German tire giant, Continental is working hard to bring its mountain bike tires in line with the excellent reputation of its road tires. The brand, founded in 1871, doesn’t lack experience or knowledge in rubber. So, when it came to completely re-designing its tire line, Conti tapped some of the best mountain bikers around. The Atherton’s, and the entire Continental Atherton team, helped test and develop the new five-tire range.
Bringing the Atherton’s onboard had an unexpected benefit. Continental’s planned this release for four years, including three full years of intense prototyping and testing. When COVID hit, and Germany was locked down, the Atherton’s were able to continue testing at their family-owned Dyfi bike park.
So, what are the new tires?
Continental MTB-Gravity Range
The new gravity line covers everything from out-your-backdoor trail riding to full-on DH racing. There are five tread patterns, three casing options and three compound options. That could be a lot to take in all at once, but Continental’s tried to make the line as straight forward as possible.
of five unique tread patterns designed to suit dry hardpack, loose terrain, mud, and everything in between. To complement these five new tread patterns, Continental has developed three casing and three compound options across four sizes to offer riders a bespoke, no-compromise set-up tailored to their riding style
Continental Atherton, Continental Nukeproof, Pinkbike Racing and Pivot Factory Racing
Xynotal is for hardpack or dry conditions. Think dry or rocky trails. Angled, in-line shoulder studs for cornering combine with numerous centre and mid-knobs for a large contact area maximize grip and stability. Ramped knobs roll fast but still brake.
Kryptotal Fr & Re
Kryptotal is the all-rounder and the only one that comes in a front and rear-specific. This is the tire that you want if you ride everywhere. Spaced, but solid tread with slight ramping for better rolling. It’s the sweet spot of grip and rolling resistance. The Kryptotal Re can be run, of course, with all the other tires for more specific situations.
Argotal takes it up a notch from the Kryptotal. Supported and taller knobs offer grip in looser dirt. An open tread digs into softer ground while still clearing out soil and mud.
Always a race-specific necessity for the downhillers, the Hydrototal is a full-on, dedicated mud tire. Very tall and spaced-out knobs down the centre clear out mud and dig way down into the much. Supported shoulder studs hold on for aggressive cornering in the worst conditions. Not an everyday tire.
Casing and Compound options
Along with the new treads, Continental revamped its naming structure to be easier to understand, so you get the tire you need for where you ride. Gone is the confusing Black Chili system. In its place are three casing options and three rubber compounds.
For gravity casing, Continental is offering a DH, Enduro and Trail casing. Trail is the lightest, using a triple-layer construction under the tread. Enduro casing ads an apex protective layer for sidewall cuts and pinch flat protection. For downhill race and freeride, the Downhill casing uses a six-layer construction and additional reinforcement as well as apex protection.
Three rubber compounds, Endurance, Soft and SuperSoft, offer varying levels of grip and rolling resistance. In Continental’s theme of user-friendly naming, the compounds are self explanatory. Endurance is for longevity on bikes that will be pedalled a lot. SuperSoft is a more race-specific tire designed with the tackiest rubber.