Continental Race King 2.2″ Tire: Midterm Review

The Race King tires are still being ridden here and I now have a Midterm Report  ready for you all on these new shoes from Continental. First off, a big change was made since the last report in that I have set these up as tubeless tires on Stan’s Flow rims using the CaffeLatex sealant I have been testing. The process was easy and so far the Race Kings have had no issues being run tubeless, much like the experience I had with the Mountain Kings last year.

 

Because of this change, the width measurement has gone up from the 51.3mm I got in my last report to a whopping 56.5mm! (That is 2.22 inches, so it made the claimed width) Continental’s 29″er tires seem to stretch quite a bit, and even more so as tubeless tires. This is interesting and not necessarily unique to Continental; however, their casings seem to stretch more than others I have converted or tried tubeless.

 

With that in mind, the Race Kings continue to be an eye opener in terms of traction. Climbing, braking, and cornering traction are all above expectations with this tire. Especially considering what we have for knobs here. That said, there are a couple of downsides I want to point out with the Race King tires. First, the lack of anything substantial for side knobs means that lateral traction is not good. If these tires let go, you won’t save it in a corner. Ruts, off camber, or loose rocks and wet roots reveal this weakness as well. Secondly, any “extreme” situation will quickly overwhelm the Race King. Loose rocks, steep pitches, mud, or loose over hardpack will make you wish for more aggressive tread. (But that is what the Mountain King is for) Still, you won’t be disappointed if you use these as an “all rounder” tire, or specifically as a racing tire. The performance on dry, rough to buff single track is awesome.

The Race King also impresses as a tire that is cushy. The casing seems to be a very supple one and rides similarly to a Schwalbe Racing Ralph in that you seem to be excused from dealing with small trail chatter and the odd branch or small stone with the Race King. I believe it has a lot to do with how fast these tires roll as well. Between the plush casing and low rolling resistance, the Race King might just be the best single speed, rigid fork tire for racing that there is for 29″er freaks. Obviously, it makes your suspension rig feel that much better as well.

The comparison to a Bontrager XDX has come to mind for me here. The two tires are very similar in profile, width, and in how they perform. The only big difference between the two is that the XDX is stiffer feeling, probably due to the “AR” casing that Bontrager uses to beef up the XDX tire with. Otherwise the XDX and the Race King are tires with much the same performance characteristics. My choice would be for the Continental in most situations just because I prefer the nicer ride quality. If I lived in more severe terrain though, the XDX would win out due to its burly construction.

That’s it for now. I will continue to put the race Kings through their paces and I will chime in with a Final Review in about a month.

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