Continental Rubber Queen Review

by Brian Mullin on June 3, 2009

I have been bashing away on a set of the Continental Rubber Queen 2.4’s for around 4 months now, and I must say this is “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy”. These are big suckers, that is just a blast to use, and they love to haul ass through the meanest territory you can throw at them. Yes, with these babies size does count!

UPDATE: Continental renamed the tire Trail King in the US instead of Rubber Queen

The Rubber Queen is a new tire for Continental, and it joins their other existing Downhill, Freeride and All Mountain tires the Der Kaiser and the Rain King. The Rubber Queens come in a 2.2 x 26 inch and 2.4 x 26 inch size in both a normal and UST version. The normal version is made with the proprietary Black Chili compound and have the Apex sidewall treatment, and all versions are handmade in Korbach Germany (the Mothership).

Casing
The Rubber Queens casing is comprised of nylon fabric, which has an extremely high tensile strength, and can withstand the abuse the real world tosses at it. The normal version is constructed of three plies of 60 tpi (3/180) bias cut material that make up the casing under the tread and two plies compose the sidewalls, while the UST version uses three plies of 110 tpi (3/330). Tpi is the number of threads per inch, a finer fabric is more flexible and puncture resistant while a coarser fabric is more rigid and cut resistant.

APEX Design
The proprietary APEX sidewall treatment puts additional material above the tire bead to help protect, stiffen and stabilize the sidewall for better control and cornering. The stiffened sidewalls can take more abuse and allow you to bash the tire around with abandon. It is supposed to help reduce pinch flats, but I got plenty of them anyway, so minus 1 for that attribute.

Black Chili
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 fewer chances for lugs to rip, and tear. The way in which these particles interact with each other also lowers rolling resistance.

Out on the streets for a living
Pictures only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb
Whoo, black chili, yeah
Whoo, black chili

Test Rig
I used my Ibis Mojo (5.5 inch travel) as my main stead for the testing of the Rubber Queens. I spent the vast majority of the time testing on the 2.4 inch size, with only an occasional foray onto the 2.2’s. I only tested the normal version (Black Chili/Apex), so hopefully I can get a UST test done next. The Mojo was equipped with an entire slew of forks (Magura Thor, Manitou Elite and DT Swiss EXC 150) and shocks (Fox RLC and DT Swiss Carbon) during the test period. I primarily used the very sweet American Classic All Mountain wheelset, but depending on the fork I was using at the time, I would switch to a Hope/ZTR355 front wheel. I was unsuccessful in getting them set up in a tubeless mode, so I stuck with tubes the entire time. I also used the new Schwalbe Fat Albert 2.4 as a front tire and the Rubber Queen on the rear, as they seemed to work well together.

Ride Impressions
When you pump these tires up the first time you realize how voluminous they are. They have a very round profile and the knobs don’t protrude out very far from the casing, this tire is mostly a giant casing with some toothy knobs stuck on it. She has some girth to her! Continental tires are notoriously under sized for their specifications, but these babies are right on the money. Due to their prodigious size, there might be clearance issues on some bikes rear triangles?

Measured Specs:

Rubber Queen 2.4
Weight: 826.8 grams and 829 grams
Casing width 2.37 inches
Casing height: 2.27 inches

Rubber Queen 2.2
Weight: 704.0 grams and 689.6 grams
Casing width: 2.25 inches
Casing height: 2.18 inches

So how do they ride? These tires have so much girth that they have their own mini-suspension built into them, which makes them really nice to bashing through rocks gardens and ugly terrain. They ride well at any speeds, but they prefer to be traveling with a lot of momentum, so they are true speed demons. The tires like to be run at low pressure, and anything much above 25-28 psi seemed detrimental to their riding characteristic (my fave is 25psi on the nose).

The tread design and the sticky Black Chili compound make the tires grab like Velcro on rocky terrain, and this also aids in braking. Tractor pulling power! The only place they don’t do as well as expected to be on long slick rock sections, where their brethren the Mountain Kings are champions. The lugs have some deeps sipes in them, which helps in wet conditions and aids greatly in traction and braking.

Siping 101
Siping is a process of cutting thin slits across a rubber surface to improve traction in wet or icy conditions. Siping was invented and patented in 1923 by John F. Sipe. The story told on various websites is that, in the 1920s, Sipe worked in a slaughterhouse and grew tired of slipping on the wet floors. He found that cutting slits in the tread on the bottoms of his shoes provided better traction than the uncut tread. Sipes are fairly ubiquitous on winter, all season and all terrain vehicle tires.

The girth and weight of these big tires do have a drawback, they are requiring more work while climbing, and they only have decent rolling resistance. The APEX sidewalls gives a lot of strength and stability to the front end when steering through difficult terrain, plus it keeps the rear planted firmly to the tarmac. On occasion though, you get a sideways ricochet off rocks, roots and debris. The sidewalls are very beefy, and I never had any cuts nor abrasion issues. I did seem to pinch flat every couple of weeks, and would have a flat tire after I completed my ride, so at least the pinch caused a slow leak. Due to the large size the tires do steer slower, but they roll well enough that you can bring the tire around as needed.

On occasion the tires would wash out while doing hard cornering in looser terrain, and they preferred to be tilted up taller in corners, more like how you ride a Superbike on a race track. If you happen to get the tire in the proper groove they carved very sweetly, but you really had to roll them over deeply. I can’t recall a tire that carved as nicely as they do when they are in the sweet spot.

The tires hooked up well while pedaling and climbing in gravel and loose conditions, and they floated over sand quite nicely. Even though they weren’t the best rolling tire around, they did perform fine on hardpack. They did well in mud due to the widely spaced tread pattern, and the lugs helped you power your way through the slop, and they seemed to clean fast. Although they did decently in the snow, they were a little more slippery than normal on ice.

Bottom Line
The Rubber Queens 2.4’s are a big fat beast of a tire that has great suspension characteristics. They grab well on rocks and rough terrain, and seem to really dig in and adhere to the terrain. They need to be run with low pressure, and they seem most at home when they are carrying a lot of speed through terrain. Their size, the Apex sidewalls and the sticky Black Chili compound give the tire great braking and traction abilities, and they can carve a beautiful turn when dropped over far enough.

The little sister 2.2’s are lighter, and roll and turn better than the 2.4’s, and fortunately they still share the same characteristics. However, and where size counts, they are just a tad slimmer, so I much preferred the 2.4’s.

The Rubber Queens are a great All Mountain tire with some wonderful characteristics, outside of a propensity to pinch flat and an occasional washout while cornering.

Strengths
-Pricey
-Big, need I say more!
-Traction and braking monsters
-Sticky rubber
-Decent mud tire
-Suspension

Weaknesses
-Prone to pinch flats
-Heavy
-Can washout while cornering

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

shockabuku June 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Excellent review, thanks. Just ordered some 2.4 UST for my new Uzzi VP, your review definitely helped. Cheers.

Reply

Anonymous October 20, 2009 at 11:28 am

Great Review, congrats. Just one question: I'm going to fit these tires to my Ibis Mojo (on Stan ZTR Flow rims). Will they really don't rub on any part of the frame/fork?
Thx, Andy
oltenbiker@yahoo.de

Reply

johnnyutah97 April 30, 2010 at 1:39 am

Any idea where you can find the 2.2 version? The only place I see it available is in the UK.

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johnnyutah97 April 30, 2010 at 4:41 am

Brian – thanks! They don't say if they're wire bead or the black chili. I'll drop them an email as well. Can you run their wire beaded tire tubeless on a ztr rim? Thanks again for your help.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet April 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

Yes, that is probably the steel one, I would try and find the kevlar instead. You can also search for them under their new name Trail King, I am using the 2.2 UST version lately.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet April 30, 2010 at 7:29 am

Yes, that is probably the steel one, I would try and find the kevlar instead. You can also search for them under their new name Trail King, I am using the 2.2 UST version lately.

Reply

johnnyutah97 April 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm

ahhhh… now everything makes sense. Didn't know they had been renamed to the Trail King. Thanks again.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet April 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I updated my article to note such, per my Interbike daily report "Nothing really new at Continental tires, except they changed the name of the Rubber Queen to the Trail King. Why? Who knows, the bike industry is not exactly the most politically correct group of people? I really like the tires, and much preferred the old name, Rubber Queens forever!"

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shockabuku April 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Must be a USA thing, they're still called Rubber Queen over here in the UK :-). I'm running 2.4 UST on my Uzzi and 2.2 non-UST on my Blur LTc. Great tyres.

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johnnyutah97 April 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm

hah – well you know how fickle mtb and roadies can be. "I would buy them if only they didn't have…"

I just scored a pair. Hopefully they're not too tough to setup tubeless on my Arch rims.

Now to start thinking about the front/back setup I want to run for the downieville classic XC.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet May 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

shockabuku
The Trail King is indeed a American naming convention? I am looking forward to the 29 Trail King 2.2 and 2.4, towards Interbike time frame?

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shockabuku May 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I just wish they'd release a 2.2 UST in Black Chilli…would be a superb trail tyre.

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Anonymous August 17, 2010 at 5:48 am

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Anonymous December 9, 2010 at 7:44 am

The best page that I have read all year 😀

Jimmie

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