West Coast First Impressions: Continental Race King 2.2 29er tires

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After the Out of the Box report, I have had some time on the new Conti Race Kings now and it is time for a follow up. After weighing them and all that, I mounted them up onto the Stan’s Flows wheelset that I run on the Lev. They are replacing the Captain Control 2.2’s that have been happily living through all kinds of conditions so far.

The first test was mounting them up tubeless. I never ran the Conti Mtn Kings tubeless, so I was not sure what to expect as far as getting them to mount-up and inflate. It took a bit more work than the Captains did, but after a bit of massaging, they caught and pumped up nicely with a floor pump. I saw no signs of leakage in the sidewalls and the Stan’s goo quickly sealed up the bead juncture. Good to go.

I settled on 25lbs front and about 28lbs rear and measured them with a caliper. The Captains, a 2.2 tire, measured at 2.215″ wide (knob to knob) and a combined height (rim and tire) of 2.35″. The freshly mounted Race Kings measured to 2.135″ wide, but in this case the casing was wider than the tread, so that number is sidewall to sidewall. They were 2.88″ high. That is a pretty tall tire, and though it looks narrower than the Captains (which I consider to be a pretty plump tire), it is actually the lack of side knobs that fool the eye. So while it may not be a true 2.2, it is pretty good sized and will likely grow over time.

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If the size leaves you wanting more, keep in mind the name on the side of the tire: Race King. This is no freeride tire. It also looks fast. Lets have a show of hands…who likes fast rolling tires? One, two…three hands…yep we all do. The knobs are all the same height and are small, not too tall, and spaced fairly close together. It has a very round profile and I bet it is a smooth turning, predictable tire. We shall see.

The first ride was up a paved road to see how they spin on tarmac. 30 minutes of climbing later and I was sure of one thing; they are a fast rolling, sure cornering tire on pavement. Is that important? It may be if your training rides include road sections as mine often do.


The dirt test was to come, a 4 hour out and back on pine tree lined singletrack, 8 miles or so of climbing and lots of elevation gain. The soil was dry and dusty, but pretty hardpacked and generally ‘buff’ with good sections of firmly planted and square edged rocks to bounce over. I would say it was typical mountain trail conditions.

The tires simply impressed me. They did everything well that day. I never felt like I was pushing the limits of the tire. If they did drift, they never let go or scared me into thinking they were about to. I really like a round profile tire that feels the same at different lean angles. On this type of terrain, it let me decide what line to take with no arguments.

One very interesting thing…I noticed it on the Mtn King 2.4s and again on these tires. Over rocks, they have a unique feel to them. I am not sure how to describe it. Remember how it felt the first time you went tubeless and the ride over rocks and stuff was just more muted and yet lively? That is the way they feel to me. I have a feeling these tall but not too wide tires would be a very good choice for rigid riders and would be a fast SS tire.

The testing continues and I have a feeling the tires will be meeting their match as I get into sandy, loose conditions. If I was a betting man, I would wager they will be less than stellar there, but we shall see. Stay tuned.

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