Continental Mountain King: 2.4 Protection – Review

by Brian Mullin on February 4, 2009


Reviewed by Brian Mullin aka Gram and MTBR.com Pastajet
http://www.gramslightbikes.com/

I have tested the Protection version of the 2.4 Continental Mountain King tires over the last several months on my Ibis Mojo. I have been able to cross compare them against several other tires in all sorts of variable terrain, and I must say they are primo! Long Live the Mountain King.

Far away
In a land caught between
Time and space
Where the books of life lay
We fear
This castle of stone
The mountain king roams

Tire History 101
Continental has been developing and manufacturing bicycle tires since 1892, back when tires for a bike were leather or iron bands. Iron bands were heated red hot, put around a spoked wooden wheel, quenched, contracting the band tightly on the wheel, and tying the wheels spokes together, hence the term ‘tire’. The pneumatics of those days has evolved into a highly technical, scientific, and the much more functional modern tire (thank goodness).

Tires consist of 3 basic components, the bead (Kevlar or steel), the fabric and the rubber. The rubber consists of many materials and additives; crude rubber is the essential base material, and is mixed with carbon black, sulfur, accelerators, antioxidants, silicas, dyes, waxes and oils. Binding materials such as the nylon casing, and reinforcing materials such as Kevlar or steel, are baked under heat, and pressure, with the rubber materials during the vulcanization process, to form the finished tire. What is rubber like if it isn’t vulcanized? It is brittle when cold and melts when hot, and it is not durable, think of a pencil eraser as the best example. Vulcanization, which is basically adding sulfur to rubber and then heating, was advanced around the 1840’s by Charles Goodyear (he died broke) and was patented by the Englishman Thomas Hancock, although it appears the Mesoamericans were doing it in 1600’s. In 1888, John Dunlop invented the pneumatic bike tires (cool, we were first!), and in 1895 André Michelin made tries for autos, albeit unsuccessfully, tires have progressed and evolved since then to the modern tire.

The Mountain King
I have been using Continental tires for many years, first using the ubiquitous Vertical, and lately what I consider their predecessor, the Mountain King.

Continental has created a whole plethora of varieties and sizes of the Mountain King. They make a Protection (tough sidewalls), a Supersonic (lightweight), a UST (tubeless) and a normal version in 26 x 2.2 and 26 x 2.4 sizes, and a normal version in the 26 x 2.0, 29 x 2.2 and 29 x 2.4 sizes.

I have used the normal version of the Mountain King 2.4 on my 29er for almost a year, and I have been very satisfied with them, except for their weak sidewalls that on occasion can be prone to tears and punctures, so the Protection version had piqued my interest. I would really like to see them in the UST and Protection versions for 29er’s, but Continental currently has no plans on the table for that.


Black Chili
The Protection and Supersonic versions of the Mountain Kings are handmade in Germany, and are comprised of the Black Chili compound.


The Black Chili compound is a new tread mixture, which blends newly developed synthetic rubbers with proven natural rubber. They contain ‘nano’ (10 nanometer) sized rubber particles that have surface properties optimized for use in bicycle tires. These smaller particles enable the tire tread to deform around surface objects more quickly, improving grip. They also form a tighter bond with each other, thus improving compound strength for improved tread life, and less chances for lugs to rip, and tear. The way in which these particles interact with each other also lowers rolling resistance. That sounds like a mouthful of marketing mumbo jumbo!

Therefore, does the Black Chili work? The tires do feel much stickier, and more conformable to rocks, and seem to wear slower, but I would be hard pressed to tell if they roll better with such a very knobby tire.


Protection Version
The Protection version has a tougher sidewall, sort of a snakeskin outer skin, and it really takes the abuse put out by sharp rocks. I have had no sidewall tears, nor any real abrasions issues. The Protection versions sidewalls use Continental’s ‘Duraskin’, which is an extremely durable polyamide fabric, that is tear, abrasion and puncture resistant. In case you wanted to know, a polyamide is a polymer containing monomers of amides joined by peptide bonds. The casing is constructed of three plies of 180 TPI bias cut material make up the casing under the tread and two plies compose the sidewalls along with the added ‘Duraskin’.

Ride Impressions
In the gravel, sandy, rocky, and loose conditions of the Pikes Peak region of Colorado these tires are excellent. They provide incredible traction in spots that most tires seem to slip in, these are like magnets, and just stick where you put them. The open tread design really helps them hook up on a variety of conditions and terrain.


I rode these down at the Pueblo South Shore trail system, which is comprised of loose flaky shale, hard pack dirt, rock ledges, and short ramps of slick rock sections, and they really shined. They also work very well in snow, and even the occasional icy section does not seem to faze them. The tires do seem to have a weak point, they slip on extremely wet rocks, but the Black Chili compound does make them work better than their normal counterparts on wet rocks. Furthermore, forget riding them on a road very much unless you want to lose your fillings, but these are off road tires so that is not much of a concern.


They corner really well, being predictable and stable, the round casing greatly assists in being able to crank them over. There was a hint of the knobs scrubbing when really pushing them, but you don’t notice any loss of stability. One of the fine things these tires do is simply what you tell them to do, toss them this way or that, and it does not faze them, they stay right on track, and right where you put them. Predictable! They give great steering control and input, with incredible braking ability, and surprisingly do really well on long rock stretches.

The tires are supposed to be 2.4 inch tires, but I would call them more like fat 2.25 tires. Most of the Continental tires I have ever used were always a bit narrow for their size, so I am pretty used to their sizing. I usually ran these with tubes due to the number of swaps outs I was doing with tires, and I ran them with 25-28 psi.


Bottom Line:
All hail the Mountain King! These tires are quite exceptional, and will handle most “all around” terrain with aplomb, and they, especially shine in loose conditions. They are most at home in the arid conditions of the Western US, but anywhere that is rocky and loose they should be great. They are very predictable, corner well, with great braking and steering attributes. The tires claw their way up terrain with great gripping power, and the Black Chili compound makes them as sticky as my rock climbing shoes. The Protection version is like having body Armour added to an already great tire, it is ready to duke it out with most anything that can be thrown at it. In muddy conditions the knobs just aren’t spaced properly to propel you through the slop, so they squirm a bit in those conditions. Their only flaw I could find was that on extremely wet rocks they could be a bit slipperier than I would have liked.

Strengths:
– Great all around tire.
– Sticky Black Chili rubber.
– Tough Duraskin sidewall amour.
– Loose condition Master.
– Predictable.
– Great braking and steering control.

Weaknesses:
– Expensive.
– Not the best on extremely wet rock.
– Slightly squirmy in deep mud.
– Undersized per their spec.

Value Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Mountain King Protection 2.4 inch Specs:
Tire weight – 755.4 grams and 784.9 grams (Conti spec 750g)
Casing width – 2.18 inches
Knob width – 2.38 inches
Tire height – 2.15 inches
Tire Pressure used – 25-28 psi
MSRP – $75.00

Continental Mtn King url:
http://www.conti-online.com/generator/www/de/en/continental/bicycle/themes/mtb/cross_country/MountainKing_new_en.html

Purchase Continental Mountain King Protections

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

dirtyrig August 31, 2009 at 6:52 pm

I've been riding the Mountain King 2.4 protection. I have to agree with the reviewer for the most part. I live in the North East USA and we have the most diverse terrain in the country. From hard pack, slick rock, loose dirt, roots you name it. I put these tires through every trail condition imaginable. They are a fair all around tire and are terrible in wet/rocky conditions. The tire also does not corner well when high speed cornering. These tires shine on loose to medium hard-pack conditions, but hard pack terrain you can feel the knobbies squirm on hard turns. These tire are deadly in wet/ rocky conditions. Feels like I'm ridding on ice. I would have given them 2 1/2 chili's.

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Mike... October 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Well… the reviewer is correct… these tires are really more like a fat 2.25's and do not come close to anything like a 2.4 tire. That said, I "tried" to get one of the UST Mtn King Conti's to seal on a Stan's Flow rim and had no luck at all. I went ahead and put a tube in it and I will "try" to get it to seal later on today. I have had BIG issues trying to get any German made tire, Conti or Schwalbe, to seal correctly on Stan's Flow rims. Maxxis tires work great and seal without any issues at all… so buyer beware ! 😉

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet October 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I could never get any of the Conti normal tires to seal up for me on my 26er, on the other hand they worked just fine on my 29er? I could always get the Schwalbe Alberts to seal up on my 26er, sometimes without any tricks, like soapy water on the rim or pre-stretching with a tube, none of those worked for Conti's on my 26er.

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Anonymous January 10, 2011 at 10:06 am

thanks

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