Continental Trail King 29: Final Review- by Grannygear
Well, after the First Impressions post, I would have liked to have gotten the impressive Continental Trail King tires into a few more situations; different soils, mud, etc, but that is not likely to happen for quite some time. We had a very minimal winter/spring here in So Cal so by now the trails are a crappy consistency of sand, hard pack, pot holes, and loose rock. And that has been the conditions in which I have ridden the tires. I have had them mounted on the long term Scott Genius 910 and they spent most of the time mounted on the American Classic WIde Lightnings.
That choice of the Scott Genius 910 seemed a good place for such a trail bike tire and the AC rims gave it a full figured profile. And although my first impressions were iffy, they have grown on me, these Continental Trail Kings have, and I don’t want to take them off.
Some things still bug me a bit. They are a bit ‘testy’ to mount the first time tubeless on a wheel. I struggled with that until I figured out they like to have some breathing time out of the packaging to get the creases and bends out of the tire that result from being folded for shipping/sale. That really helped and once they had been mounted for a time, re-mounting them was simple. These might be tires that like to be initially installed with a tube overnight to help them set up well. Also worth noting, as opposed to other Conti tires I have used, these did not weep one bit of sealant out of the sidewalls of the tires.
Also they have that odd way of wandering when you are riding on small ruts, like leftover tire tracks from when the soil was muddy. It just does this vague wiggle deal instead of staying pointed straight ahead. However, I came to just ignore it as the Trail Kings never did that at speed or when cornering over the same ruts. Odd, but not impacting.
I do not think they are the best choice if I lived where there was a lot of rock surfaces or off camber riding as the tread is a bit soft and squirmy for that. Something like a Specialized Purgatory or a WTB Vigilante comes to mind as a better tire in that situation [Edit: Although, if you read the comments posted by readers, my speculation on that may not be accurate. GG]
Besides all that, they are keepers in my book. It had been a while since I had been on the tires and the Scott Genius they were mounted on. Between other testing duties on the current Salsa Spearfish, the recent Fuji hard tail, and a family vacation, the Conti’s had sat waiting. So last night it was time for a ride with ‘Da Boyz. It was one of those typical after work rides that makes up most of the riding time for the typical cyclist that juggles work, family, riding and life. Off the garage hook came the Scott Genius and the Trail Kings. A bit of added air and I was rolling out to meet the gang. The short paved ride to the trail head reminded me how smooth and quiet these tires roll. It is uncanny, really. And when the racer guy in the group taunted me and started shifting up gears on the climb, I was able to defend my honor well with the Scott Genius in ‘traction mode’ and the light wheels and fast rolling Conti’s abetting my efforts.
On the descent, on what really is crap surface conditions for our trails, the Continental Trail Kings gave me that supple and secure feel all the way down. They drift in a controlled manner, instead of catching-releasing-catching-releasing, and come right back with no fuss. They are spoilers. It feels like the first time I tried a tubeless tire and felt the loss in friction and harshness that the tube gives.
Big enough (a true 2.3 with those Wide Lightning rims), light enough for the size and a stout sidewall, smooth rolling and fast feeling, and that cat like feel and cornering and climbing grip…hard not to like, and it is enough for me to let me overlook the nits I picked at earlier.
Not perfect and maybe not for everyone and every situation, but no tire is. These will stay on there till I am required to test something else. But I will keep them close to hand. Keepers, these are.
Continental sent the Trail King Tires to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for test and review. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.