The not-so-minor details
Continental X-King and Mountain King Pure Grip Tyres
Mountain King 29x2.4"
Pricing is great.
Good variety of tread patterns.
Sidewalls are light.
Sizing is small - go the 2.4".
A few weeks ago we introduced you to the new Continental Pure Grip range of tyres, a very competitively priced bunch of treads that are now available in Australia. We’ve had some good trail time on them now, and here’s what we think.
We had two different tyres to review – the X-King and the Mountain King – and in both we opted for a 29×2.4″ size. The X-King is probably the one that most riders will reach for first, it fulfils that classic fast-rolling, trail tyre role, with low tread blocks that are closely spaced. The second tyre we had to test is the Mountain King, which is a unique looking tyre with lots of open space between the centre tread blocks, and staggered side knobs. It’s a more aggressive tread than the X-King, but it’s still aimed at the trail bike market.
All the Pure Grip treads are tubeless ready tyre (which is exceptional at this price point) and we initially fitted them to two different bikes. After a few rides we decided that the X-King and Mountain King actually make a pretty mean combo, so we popped the X-King out back and the Mountain King up front on our Norco Optic C9.2 (read the bike review here!). Running a tyre combo that’s fast out back and bitey up front is something we often do, particularly if we’re riding on trails that don’t require a lot of hard rear braking.
If we lived where the trails were predominantly hard-packed, we’d go an X-King front and rear. Or if the trails tended to have a bit of loose rock, like Buller for instance, a pair of Mountain Kings would be killer. But for the varied conditions near us, mixing and matching worked well.
29×2.4 might sound like a massive pair of tyres, but compared to most nominally sized 2.4-inch tyres, the Contis are on the narrow side. Busting out the vernier calipers revealed the Mountain King to be 57mm across, or 2.25-inches, when mounted to a set of Pacenti TL28 rims. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing your size – if your inclination is to go for a 2.2-inch, we’d encourage you to upsize to the 2.4.
If you are rough on rubber or live in a particularly slicey kind of area, perhaps the ProTection version is the way to go.
Most of our previous experience with Conti tyres has been on their ProTection series, which are little heavier and more expensive, but are indestructible. The Pure Grip range gets a lighter sidewall, and unfortunately we did put a small cut into our rear X-King tyre after slamming the sidewall into the edge of a sandstone block. Rider error? Certainly, but it still does prove to us that there’s a reason you pay more for the ProTection versions of this tyre. We wouldn’t say the Pure Grip tyres are fragile, but if you are rough on rubber or live in a particularly slicey kind of area, perhaps the ProTection version is the way to go.
The combo of X-King and Mountain King is a winner. These tyres move quickly in a straight line, and thanks to the open, blocky design of the Mountain King there’s still plenty front end braking and cornering bite in loose soils. The fast-rolling X-King will break traction before the Mountain King too, which makes for some killer speedway style drifts with a dab of rear brake, if that’s your thing.
A pair of these costs less than a single tyre from many of the competition, you’ve really got to give these a look in.
In terms of overall grip, the performance of these tyres is varied, and really depends on the trail surface. The compound is pretty firm, and so they don’t have that gummy adhesion to roots and rocks you experience with some other super soft tyres, especially in the wet. As you’d expect from the X-King’s tread pattern, it does best in hardpack or other fast surfaces, whereas the Mountain King prefers softer conditions that let it bite in hard. On hardpack the Mountain King is claws noisily at the trail, but it’s still quite confident as the side knobs are well supported and don’t ‘walk’ or squirm.
The plus side of the firm compound is the durability of the tread blocks. After a bunch of rides in rocky terrain, the tyres have still got the little ‘hairs’ from the rubber moulds and we’ve only noticed minimal wear on the rear X-King tyre. Compared to the wear we’ve come to accept as normal from soft compound tyres, these guys look like they’ll last for ages.
Yes, there are plenty of tyres out there with compounds that provide more grip in more varied conditions, or which have tougher sidewalls. But when you consider that these are tubeless-ready, they come in a variety of tread patterns, and that a pair of these costs less than a single tyre from many of the competition, you’ve really got to give these a look in. All up, the Pure Grip range represents excellent value for money with options to suit most riders and trails. We think there’ll be a lot more Continental on the trails in the future.
Bargain: Pushy’s currently have these tyres on sale for $34.99. Take a look!