Saturday, January 19, 2013

Area 51: Continental Trail Kings Protection

conti trail king protection
One Tire to rule them all
As far as gearing up the mtb, I like nothing so much as fresh treads for my 2WD.

At anywhere from $40-$90 per wheel, I really don't experiment around all that much. But over the years I've experienced my fair share of winners and losers.

Losers- can't get much worse than those ubiquitous WTB VelociRaptors that clog the sale bins at your LBS.  Slow, squirrely, prone to washing out. Let's just say I found their best use cut up and jury-rigged as chainstay protectors.

specialized ground control 2bliss
GC's weeping stans- the horror, the horror
Amongst the Winners, CST Caballeros will always have a place in my heart.  They were my first Twoo Wuv, ahem, True Love- priced right for a family of 4, wearing like iron, the quintessential bargain. 

Or Schwalbe's Fat Alberts- durable, grippy, they definitely have your back leaning into the loose corners.  Just don't ride them wet over roots if you like your teeth, comprendes?  While they work great for our desert riding, at $90 retail, it wasn't long before I grew tired of bowing at the altar of Schwalbe.

Then there were Specialized's Ground Controls- fast and lightweight, nearly as grippy as the Fat Alberts, but sadly a bit delicate in the sidewalls.  Definitely a race tire IMHO, prone to weep Stans through the sidewalls at 6 months.  Average length of a racing season? 6 months.  Coincidence, I think not Specialized R&D! I mean c'mon guys!

conti trail king protection

That said, when it came to resolving to start the new year 2013 out right, I returned to the newly formulated Continental Trail Kings, black chili with Protection sidewalls.  And they are ohhhh so sweet,  my preciiiiious.

conti trail king protection

To start, the TK's sport a new RTR tubeless-ready bead.  The stiff Protection sidewalls prove a real PITA to seat initially, ask me how I know.  Once seated however, that bead is really embedded in there, staying locked up at 55psi for the record.  Say it with me mis amigos- no more burping, hallelujah!

The Protection sidewalls are a big upgrade for this tire, you can feel the reinforcement difference between the previous generation TKs or a racing tire like the Ground Controls.  Fingers crossed I'll finally see an end to wheels-up trailside repairs on West Ridge Trail.
conti trail king protection
black chili goodness steeped in every pore
Durability for the TK's is beyond question.  The past generation tires have lasted a solid 8 months on the back, 12 months on the front.  I expect no difference with the new generation Protection.

On the bike, the tires are light, in neighborhood of 730g if I have my figures right.  And oh so grippy.  So veeeery grippy, hooking-up like nobody's bidness.  There are certain step-ups in the Otero network that consistently prove my undoing, many times due to my back tire spinning-out at the critical moment.  My first attempt with the TK's had me hooting in victory over my former nemeses, they are indeed that good.  In the loose corners now, let's just say Schwalbe ain't got nothin' over Conti.

Last, pricing is completely reasonable at $50-55 per tire, especially considering the Schwalbe line has you paying nearly double, and Specialized might have you replacing nearly twice as often.

conti trail king protection

So if you value durability, grip, economy in a tubeless-ready tire, you owe your bike to give Continental's a spin. All said and done, they make me a better rider.

 Who says it's not about the bike, amirite?

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