
 Have they fixed their bead separation issues and knobbies peeling off?
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