DSC01104-denizmerdano  deniz merdano continental kryptotal NF
Long Term Review

Continental Kryptotal Tires

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano, Emma La Rossignol, Stan Goetz, Johhny Scavarda
Date Jan 17, 2023
Reading time

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.

con-gravity-periodictable-a3-03-2022-data

The periodic table of Continental MTB rubber is harder to decipher than the actual periodic table.

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.

DSC01179-denizmerdano  deniz merdano continental kryptotal NF

All these names and signs mean something to someone.

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The classic logo has not changed.

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Kryptotal Fr DH Super Soft.

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.
Weight: 1360grams

The Kryptotal Rear I received is a 29x2.4" Downhill casing Soft compound tire.
Weight: 1340grams

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!

DSC01216-denizmerdano  deniz merdano continental kryptotal NF

Rocks are the Kryptotal's happy place. Photo: Emma La Rossignol.

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?

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Steep and wet slab that I managed to do a trackstand on. Cliff to rider's right, sniper exit in the middle.

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The Kryptotal rear is no slouch either. Photo: Johhny Scavarda.

Kryptotal Rear

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.

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No hesitation diving into questionable lines. Photo: Stan Goetz.

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.

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Questionable decisions made easy with this much grip on tap.

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

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

Znarf
Znarf
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Martin AndrewR

I have almost a year on Dh Kryptotal Super soft front and Enduro Soft Kryptotal rear on my enduro bike. Similar terrain and conditions to the north shore. I absolutely agree with your review. Same experience. 

I swapped my worn, but still rideable for summer Krypto Front for a super soft Argotal DH. 

And it is a monster for fall/winter conditions. Grip on wet roots, rocks and soft stuff is a noticable step up even compared to the Krypto FR. I find the 2.4 version still rolls well and there‘s no vague feeling or strange stuff on hardpack or rock surfaces. Very versatile, like a much better Baron.

Reply

martin
Martin
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

It looks like we'll be running the same combo this summer! I had tried the first version Barons like 10 years ago...  installed them new in November, left the wheels in the unheated storage and when I picked them up in the spring the tires were cracked all over.

Conti really seemed to get it right with their new tires, I can't wait to try them.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Martin

Enduro Soft rear has been working well for a couple of people I know. The DH casing is so good, i don't know if i'll try a lighter casing for a while. I could probably benefit from lower unsprung weight though. 

Argotal is the list to try too. I just have to ride 4 times more than what I am doing now to wear this set out!

Reply

rkvic
rkvic
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+2 Martin Deniz Merdano

Agree the DH casing is a step up, supple and solid at the same time. Mounted an Argotal DH SS front/Kryptotal DH SS rear combo recently, after four wet rides on Vancouver Island...wow!

This combo seams to roll better than the DD Maxxgrip Assegai/DHR II combo they replaced. The grip is very good, both technical climbing and descending, no nasty surprises with the front end so far. Really liking the Argotal up front and the DH casing was an unexpected bonus. 

It is early days with these tires for me, so far I am very impressed. Please try the Argotal soon! I would love to hear what you have to say about it.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

Next front tire will be the Argotals... Everything seems to point in that direction

Reply

Znarf
Znarf
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 AndrewR Justin White

The new Conti enduro casings are more durable/more stable/beefier than EXO+ in my experience (had the older style Exo+ and new style Exo+). I can ride them (Conti Enduro) on the rear wheel without insert without any problem. I flatted Exo+ not regurlarly, but occiasionally even with a medium density insert. 

Thread life, especially side knobs, is much longer for me on the Contis. 

I used to love Maxxis, loved the last-gen Barons in cold, wet conditions. LOVE the new Contis all around. Over here they can be cheaper on sale as well compared to Maxxis.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Justin White

Mirrors my experience when comparing the two brands.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

I found that the Continental rubber does not get the dead feeling Maxxgrip does when the temperature drops near freezing. I like a consistent feeling tire no matter the conditions!

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+3 Justin White Eric Van Sickle Deniz Merdano

Other than "because they came on a new bike" and for the purposes of professional knowledge Maxxis hasn't given me a compelling reason to keep a set of their tyres on a bike, beyond a week of checking my "maybe they have improved" checklist for the past twelve years.

Living in the Sea to Sky and listening to 9/10 riders bang on about their tyres; it was like listening to a vegan rave on about their latest mung bean burger and smoothie meal creation, I understand the individual words that they are coming out of their mouths but just cannot see how the product is delivering the experience they are describing!?. 

I don't expect my tyres to dazzle me but I do expect them to be amazing for at least 20 days/ 400 km for the money companies are charging for them.

Reply

dbozman
dbozman
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 AndrewR Justin White

Agree and disagree with the writer’s premise.

Agree. Even in the, uh, polar opposite riding conditions (SW desert), the Krypto f/r DH SS tires are literally the best-performing tires I’ve ever ridden. Period. But … I am not personally strong enough to hump 2700-ish grams of rubber up mountains day after day. Incredible tires, too heavy for me. 

Disagree with the assertion that the previous generation of Continental tires were poor. I know the brand had issues years ago. But, at least in my riding conditions, the German-made Trail Kings and, even better, Der Kaiser Projekt, tires were incredible.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Well thank you for that. I think even if the tires were good for the few that rode them, they couldn't get something right, as the very few that bought the tires complained about tubeless setup issues. I figured, if the tire can not keep the air inside in regular practices, it needs a lot of work to become worthy consideration. No matter how good they ride.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Nologo

Totally agree, the pre-2018 issue was a slight casing size (ISO vs ETRO standard) mis-match with tubeless that really only applied to lower quality rims or rims with a certain hookless profile. The tyre would be a few thou 'too loose' and burb easily especially if one is a braaper rather than a carver. Decent set up with the correct rim tape thickness easily 'solved' this. Good rims like We Are One, NOBL and DT Swiss did not have this issue.

And because the casings are lighter (1050 gr tyre versus a 1300 gr tyre) a rider who is hard on their tyres could warp the casing. but probably less than 1% of riders have the strength, speed and skill to do that to the tyre.

Post 2018 all the German made tyres (Protection APEX) are excellent. The only sadness was they discontinued the Trail King DH Casing which was an awesome bike park tyre. 

Because they are slightly lighter construction they are also more sensitive to proper tyre pressures to find the true limit of their capabilities. Along with correct suspension set up, bike maintenance and running 35 mm bars that are too wide for their arm span, 95% of riders cannot be arsed to do the laps required to find their best tyre pressure.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I agree with you on all fronts!

Reply

just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 AndrewR

For a time, I wondered why I heard such terrible reviews of Conti tires, then I realized that the riders who didn't like them definitely couldn't tell you what casing or compound they had, which tells me they probably had the "sport" tires, which were terrible at holding air/sealant, quite floppy, and slippery. I got some cheap ones accidentally [blinded by a sale price] and it's definitely a different level to Protection Apex. Didn't realize those best-est models were only made in Germany: top-end Trail King 2.4 Pro Apex was my friend, did everything together; but I sure mangled some cheap ones.

Looking forward to trying some Kryptos or Argos soonish, sounds like they are quality stuff; maybe it'll dethrone the Butcher/Eliminator mix, or at least be an option. My rear Butcher Blck Dmnd is about halfway to dead, I should by a new tire (or set) to match up with the pending new wheel build...

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Too true re the non Protection APEX or Black Chilli models.

Until Covid messed with supply chains the Premium Conti tyres were also selling for $75-85 dollars so until last year they were also significantly cheaper than the so called equivalent tyres from the other brands.

Not that they would ever admit it but one wonders if the cost of living (energy costs in Germany) has driven the price rise to $120 ish per tyre or someone on the Conti Board had a profit epiphany "Can you believe that the Americans* are paying $135-145 for a tyre, we can make more money if we put our prices up!!"

Either way they still represent great grip/wear/dollar.

*everyone in North America (Canada and USA) is an "American" to a European unless they have travelled to Canada (or worked with Canadians).

Reply

pedalhound
pedalhound
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

While they did get better, their sidewalls really sucked....I loved the German made TK's..great tire but had to stop using them because they just would not hold air. First I changed to orange seal because I heard it worked better, then I had to start painting the inner tire with a few coats of sealant before mounting them...that worked a lot better...but still not as good as Specialized or Maxxis where I didn't have to go through those extra frustrating steps.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 pedalhound

Im ok with topping up tires a psi or two before a ride, but fully deflated tires for every ride got super annoying

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 pedalhound

That was true. I found that Conti's own sealant was better (than Stans) and that e13's luminous sparkly sealant was also excellent but creates the world's largest sealant monsters after 3 months (still seals the tyre and has liquid left for minor pin pricks/ thorns but sounds like a damaged golf ball is running around the inside of the tyre).

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Previous generation Contis (i'm only counting the german-made black chili versions) had awesome rubber but the casings were finicky. For instance, they were really tough for their weight, incredibly so. But that came with stiff sidewalls which could feel harsh and made finding the right pressure really hard, especially for light riders.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 Timer pedalhound

I'm certainly not a light rider, not in stature nor riding style, so I actually really appreciated those sidewalls letting me run approx 18 psi in the front for awesome grip without rolling.

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+2 AndrewR Martin

Reviews like this including Andrew’s additional comments on his experience is fantastic. One reason I think that Maxxis remain popular is that they are a known commodity. We all know how a DHF and DHR2 perform. Not many riders are willing to spend over $200 for a pair of tires that may not be to their liking so many of us buy what we know. 

Similarly shops don’t want to order a shit load of tires that won’t sell. At one point my local shop told me that Continental required that they order a large minimum number. They wouldn’t sell small amounts.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+3 Justin White Martin Andy Eunson

@Andy: I see this all the time as a coach and a guide. In some ways I understand it is human nature to stick with what we know rather than risk 'failure' by trying something new. And that 'fear' extends to handle bars, stems and saddles. There are only seven touch points on a bike and only two of them interact with the ground. They are all critical to good riding (fast, safe, balanced, fun - pick your descriptor).

And to be fair I was very happy for 2-3 years on a DHF DH front and rear in the bike park and DHR II front and rear for the trails. Only ever in whatever flavour Maxxis were calling their grippiest compound (see previous statement about rear tyre grip expectations) after negative experiences with MaxxTerror!

And it is true that it is tough for small shops to get a decent competitive price on smaller volume especially if they have a "but I always eat wonder bread" kind of customer base. 

I have already stated it, and will repeat, I think it is a marketing error to launch these new tyres with so many permutations (and SKUs). 

Conti Black Chilli (and again they can change the name but I mean the good stuff that they make in Korbach because they don't want the recipe stolen if they moved production to Asia) is so good in the area of rolling resistance, and consistency of grip through the wear curve, for the grip it offers that they could stop pissing about with any kind of 'longer lasting compounds" and just have Soft and Super Soft.

Casings:

Trail = less heavy so I am willing accept a slight increase in puncture risk to pedal less weight

Enduro = still not boat anchor heavy but you have be hauling into something nasty to puncture or burp the bead

Downhill = I expect to chop berms in two and fall small trees without burping the tyre or rolling it off the rim, don't care about weight

Simple really.

If I can find a shop that stocks them I am looking forward to riding the Kryptotal Enduro Soft front and rear this summer on my new Arrival 170.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 AndrewR

Yeah, but after you melt a rear tire down to base compound in half a season a few times, aren't you going to look for something better? Spending $60 or so for a tire to try ($200 a pair is maxxis-think, there is so much good stuff that costs less), and that is definitely comparable and might also save you much more than $40 seems like a no brainer after a couple $100 outlays in a year.

If you (royal you, not you specifically) only buy what you know, then at least stop spouting off about how they're the best, since you literally don't know what's the best with a sample size of one.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 pedalhound

I used to see it every day. 

And it is about every brand, it is easy for someone to think that I am "picking a brand and being a d*&k about it" with Continental but I do try other tyres and I meet a lot of riders and listen to their experiences with their tyres.

I also happily ride Michelin and if I couldn't get either I would ride Butcher T9s or e13 for a bit. I wouldn't be as "don't have to think about the tyre performing" happy as I am on my favs but I would still have a boat load of fun and probably not crash any more than I already do because of the tyres.

One would think that riders would try something different in the hope of finding a better tool for the job but the fear of buying a lemon or riding something that has a learning curve or a slightly different behaviour is really off putting to people. People would rather use the same and either moan about the wear/ cost or doggedly defend their choice regardless of the contrary evidence.

There are a lot of riders who hold a 'die in a ditch' strength opinion about all sorts of aspects of mountain biking based on a sample size of one.

Reply

martin
Martin
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

Excellent informative review Deniz! I was surprised to see the use of the Super soft front VS the soft rear, but it gives a good indication of what we can expect from the compounds.

It makes me want to try the DH casing Argotals (super soft, they feel stickier than the MOPO E13s I'm running) that the Continental tent was giving away after the MSA world cup last Fall. I just bought a Kryptotal Soft Enduro casing for the rear, but if the Argotals are not stable enough on rocks on the front, I'll get another Kr R to compliment the rear. I have a feeling that I'll like that Argotal/Kryptotal Rr combo though. Cheers!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Martin

I really didn't want to pedal the super soft rear uphill all that much. Also an opportunity to test two versions of the same tire. 

Argotals rock grip will probably depend on the rock formation. Through the packaging, the  Argos really don't seem all that much taller than the Kryptos. But inflated up maybe a different story.

Reply

martin
Martin
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Cool, thanks for the info!

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Nologo

"but just could not get it right for the latest generation of fast bikes"

Have to disagree, other than a shorter casing life (600-700 km) as a rear tyre under a 98 kg rider on a 160 mm travel bike (in Whistler), the Der Baron Projekt Protection APEX has been my go to tyre for the last three years. Once Conti got their casing sizing under control in 2018 they have been amazing. Better stick and rebound than 3C MaxxGripp and better rolling resistance and wear than MaxxTerrifying compound and predictable handling in all terrain and soil types.

Their Trail King II Protection APEX is a fantastic all conditions trail tyre for the 120-140 mm trail bike that generally gets used in less gnar environments.

I think that there are to too many variations of casing and compound and it is a back wards step. They used to keep it so simple:

Protection APEX = made in Germany, awesome grip, excellent wear and low rolling resistance.

Protection DH = made in Germany, insane grip, pretty good wear, lowish rolling resistance with a DH/ bike park worthy casing.

No "Protection APEX" rating = made somewhere else and not worth buying.

I have been perplexed at the Maxxis fan boi-dom that dominates in the Sea to Sky when there are so many better and better priced options available for many years.

Reply

rolly
rolly
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

What do you consider better options than Maxxis? So far, they've been the best for me. I have yet to try Conti's though.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+16 Martin Perry Schebel Jerry Willows Deniz Merdano 4Runner1 Sandy James Oates Justin White Pete Roggeman cheapondirt JVP Mike Ferrentino Tremeer023 Andy Eunson Nologo Suns_PSD FlipSide

@rolly: This is just my two cents worth based on full time guiding and 80-100 days coaching in the bike park for most summers, since 2008. But when two weeks work means 300 km of trail riding and hitting 50 hr service intervals (suspension) one gets to work out value for money fairly quickly.

Conti Kryptatal, now that they are no longer making the Der Baron Projekt Protection APEX and Der Kaiser Protection APEX. Baron was the best all round trail tyre especially after the 2017/2018 casing revision. Kaiser was a great dry/ loose conditions 'summer' tyre and excellent in the bike park. Strong/ fast riders who square corners/ berms did not like them as the 1050 gr tyre/ casing was not as warp resistant as a 1200-1400 gram DH casing/ tyre.

Xynotal as a replacement for the Der Kaiser Protection APEX - great all conditions all terrain tyre, like running a DHR II MaxxGripp but rolls faster, wears better, is as predictable and provides more stick than a Dh MaxxGripp compound.

For all round trail riding other than the wettest parts of autumn and spring then Conti still make the Trail King II Protection APEX.

Michelin WILD ENDURO Front and Rear - Gum-X for 90% of fast/ strong riders and Magi-X for the 10% who are truly fast (BC Cup/ EWS fast), Gum-X in winter (this is due to the way Michelin use rubber rebound as part of their grip equation). FRONT/ FRONT combo for loose/ steep and autumn/ winter. FRONT/ REAR for schralpers and summer. Cheaper to buy. I got my last batch of Enduro FRONTS for $65 each. They are an 850-950 km tyre.

Specialized Butcher T9 - as good as a MaxxGripp for grip, lower rolling resistance and wears better. Cheaper.

Most common answer to the "why do you run Maxxis?" question in the Sea to Sky is "I've never tried anything else".

Based on $/ day usage the Conti and the Michelin deliver best bang for the buck.

On wear and tear this is my experience (based on Whistler Black trails and Black Bike Park trails):

Schwalbe: 8-12 days, knobs tearing at the base, some side knobs already detached, especially on the rear. Fantastic when new (first 3-5 days).

Maxxis (Maxxgripp DD/ DH only): 18-22 days, knobs very rounded, some knobs torn at base, some side knobs (rear) detached, rear tyre not providing a lot of effective braking. Again fantastic when new (2-5 days) but the 'fresh grip' confidence tails off fairly quickly after that.

Specialized: 25-30 days. Knobs worn. Does not provide the same levels of confidence as Conti-Michelin after 15-18 days. More gradual deterioration taper than the Schwalbe or Maxxis.

WTB: 25-30 days. Due to tough/ light/ hard/ grip mish mash it is hard to get the right tyre in the right compound casing. Trail Boss were good for the bike park. The compound was almost as grippy as DH 3C MaxxGripp, rolls better, wears a lot better, knobs wear out rather than tear off/ detach except Vigilante which has taller knobs which will detach (mainly side knobs on rear). Tread pattens not quite as good as DHR II or ASSguy.

Conti: 30-40 day tyre depending on the time of year and how one rides. Very rarely have detached side knobs. I usually toss mine (donate them to a first year guide or some local ripper grom) at 50% wear, after 30-35 days. Rear tyre usually has seeping through casing wall (Der Baron Projekt) but very few torn side knobs. Front tyre could do another 7-12 days as a rear tyre if I could be bothered to rotate. I generally just replace with fresh sets as I like the new tyre confidence and I don't feel it is okay for the guide to be having flat tyres due to wear and tear rather than the accidental puncture. And I hate punctures on multi-day back country trips.

There are not really any bad tyres any more. There are tyres that don't suit the conditions and one's riding style but some tyres are just better than others and some are just head and shoulders better than others.

Reply

martin
Martin
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

That's great info, thanks.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Martin JVP Nologo

that's some impressive real-world durability testing! 

too bad the soft rubber contis aren't (yet) available in a lighter sidewall iterations; i'm all about sticky trail carcass tires (love maxxgrip exo+) but the cost per mile ratio... it is not great.

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martin
Martin
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

Same here. That's why I've been running the Gen3 E13 TRS tires in Mopo compound but trail casing (1050g). Cushcore rear though (+250g), but I've never had any problem with casing durability or flats. In the front I'm running the same but with a Tubolito tube. Again, no flats in 2 seasons on the same tire/tube. Unfortunately, E13 stopped making that version and it's now a 1200g tire.

I'll be running the Contis on my hardtail without inserts and the E13 on my full-suspension bike to see which feel I prefer (1050g casing + 250g insert VS 1200-1300g tire without insert) (those wheelsets will be interchangeable on both bikes to compare).

I guess at some point Conti will make the lighter versions in sticky compounds, at least I'm hoping even if they say that they don't plan to for now.

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andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Martin

@martin Thanks for the reminder, I ran e13 tyres for a while and even experimented with the different compounds (just race and TRS in the early days and about 1100 gr from memory).

They were excellent. Heavier than the Conti but better side wall support. Sealed up more easily (less tyre sealant) and super sticky but they rolled a lot slower and wore out a lot faster and the knobs tore at the base eventually.

But in that two years I think they were about $70 a tyre which represented really good tyre/ dollar. I ranked them higher than Maxxis for grip, about the same for wear, better rolling resistance than Schwalbe and they lasted about 25-30 days.

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Totally agree. I would love an Enduro Super soft front and an Enduro soft rear in 29 x 2.4". 

Conti moving to Maxxis level alpha-getti style combo chart is going to make this series of tyres a PITA to stock for shops.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I think most shops are going to be thinning out the maxxis stock and sticking to the one they sell the most of( what good are you if you are not running sales reports on your inventory) 

I expect the Conti presence increase locally but the awkward packaging needs work!

rolly
rolly
2 weeks, 4 days ago
-1 danthepirate

Thanks for putting that together. What may seem a minimal difference to you because of your superior fitness/ability, is a more noticeable difference to me. I found the Specialized tires to be an upgrade over Kenda's and WTB's, but not as good on grip as a DHR2 and Assegai. Even though they are better priced, I would rather pay the extra $15-20 and get better performance. I typically run a set of tires/year.

My ideal tire combo would be like the Assegai/DHR2 EXO+ combo with a touch better weight, better rolling resistance, and just a bit more grip out back. I would also like to be a fitter, better technical climber, haha. . .

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Justin White AndrewR Nologo

The Maxxis tires wear out quicker so you lose grip overall on the life span.  Retail for Specialized tires is about $50 less than Maxxis and the Butchers shed mud way better than the Assegai.  Maxxis makes great tires but I see better options for a ROI.

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just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 AndrewR Jerry Willows

@Jerry:
That's the key: the change over the life span. The Maxxis tax doesn't get you marginally better performance for the tire's whole life, only for the very beginning. And once they've degraded to that equivalent performance level, they keep falling off quickly, and the overall life is much shorter.

@rolly: 
Even if the "minimal difference to you because of your superior fitness/ability, is a more noticeable difference to me", that difference will be flipped pretty quickly. The average performance of a Maxxis throughout that one year is very likely the same as the next best (new Spesh, new Conti), making "the extra $15-20 and get better performance" part kind of a waste. Especially if you're wearing those tires down to the  base compounds by the end of that year (because they're expensive), the performance difference starts leaning drastically towards the more consistent brands.

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Deniz Merdano Martin

@deniz: every ride is a fun ride! Just looking at my bike starts my happy, getting on one stokes it and by the end of the first pedal I am super happy.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

I get that.. but can you ever shut your mind off and not think about parts or settings?
As a photographer and gear editor, I sometimes have a hard time going for "fun" rides where I can just shut my reviewer or artistic brain off and enjoy the ride

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Hey! its like a review within a review! amazing.. But in whistler.. are you really riding in cold and wet conditions? or just when it's really really nice out?

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andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+4 Andrew Major Nologo Martin Eric Schuler

@deniz - I ride about 300 days per year. I fat bike in true winter, but (until I moved recently) I would ride Squamish, Pemberton and North Van in the winter on my mountain bikes (2020 Sight or 2020 Optic or 2022 e-Sight).  I would ride Whistler until the snow fell and have ridden Dark Crystal as late as mid November (but never when it is really wet - bad trail manners and disrespectful to the builders).

As I am a product development test rider almost every ride is an analysis of what is working and why? Also how could this be better. Sometimes the question that is raised is: "why does this (insert dollar amount) product not do it's job as well as it is claimed?" but mostly it is "this product is very good/ excellent but how could it be better?".

At 3500 + km per year I am into at least four or five sets of tyres so that is another area that is always being assessed.  It is also a component that I pay the most for (relatively) so I am super interested in value for money.

Also my wife gets mad when I crash and hurt myself especially if it is because I tried to milk another day/ week out of a tyre!! I don't hold any truck with a longer lasting compound rear tyre - I expect it to stick as well as the front tyre and understand that it will wear out faster.

I have ridden -13ºC and perfectly dry in Pemberton in December and during a 1" in two hours down pour in Squamish and North Van in January (and June !!!). And dusty, dry, no soil, all rubble, deep summer conditions in Whistler.  There have been mint perfect trail conditions and post Crankworx bike park trail conditions.

After 14 years of riding at least 150 days per year there I would say I have well and truly tested most tyres and components at a realistic level.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

What an amazing position to be in. It can be so tough to motivate oneself to go for a "work ride" when it's miserable out in sea to sky. my personal favorite is 2° and raining... But when it's good, there is nothing like it.

Do you ever go for "fun rides" ?

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

I've just got to say this is the most comprehensive and useful summary of market-leading MTB tires I've seen. I'll come back and read it again next time I want to buy a tire.

The idea that Conti's performance is both very high and degrades more slowly than others is compelling. It makes me hope even more that, as I've commented before, they might someday put the sticky rubber on their trail or enduro casing. For the not-so-fit, not-so-shreddy, rest of us (me).

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ShawMac
ShawMac
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I love my Der Baron as a front tire. I run it with a Vittoria Martello on the rear on my Trail bike. I am going to swap my previously worn Der Baron onto the rear for a double DB wet weather set up. 

I have a set of Kryptotals to put on in the spring and I am excited to try them. 

For my DH bike, I want to try a new conti on the front... need to decide if I want the Kryptotal as well, or try the Argotal.

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andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

@ShawMac: Using other more well known tyre brands/ models as a comparison what is the Vittoria Martello like please? Always wanted to give them a try and the fact that We Are One was willing to spec them on their bikes speaks in their favour but not had a chance to get my hands on a set yet?

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ShawMac
ShawMac
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

I really like it. It is pretty fast rolling, and I have the heavy duty casing so it is tough as nails. No issues with grip. I really wanted to try the Mazza/Martello combo, but finding a 29x2.4 Mazza the last two years is a needle in the haystack. That is the main issue, Vittoria has seemed to have supply issues worse than other brands. 

I don't think it would do well in mud, but I haven't really tested it. I haven't run many different tires through the years, but it definitely has more grip than the Rekon I used to run. I don't notice much difference to the DHR II, but perhaps a bit more uniform transition to side knobs.

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trailschnitzel
Eric Schuler
1 week, 5 days ago
0

Im running the Martello 27.5x2.6 in the back all season in the Enduro Casing (2-Ply) without inserts on my G1. Unlike the many Maxxis Exo+ I had not a single flat despite lots of Alpine riding (probably 3 times Megavalance in Summer and La Grave) and 2 weeks in Finale. So same conclusion as ShawMac. They hold up great and roll well. I got them for free with a wheelset I bought for the Missus and they were a bit heavy for her but I would definitely buy them again for myself.

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just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

"All these names and signs mean something to someone."

More hexes, more casing. More circles, more soft. It doesn't make "sense" per se, but it isn't that complex.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

not for us.. but to the customer who is online shopping, its a mess

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BadNudes
BadNudes
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

The glyphs don't help a lot, but at least they didn't make up new words to describe the compound and casing and use endurance/soft/super soft and trail/enduro/downhill. That gets two thumbs up from me. Easier for me to understand than most brands.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

Yes! I love the compound names! Simple and descriptive

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Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Please, customers have somehow managed to navigate the byzantine madhouse that is Maxxis tyre specs and nomenclature. Compared to that mess, the Conti lineup is almost self-explanatory.

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MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I rode these on my friends bike (kryptotal dh, super soft) and compared them back to back with my Michelin wild enduro race with magi x2 rubber. Unfortunately, it was a super wet day,  so I'd like to try them in more normal weather. 

With those caveats, they were clearly decent, but had nowhere near the grip of my Michelins. Rolled much faster though.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Having spent quite a bit of time on the previous generation of Michelins, I just can't believe there is more traction available on roots with them. I found the Magi X rubber to rebound too slow and loose grip on wet surfaces. It does look like they have changed a few things in their formula and may have to give them a try again. I wish they were still 30% cheaper than the other options. It was an easier decision then. Now they are on par with other brands and people don't take the plunge.

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andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Gum-X is the best compound for anything less than warp speed. And cold and wet. I think I read somewhere that Magi-X characteristics were designed around an air temp of 22-25ºC (ie racing in France in summer).

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rolly
rolly
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I would be curious to see how their Enduro casings work. I currently ride EXO+ (Assegai/dhr2) without inserts and have had no problem. I love the grip, but I don't really want to have any more drag on the ups.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Martin

Enduro Casing Soft Compound is a go to option for a few pedal happy people I know and they are loving it!

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 AndrewR

the big question is Enduro casing with an insert or a DH casing without?  What is the weight of the Enduro casing?

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 pedalhound

Most people are opting out of inserts with the Contis.

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just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

"The periodic table of Continental MTB rubber is harder to decipher than the actual periodic table."

Haha, so good. I had just called it that in my head before I read that caption.

If you look at only the holes, it's easier to decipher, but also raises some questions. Basically, every tread is available in every casing, and almost every compound with these exceptions:

  • there are no 2.6 DH casings (okay, I guess that's what the pros wanted)

  • indeed, 2.6 is only available for AR and KR-Rear (why no front? the narrower rear layout is definitely a thing)

  • there is no KR-Front in DH Soft (why?)

Casing also dictates compound a bit: Trail casing means Hard compound only, Enduro casing means Soft compound only. So weird that there is no Super Soft for Enduro casing or Hard compound for Enduro or DH: I think there a good amount of people out there that want Super Soft compound in a lighter casing in front, and also would like a firm Enduro or DH casing with a long wearing compound in back.

It's a deceptive chart: looks like so many choices, but in reality once you pick just half the options (tread, casing, compound, size), you end up with only few, or just one, choices.

Good to know that they did improve their compounds, even if you can't always get exactly what you want, at least what you get is probably better than what was previously offered.

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andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Wider rear is an e-bike thing and a mullet thing

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

That's about as good as one can explain that chart. The arrow hex is also misleading because it is not stating a spec but riding intentions. It should have been left out

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just6979
Justin White
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

"The Trail and Enduro casing options come with Endurance or Soft rubber compound options."

Little mismatch on the logic there. Sounds like both casings come with either compound. According to the chart, Trail only comes in Endurance, Enduro only comes in Soft.

The Trail or Enduro casing options come with Endurance or Soft rubber compound options, respectively."

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I think the chart is incomplete. Both casings come with both compounds.

Will dig in and confirm this though

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trailschnitzel
Eric Schuler
2 weeks, 2 days ago
0

Great test - and as I am currently shopping for a new front-tire to replace my Assegai Exo Dual-Compound, I am wondering if anyone has tried the trail version with the endurance rubber? 

Would love the enduro soft one but its out of stock everywhere.

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KDix85
Kyle Dixon
2 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Eric Schuler

Hi Eric,

I run a 29x2.6 Argotal Trail Endurance Ft/ 29x2.4 Kryptotal Re Trail Endurance combo on my AL29er Tyee. No inserts. Tubeless. 28psi Rear, 25 front. 

I took the risk of stepping out from the house of Maxxis when I built up the Tyee and had a solid week of riding them on a trip to Pisgah NC before a nothing crash broke my fibula (not tyre related at all) and ended my test period for oh about 6 to 8 weeks.

I Can report that both the Argotal and Kryptotal in the Endurance compound have a staggering amount of grip in a myriad of conditions beyond their stated uses. Despite being the harder of the three compounds, Low speed handling was great. The Argos and Kryptos demonstrated no glaring signs of breaking traction on a slow crawl down some fairly impressive slabs in both the wet and the dry. 

High Speed grip and performance was admirable as well and despite a weeks worth of rain previous, the muddy chaos of some of the new tracks at Ride Rock Creek (Neko Mulallys new park in NC) wasnt enough to slow either tyre down. They both shed the sticky clay heavy mud with ease, maintaining solid purchase on the soil below, and ran beautifully on the super smooth groomed berms on their flow trails, with no sketchy vagueness moving from center to shoulder knobs when pushing the front wheel hard into hot corners. The Kryptotal RE out back did its job admirably despite being wailed on by a 6'3" 225lb Clydesdale. Only breaking loose into a slide when I pushed it to it, otherwise it was dependable in the back with oodles of bite whenever I hauled on the anchors. 

As for wear, despite 7 days hard riding from sun up til sun down, the hairs from the tyre moulds are still mostly on the entire tread. Endurance indeed. And despite fighting with many rock gardens, none of the cornering knobs tore nor show signs of degradation. Now I know its only 7 days, but the last 3C MaxxGrip Dissector I ran made it 3 days of park laps before it looked like an Ikon... further durability testing on the rocks of the Canadian shield will resume once the doc says I can go play bikes in the woods again. 

Weather overall on the trip varied from -7°c to daily highs of 15°c, and even with the broad swing, I didnt notice a vast and drastic difference in the tyres grip or damping feel. 

The Only con I have found so far is mounting the tyres. The beads are hellishly tight even with all the tricks in the book. And the ping when they seat is a very "did I just Die" when seating the bead with a compressor. 

Overall I am very happy about the performance and price of these new Contis, even if my tyre combo sounds like a pair of mythological Greek drug dealers. I dont think Ill be going back to the Big M any time soon. I think with either the Kryptotal FR or Argotal you will be very pleased over the tried and tested Assguy. 

Cheers, 

Kyle

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trailschnitzel
Eric Schuler
1 week, 5 days ago
0

Cheers Kyle! 

That sounds indeed very promising. I just ordered a Kryptotal Fr in Trailcasing now for the upcoming trip to northern England and Scotland next week. I was little suprised no one really compared the Enduro to the Trail casing option in terms of rubber, I shall report how it goes. No new rear tire for me so far there’s too much old stock I got to go through still :D

Im curious about the mounting, had the same with the CC tires from Conti before but also found that it very much depends on the rim. Was almost impossible with some Mavic and DT rims but the Newmen and even better Syntace rims were great (both of them are generally great to pop tires on)

Cheers,

Eric

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dano91
dano91
2 weeks, 1 day ago
0

Been running the enduro soft rear for about a month and have been enjoying it. I’ve been so used to running a dhr that it took a little bit to get used to as the breakaway point on the conti, but so far so good.  Would love to try the fr super soft at some point but I’ve got a big pile of assegai’s to get through first. 

Tip: these tires can be bought for pretty darn cheap out of Europe… if you can find them in stock that is.

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