Product Test: Continental Race King Tire
Continental has been making bicycle tires for over a century. The German company was founded in Hanover, Germany, as a soft-rubber manufacturer for bicycles and carriages. The Race King is heralded as the first in Conti’s lineup to use the newest technology.
The Race King is the lightest and fastest-rolling performance mountain tire Continental makes. While the tire is meant to be fast, it’s far from a semi-slick or cyclocross tire. The tread is designed with handling in mind. The King is available in both 26 and 29er versions; in either 2.0- or 2.2-inch widths; and in ultra-light RaceSport, UST-compatible or tubeless-ready ProTection casings. Our test tires were of the 26- and 29-inch, 2.2-inch-width variety and sported the four-ply, tubeless-ready ProTection sidewall. They tipped the scales at 1.2 pounds per tire for the 26-inch, and 1.5 pounds for the 29er version. They retail for $65 each.
Field test results:
The Race King is a race tire with trailbike chops. The tread pattern is lightweight, fast-rolling and efficient. Typically, those traits spell disastrous braking and cornering; however, the Race King strikes a balance and offers excellent handling manners in addition to the lightweight and racy feel. These tires are a perfect choice for the cross-country racer who also likes to shred some trails after crossing the finish line. We ran these tires tubeless on both a 26-inch Intense Tracer trailbike and a 29-inch Titus Racer X.
The ProTection sidewall is a perfect weight for a tubeless-ready system; however, it feels squirmier than a true UST tire when set-up tubeless. We had no issues with flat tires, except for the ones we blame ourselves for. The mid-weight casing is a good match for a lightweight cross-country bike, but trail riders may find themselves looking for a higher-volume feel on the trail.
We rode these tires like we stole’em for the better part of a year. It was only toward the end of our testing period that we began to experience issues with flats and sidewall tears.
The tread wore better than most ultra-soft race tires that we’ve tested. This is not just a “race” tire; it’s one that you can race, train and trail ride on without feeling like you’re giving up much. The knob pattern works best for hardpack terrain, but also provides sufficient traction when the terra firma gets a little loose on top. Braking and accelerating on the tire are sufficient, but it is certainly designed with low-rolling resistance as a priority.
This is a high-end tire that delivers tons of traction at a weight that will be right at home on a cross-country race bike. This tire is top-notch for the rider or racer who is looking for the ultimate in efficiency, but doesn’t want to feel like he is turning his bike into a ghetto-rigged cyclocross bike. These tires get it done, up and down the track, even when the trail gets a little nasty.