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Sea Otter 2022: Tread tales

New tire options from XC to DH at Laguna Seca Speedway

There are few components more important to mountain biking than tires. The thin patterns of rubber remain (ideally) the only contact between you, your bike and the trail. At Sea Otter this year, new tires were front and center, especially with the festival’s presenting sponsor, Continental, completely redesigning its gravity and trail tire line.

Continental Tires starts from scratch

After four years of development, German tire brand Continental completely redesigned its entire line of gravity and trail tires. There are five new treads, three compounds and three casings. All with a clear (albeit somewhat German and sciency) naming convention that makes the line easier for riders to get what they need. The range runs from hardpack, fast tires to full-on race-specific mud spikes, in everyday trail to race-specific casing and compound options. After a very brief test ride in California, the tires are a promising fresh start from the Germans. We’re looking forward to more time on the treads soon.

RELATED: Continental rewrites its entire gravity tire line

Pirelli digs into dirt

Italian brand Pirelli is most famous for its vaunted status in motorsports. Lately, the brand’s been applying that experience to human (and electric) powered bikes with great success. Its tubeless road tires won Paris-Roubaix in 2021. Its mountain bike line expands for 2022, adding more treads and sidewall casings, including the eMTB-specific Hyperwall. The line now covers everything from XC/trail race to mud tires, and more gravity-focused Scorpion Enduro tires, including options for black or tan sidewalls.

Pirelli also had another secret tread, in prototype phase at Sea Otter, set to carry the brand further into the world of enduro and downhill racing.

Kenda adds XC options

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, American tire brand Kenda has two new treads out for 2022. The Karma2 is a mixed-use trail tire, confident in a wide range of conditions including loose and wet trails, but with a quick line of center tread for speed.

The Rush Pro is a faster-rolling version of the already-quick Booser cross country tire. This fills in gaps in the brand’s line, while still keeping the range manageable. Kenda recently opened its own testing facility in Akron, Ohio. that lets the brand quickly develop and change prototypes, too, so these roll out the gate ready to go.