For a company that sold €10.2 billion worth of tires in 2020, Continental hasn't exactly been lighting up the MTB world lately. While we often get criticized for focusing too much on Maxxis and Schwalbe, they're what the vast majority of test bikes are equipped with, they're winning most of the races, and they're what most people buy. More to the point, the last time I rode a Continental tire my overriding memory of it was how effectively it transmitted every bump to my hands.
But Continental acknowledged these issues - they admitted at the launch of the new range that their outgoing gravity tires were less supple than the Maxxis equivalent - and decided to invest heavily into developing an all-new gravity tire range.
Continental Kryptotal DH Details
• Intended use: downhill (maybe enduro too)
• Front- and rear-specific versions
• Claimed weight: 1,290 g (actual weight unverified as both tires arrived with sealant)
• Configuration tested: 29x2.4", downhill casing, supersoft
• Measured casing width: 2.39" / 60.7mm (front), 2.34" / 59.4mm (rear)
• MSRP: From 59.95 EUR
Working with the Athertons, over the last four years they aimed to develop tires capable of winning World Cups and prizing customers, OEMs and even journalists away from the big two brands. Continental say they worked especially hard to increase suppleness compared to the old tires. Has it worked? I've been riding Continental's mixed-conditions tires, the Kryptotal Front and Kryptotal Rear, to find out.
- Size options: 27.5x2.4, 29x2.4
- Casing options: downhill, enduro
- Compound options: supersoft, soft
- Size options: 27.5x2.4, 27.5x2.6, 29x2.4, 29x2.6
- Casing options: downhill, enduro, trail
- Compound options: supersoft, soft, endurance
The Kryptotal is the mixed-conditions tire in the range. It sits between the Xynotal, designed for dry, hardpack conditions, and the Argotal, which is aimed at loose terrain. There's also the Hydrotal which is a dedicated mud tire. That makes the Kryptotal comparable to a Minion or an Assegai from Maxxis. I tested them in their DH casing, but there are also lighter versions for enduro and trail. At around 1,300 g, they're comparable in weight to some brands' enduro tires, and Continental say most of their enduro racers are using the DH casing too.
Continental decided during development to split their mixed-conditions tire into two: one for the rear and one for the front. The rear has more emphasis on rolling speed and braking grip, with alternating pairs of ramped central tread blocks, much like you'd find on a Maxxis DHR2, or many other rear-biased tires dating back to the Michelin DH 16.
These are paired with identical (not alternating) shoulder blocks with generous, even spacing between them.
The front has a similar shoulder tread to the rear tire, but the central blocks have alternating groups of two then three blocks, and the groups of two alternate between lateral and longitudinal sipes to help with braking and cornering grip on hardpack surfaces. The profile of the front tire is slightly rounder than the rear, presumably to help provide a more predictable turn-in. By my measurements, the front is slightly wider too - 2.39" vs 2.34", both on a 30 mm rim at 30 psi. That's very similar to a 2.5" Maxxis Assegai
. Both measure about 2.42" across the widest part of the tread. While we've got the callipers out, the centre tread averages about 4.5 mm (0.177") deep, which is similar to an Assegai, but a Schwalbe Magic Mary measures nearer 5.5 mm.
At a glance, the Kryptotal front bears a strong resemblance to a Maxxis Assegai, but on closer inspection, there are several differences. The Assegai has only longitudinal siping in its paired central tread blocks; it has less of a gap between the centre and shoulder tread, the shoulder blocks are alternating (not identical), and the profile is more rounded. I'll get onto how they compare on the trail later.
Under the surface, Continental use 110 tpi (threads per inch) fabric in a bid to increase suppleness compared to lower thread counts more typical of downhill tires- the higher the thread count, the thinner the nylon threads that make up the carcass, so the more flexible the sidewall. Continental say they tried several casing constructions but found 110 tpi offered the right balance of suppleness and support.Ride Impressions
I first rode the tires at Dyfi bike park (where the Athertons did much of their testing and where the tires were launched). I've ridden there once before on Continental's older tires, but it was clear straight away that the new tires had a very supple yet damped feel over the hardpack surface, full of small stones and braking bumps. I was surprised that Continental recommended I start with 28 psi in the rear and 26 psi in the front; that seemed a touch firm for a DH tire, but I gave it a go and the ride feel was impressive, with very little harshness and none of the "wooden" feeling you can get from an overly stiff carcass.
Does that mean the tires are too flimsy and unsupportive? I tried dropping the pressures down to 25/22 psi (which is on the low side for bike park terrain at my weight), and while I did feel the rear tire fold slightly, causing a subtle rear-wheel-steering sensation in the berms with the highest cornering forces, they were by no means squirmy or unstable. I had no burping or sidewall marking and I never felt the tire was being pushed around (which is often accompanied by a pinging sound) when riding through pinball rocks. So despite remaining relatively comfortable at higher pressures, they offer good stability at lower pressures too, making the window of usable pressure very wide.
There were times when the tires slipped on the wet rocks that make up the more technical tracks (e.g. "Race track") at Dyfi, but having ridden here before I know how slippy these rocks can be.
While I was down south I also rode in the Forest of Dean, which has lots of limestone rock. With pressures at 24/21 psi, the grip was impressive on off-camber rocky tracks which I've ridden many times before. There was no pinging or squirming here either.
After Dyfi, the rest of my rides on the Kryptotals involved earning my turns, including plenty of familiar tarmac, singletrack and fire road climbs, plus a few miles of road riding to reach the trailhead on a couple of occasions. This was less punishing than I had expected for a DH tire. They're noticeably draggier than any trail tires, but it doesn't feel like it's sapping the life out of you. Of course, rolling resistance is impossible to measure without proper scientific tests, but I'd say they're far from the worst as far as downhill tires go, and they wouldn't be a bad choice on an enduro bike for someone who prioritises technical descending.
Back home in the Tweed Valley, I rode more muddy, rooty and rocky descents, including a day of testing against a Maxxis Assegai (Maxxgrip) and a Schwalbe Magic Mary (Ultra Soft) on the same greasy track and on the same bike. Even in a back-to-back test, it's difficult to say too much about how grip compares because the difference between sliding and surviving can sometimes be a centimetre difference in line choice or subtle changes in body position. With that said, I would say the Magic Mary offers a little more bite in muddy corners and slid less often when things got really soft and loose. This isn't exactly surprising as the Magic Mary is more biased towards loose conditions, and Continental's Argotal is probably a fairer comparison. Compared to the Assegai, I honestly can't tell much between them out on the trail. I'm tempted to say that the Kryptotal offers more cornering bite, but in a blind test, I doubt I could tell the difference. Given the success of the Assegai, I suppose that's high praise for Continental.
It's too soon to say much about durability, but Continental claim this is something they've kept in mind even for the softest compound downhill version. I'll update this review when I've put more time into them.
Excellent suppleness reduces harshness over high-frequency bumps+
Dependable grip and stability in a wide range of conditions+
Reasonable weight and rolling resistance make them an option for burly enduro bikes too+
Wide pressure window makes setup easier
Not the grippiest in soft conditions, but more aggressive tread patterns are available
|Having ridden them in a wide range of conditions, what impressed me most about the Kryptotals is their dependability. Sure, I found the limits of their grip occasionally, and I'm not saying they're the grippiest tires in the world, but they rarely let go completely. They never threw up any surprises, underperformed in any particular aspect or trail condition, squirmed, burped or lurched abruptly. They just work. |
From the first few runs, it's easy to forget about them and trust they won't let you down. At the same time, they're light and efficient enough to consider using on an enduro bike too, and they're comfortable enough for long days in the bike park without punishing your hands too much. So while Continental designed them with and for World Cup racers, they're far more versatile than that would suggest.— Seb Stott
Kryptotal? Is that like an NFT sedative?
The price listed in the article for the Enduro/Downhill tires everyone is discussing here is 60euro and up. You'll also note that my original point is that the prices may creep up over the next few years if these catch on as a real competitor- not talking about what the price is posted at currently. My comment had nothing to do with pandemic or supply chain- just how the popularity of a product can affect value/pricing.
I tried the Kaiser on the back but found it rolled way too fast and couldn’t dig into the terrain the PNW (Vancouver NS) dishes out.
The Baron is however still my favourite front that I ride religiously, the choice of Assegai on the back is just a compromise. I hate pedalling with it because of how much drag it generates so if the Kryptotal rear rolls even 1/10th nicer than the Assegai with a similar ride I’m sold.
..because of the beaches and waves. Then 10 years later, I wanted to see the NYC because apparently it never sleeps. Now I just want to wisit some Canadian cedar forest to feel it and smell it just after the rain
True, I’ve noticed this especially if I’m hunting down a fire trail… death wobbles!
Also interested to see how the new compound is. Somehow they got the friction coefficient dialled on magic Squamish rock. Nothing grips on wet cedar though
I’d seen people having a hard time getting them in the last few months already.
I’ve already got a barely used (albeit 2.4) after I went up to a 2.6 on the front but good idea to stockpile. Being a Front I generally get 1.5-2 seasons off them already. A pair would last me a while
I almost want to say you're better using a proper mud tyre (at the sacrifice of dry/rock traction) in that super fine bull dust. nothing can find grip in that stuff and when its wet its worse than ice.
Barons the perfect PNW tire but ill probably go to a Assegai/DHR combo when i go back home (though like i said, the drag on an Assegai is next level here. i imagine it rolls a fair bit faster when its bone dry.)
Origin is still visible on the sidewall of every tyre
I just posted that I gave up on Continental because I had too many casing fails wobble wobble wobble
and they deleted my comment??
that is not right at all Pinkbike?
We are not allowed to share our opinions anymore? good and bad?
I didn't say anything bad and nothing that justifies being deleted?
Ron what is the opposite of above me?
I have contacted Continental and the tire retailer as well to report what happened and I have been told that it was my fault for running stupid low pressure (28psi!!) and that I should have put at least 40psi in my tires...
Note that I have also ran Michelin Enduro and all the classic DHF, DHRII, HRII exo+ and co from Maxxis in the same range of pressure or below, on the same rims and on the same trails without having ever encountered a similar issue...
So for me that was the end with Continental tires, I was disappointed by their answer and I have seen later on that some reviews reported the same air burping issues...
Asking because WAO wheels specifically states that continental tires are not compatible with their rims, due to something I can't remember offhand>. Has this fixed that issue?
Replace them with a Dh22 and butcher gravity with octamusse inserts,the Dh22 was a little harder to inflate but the butcher go on with only 1 hand on the floor pump and the valve core still on,very very easy.
* Measure twice, cut once.
The classic Maxxis Combo takes me 5 minutes to install on the same rim set .
Atherton's: "Make it look like a Maxxis Minion"
Source: one of their instagram comments
Also the community response has been surprisingly optimistic for once.
So... Guess you'll have to save the pitchfork for the next thread that mentions Beta?
Front - Conti version of Ass & Gay
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