Long Term Review
Continental Kryptotal Tires
Until recently, there were two meanings to the word Continental that mattered. One of them, a sad excuse of a breakfast you get to suffer through at mediocre hotels and the other, a tire company that had great ideas but just could not get it right for the latest generation of fast bikes. Thankfully, Continental Tires had a sit down and rethought their MTB tire lineup and the results are worth paying attention to.
I have been running the Continental Kryptotal Front and Rear tires on the Orbea Rallon for a few months and we may have a new leader in grip, carcass stability and puncture resistance when it comes to heavy hitting tires.
Kryptotal Front and Rear
For the test, Conti provided two Kryptotal Tires. For some reason, Continental wanted us to learn a whole new language of naming tread patterns and rubber compounds as they ditched the old naming convention. Gone are the Mountain, Trail and Race Kings and here are the Kryptotal, Argotal, Xynotal, and Hydrotal. It took me some time to figure out what each of them meant. The names are not descriptive and the entire ecosystem is made even more complicated with the glyphs that make up the rubber compound and casing options.
- Kryptotal is mixed terrain
- Argotal is loose terrain
- Xynotal is hard pack
- Hydrotal is mud
Kryptotal is also the only tire in the line up with front and rear specific options designed to work as a system.
Kryptotal made the perfect sense for our mixed terrain riding where roots and rocks seem to always bridge the gap between mud pits. What a better place to test the chaps of new tires than the good old North Shore Mountains of Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler.
The Kryptotal Front I received is a 29x2.4" Downhill casing Super Soft compound tire.
The Kryptotal Rear I received is a 29x2.4" Downhill casing Soft compound tire.
The Trail and Enduro casing options come with Endurance or Soft rubber compound options. The Downhill casing tires come in Soft and Super Soft Compound options.
I asked immediately if the Enduro casing will be offered in the Super Soft compound as I believe the majority of the riders would want that, but there don't seem to be any plans to offer that combination just yet.
If I were to draw parallels to what majority of the mountain bikers are used to, the Soft compound is similar to Maxxis MaxxTerra and Super Soft is much like MaxxGrip. I've been told by the development team that the knobs are at 40/42a durometer on the Super Soft and that's a wonderful thing for the North Shore Survival toolkit!
The Kryptotal front has the familiar 2-3-2 tread pattern we see often these days. It works great as a front wheel option as the intermediate knobs engage turns early and don't require extreme angles to transition the rider's weight to the side knobs. What I mean with that, there is a huge window of lean angles the Kryptotal Front works in and the tall, proud side knobs do a fantastic job keeping you up while cornering.
There is plenty of grip to work with and the times where the drift happens which is usually on loose over hardpack situations on flow trails, the drift is predictable and surprisingly controllable. The Super Soft, Black Chilli Compound leaves absolutely nothing to be desired when it comes to grip. There is plenty of straight line and cornering grip on rocks and bare roots where the textured bark that is a traction crutch has worn off. There are no surprises as to when the front is going to give out the traction leaving you clutching your knees in pain on the ground. There is so much grip that one of the local moves that is a steep slab line with a sniper right hander exit, I caught up to my buddy. I was following him closely up until that point and I had no problem slowing and coming to a complete stop on the steep rock, track-standing at an angle that is almost impossible to walk on. After that wake up moment, I knew that Continental had pulled something magical off to make the rubber compound work for our trails.
But what about the rest of the tire?
The rear version of the 2.4" Kryptotal DH Soft is yet again a familiar design. Looking much like the rubber from the big S, the tall, well spaced knobs easily shed organic material. The dowhill casing soft compound tire is heavy but rolls really well. I would rate it faster rolling than the DHR II on paved roads and similar when the ground turns to trail. I am sure the Super Soft compound would be a bit more to lug around and I'd save that combination for lift access days at the park or the race track. The straight line braking and climbing traction is excellent. It is great to be able to drop your heels and let the rear tire dig into the earth below as you only worry about your cornering rather than line choice.
The downhill casing is robust and the sidewalls are slippery. The spiderweb textured sidewalls bounce off the rocks they encounter rather than getting snagged. They have a more rigid feel to them compared to the Maxxis DH casing.
This stiff carcass does not make for a fun installation. Not impossible but be prepared to get your strength and technique tested in the process. The We Are One Union rims have a decent rim cavity to slip the first bead into, but Bontrager wheels and their proprietary rim strips put up quite a challenge for some friends. You may need tire levers and a decent approach to not to pierce the rim tape. Once on the wheel, the rest of the setup is painless and even with a floor pump, you'll pop the beads into place in no time.
Previously an EXO+ with Tannus insert guy, I was hesitant to go raw dog and ditch the inserts for the Continental tires. The sturdy feel of the casing and overall weight of the 29 x 2.4" tires made the decision a little easier. The results are not for the worst. Since I've received the tires, 3 seasons have passed. Late summer became fall, fall became summer again and then we went directly into winter. There have been absolutely no issues with the insertless Kryptotals on the WR1 wheels. No punctures, no burps, nothing. The speeds I can carry into sections that previously would have had me choosing gentler lines have become personal dares to see home much faster and further I could go on each run. The raw speed I can now ride the bike at has picked up so dramatically that I had to increase my fork pressures significantly to increase support.
19psi on the front and 22psi on the rear, the comfort and trail feel of the DH casing has been marvelous. Sure it is a little more work to spin the heavier, sticky tires all day long but knowing the rewards waiting on the descents, I will happily choose another set of DH casing Kryptotals when these ones wear out.
After months of thrashing about, the tires are not worse for wear either. The sharp edges have rounded off slightly on the front tire but the side knobs are still intact and not ripped apart. The rear tire looks even better than the front one after all the kilometers of riding, which makes the Soft compound an absolute shoe-in for people putting in the miles in dryer climates.
I also like the look of the Xynotals for summer riding. I think they would excel in putting in the watts and going far, fast. Paired with a Kryptotal on the front, it would transform a short travel rig into a weapon of a bike.
I have bravely sailed off into uncharted grip territories in the past year for you. For the budget conscious shredder, I found the Delium tires to work really well. For the traditionalist, you can't go wrong with Maxxis' selections that are found in bike shops all around the world.
But for the riding I do around these parts, I may have found a new favourite. And it's called the Continental Kryptotal.
For a combination of grip and relatively low rolling resistance, I am happy that there is another option out there. Coming in about 100 grams lighter than the Maxxis DH Casing, there is no reason not to go all in on the DH casing Continentals for Sea to Sky riding.
Currently, they're priced at about 15 CAD cheaper than the Orange label at your local shop, too.
Continental Kryptotal 130 CAD