Here's the plan
I am going to go out and test every downhill tire that I can get my hands on. All in search of finding a tire that outperforms my beloved Maxxis High Roller. Will I find one? Check it out inside
The Mother of all tire Reviews - First up - The 2.5 Continental Der Kaiser
It is so easy to just fall into the mold of what’s cool and hip in terms of what products we SHOULD be running on our mountain bikes. Take tires for example, go to any downhill race in the world and you will see that close to 90 % of the tires used by racers are Maxxis.
Since the time I first started riding, I was always told by those I looked up to, that I shouldn’t even bother with other tires. That they were all garbage and that Sam Hill runs Maxxis so I should immediately go out and blindly buy them. I just find it hard to believe that Maxxis is seriously the only decent tire company that can make a well performing and reliable Downhill tire. Now I am not trying to knock Maxxis tires. I personally love their tires and have been running the High Roller on both my XC and Downhill Bike religiously for 3 years now.
My Plan is to get out there, and back to back test out all the other downhill tires on the market. I might very well just go back to Maxxis tires, proving to myself that they are the best, or maybe, just maybe I will find a diamond in the rough through my tests.I will be testing the tires in various different areas
The ability of the tire to hook into the ground and hold a line, resisting gravity and inertia (cornering, off camber line choice).Predictability:
A lot of tires may hook really well but as soon as they let go they are extremely un-predictable. Others are very predictable in letting you know exactly when they will let loose, and when they do let loose, exactly how they are going to handle ie. Drifting. Rolling Speed:
This is an important factor when looking at a DH tire. It may be the stickiest and have the most grip on the roots and corners but, if the compound is too soft, or the lugs are too big, the tire will roll slow and you will be loosing valuable seconds. Also with a super soft compound there is a higher chance of punctures and the increase of tire wear. Durability:
I am going to try and test each tire for at least two weeks, which for me translates into about 6 full shuttle days. It may be the newest and best gripping “UBER 5C COMPOUND” but if it all falls apart after 4 runs it might not be the best choice for recreational and privateer racers. Especially with tires these days running close to $100.00 each (CAD).Weight and UST:
I will weigh each tire and inform you if it is tubeless or not. Even if it isn’t tubeless, I will let you know if you can run them ghetto tubeless.
And the first tire to be tested?
2.5 Continental Der Kaiser
Claimed Weight: 1000g
Actual weight: 1290g
At first appearance the Kaiser looks likes the love child of a Minion front and a High Roller. It has directional ramped center knobs and the side cornering knobs are similar to a High Roller with tons of space in between the center knobs and the cornering knobs.Hook/Cornering:
First feel of the tires and it's hard not to notice the super soft compound. The Compound feels as soft as Maxxis’ old 40A Slow Reezay Compound. After first feel of the rubber I was almost positive the tires wouldn’t last a full 2-week test.
The Kaiser was one of the first tires I have tested that I was immediately impressed by. Cornering, the tire had extremely good hook, holding almost any line I steered into. When the tires did let go, they were very predictable.
It's funny to always use Maxxis tires as a comparison but, its true they are the benchmark for comparison when it comes to downhill tires. I found the Kaiser hooked and cornered very similar to the Maxxis High Roller however unlike the High Roller, the Kaiser felt more like a Minion front once the tire did let loose and slide in terms of predictability.Braking:
The Kaiser did have stand out braking power. It didn’t bite in as hard a High Roller or Minion Rear. Seemed to have similar stop powering as say the Kenda Nevegal, Maxxis Ardent or Minion Front.
One area I found the Kaiser lagged in was the rolling speed. On the harder packed trails I could definitely tell that I was running a super soft compound. This could also be due to the fact that the center lugs are so long and aggressive, which could be a plus if riding on very muddy or soft loose terrain. If a rider wanted to ride a lot of hard pack, I would suggest slightly clipping the center knobs on at least the rear tire, possibly both.Tubeless?
The Kaiser is not advertised as being a tubeless tire. Either way I tried to set them up ghetto tubeless. Unfortunately the thick sidewall of the Kaiser does not hold in air; the air actually leaks out in between the braided rubber that makes up the sidewall even with 3 scoops of Stan's.Durability:
After first feeling how soft the tire compound was I thought for sure the tires would be shredded after only a few runs. This was the area I was by far the most impressed by. After two weeks (about 40 hrs) of riding, the Kaisers still looked like they were lightly used. Their durability was comparable to say a Maxxis 60A compound or harder compound tires such as Kendas or WTBs.
One area of concern was flatting. Over the course of the two weeks I didn’t get any flats but, another person testing them with me got 4 flats. Some good friends of mine who also tested them during a certain Mountain Bike Mag review also reported getting a lot of flats. Which is surprising considering the sidewalls are so thick. That being said, I didn’t once get a flat, even when riding fast and rocky tracks.
Der Kaiser after two weeks of testing
Der Kaiser after two weeks of testing
Braking (still decent though)
Won't go tubeless
Might be prone to flats
Overall I was super stoked on this tire. I was blown away by the performance in corners, which for me is probably the most important thing when looking for a tire. The durability was equally as impressive. You may not get high fives from all the Sam Hill fan club boys if you run them but, definitely a good alternative to try if you like to go fast. It's a tough one but, off the bat, I think that I may have found a tire that corners as well as the High Roller, now only if it rolled faster.
Check em out!
-Adam MantleDunbar Cycles