Continental 2011

by Matt Letch 16

A couple of months back Continental invited us out to Slovenia for the launch of their new off road tyres.

One of them is a reworking of their classic Mountain King and the other is a new “race” tyre – The X-King.

Continental launches are a bit different from your normal launch – the main bit (apart from trying tyres) seemed to be helicopters – but more of that later.

To get a unruly gaggle of Euro journos out on two different tyres in one day involved a incredibly complex bike pick to get the right size, then you had to choose which type of rider you are from the various categories, which then had to be tied in to your allocated slot in a helicopter to get dropped at the top of a mountain – a massively complex and stereotypically Germanic organisation, hilarious for piss taking journos and probably very annoying for Conti, but they persevered and finally our slots were sorted and brakes swapped.

Mountain King

The King is dead! Long live the King!

The Mountain King is massively different from its old namesake. Gone is the Endless Edge technology to be replaced with side knobs with proper lugs in the middle, as well as a plethora of sizes and compounds.

Knobs and lots of them...
The Conti ruler has been out again, making this 2.4 a truly huge thing

As you can see it’s a much more aggressive looking tyre with a more open pattern to clear crap and proper knobs on the side to lean in to. We’re all big fans of the Black Chilli compound Rubber Queens in the office and can’t wait to get a set in to try in that flavour.


X-King is modern race XC or for “All Mountain Tours” (new genre there), a much lighter fast rolling tread tread but with a larger volume (the 2.4s are whoppers!)

Again, lots of knobbles, only lower profile for more speed. More speed!
We can't see many XC racers wanting a 2.4 tyre, but it may suit longer, rockier days out.

2.0 Supersonic comes in at 440 grams if you’re after something for hour-long thrashes on a race course.

Test rides.

First ride was on the Mountain King – after getting over the fear of the helicopter and regaining sanity I found myself on top of somewhere high and windy.

The trail then dropped a long long way through woodland interspersed with switchbacks and little rock sections – a couple of bits of straight line singletrack and finishing in a kind of natural cresta run into a small village.

All in all the Mountain King (I was on 2.2 normal rubber variant) was an incredible improvement over the old tyre. It would drift on corners but was always catchable -didn’t clog up in mud and generally had a level of consistent behaviour that the older version of the tyre never had. It wasn’t brilliant at being hauled up in a straight line and didn’t seem to have the mechanical grip of, say a Maxxis Ardent or equivalent, but then it rolled better. Which is kind of the Continental thing really – they care about how well a tyre rolls and the tyre is a package which is about overall performance rather than one really strong aspect. In that respect the Mountain King is a proper all rounder, it isn’t insanely brilliant at one thing but with a little use to find where the edges are, it’s a reliable do it all tyre, with a slight leaning towards harder riding.


After a much less traumatic helicopter flight (the pilot appeared to be one of the Mario Brothers which I found strangely comforting) and a lot less height gain we were treated to a fire road slog fest ably assisted by a cruel Slovenian Guide and some very thin Team Ergon/Topeak riders in making sure the grovel factor was kept up.

X-King is many ways a classic Conti tyre – it may be bigger and more comfy but it’s what they’re good at – really fast rolling XC tyres and this one is no exception, compared to normal ‘tearing of Velcro’ noise that my tyres normally make up climbs, these things flew along. They were also surprisingly consistent on singletrack -I wouldn’t say grippy particularly but behaved the same regardless of how you rode them, and I’d rather have a consistently low grip tyre that behaved well over a ‘grip and slip’ fest.

The Mountain King is vastly improved – I suspect that the Black Chilli one may be the format to go with in the UK, at least for the front. I’m looking forward to getting some larger volume ones to play with as well. The X-Kings are something that you’ll love if you value speed over grip and aerobic thresholds over air time.


Comments (16)

  1. woo! looking forward to checkin those Slovenia trails next month.
    Might be minus the chopper ride tho.

  2. Mountain King looks very similar to Maxxis HR tread pattern. Not that that’s a bad thing. Good proven design.

  3. You lucky bugger! 🙂 Slovenia looks amazing for riding.

    As for the tyres, there’s quite a buzz over on the Weight Weenies MTBR forum over the Black Chilli X King.

    Judging from the reviews, the new Mountain King on the front and the X King on the back will be a good replacement for the Minion DHF/HR combo, as well as being quite a bit lighter to boot.

  4. the x king looks a lot like the Bontrager XR4.

  5. tyres and location look very nice. The new mountain king looks like a slimmed down rubber queen, which can only be a good prospect. MK front and XK rear combo sounds good.

  6. The MK’s look a lot better and in black chilli should be pretty sweet and light.

    The Xkings look good, are they in black chilli also? if so might have to give them a go as a 4x tyre instead of larsens or race kings.

    Must agree conti tyres blow up massive or should I say correctly. So 2.4 is much mbigger than a 2.35 maxxis, or at least looks that way.

  7. Mountain King looks like a high roller – exactly my 1st thought

  8. Ditto – Highroller. Still if they are lighter it’s not a bad thing, be good to see how the sizes come up.

  9. I know you can’t do this with tyres at a launch, but when you review them for the mag could you pump them up to say 30 psi, get some electronic calipers across the widest part and take a picture and include it in the review? That is the only way we will know what “really wide” means and if they will fit in our frame.

  10. ^^ There wouldn’t be a lot of point in that because the profile of the tyre would be different dependant on rim.

  11. ’bout time too! 🙂 the old MK tread is poo in natural conditions!

    the new version appears to be very similar to the Specialized Eskar tread and as also mentioned the new X King is similar to the Bontrager XR4 layout

    funny how the tread designers are eventually coming to similar conclusion with their products….

  12. Love to know how they compare to the old vertical?
    When they in the shops?

  13. try compare prices to Maxxis…

  14. what about in wagon wheel sizes?

  15. Looks like a Maxxis minion DHR & Kenda SB8 combo….which incidentaly run on Stans ZTR rims in tubeless form both 2.35 is just FANTASTIC. Don’t take any notice of SB8’s not running tubeless they do as long as you are NOT TOO TIGHT with tubeless liquid (these are big tyres so need lots of lube!).

  16. Do we have a release date on these tyres?

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