Continental Race King 2.2″ 29″er Tires: First Impressions

Now that the trails have firmed up in my locale, I have been able to get out on the Continental Race King 29″er tires. My set up for the first rides was tubed with FSA XC-290 wheels (Also on test). The conditions were loamy to hardpack, with a bit of sand and some mud thrown in to the mix. But first, here are some initial hard numbers on the Continental Race Kings.

Weight: 650 grams and 620 grams

Width: 51.3mm/2.02 inches

The weight was about what I expected holding them in the hand and for the claimed width. The initial width measurement is a bit underwhelming. (2.2 inches is 55.88mm for referance) My experience with the Mountain King tells me these will stretch more with time and especially if I go to a tubeless set up. That said, expecting these tires to stretch nearly 4mm would be asking a lot.  The Race King may be a bit undersized for it’s stated width, but it is taller off the rim than anything else in it’s class that I have here, or have seen. The mounted profile of the tire on the FSA rims (24mm wide) is really rounded, almost peaked.  I ran the tires at 35psi rear and 30 psi front on my first rides.

The Continental Race King isn't quite as wide as this label says.

The Continental Race King isn't quite as wide as this label says.

The width and profile of the tires made for a fast feeling tire. Going up a fire road climb was easier due to the lower rolling resistance. Once at the top of this climb the downhill comes with some tight turns and switchbacks that go into a long traverse across a ridge that is very off camber. In my mind I was thinking that these tires were not going to do well here. However; I was pleasantly surprised when the tires stuck to the trail. This section was freshly raked, loamy, and littered with roots.  The Race Kings handled the roots well. The taller profile of the tires soaking up the bumps better than some tires I have tried.
The Race King made the rigid ride that much better.

The Race King made the rigid ride that much better.

Climbing was an eye opener. I mistakenly took a little used steep climb that featured “steps” of roots across my path about every three feet in a deeply rutted track. No way around it, I had to ride right up this “nature’s staircase”.  The Race Kings absorbed the edges of the roots well making for slip free traction and a less bumpy ride up which allowed me to keep a more steady cadence. I’m impressed with the Race King as a climbing tire. The small, triangular shaped knobs seem to do more than they let on by their diminutive appearance.
The Race Kings as mounted on my Salsa El Mariachi.

The Race Kings as mounted on my Salsa El Mariachi.

The cornering performance was good. I will have to explore this further on some faster trail, but the Continentals showed no signs of losing grip in these corners. The trail did have some muddy spots and the lack of any tall knobs made for little traction in the grease. I had to dismount a couple of times when I just couldn’t propel myself forward anymore. The narrow, highly crowned profile did dig in, so if there were any hard ground underneath, it may have grabbed ahold, but this was fairly bottomless mud. The cutting in was also eveident in sand as well. I think the race King will be a tougher tire to steer through the sand traps once they fully develope this summer.
I’ll be putting these tires through more trail testing with a switch to tubeless coming. Stay tuned!
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One Response to “Continental Race King 2.2″ 29″er Tires: First Impressions”

  1. a.lo Says:

    Just finished a build at the shop which was rocking these tires. I was definitely intrigued by the pattern and after positive review here I’ll probably be getting my hands on some soon.

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