By Sim Mainey
When the inevitability of a 27.5in takeover became obvious, it seemed only logical that Conti would tweak its moulds and start rolling out (slightly) bigger versions of its popular Der Kaiser and Der Baron models. But time passed and no tyres emerged.
Thankfully, the wait is now over. The Continental Der Baron Projekt 2.4s, to give them their full name, aren’t just an upscaled version of the 26in model. With time to tinker with the design, Conti has made subtle changes to the tread profile – the most noticeable being the reduced size of the tread blocks. A lot has stayed the same though, which is a good thing.
As any sane person would, we ran Der Barons tubeless using Continental’s Revo sealant. This seemed a little less viscous than the likes of Stan’s juice, giving rise to some concern that in the event of a puncture it wouldn’t be able to seal the hole. Initial tyre inflation was a mixed bag – the front tyre went up and stayed up first time, but the rear struggled to seat and lost pressure overnight. A few rides were needed for things to settle and the rear tyre eventually sealed properly. Weight is 985g/tyre.
Tyres have a tricky job juggling the demands of traction and reliability with rolling speed and weight – compromise is the name of the game. The Der Barons err in favour of grip and reliability. That’s not to say they are particularly heavy or tardy, but they don’t roll quite as well as Maxxis Minions in 3C spec.
The BlackChili compound does what it’s always done and lets you get away with feats of grip that would see other tyres sliding out. Usually grip comes at the expense of durability, but after months of riding there was no visible wear to the tread and no rips in the knobs. You certainly feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
The Apex sidewall reinforcement is designed to protect from slashes and gashes while adding stability at lower pressures. So it was a bit of a surprise that I managed to put a small hole in the sidewall just above the bead on my first ride – the result of landing on a pointy root and pinching the tyre on the rim. The rim needed spannering to get it back in shape but nothing is quite as galling as a brand new tyre written off on the first ride. This appears to be more bad luck than design flaw though, as I’ve not been able to repeat my experience.
Der Barons are great all-rounder tyres, only getting out of their depth in deep mud, just where Continental’s Mud Kings step in. The wide tread spacing means they do clear well though, so if you can keep the wheels turning they’ll do their best to shed mud and hunt out whatever grip is on offer. The trade-off for this is that transitioning between the centre tread and the shoulder can be little disconcerting at first, requiring you to learn to trust the tyre and get past this ‘float zone’.
Overall: If you’re the kind of rider who doesn’t want to swap tyres depending on weather or trail conditions, the Der Barons are worthy of consideration in the UK for most of the year. While the cost might seem a bit high they wear extremely well, making them more of an investment than a consumable.
|Tested:||by Sim Mainey for Four months|